Early in pregnancy, you will need to think about who you would like to care for you during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period. You will also need to consider where you want to give birth since this will have an influence on your choice of care provider. The main options are set out below, although these may vary depending on where you live. When you attend your first prenatal appointment at 8-12 weeks (see Your First Prenatal Visit), you will be given information about the prenatal services you can access in your area. The medical checkups that are done during this appointment will also help establish the best choice for your prenatal care.
The majority of your care will usually be provided by an ob/gyn. At your first appointment, she will outline the prenatal services you will receive.
Group medical practice
With this type of care, you will see two or more doctors (typically ob/gyns and/or family practitioners) throughout your pregnancy on a rotating basis. One of these doctors will be present at the hospital when you deliver.
Solo medical practice
You'll only have one doctor, and you will see her at every prenatal visit. She will attend your birth at the hospital, unless she's unavailable and arranges for another doctor who covers for her to be present for your delivery.
With this type of care, you'll get to see both doctors and midwives. At least one ob/gyn and one nurse-midwife sees patients on a rotating basis. Depending on the practice, a midwife may or may not be able to assist in delivery at the hospital. Expect a doctor to be present.
Maternity center-based practice
If your pregnancy is low-risk, you can see certified nurse-midwives for most of your appointments throughout pregnancy. Ob/gyns are available for consultations as required. If you choose this option, you'll deliver your baby at the maternity or birthing center that is associated with the practice, unless complications arise, in which case your care would be transferred to the affiliated hospital.
Independent certified nurse-midwife practice
Some states permit midwives to practice without a doctor in the office. If this type of care is available in your area and you have a low-risk pregnancy, you can see midwives for all of your appointments, and a midwife would be present at your delivery in a hospital, birthing center, or at home. The midwives generally have arrangements with doctors, who are available for consultations as needed.
Hospitals have clinics where you may go for routine scans.