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Brighter Days: 5 Top Tips on Choosing a Doctor or Midwife

Jennifer Bright on

Expecting to be expecting? You likely already have a doctor you see for your routine care, and perhaps you have another doctor you see for gynecologic issues. But where do you want to go for your care during your pregnancy?

You might choose an obstetrician, which is a doctor who specializes in the management of pregnancy, labor and birth. They're commonly called OB-GYNs -- or even just OBs. More than 80% of pregnant women choose OBs. An obstetrician who's specially trained in the care of high-risk pregnancies is called a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

Or you might consider a certified nurse midwife. They are registered nurses with advanced training and experience taking care of pregnant women and delivering babies.

Another choice that many women might not think of is a family practice doctor. These doctors are trained in all aspects of health care for every member of your family. A family physician can be your doctor during and after pregnancy and also your baby's doctor.

Whichever avenue you choose to take, check with your insurance company to make sure the provider is covered. Consider what hospital the provider is affiliated with. Is it covered by your insurance company and convenient to your home? Also find out who covers when the provider is away and who handles phone calls and after-hour emergencies.

Most importantly, talk with the provider and spend some time in the office. Pay attention to how you feel about the provider, the office and the staff. You'll be spending a lot of time there in the months ahead.

Here's what our Mommy M.D.s -- doctors who are also mothers -- did to choose their doctors.

"Really take your time choosing an OB or midwife," says JJ Levenstein, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a mom of one grown son and a retired pediatrician in Southern California. "You never know what's going to happen. I ended up having a cesarean section, and throughout the entire procedure, my lovely OB -- who I adored -- sat and held my hand. She was sick as a dog with the flu, and her colleague performed my C-section, but she hung in with me!"

"I think that the most important thing to look for when choosing a doctor or midwife is to find someone you trust," says Jennifer Gilbert, D.O., a mom of twins and OB-GYN at Paoli Hospital in Pennsylvania. "You need to find a person you trust to make the best decision for you. This came into play for me when I was in labor and my OB-GYN made the call that I needed to have a C-section. It wasn't at all what I had expected to happen, but I trusted completely that she was making the right decision for me and my babies."


"I had a unique situation during my pregnancy because my dad is an OB-GYN," says Debra Luftman, M.D., a mom of two grown children, a board-certified dermatologist in private practice, co-author of "The Beauty Prescription," developer of skin care line Therapeutix, and a clinical instructor of skin surgery and general dermatology at UCLA. "Even though my dad had decades of experience, I decided not to go to him for my prenatal care or to have him deliver my babies. It's a very personal decision, but I think it's important not to have a friend or family member deliver your baby just in case things don't go as planned. You don't want to feel that those people are responsible."

"For my first baby, I had a midwife," says Sonia Ng, M.D., a mom of two sons and a pediatrician and expert in sedation at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Pediatric Care at University Medical Center at Princeton. "I thought that they spend more time getting to know their patients than some doctors are able to. But we moved before my second pregnancy, and I couldn't find a midwife group near our new home. I found an OB instead, and he turned out to be fabulous."

"When I was in medical school, a nurse midwife came and spoke to our class," says Kristie McNealy, M.D., a mom of four and a health care consultant in Salt Lake City. "She addressed some of the differences between OB care and the way her group of midwives practiced. For me, it seemed like the midwives were the better way to go -- as long as everything was going smoothly and progressing normally.

"For two of my babies, I delivered with midwives," McNealy continues. "My second baby was born nine weeks early, so that was a lot more complicated. I had a whole team of practitioners for that delivery!

"For my first baby, I was especially glad to have gone with the midwives. I pushed with that kid for three hours, and the midwife was super patient. She allowed me to keep going without any intervention until we reached the point where the baby either needed to be born or I needed to have a C-section. The midwife used a vacuum, and my daughter was born. After my baby was born, I told the postpartum nurse how long I had pushed. The nurse said, 'If you had an OB, you would have had this baby hours ago by C-section.'"


Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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