While there are important differences between an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) and a certified nurse midwife (CNM), the distinction is not as stark as it once was. The majority of CNMs deliver babies in hospital settings, and many OB-GYNs are adopting a more holistic approach to preventive care. To help you find a great obstetrical provider, we have compiled answers to common questions about OB-GYNs and CNMs. Knowing the basics about these practitioners can smooth the way to a happier, healthier pregnancy and birth.
Where Do I Start?
Choosing between an OB-GYN and a CNM is easier if you first pinpoint what is essential to you in a provider. This may be their credentials, their views about pain medication, whether they will be at your side throughout your labor and delivery, or the location of their office as it relates to your home. Take a moment to write down your priorities, keeping in mind that you may have to make some concessions along the way. At the end of this article is a printable questionnaire to use when visiting prospective providers; by the same token, answering these questions will help you formulate a more precise picture of who you are looking for.
When Should I Begin Looking?
The optimal time to locate a prenatal provider is before you conceive. There are a number of advantages to getting an early start. You can take your time finding someone you really like without the added pressure of needing immediate prenatal care. You will also avoid putting your future developing embryo at risk by adopting the health and wellness information covered in preconception visits. These include eating right, getting enough exercise, taking folic acid and prenatal vitamins, and abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Both OB-GYNs and CNMs see clients for preconception visits. If possible, make the appointment at a time when both you and your partner can attend.