“Should I request to see only one doctor during my pregnancy? Is it okay to see multiple healthcare providers? Help!” These are common questions women have when they are deciding where they will go to receive their prenatal care. Most OB/GYN clinics suggest their patients see multiple providers during their prenatal and postpartum checkups. Most clinics also use an on-call delivery schedule. This can be due to the difficult demand of providers having to be “on-call” at all times among other things. So many questions can arise as to how this works as women explore their options for prenatal care. Valley Women’s Health is a local clinic that follows a group practice model. As a labor and delivery RN, I got to work side-by-side with many of their providers and actually am a patient myself within their Certified Nurse Midwife group. Based in Utah, they have 10 different provider groups, 49 providers, 12 locations, and 10 hospitals where they deliver. They staff OB/GYN physicians, Certified Nurse Midwives, as well as Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners.
Here’s how it works with Valley Women’s Health, as well as many other OB/GYN practices:
- Call as a new patient to schedule your first appt (If you’re local to UT, you can call 801.374.1801 to make an appointment with Valley).
- Choose whether you’d like to be seen by a physician group or certified nurse midwife group
- Attend your prenatal appts with different providers within the practice, hopefully meeting all of them during your pregnancy (there’s usually 4-6 providers within the same group)
- When you get admitted to the hospital for delivery, your baby is delivered by the “on-call” provider within your group.
Whether you’re pregnant with your first or your fifth, whether your growing baby is the size of an apple or a swiss chard, I know what you’re thinking. How can I be sure that my baby and I receive the very best care possible? Can I still receive specialized care if I’m seen by an OB group of healthcare providers instead of a single provider?
What do you think? Do you see it as a positive or negative to be seen by several providers? Do you think you can still get specialized care this way? Think about it this way – what if you saw one provider your whole pregnancy, you go into labor and then that provider isn’t available for your delivery? Would that stress you out? Would you be okay with seeing multiple health care providers during your pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery so you had confidence in whoever did the delivery? Let’s explore why it might be a good idea to see several (if not all) of the healthcare providers within your OB practice.
You’ll have multiple healthcare providers checking your health history and updating your care plan
Sometimes women can get worried they won’t get personalized care when they see multiple doctors. Keep in mind that in the provider handoff from appointment to appointment, staff may communicate about your health history, any changes or complications that arise, and even collaborate on personalized care plans. One could argue that the providers may be even more “on their toes” about reviewing history, vital signs, and doing thorough assessments when they don’t see you for every appointment.
It can cut-down on wait times during your prenatal or postpartum checkups
If you only see one provider, you may have to wait an extra long time or even be asked to reschedule if they are called to deliver a baby. Seeing multiple providers allows another provider to step-in and perform your routine checkup.
You’ll feel less pressure to deliver on a specific day
If you are set on one particular physician delivering your baby, you may feel the urgency to deliver on a specific day they are on-call or available. When you are less concerned about the physician on-call schedule, you can relax a bit and feel more comfortable letting your baby come on its own, when it’s ready.
You can feel confident and comfortable with whoever is “on call” when the big day arrives
If you request the same physician for every prenatal appointment but then they are out of town or not on call the day you go into labor, you may feel some anxiety about who will be there to guide your delivery.
“Who is on call?”
“What’s their name?”
“Will they be nice?”
“What can I expect?”
“Will they know what my birth plan is?”
These are the last thoughts you need running through your mind in-between contractions! When you meet and interact with several different providers in the provider group throughout your pregnancy, you can rest assured that you’ll be familiar with whoever is on-call for your delivery. One less thing to worry about!
All that being said, here are a few things you should ask about or ask yourself as your looking for the right practice for your prenatal care.
Is the staff all board-certified in their specialties?
How comfortable do you feel with the providers?
Do you find it easy to ask questions of the providers?
Do the providers explain things clearly and completely?
Do the providers seem like someone who will respect your wishes?
I hope this was helpful as you navigate and create confidence in your pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care. I want you to feel like an active participant throughout the process – asking questions, putting together a birth and postpartum plan, and setting some goals. Thanks to Valley Women’s Health for partnering with me on this post, all opinions expressed are my own and from my own experience. I’d love to hear your questions or experiences in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC