You have several options when choosing a health care provider to take care of you during your pregnancy and childbirth. You also have a choice of whether to deliver your baby in a hospital or at home.
If you want to have your baby in a hospital, you can usually choose to receive care from a family physician who provides obstetrics care, an obstetrician/gynecologist (Ob/Gyn), an obstetrician, or a certified nurse-midwife.
If you want to have your baby at home, a licensed midwife will take care of you during your pregnancy, labor, delivery, and recovery. Licensed midwives care for healthy women with normal pregnancies, and are specially trained in home births. They're licensed by the state and have passed both written and oral exams. They receive their training in a midwifery school and in apprenticeship programs with experienced midwives.
If you're a Group Health member, you don't need a referral to use a midwife. You can make an appointment directly with a licensed midwife who has a contract with Group Health. Check our Provider Directory or contact Customer Service for names and phone numbers of licensed midwives in your area.
Most women can consider having a baby at home if they're healthy and their pregnancy is uncomplicated. If you have certain conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease, you don't qualify for a home birth. Other conditions, or having a previous cesarean section, might also exclude you from a home birth. Your licensed midwife is trained to identify these conditions and the safety of a home birth.
At your appointment with a licensed midwife, you'll go over your medical history together and decide whether a home birth is a good choice for you. If you decide you'd like to have a home birth, you'll be asked to sign an informed consent form for prenatal care and home birth with the licensed midwife.
During your pregnancy, you'll receive counseling and information about labor, delivery, and newborn care. You'll also learn about breastfeeding and family relationships. Your midwife may refer you to a childbirth class or suggest books you may want to read. She'll also suggest that you arrange for someone to be at home to help you after the birth of your baby.
If you develop any problems during your pregnancy, your midwife will consult with a Group Health doctor.
Your home birth will be a natural birth. Your midwife will teach you ways to increase your comfort during labor and delivery so you can have your baby without medicine.
You'll need to agree to go to a hospital if it turns out that you need pain medication, or if the birth doesn't go as planned and your midwife decides that hospital care is best for you or the baby. Your hospital care will usually be provided by a Group Health doctor or certified nurse-midwife.
Your prenatal checkup schedule will be the same as with any other provider. After your baby's birth, your midwife will:
Your doctor or pediatrician will take over your baby's care at the 7- to 14-day visit.