Choosing a Prenatal Care Provider

You will spend a lot of time with your prenatal provider before you have your baby. You will want to be sure that the person you choose has a good reputation, and listens to and respects you. You will want to find out if the doctor or midwife can deliver your baby in the place you want to give birth. Your provider should be willing and able to give you the information and support you need to make informed decisions about your health, pregnancy, baby and delivery.

Your pregnancy and birth are very important life events for you and your family. Choosing the right health care provider and birth location is an important decision that every woman and family has the right to choose. Below are some descriptions of health care providers available to provide care.

Medical Doctors

A Family Practice Physician is, preferably,  an American Board of Family Medicine board-certified physician that can provide prenatal care to women with low-risk pregnancies. A Family Medicine physician has 4 years of medical school followed by 3 years of Family Medicine residency, which includes 14 weeks of focused training in obstetrics. Family physicians provide general health care and attend deliveries in hospitals, and will consult with obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/Gyns) if needed for unexpected complications during pregnancy, labor or delivery.

An Obstetrician (OB/Gyn) is, preferably, an American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology board-certified physician, or an American Board of Osteopathic Obstetrics and Gynecology certified osteopathic physician (DO). These physicians attend 4 years of medical school and then 4 years of an OB/Gyn residency, where they specialize in obstetric and gynecologic surgery and procedures and the management of more difficult pregnancies.

A Perinatologist is a sub-specialist in the field of obstetrics and gynecology that work with women who have a high-risk pregnancy. After the 4 year OB/Gyn residency, a perinatologist completes an additional 2-3 year fellowship which focuses on the medical and surgical management of the most high risk pregnancies. Perinatologists are board certified by the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine, and care for patients who are complex and referred to midwives, family physicians as well as obstetricians.

Midwives

A Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) is certified by the national American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). CNMs have both Registered Nurse (RN) training and credentials, as well as a Master of Science in Nursing (DNP) with emphasis in obstetrics and gynecology. CNMs have been licensed by the state of Utah for many years, and typically practice with a written agreement for 24/7 physician consultation and referral services. Nurse-midwives may also assist the surgeon during a Cesarean section. They attend births primarily in hospitals but a few attend women in birth centers and at home.

A Licensed Direct Entry Midwife (LDEM) is licensed by the state of Utah. LDEMs must comply with the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM) Standards and LDEM Standards of Practice. LDEMs are licensed to care for low-risk healthy women and are required to consult with or refer to a physician if certain complications occur during pregnancy, labor, birth or postpartum. LDEMs have primarily delivered at home in Utah but are now attending deliveries in some birth center settings.

Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) may or may not be licensed by the state of Utah and are not required to have a degree but do have documented education and skills exams, clinical experiences and written exams. CPMs may enter midwifery practice from a variety of routes and thus  have widely varying levels of training, education and experience. CPMs must comply with the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM) Standards. CPMs are licensed to care for low-risk healthy women and are required to consult with or refer to a physician if certain complications occur during pregnancy, labor, birth or postpartum. CPMs have primarily delivered at home in Utah but are now attending deliveries in some birth center settings.

An Unlicensed Direct Entry Midwife (UDEM) is not licensed by the State of Utah and are not required to have formal education or to have consultation/back-up services with a physician. UDEMs attended women in the home setting and typically have little contact with other health care professionals regarding pregnancy and delivery.

For a more detailed look at Midwives in Utah, see the Midwives: Providers of Maternity and  Newborn Care infographic below.

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