Dr. Michelle Cochran, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Lowell General Hospital, has delivered thousands of babies in her 17 years of practice. Here, she answers common questions about the role Obstetricians (OBs) have before, during and after pregnancy, and how to find one that’s the perfect fit for you and your growing family.
What role does an OB play in pregnancy?
An obstetrician has specialty training in pregnancy, childbirth, birth control and women’s health. Your obstetrician takes care of you throughout your pregnancy, monitoring you and your unborn baby’s health through testing and providing specialized care for any possible health conditions that could affect your pregnancy such as high blood pressure or diabetes. He or she will work with you on diet, exercise, and help you cope with common pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness and back pain.
They will also work with you on developing a birth plan and discuss pain options during labor. When the big moment arrives, the obstetrician works closely with your labor and delivery nurses to monitor progress and keep you and your baby safe. After delivery, your OB will provide follow up care; in fact, many women stay with their OB for gynecologic care throughout their lives.
When is the right time to choose an OB?
You should start looking for an OB when you first find out you are pregnant. Usually, visits will begin around 8-9 weeks into your pregnancy. Or, if you are higher risk due to chronic disease or earlier miscarriage, you will be seen earlier.
How do I begin the search?
You want to talk to friends, your PCP, etc. to get referrals, and make sure you are comfortable with the provider’s communication style. You want to consider the location of the provider as you will have more frequent appointments as your get closer to your due date. Also, you want to check to make sure the provider accepts your insurance and delivers at your preferred hospital.
What qualities should I look for in an OB?
Education and experience are important; you want to find someone who is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Every provider has a different style, so you want someone you can really relate to; one who is understanding that new moms and their support persons have lots of questions and concerns. Many OB/GYNs are in a group practice, where you will get to meet different OBs, nurses and midwives and doctors. The doctors and midwives in a group practice often share on-call duties.
How often will you visit with an OB during pregnancy?
Typically you’ll have one visit every 4 weeks in the first 7 months, then every 2 weeks, and then weekly at the end of your pregnancy. If your pregnancy requires additional monitoring, for example, if you have diabetes, your visits will be more often.