Small Town Pregnancy: What To Expect When Your Family Doctor Is Your Prenatal Care Provider

Health & Medical Blog

In areas with dense populations, most women see a specialist like an OBGYN or a certified nurse midwife who takes over their pregnancy care. However, in rural areas, many hospitals and clinics do not have a contracted obstetrician, and pregnancy care is left to the general practitioner. Since not having a specialist can make some women nervous, here is what you need to know about leaving your pregnancy care to your family doctor.

1. Risk assessment stays the same. 

High-risk pregnancies and emergency situations are not suitable for a general practitioner to handle. However, your doctor's office still does all the routine tests (blood pressure, STD testing, ultrasounds, urine samples and blood tests) throughout your pregnancy to make sure you are not high-risk and that everything is progressing as it ought to. If you do end up developing a higher risk condition or if you are pregnant with multiples, your primary care physician will refer you to a specialist.

If you live in a rural area, this means planning to travel a far distance for screenings and check-ups, and you will need to prepare for delivery in a large hospital. You may find it most convenient to schedule a C-section or induction to make sure you get the level of care you need and prevent a freak delivery without the needed standard of care.

2. Primary care physicians still have training in prenatal care and delivery.

Just because you don't have an OBGYN readily available in your area does not mean that you are settling for a lower care level. Family doctors are able to:

  • order needed tests and medications
  • supervise and direct vaginal deliveries
  • complete cervical checks and measure baby's growth with accuracy
  • provide counsel and answer your questions about nutrition, illness, and post-natal care.

You will need to check with your local hospital to make sure your primary care physician has admitting privileges at that hospital (meaning they routinely do deliver babies there). As an added bonus, your family doctor can serve as your provider after birth for both your child and for you, which can be helpful when making trips to the clinic (your six week check up and your baby's can happen at the same time). If you're worried about an emergency during delivery that necessitates a C-section, the surgeon on call will perform the operation, although your doctor can still assist and advise. 

If you have any more concerns about your prenatal care, talk to your primary care physician such as one from Rural Health Services Consortium Inc. for more information on what options you have available to you. 


17 May 2016

Take Your Health Into Your Own Hands

My name is Katie Langer. For a long time, I was bed ridden and I felt like I had no control over my life. I simply went along with what was instructed by my doctor and I didn't ask questions. It wasn't that my doctor wasn't willing to work with me, but I preferred to simply not think about the illness I was suffering from. I didn't realize that some of the symptoms I was suffering from were side effects of my medication and were not normal. After communicating more with my doctor, I was able to alleviate my symptoms. Since then, I've taken an interest in patient-doctor relationships and how to improve them.