You may initially be surprised to learn that some family medicine doctors manage pregnancy and deliver babies. The term OB or OB-GYN is often associated with doctors who deliver babies, but some family medicine doctors are also highly trained to deliver as well. “In fact”, says Dr. Lance Hansen, a Family Medicine Physician at FCMC, “choosing to deliver your child with a family doctor has some unique benefits.”

Comprehensive Care: Family medicine doctors are trained to provide comprehensive care for individuals of all ages, including prenatal and obstetric care. When delivering a baby with a family medicine doctor, you can receive continuity of care throughout your pregnancy, delivery, and beyond. This means that your doctor will have a holistic understanding of your health history, family history, and social factors enabling them to provide personalized care tailored to your unique needs. Dr. Hansen continues, “FCMC Family Physicians are well trained to perform complex vaginal deliveries and C-sections, even in emergent situations. Studies show that delivery outcomes between OBGYN and family medicine doctors do not differ. However, we can recognize, stabilize, and transfer babies who are beyond our facility’s capabilities.”

Nika Kay, a patient of Dr. Hansen who recently delivered at FCMC said, “I never felt unsafe. The staff was very knowledgeable, and I felt like if I did need something more serious, they would let me know in a calm manner about the plan they had in place. If something serious was to happen I would already know what the plan was and that made me feel safe the whole time. Honestly, the bigger hospitals made me feel less safe, not because they don’t deliver good care, but just because there is so much more going on and less attention devoted to me as a patient. Here, they know me.”

Familiarity and Trust: Many people prefer to have a familiar and trusted healthcare provider by their side during the childbirth process. If you have an established relationship with a family medicine doctor, they can offer continuity of care and emotional support throughout your pregnancy and delivery. Their familiarity with your medical history can help them make informed decisions and provide personalized care that aligns with your preferences. “In this setting, establishing a deeper relationship with doctors and nurses helps prevent the feeling of being treated as a mere “number” or being run through a factory.” said Dr. Hansen, “These healthcare professionals not only see you as a member of the community but also perceive you as an individual rather than reducing you to a mere number or diagnosis. This personalized approach is often lacking in larger, more impersonal environments.”

Nika shared how this difference impacted her delivery experience: “I loved delivering with FCMC because of the smaller atmosphere and attentive staff. Everyone always knew what was going on with me. I had the same nurses almost every day. They knew my name and were way more personable. I was pretty much the only one on the floor having a baby and everyone was just so excited and supportive.”

Family-Centered Approach: Family medicine doctors often emphasize a family-centered approach to healthcare, and this philosophy extends to the delivery of babies. They recognize the importance of involving partners and family members in the birthing process, providing a supportive and inclusive environment for the entire family. Family medicine doctors also offer postnatal care for both the mother and the newborn, ensuring a smooth transition into parenthood.

Accessibility and Convenience: Family medicine doctors are often readily available and accessible, making it easier to schedule appointments and receive timely care. This accessibility can be particularly important during pregnancy. Regular check-ups and monitoring are crucial for ensuring the health and well-being of mom and baby. Having a family medicine doctor as your primary care provider and childbirth specialist can provide convenience and continuity of care throughout your reproductive journey. Dr. Hansen continues, “Delivering with us means that you generally can count on your doctor to deliver your baby. At larger facilities, often the doctor that delivers your baby is not the doctor you saw for prenatal care.”

Health through a lifespan: One of the advantages of delivering a baby with a family medicine doctor is the potential for long-term care continuity. After the delivery, your family medicine doctor can continue to provide primary care for you, your baby, and the entire family. They can monitor your postpartum recovery, address any ongoing concerns, and coordinate preventive care for the entire family. This creates a lasting healthcare relationship that extends beyond childbirth. Dr. Hansen continues, “This continuity of care helps us see the whole picture, instead of fragmented care when a different doctor cares for the mom and baby. For example, in a well-child check, a family medicine doctor is inclined not to manage just the health of the child, but also the mom.”

On this topic, Nika shared,  “Having delivered with an OB before, my favorite aspect about having a child with a family medicine doctor is that your doctor knows what’s going on with me and my baby. It’s important to me that both are connected because they have a lot to do with each other. So I like that he’s caring for me and my baby before, during, and after delivery.”

“I really enjoy providing obstetrical care and delivering babies because of the relationships of trust that are built over time and that are continued throughout well-child visits.”, concludes Dr. Hansen, “Pregnancy is a time of anticipation and excitement, which can also be uncomfortable and stressful.  I enjoy sharing in those emotions with patients and families, feeling grateful to play a small part in the miracle of life.”

When asked what she would tell a friend about her experience, Nika stated, “I tell my friends that get nervous about delivering in a smaller facility that I’ve delivered in both. I came back to Preston for a reason. I had my first kid in Logan, and after having my second child in Preston, I was definitely like “I’m coming back to Preston” and had my third child at FCMC too.”

It’s important to note that the availability and scope of family medicine doctors’ obstetric care may vary depending on individual practitioners and the healthcare system in your area. Please consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the specific benefits and services they can offer when delivering a baby.

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Studies:

Homan FF, Olson AL, Johnson DJ. A comparison of cesarean delivery outcomes for rural family physicians and obstetricians. J Am Board Fam Med 2013; 26:366 –72.
Aubrey-Bassler K, Cullen RM, Simms A, et al. Outcomes of deliveries by family physicians or obstetricians: A population-based cohort study using an instrumental variable. CMAJ 2015;187:1125–32.