Parental Care and Tests

Medical checkups and screening tests help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. This is called Parental care.


Choosing a Parental care provider

  1. Obstetricians (OB) are medical doctors who specialize in the care of pregnant women and in delivering babies. Women with the highest risk pregnancies might need special care from a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.
  2. Family practice doctors are medical doctors who provide care for the whole family through all stages of life.
  3. A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) and certified professional midwife (CPM) are trained to provide pregnancy and postpartum care.

Places to deliver your baby

  1. Hospitals are a good choice for women with health problems, pregnancy complications, or those who are at risk for problems during labor and delivery.
      Questions to ask when choosing a hospital:
    • Is it close to your home?
    • Is a doctor who can give pain relief, such as an epidural, at the hospital 24-hours a day?
    • Do you like the feel of the labor and delivery rooms?
    • Are private rooms available?
    • How many support people can you invite into the room with you?
    • Does it have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in case of serious problems with the baby?
    • Can the baby stay in the room with you?
    • Does the hospital have the staff and set-up to support successful breastfeeding?
    • Does it have an on-site birth center?
  2. Birth or birthing centers give women a "homey" environment in which to labor and give birth.
  3. Homebirth is an option for healthy pregnant women with no risk factors for complications during pregnancy, labor or delivery. It is also important women have a strong after-care support system at home. Some certified nurse midwives and doctors will deliver babies at home. Many health insurance companies do not cover the cost of care for homebirths. So check with your plan if you'd like to deliver at home.

Parental tests

Tests are used during pregnancy to check your and your baby's health. At your fist Parental visit, your doctor will use tests to check for a number of things, such as:

  • Your blood type and Rh factor
  • Anemia
  • Infections, such as toxoplasmosis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including hepatitis B, syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV
  • Signs that you are immune to rubella (German measles) and chicken pox

High-risk pregnancy

Pregnancies with a greater chance of complications are called "high-risk." But this doesn't mean there will be problems. The following factors may increase the risk of problems during pregnancy:

  • Very young age or older than 35
  • Overweight or underweight
  • Problems in previous pregnancy
  • Health conditions you have before you become pregnant, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and HIV
  • Pregnancy with twins or other multiples

Health problems also may develop during a pregnancy that make it high-risk, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. See Pregnancy complications to learn more.

Women with high-risk pregnancies need prenatal care more often and sometimes from a specially trained doctor. A maternal-fetal medicine specialist is a medical doctor that cares for high-risk pregnancies.