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Tailored Content / Blog Entry

5 Clinicians You Might See When Pregnant

A woman gets an ultrasounds
If it takes a village once you have kids, it takes a team when you’re expecting. These maternity care practitioners can help guide you through the next nine months.
  1. Obstetrician/Gynecologist (ob/gyn)


Ob/gyns are women’s reproductive health specialists. We typically think of ob/gyns as one doctor, but they aren’t always. An obstetrician is an M.D. trained to provide care for you during pregnancy and delivery. A gynecologist doesn’t generally treat patients who are pregnant. This type of M.D. will focus on women throughout her reproductive years and beyond. 


That said, many providers combine these two areas of medicine—hence, the ob/gyn. If you’ve been seeing an ob/gyn for well woman visits already, great: Having a doctor you’re comfortable with can be a game-changer once you get pregnant.


Ob/gyns monitor both the general health of the mom-to-be, but also the health of the growing baby. They can help manage certain conditions that may crop up during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure or preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, morning sickness, and placenta issues. Some have additional experience with higher-risk pregnancies, where there is a greater chance of complications.


When you’re pregnant, regular checkups with your ob/gyn are important to prevent and spot any problems, and ensure you’ll have a successful delivery. Here’s how often you should see your ob/gyn during pregnancy, according to the Office on Women’s Health: 


  • Weeks 4 to 28: One visit every 4 weeks
  • Weeks 28 to 36: One visit every 2 weeks
  • Weeks 36 to birth: One visit every week


Women with high-risk pregnancies will likely need to see their doctors more often.


  1.  Midwife


Not everyone uses a midwife, but it’s helpful to know what they do in case you decide on one. The term “midwife” is an old English word literally meaning “with woman,” and these helpers have been around for thousands of years. Today, midwives are healthcare providers who specialize in both prenatal and postpartum care. 


They offer a multitude of services, including routine pregnancy monitoring, preparing the mother-to-be for labor, delivering the baby, and supporting the mom after the baby is born.  Some of this postpartum care includes assisting new mothers with breastfeeding, giving nutritional guidance, screening for depression, and providing education on infant care. 


Midwives tend to take a more holistic,  non-medicated approach to childbirth, which is why some women choose a midwife instead of an ob/gyn. Healthy women with low-risk pregnancies are good candidates for midwives.


That said, many Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) work in collaboration with an ob/gyn for team based care.You can find them in hospitals and clinics, and they’ll refer a woman to an ob/gyn if there’s an issue that requires a medical doctor. 


  1. Perinatologist or Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist


A perinatologist, also called a maternal fetal medicine specialist, is an ob/gyn who specializes in ultrasonography. You may be referred to an FMF for evaluation of certain complications of pregnancy. A perinatologist focuses on any issues that may be affecting the fetus as well.


  1. Dentist

We don’t have to explain what a dentist is—you’ve likely been seeing one for years to keep your teeth and gums healthy. What’s important to know is that you shouldn’t slack on routine dental visits (one every six months) when pregnant. 


Good oral health is always a good idea, but especially when you’re expecting. Pregnancy can make women more susceptible to cavities and periodontal (gum) disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, the CDC says between 60% and 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis. This condition, the early stage of gum disease, causes gums to become red and inflamed.

What gives? Changing hormones in the body may be to blame for pregnancy-related gingivitis. When untreated, gingivitis can progress into more severe gum disease, called periodontitis. Not only can this result in tooth loss, periodontitis has been linked to preterm delivery and low birth weight.


As for cavities: Eating more carbs and sweets might account for the increased chance of getting a cavity during pregnancy. (We get it, milkshakes are yum! But in moderation, please.) Morning sickness also can lead to dental issues. Both nausea and vomiting can bring stomach acids up to the mouth, which can damage the protective coating on your teeth (a.k.a. your tooth’s enamel). So make a dental appointment today!



  1. Optometrist or Ophthalmologist


Say you’ve never had sight issues. Vision and eye health can change when you’re pregnant, so if something comes up, you may need to see one now. 


What might occur? Hormone fluctuations can temporarily affect eyesight with blurry vision, refractive changes, or dry, red eyes. Or you might have a change in corneal sensitivity and thickness, which can lead to blurry or distorted vision. 


In these cases, your eye clinician can alter the strength of your glasses or contacts, or prescribe them for the first time. You might get over-the-counter saline drops or preservative-free artificial tears to soothe irritation. 


Another common ocular concern during pregnancy? Fluid retention may cause eyes to become puffy. It may just be average puff—the kind that might appear after a restless night or a crying spell—but it could affect your side vision. It might also make you unable to see as clearly in bright light as in dim light. 


Fluid buildup isn’t the only potential cause of the bright/dim light issue. It can result from a corneal scratch, or it can be linked to migraines from hormonal ups-and-downs. 


It’s also possible for pregnant women to develop diabetic eye diseases or high blood pressure. Sometimes, an eye doctor is the first one to see signs of these conditions via an eye exam.


For people who don’t have eye issues or are low-risk, the American Optometric Association recommends having a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years. If you’ve got risk factors—which include a family history of eye diseases, a past eye injury, continuously worsening vision, or a job where you stare at a screen 24/7—you’ll need an annual exam, or more often if your clinician recommends it.  

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