Going to a family physician (or FP) for prenatal care is quickly becoming a popular choice with lots of women. Many find it convenient to have most of their medical needs satisfied by one doctor. They also like the fact that their entire family can be looked after by the same doctor.
What is a Family Practitioner?
An FP is similar to a general practitioner (GP) in the sense that they both offer complete, general medical care. What distinguishes an FP from a GP, though, is that an FP has additional training in obstetrics. This means that along with providing general health care, they can provide you with prenatal care. As well, an FP can be the primary care giver for your newborn, you partner and any other children you may have.
The fact that an FP can provide the services that would normally entail seeing multiple doctors is appealing to many mothers, especially those with hectic lives. FPs can simplify the medical process for many people. An FP can take the place of a pediatrician, a psychologist, a gynecologist and an obstetrician. FPs are trained to provide counseling services for their patients. They can also advise you on nutrition if you wish. They will order tests if you need them and then analyze the results. And of course they can diagnose general health problems and prescribe medication so you’ll feel better.
Many women like the fact that they can develop a long and lasting relationship with their FP since an FP will be very familiar with all the dynamics of their personal and family health and will provide them with continuous care. If a serious problem were to arise with any aspect of your health care, an FP can refer you to a specialist who has more training with that specific problem.
Finding an FP
To find a family practitioner in your area, contact the American Academy of Family Physicians. In Canada, contact your provincial chapter of the College of Family Physicians. However, be aware that not all family physicians deliver babies, so make sure you ask about this when you meet with them.
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD