By Tracy Lewis, MD
A woman who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant has choices when selecting a physician to see her through all the stages of pregnancy. She may choose a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, or she may prefer to partner with a family medicine physician with obstetrics.
Family medicine physicians are knowledgeable about a broad spectrum of care and work with a patient’s medical specialists to provide integrated care when it is needed. They get to know their patients well, understand each individual’s medical needs, and provide comprehensive services for everything from a sore throat to depression or diabetes.
Every family medicine physician receives training in prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care during residency. Family medicine physicians continue to use this training after completing their medical residencies. They also provide newborn and pediatric care, and can be the primary care doctor for other members of the family, from children to adults.
At ProHealth Medical Group, doctors trained in obstetrics (including obstetrician-gynecologists and family medicine physicians) routinely screen pregnant women and new mothers for depression, too. The nationally recommended screening helps physicians determine whether a patient may be in need of behavioral health care. Mild or moderate depression can be treated by a physician providing obstetric care, or they can refer the patient to a behavioral health specialist.
Mother, baby and family care
There is a good reason why the word “family” is used to describe this aspect of medical care. It’s common to hear a family medicine physician say, “I treat my patients the way I would treat my own family members.”
Over time, the family physician gets to know each patient’s concerns, health issues and communication preferences. The patient also becomes more familiar with the physician and more comfortable about sharing information and asking questions – essential aspects of high quality care. Doctor’s visits can be even more comprehensive, clear and productive when communication is open and complete.
Additionally, when a parent and child have the same physician, the doctor has more information to use when making health and lifestyle recommendations.
Knowledge and communication
When a woman is pregnant, the family doctor and patient have several months of prenatal visits in which to discuss health concerns, labor and birth, and the expectations of the mother-to-be. The patient knows the doctor who will be with her in the delivery room and follow up with her and her baby after the birth.
It’s important for pregnant patients to discuss their needs and questions with the doctor in early pregnancy. For example, the patient needs to know about access to her physician and medical team after office hours, what it means when her doctor is on call, and what she can expect if she should need an unplanned medical procedure or Cesarean section.
Every woman deserves a trusted, knowledgeable health care professional who can ensure seamless, dedicated patient care throughout her pregnancy. Family medicine physicians offer this level of care as providers for both mother and child – from the child’s infancy through adulthood.
Tracy Lewis, MD is a family medicine physician with obstetrics at ProHealth Medical Group. For more information about ProHealth Care and ProHealth physicians, visit ProHealthCare.org. Call 262-928-2745 for help finding a physician to fit your family’s needs.
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For more than a century, ProHealth Care has been the health care leader in Waukesha County and surrounding areas, providing outstanding care across a full spectrum of services. The people of ProHealth Care strive to continuously improve the health and well-being of the community by combining skill, compassion and innovation. The ProHealth family includes ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin, ProHealth Medical Group, the UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care, Moreland Surgery Center, ProHealth AngelsGrace Hospice, ProHealth Home Care, ProHealth West Wood Health & Fitness Center and ProHealth Regency Senior Communities. Learn more at ProHealthCare.org.