Grow Your Family With a Family Physician

Did you know family physicians deliver babies and are an excellent choice for most women and their families? Each year, over 11,000 babies are delivered by family physicians.

The information here provides women and their families with an overview of Family Practice Maternity Care, including what it means for the patients and family physicians in the following short video.

Why would I choose a family physician to care for me in pregnancy and for delivery?

  • Family physicians are experts in the family and care for the whole person – physical health and mental health.  We bring this same approach to caring for pregnant women and their families. 
  • Family physicians know that pregnancy is an exciting time in your life, not a disease.  While we follow women carefully to make sure everything is going well, we understand that pregnancy is a normal, healthy process.  We prefer to let things naturally unfold, intervening or helping out only when it is necessary. 
  • Family physicians care for women with low-risk pregnancies but they can also manage the common problems that pop up.  If major problems occur, your family physician will work with obstetricians or other specialists to get you the care you need.
  • Family physicians look after the whole family – mothers, babies and often partners and older children too.  Some will continue to care for your baby from birth to adulthood, others will transfer care back to your family physician or primary care provider after the baby is born.
  • Family physicians work to help you to understand the choices you have along the way (eg prenatal testing, pain medication in labour, when to induce) and will work with you to choose what is best for you and your baby.

What if my family physician doesn’t work in labour and delivery?  How do I find a family physician that does?

  • Most family physicians who work in labour and delivery will see women on a referral basis just like an obstetrician does.  Your own family physician or nurse practitioner can refer you in the first or second trimester and resume your care (and the care of your baby) sometime after delivery.
  • Ask your family physician or primary care provider if any of their colleagues deliver babies.
  • Call or look on the website of your local hospital birthing unit and ask if any family physicians deliver babies there

Are there any women who shouldn’t choose a family physician for pregnancy and delivery?

  • If you have a high risk pregnancy, an obstetrician is a better choice.  Your pregnancy might be considered high risk because you have serious medical problems before pregnancy (eg serious heart disease, type 1 diabetes), because of concerns with your baby (eg twins, congenital heart disease) or because of serious complications (eg pre-eclampsia). 
  • If you want the option of home birth or postpartum care in your home, a midwife might be a better choice.

Be sure to ask your family physician about family practice maternity care.