What should you keep in mind when considering possible candidates?
Convenience. When you're pregnant, it's important to make things easy for yourself. How close is the practice to your home or work? How close is the hospital or birthing center where the practitioner would deliver your baby?
Insurance coverage. Find out which professionals are covered by your insurance plan. Your candidate should come from this list to ensure coverage. Some companies may have restrictions regarding certified nurse-midwives -- be sure to check first.
References. It's a good idea to collect at least three recommendations for a practitioner. These can come from your current doctor, previous patients, city and county medical societies, hospital referral programs, or staffers at birthing centers.
Credentials. Check out the educational background of each midwife or doctor. If you'll be using a group practice, check the credentials of all members of the group. But don't focus exclusively on a doctor's diplomas: even the best academic qualifications don't guarantee a kind bedside manner.
Disciplinary records. Find out whether the doctor or midwife has been disciplined for medical malpractice. Contact your state medical licensing agency and ask whether any actions have been taken against the practitioner.