1. Choose the OB/GYN that\’s best for you
You’re pregnant! One of many decisions you will face in the coming days and months is who you want to oversee and guide your pregnancy. If you choose an OB/GYN over types of other providers, here are a few things to take into consideration when searching for the right doctor.
2. Do you want to see a male or a female doctor?
Since pregnancy and delivery can be uncomfortable enough on their own, be sure to choose a doctor you are at ease with. One characteristic that some women feel strongly about is whether their doctor is male or female. If you are only comfortable with women, be sure that you find a doctor whose practice doesn’t include male partners who might cover your delivery, and vice versa. However, you should remember that both male and female doctors have chosen to care for women and are dedicated to doing so respectfully.
3. Is a group practice or an independent doctor better for you?
In addition to considering who is a part of your doctor’s practice, you should consider whether you want your doctor to be a part of a group at all.
With a solo doctor, you will experience excellent continuity of care and feel assured of who will be with you in delivery, but this may come at a cost. With an independent doctor, your prenatal appointments may run late or be rescheduled, because other patients who are in delivery will take precedence.
With a group practice, you can likely avoid these issues, but you may not deliver with your primary OB/GYN if another doctor is on call when the time comes. If you are comfortable with a group practice, you should consider seeing all of the partners for at least one appointment during your pregnancy to meet everyone before the big day.
4. Which hospitals does your doctor deliver in?
You may love your doctor, but the grand finale of your pregnancy will likely be a time when you want the best support possible. Does your doctor deliver at multiple hospitals or just one? What level of care will be available for your baby there?
If a hospital does not have a NICU, your baby might need to be transferred if problems arise. You can assess the hospital’s quality for yourself by taking a quick tour to experience the nurses and environment firsthand. Also, be sure to confirm that both your doctor and the hospital where you would deliver accept your insurance.
5. Consider your doctor\’s track record
You should also ask to see your practice’s most recent C-section rates. The national average falls at 33 percent, but specific rates can vary widely depending on the doctor and hospital. If a practice’s rate is especially high, you should weigh that carefully, considering what your want your birth plan to be and what a high C-section rate might tell you about the doctor.
6. Board Certification
Has your doctor undergone the rigorous process of becoming board certified? Certification with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology is not a necessity for obstetricians, but it requires physicians to successfully pass a series of demanding written and oral exams. If your doctor isn’t certified, it may simply mean that he or she has not been practicing long enough to undergo the process.
7. How accessible will your doctor and his or her practice be?
If the doctor is only available once a week, it may be difficult to schedule appointments. Also, for the numerous questions that may come up throughout your pregnancy, you should consider the availability and approachability of the practice’s nurses—how difficult will it be to get answers?
8. Who will be there to help with breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can be a difficult skill to acquire. Is your obstetrician adequately trained in breastfeeding or collaborate with a professional who does? Many OB/GYNs are lacking in this area, so if you are planning to nurse, you should consider this quality carefully to avoid advice that may hinder your success.
9. Are you okay with having students or residents around?
Some obstetricians will be training medical students or residents, and though your doctor may allow you to choose to exclude them, others may not, especially at large academic institutions where such training is essential. When involved, they may be present during your appointments or even your delivery. If you are concerned about student involvement, be sure to take this into consideration, but remember that having extra hands and intelligent perspectives around can be a good thing.
10. How do you feel about your doctor?
From the very beginning, ask yourself: do you feel like you and your doctor are on the same page? Is your doctor open to your birth plan and requests? Especially if you have a number of “non-traditional” components in your birth plan, you want to be sure that your obstetrician will support you, so ask this question early to avoid a panicked search for a new doctor right before your delivery.
11. How do others feel about different providers?
How did others feel about the doctor’s practice overall? Sometimes, asking your friends or even labor and delivery nurses at your desired hospital can give you an honest perspective of what your experience might really be like. However, not everyone’s opinion should be taken seriously; online reviews can be very misleading, so it is better to rely on sources you trust and make appointments to decide for yourself in the end.
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