"A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years and in your heart till the day you die." — Mary Mason
Now that you are expecting a baby, you must know that you will be visiting the doctor – a lot. Maybe the doctor that you are currently seeing isn't the right fit. She may be a wonderful gynecologist, but she might not practice obstetrics. Or she is pro-natural birth and you might want an epidural. Perhaps you’d like to give birth at a birthing center, but she only delivers at hospitals. Regardless of why you may be looking for a new practitioner, here is some advice that should help make your search less overwhelming.
What type of provider do you want?
Many women tend to deliver with either a physician trained in the care and delivery of pregnant women, or a midwife. Trying to decide between the two? Consider which qualities are most important to you in a practitioner, whether it is her credentials, the hospital or birthing center she may attend, her point of view on pain relief, or her rate of cesarean deliveries. Then think about the type of delivery that you want, as well as special circumstances that may apply to your pregnancy. For instance, if you have a condition that would make your pregnancy high-risk, such as diabetes, or if you will be delivering twins, you should see an ob-gyn and deliver in a hospital.
Seek recommendations from mothers and pregnant women. It is important to speak to others who have given birth recently, and ask them about their practitioner's bedside manner, delivery philosophy -- whatever it is that might be most important to you in choosing a doctor. Once you have a list of names, do background research on the doctors to be certain they're board-certified ob-gyns. And, of course, if you belong to an insurance plan, that company will have a list of ob-gyns that they work with.
Visit ob-gyns in your area to learn about their policies, preferences, and specialties. Schedule a consultation and then while you are there pay close attention to the demeanor of the doctors when you meet with them. If you feel rushed during your consult visit, it is probably indicative of how you will be treated moving forward. It is important to have a list of questions ready: Is the doctor available by e-mail or only by phone during office hours? Who will deliver with you? When your OB is in a large practice, you often end up with whoever is on call. Your own doctor is more likely to deliver you in a small practice. What is your C-section rate? Remember to mention any preexisting medical conditions that you may have, such as high blood pressure or diabetes; if you've had a C-section, ask about vaginal births after having cesarean (known as VBACs), since some hospitals will not allow them for insurance reasons. Choose a doctor whose views most closely parallel your own, especially if you desire to have a drug-free birth. Or if you have hormonal issues, urinary tract disorders, or other special needs, you should seek a specialist with related training.
Follow your instincts. It is best to choose the doctor that you felt most in sync with during your consultation appointment. If you're only a few weeks pregnant -- say, you've just received a positive sign on a home pregnancy test -- then you will not have to deal with the awkwardness of switching doctors mid-pregnancy. Moving to a new practice later on? Keep in mind that some doctors will take pregnant patients up to their last month, while others won't take patients after their first trimester. It is often best to talk to your current doctor about why you're unhappy, but if you're still feeling dissatisfied, move on. You should be confident that your doctor will take excellent care of you and your new baby. After all, the doctor’s hands will hold your baby first.