Finding an Obstetrician (OB) can be a stressful decision. This doctor will take care of you through your pregnancy and delivery. It’s a personal experience like none other, so it’s important to weigh your options and make an informed decision when finding an OB-GYN to handle your prenatal care.
Not sure where to start? Here are some ways to begin your search in finding an OB-Gyn and helpful things to think through:
Ask for Recommendations
When finding an OB-GYN or any healthcare provider, I find that this is always the best place to start. People who have experienced different OB’s often are a wealth of information before you even set foot in the door.
So ask your friends and family who they chose or who they ruled out and why. Here are a few questions that may aid you in your search:
- What is their demeanor like? More medicinal or more relational?
- What is their philosophy regarding patient care and support?
- Where do they deliver?
- Do they support deliveries sans medications?
- What is the routine for every prenatal visit?
- How many OB’s are in the practice and will a different doctor deliver? If it’s a private practice, who will deliver if my OB isn’t on call?
- How much time do they allow per visit?
- What is their cesarean section rate?
- Do they perform VBACs (vaginal birth after c-section)?
- How do they handle after-hour or emergency care?
- What is the office environment like?
- Is the OB part of a larger team? What are their policies for seeing each of the other OB’s?
Know the Difference: OB vs Midwife
While looking for an OB, it’s important to take a few things into consideration. Knowing the difference between an OB and a Midwife could aid you in narrowing down your options, so here are a few things to ponder:
- Your level of risk is the first thing a practice will look into. If you are high risk, you will have to go with an OB. If you are low risk, you have the option of choosing a midwife or an OB.
- If your birth plan includes zero medications, you may want to look into a midwife.
- If you’re thinking you’d like to try a water birth, you may want to look into a midwife.
- If you think you’ll need a cesarean section (or any type of surgical intervention), you need an OB.
Benefits fall to different sides of the spectrum of OB vs Midwife, so really think through your birth plan and make an informed decision.
Check Your Insurance
When finding an OB-Gyn, checking with your insurance is an important step in your search. Take this step early! Make sure your preferred OB is in-network. This will help curb any monetary surprises later on. If you aren’t sure if your preferred OB is in-network, start by checking your insurance company’s website for a list of providers. The next step is to call the OB office and ask.
Location, Location, Location
Look on a map or take a drive to see how far the office is from your home or work. Know how long it will take to get there so you can plan your appointments accordingly. Also, check out the parking situation and make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with. You will be going there a lot in the next 8-9 months!
Check their Online Biography
I am huge on researching, especially when it comes to my health care. I suggest that once you have your choices narrowed down to just a few, check their online biography. Websites such as Healthgrades or Healthgrades are helpful. This could tell you a lot about them! You’ll find out what schooling and certifications they completed, how long they have been practicing, and much more.
Know Your Personality
Do you like to have a little levity with your visits? Or do you prefer facts and a medical seriousness? Do you need a gentle personality? Think about how your personalities mesh when you visit. You may find out some general ideas of what an OB is like from recommendations from your friends and family before you even visit.
Remember, if you choose a group practice, you’ll be seeing more than one OB or even a Nurse Practitioner. It may take a few visits before you meet all of them, so be prepared to possibly not mesh with everyone. Decide early if this is something you are ok with.
Check the OB’s Hospital Affiliation
Especially if you live in a larger city with multiple hospitals, make sure you check into which hospital your preferred OB is affiliated with. Be sure that the hospital accepts your insurance (in-network!) and check into reviews on their Mother/Baby Unit. If you plan on breastfeeding, you’ll want to make sure the hospital is breastfeeding-friendly.
The OB won’t be the main person in the room during the majority of labor, so ask around about experiences others have had with that hospital’s nursing staff and postnatal care.
How is After-Hours Care Handled?
Don’t forget to look into after-hours care! Most babies don’t arrive at a convenient time, so be prepared by finding out what a healthcare practice will tell you to do after their office closes.
Many offices will have an emergency line to call that will put you in touch with the on-call OB. You’ll often have steps to take before heading to the hospital, so find out the details and make sure you’re comfortable with the procedure.
You Can Change Your Mind
One of the most important things to remember is that you can change your mind! Don’t think that just because you have seen an OB once, you’re locked in for the long haul. You’re not!
You always reserve the right to change your mind. Don’t settle for a sub-par experience. Listen to your instincts and if a change is warranted, by all means, try out someone new. Just try finding a new OB-GYN or even a midwife, if you prefer, before you enter your third trimester. Most providers are reluctant to take on a patient when they’re this far into pregnancy.
Just because an OB is highly recommended by someone you trust, doesn’t mean that they will definitely be right for you as well. Pay attention when you go in for your visits. Take note of policies and practices.
Keep in mind, the OB is the person who will be helping you deliver your baby into the world. If something is making you uncomfortable, address it with your OB or consider a change.
Choosing an OB is a personal decision that you can only make for yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for yourself and your baby. You know your needs better than anyone and it’s important to share your healthcare desires with the person who will take care of you for the next 40 weeks.