10 Things New Moms Should Consider When Choosing an Obstetrician

Of course there are qualities every woman looks for in her doctor:

  • Level of experience
  • Educational background
  • Comes Recommended

There's a reason why a great percentage of doctors in private practices are by referral. The best referrals are word of mouth and many doctors thrive on this. I always prefer a referral from a friend over a yelp review.

Referrals however may seem weightless to you when it comes to finding an Obstetrician. You want a doctor you vibe well with. Who will try to honor all your neurotic requests. Who will understand your woes. And most importantly, who will be the right doctor to share your greatest and most profound moment of life with.

A top OB in California who closed her practice to new patients once told me; if ever it were a friend of one her patients hoping to join her practice to get them into the schedule. “If I like the patient, I’m pretty sure I’ll like her friend…and vice versa”. Her comment sets the tone for your search for your first OB.

New moms! Be judgmental when choosing your OB. We captured ten major points in detail so that when the special time comes, you’ll find the right obstetrician for your new family.

10  Compassion is Key

A doctor's compassion language is different than that of your friend or family. You don't want a diet coke - kinda - sweet doctor. Especially when you already find just about everything more irritating these days. You want a genuine doctor who cares and appreciates your role as her patient.

A compassionate doctor will spend an adequate amount of time with you during your monthly visits. Doctors have scheduled appointment slots that are typically between 15 and 30 minutes long. If you're a new patient for your first OB visit, at minimum your appointment should be 30 minutes. 45 minutes to an hour is even better. 

A busy doctor who likes money may cram as many 15 minute slots into their daily schedule as possible causing them to rush and spend inadequate time with you. The type of doctor you want will have a busy schedule but will allot enough time to address everything and answer your questions.

You Want a Caring Doctor

How do you find out how much time you'll have? When making your appointment, ask how much time you will need to allow for this visit. The receptionist won’t give you the exact time frame but will give you a good idea of what to expect.

A compassionate doctor won't leave you feeling rushed when you ask questions. Body language is ever present. Ask your questions and check out your OB,

Is he/she:

Stopping to give you eye contact? Constantly telling you we'll worry about that next time?

Nodding and answering before you finish your question? Giving you quick vague answers? White knuckling the door handle to leave in the middle of your sentence?

For example, you ask if you are fit to fly during your pregnancy and she answers yes. Yes is the right answer at your first OB visit when you’re somewhere between six and ten weeks pregnant. 

Make Sure You Feel Comfortable with the Doctor

However, what about at 29 weeks pregnant? Instead of answering yes, she should have given you a speech similar to this one: During a healthy pregnancy it is generally ok to fly up to 32 weeks pregnant. Anything past 32 weeks puts you at risk of pre-term labor. (Not all doctors agree on this but it is general rule of thumb).

A good doctor will have a system in place to make sure all her patients have the amount of time they need without causing havoc to the remainder of her schedule.

Tip: You can always do a test run on a doctor you really like. If you change your mind at any point in your pregnancy, you can always transfer your prenatal care and ask the forwarding doctor to grab all your records. You don’t even need to get involved.  

9  Money Motivated

Obstetricians are specialty surgeons and at almost four grand a c/section, they may be pushing for the payday.

It’s best for mom and baby to have a natural vaginal birth. It is safer for both the mother and baby. Having a C-section the first delivery will likely require a follow up in the future. Not only is your body more resistant to full restoration, but you miss the experience of true labor and delivery. And you may never have the chance for the experience. In 2013 more that 32% of American births were C-sections.

First time mom's often deliver late. A money motivated doctor may mention induction too early. Sometimes offering it as a measure of convenience. Although induction may be necessary, know the facts. You can go up to 14 days overdue in a healthy uncomplicated pregnancy before you must force baby out. If the induction fails the first 24 hours you can give it another day before seriously considering C-section.

Don't Get Stuck in a Money Pit

So the story typically goes; mom isn’t dilating but her due date is moving farther into the past. The doctor schedules induction, the induction doesn’t seem to be working, mom is not dilating. Doctor pushes for C-section in the first 12 hours.

Knowing the facts can mean all the difference in the world. Having a doctor you can trust with your best interest gives you the peace of not having to worry about money motivated intention

Inside info: A money hungry doctor may schedule an induction to insure they're the delivering doctor as the unpredictability of natural delivery often times prevent patients from being delivered by their own doctor. Which may be a plus or negative to you. Some mothers will opt for a C-section after a certain number of hours in manipulated labor and that's your choice.

8  Reliability

Is your OB a frequent vacationer? Everyone should vacation but you don't want dear doc off to Europe three times a year. Not during your pregnancy anyway. You can always ask the staff for a rough draft of the doctor's upcoming year. A good doctor will be okay with their patients knowing they'll be out of town xyz dates.

Does she cancel her appointments often? Doctors are people too. You'll definitely run across a few who mismanage their time and schedules. Sure, doctors have a lot of commitments. Specialists even more-so. But if you're constantly needing to reschedule your life to adjust to an ever- changing doctor’s schedule, you may need to look elsewhere. 

Ask About Flexibility

Once I was scheduling patient who had been called for the third time in a row to reschedule her monthly visit. Her response was, "You know everybody's busy, this is becoming abusive."  Make sure you can rely on your doctor to be somewhat flexible. 

7  Will Be There for You

As a low maintenance person, I understand I may not be able to call up my doctor any old time. However, pregnant patients should always be able to get in touch with someone.

OBs are obligated to work rounds which means certain days within a month a doctor is scheduled to work 12 to 24 hours in a hospital delivering babies and checking on labor and delivery patients. In addition, many doctors make an attempt to be available during working hours to deliver their own patients should the need arise. 

These specialists are busy. Not difficult to understand right! A good doctor will have a system set in place to account for their busy schedules. Should you have a pressing issue or concern, there should be someone with medical training available to speak with.

The Doctor Should Make You Feel Confident

6  Copasetic Work Environment

Your OB needs to work well with her staff. Your doctor should be respectful and trusting of her staff. You will see and speak with staff often. There needs to be a mutual respect that is visible so nothing falls between the cracks. If your scheduler, medical assistant, and doctor don't get along, you may miss important info, lab results may be forgotten, calls may go answered.

Signs a doctor has a great working relationship with her staff look like this:

  • Doctor says “oh talk to so and so, she’ll take care of that for you. And so and so picks it right up without missing a beat.
  • Staff shares doctor’s accolades with pride and ingenuity.
  • Doctor follows up on staff’s promises
  • Doctor’s seem friendly and approachable

5  Just Say No to Ego

Is there an air of arrogance? A narcissist can be dangerous as they are unable to concern themselves with the best interest of others. Someone in a position of high regard can abuse it. Remember, doctors are just people. Overly charming, overly casual, overly aloof doctors may be red flags. You should feel appreciated and cared for as a patient in the presence of your doctor.

Choose an OB who has more of a factual approach to your care. A doctor shouldn’t have the ‘it’s probably fine approach’ to answering questions and concerns. You want a doctor who will research if needed. Know what’s what. Look up and consult on what’s unknown...

The Doctor Should Be Making a Big Deal Out of You, Not the Other Way Around

Your OB will monitor you throughout your entire pregnancy and postpartum recovery. You may have to share some deeply personal feelings with your OB depending on how your pregnancy and/or delivery is affecting you emotionally. Because this is all so new for you, you want a doctor who will listen to your concerns and offer the best medical advice possible…without ego.

4  Squares Stay Sharp

Women are having babies later in life. Unfortunately, pregnancy risks increase with age. Many OBs work closely with fertility specialists for this reason. Many women go to great lengths to become a mom. Unfortunately, not all methods are successful even if at first they appear to be. Frailty comes to with those who suffer with difficulty in conceiving. Your first trimester could be tough and scary if this is you.

“Some stick and some don't” says one San Francisco Obstetrician when comforting a woman with a history of miscarriage.

The woman smiled and squeezed the doctor's hand. It was what she needed to hear. She needed to believe she wasn't a flawed being and that sometimes it just doesn'tstick.

A sharp doctor knows that everything pregnancy isn’t lovely and fuzzy. And she knows what to say, what to recommend, and how to give her patient hope. 

3  Good Surgeon

OBs are surgeons. In the event you have to have a C-section, you want a good surgeon to handle it. A good surgeon separates you from the ugly scars, the ugly scar tissue, and can limit post-surgical pain.

Post-surgical complications include infection, tearing of the wound. Uterine rupture, and other internal damage that can cost your health and wallet down the line. Finding a knowledgeable and experienced surgeon can limit the big gun complications. To boot, your scar won’t look half bad.

2  Gets Involved

A first time pregnancy is frightening and exhilarating all at once. You want someone protecting your baby and yourself but also who’s rooting for you. Who has your back. Your life will become something else entirely than what is was before. Depression is a scary monster that rears its ugly head in an estimated 9 to 16 percent of postpartum women.

Your obstetrician should always be asking how you are feeling and if you are sleeping. Your emotional mood should be assessed at every exam and all risk factors should be discussed and prepared for. It’s your choice to treat any signs or symptoms of depression with medication. But it is your doctor’s responsibility to discuss the options with you…regularly.

The Doctor Should Be Invested in You and Your Pregnancy

Sleep or lack thereof is essential for your doctor to know. Your body is taking a beating, you need sleep to preserve your growing condition and to keep your mood stable.

If you have trouble sleeping the doctor needs to know. If she isn’t asking then mention it. She should discuss options such as acupuncture, or over the counter medications that may help. A good doctor gets involved in other areas of your quality of life that could affect yourself or your pregnancy.

1  Familiar

You shouldn’t have to be popular to keep your doctor’s attention. Your doctor should be familiar with you, your unique medical issues, and your birth plan. There’s a wealth of paperwork that forces you to address all these things before you can even get seen at the doctor’s office. So there’s really no excuse for a doctor to not be familiar with you.

As a new mom, you want your doc to be invested in you and your unborn enough to remember that you are a new mom. Or that your hubby is a carpenter, or whatever else you’ve discussed with her in the past.

The need to constantly remind, correct, or recall because the doctor can’t remember will leave you uneasy. Your soul is all the way open to connecting when you have the light of life within you. Sharing such an amazing experience with someone who can’t even remember your husband’s name should halt you.

Even doctor’s have to take some level of importance in providing a great patient experience without just leaving it to staff.

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