One of the most important relationships a mom-to-be will have in the nine months while she awaits her baby’s arrival is the one with her obstetrician. Obstetricians are doctors who have chosen to specialize in caring for a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, and after she’s given birth.
Throughout the course of her pregnancy, a mother will attend monthly, bi-monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily appointments at her OB’s office. She will count on her OB to advise her regarding hospital selection, birth plans, and important prenatal testing. Needless to say, an OB with a professional demeanor, excellent judgment, and a comfortable rapport are all vital to the patient-OB relationship.
Doctors are people too, and not every patient-physician relationship is the right fit. However, the patient-physician relationship is one that is built on trust. A patient should feel like she can go to her OB when she has questions, concerns, or health issues and know that her OB will be responsive in caring for her needs.
However, it’s not always easy for an expectant mom to recognize the signs that her OB may not be the right fit. She may be caught up in her pregnancy and everyday life, without stopping to give as much thought to her medical provider. When “labor day” comes, the wrong OB selection could result in great anxiety, stress, and a less-than-positive birthing experience for a mother.
These 15 signs could be early indicators that an expectant mom may need to find a new obstetrician to deliver her baby.
15 She Doesn’t Feel Comfortable With The Doctor
All the expertise in the world cannot make up for a doctor an expectant mom cannot feel comfortable with. Pregnancy is a very personal time for a mother, and she must be able to share symptoms, concerns, and her personal wishes with her OB. She also must be comfortable in the labor and delivery suite or operating room should a mother require a C-section.
A mom-to-be and her OB don’t have to be the best of friends, but they do need to have a positive, open relationship and feel comfortable communicating with one another. If an expectant mom decides to look for a new OB, she should arrange a patient meeting with a potential doctor.
Most OBs will offer these free of charge to ensure the new doctor is a better fit. Part of the meeting usually involves a brief questions session where a mom asks the doctor about their philosophy of care.
14 The Doctor Is Rude
Not every obstetrician will win Mr. or Ms. Congeniality. However, this does not mean that an expectant mom should not expect courtesy and respect at every physician appointment. While every person can have a bad day, if a doctor is consistently rude, their behavior is inexcusable.
If a doctor displays this behavior once and does not apologize, chances are they may not recognize their behavior as being problematic. As a result, a mom-to-be may experience similar treatment at a later date. Labor is a stressful situation, and a doctor that is rude to patients and/or staff is not one that will convey a calm air in the delivery room.
Some doctors are passively aggressively rude. They may consistently keep a mom-to-be waiting at appointments or seemingly “talk down” to an expectant mom. These behaviors are no less rude than if a doctor made specifically rude comments to a mother. If a doctor and their office staff does not treat a patient with respect and is rude, it’s definitely time to find an obstetrician who will.
13 Rushes Every Appointment
A fine balance exists between an appointment that’s too long and one that’s rushed. However, when a mother spends her valuable time attending regular doctor’s appointments to learn how her little one is progressing, she should feel as if her doctor is invested in the appointment.
Physical cues such as frequently checking a watch, failing to make eye contact, or checking a cell phone are all signs that a doctor is trying to rush an appointment along.
Rushed appointments can mean a mom doesn’t have all her questions answered by the time she leaves the doctor’s office. She may leave feeling more confused or even frustrated that her appointment was so brief and impersonal. According to “Business Insider,” the average doctor’s appointment takes between 13 and 16 minutes to see the doctor.
If a doctor is spending less time than this, it may be time to seek a new OB.
12 Doesn’t Ask Or Care About The Birth Plan
Birth plans have become an important part of a mom’s preparations for welcoming her little one into the world. Examples of important components of birth plans include if she wants to have her water broken, what type of pain management options she would like during labor, what position she would prefer to have her baby in, and preferences regarding the placenta and clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord.
While not all mothers wish to create a birth plan, it is important that an expectant mom have a supportive OB should she wish to create a birth plan. However, if an OB tunes out or even rolls their eyes at the mention of a birth plan, this should raise a red flag to an expectant mom.
By discussing these options ahead of time before the often-stressful events of delivery day with a receptive doctor, a mom can feel more secure that her delivery will go according to her wishes.
11 The Doctor Is Always Late
Because obstetricians may deliver babies at all hours of the day, it’s possible an OB may be periodically called away during an appointment time. This can delay all of the offices’ appointments. While this is understandable from time to time, an OB who is always hours late is either too busy or simply a poor appointment scheduler.
Most offices will have a notification policy where they will call someone with an appointment to notify them the doctor will be late. Typically, a mom can either reschedule the appointment or wait for the doctor.
Consistent lateness and/or frequently rescheduled appointments, however, should not be accepted and may indicate a mom may need to find an OB. When she does interview potential replacement OBs, she should ask the OB about scheduling appointments and the average office wait times. Many offices will track wait times and missed appointments as a means of becoming more efficient.
10 Office Doesn’t Offer Desired Amenities
While a doctor’s office may not be the Ritz-Carlton, there are some amenities that moms-to-be may desire from their OB’s office. Examples could include multiple office locations and options for extended office hours. Others may use software that allows a mom to make online appointments or receive secure updates regarding tests and/or imaging results.
Other doctors will offer an e-mail address they will return responses to quickly or high-tech ultrasound capabilities as part of their standard services.
A similar principle that’s important for doctors to do is to accept a patient’s particular insurance plan. Some doctor’s offices may have unique billing practices related to a woman’s pregnancy.
The office should have a business manager or other financial expert that should meet with a mother-to-be and her partner and explain estimated costs associated with the pregnancy and any costs that may be additional related to a family’s insurance coverage.
9 They Don’t Answer Questions
If a doctor advises to look important questions up on the Internet instead of answering them, it may be time for an expectant mom to switch OBs. Because pregnancy is filled with many questions, ranging from “Is this normal?” to “Am I in early labor?” it's important to have an approachable OB who is willing to answer a broad range of questions, ranging from trimester-related to birth planning.
While it is important an expectant mom have a variety of reliable Internet resources to draw information from, an OB can and should be willing to provide information and explanation. They should also be able to provide the practical side of labor and delivery that the Internet cannot provide.
If an OB doesn’t answer questions appropriately or, even worse, doesn’t answer questions at all and essentially ignores a mom-to-be’s questions (no matter how small), it may be time to find a new doctor.
8 Says Off-Color Or Inappropriate Things
Professionalism is paramount to the patient-OB relationship. However, not all doctors practice the same levels of professionalism. If a doctor says inappropriate things, such as sharing other patients’ personal information, a mom can only assume the doctor would do the same in sharing her personal information.
Other times, a doctor may make comments that simply make a mom either roll her eyes or question the doctor’s common sense. Examples could include jokes about a mother’s weight, appearance, or state of health otherwise. Off-color comments about office staff are also major red flags.
A doctor should have a professional and trusting personality. If an OB does not, this can be a sign that it’s time to find a new OB. The result will likely be an improved maternity experience on the part of the expectant mom. To find the right doctor, a mom may wish to ask how an office and doctor work to protect a mom’s privacy.
7 The Doctor Isn’t Good At Explaining Medical Terms
Unfortunately, just because a doctor has earned a medical degree doesn’t mean they have put forth the effort to stay current in their practice afterwards. If a mom-to-be asks her doctor to explain the reasons for a particular test or hospital practice and the answer is something to the effect of “because that’s how it’s always been done,” this response should give her pause.
In addition to explaining terms well, a doctor should also be familiar with newer practices, such as blood testing for genetic abnormalities or genetic counseling should expectant parents have a history of genetic-linked diseases in their families. A patient can also expect that a doctor should be familiar with a particular hospital’s policies regarding labor and delivery.
For example, some hospitals do not permit mothers to save the placenta, if this is desired. A doctor should be able to explain (or find out from a reliable source) a question regarding a medical term or explain the answer to a patient’s understanding.
6 Doesn’t Remember Mom’s Name
Small details are permissible for a doctor to forget – but never calling a patient by her correct name ever can indicate that a doctor does not care enough to show personal attention toward his or her patients. If a doctor doesn’t remember a patient’s name, they likely will not remember important key details of a mother’s birth plan or overall health.
Failing to remember a patient’s name can make a doctor seem uninterested in caring for a mom-to-be.
In addition to carelessness, refraining from remembering a patient’s name could indicate the office as a whole is disorganized. A doctor should review the patient’s information each time before going into the patient’s room. Failing to do so could cause the doctor to call the patient the wrong name.
Instead of correcting the doctor, it may be time for a mom-to-be to find a new doctor entirely.
5 The Office Has Had A Lot Of Staff Turnover
According to CNN.com, the average person changes jobs at least four times before they turn 32. Some job turnover can be expected, but if an office has completely turned over several times before a mom became pregnant, this turnover could be a red flag that something is amiss in the doctor’s office. High staff turnover could be an indicator a doctor does not treat their office staff well.
In addition to establishing a relationship with an obstetrician, a mom-to-be often becomes close with a doctor’s staff. Examples could include medical assistants and nurses. If these key personnel frequently leave for other offices and positions, the office may not be the best choice for an obstetrician.
An expectant mom could search for a different OB and ask the OB about their office staff turnover and also ask to meet additional staff they may come in contact with throughout the pregnancy.
4 The Doctor Is Never Available
Not all babies arrive at predictable times or during the 9 to 5 workday. When a doctor chooses to practice obstetrics, they know they are embarking on a career that requires them to be “on-call” in some capacity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Many obstetrics physician practices will have one or more physician partners that will take turns being the “on-call” person that is responsible for answering questions after office hours as well as going to the hospital to see an expectant mother who may be experiencing pregnancy complications or early labor.
An obstetrician should explain their on-call policies to their patients. Ultimately, they or another physician, should be available by phone when important questions arise. These can range from answering if a certain pregnancy symptom is normal to determining if it is time for a laboring mother to go the hospital based on how far apart her contractions are.
If an expectant mom cannot reach a doctor after hours during the pregnancy, they should find a doctor that is more available.
3 Forgets Key Details Of The Pregnancy
While OB’s do see a large number of patients, it’s important that a doctor remembers and/or emphasizes key elements of a pregnancy. For example, if a mom-to-be’s having twins – that’s important. Also, a medical history of chronic conditions that could complicate a pregnancy, such as a heart condition or diabetes are very important to remember.
If a doctor has to be reminded of these and other key details of a pregnancy, chances are they may be either too busy or too careless to provide personalized and compassionate care to a mom-to-be.
Trust and building a patient-provider relationship is important to the pregnancy process. Expectant parents are trusting an OB to care for their precious little one and make decisions that could greatly impact mother and baby’s health. For this reason, the doctor should remember key details and re-iterate these at each of the regular pregnancy appointments.
2 Orders Tests That Seem Unnecessary
Tests are to be expected during prenatal visits. Examples of common tests ordered include urine screenings for pregnancy hormones and the presence of ketones (which could indicate gestational diabetes). Testing for mom’s blood type, testing for the presence of Group Beta strep, and a glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes.
However, if an OB seems to be ordering a laundry list of screenings without explaining why the tests are necessary, this behavior may give an expectant mom pause.
Excessive testing can not only increase a mom-to-be’s anxiety levels, they can also be costly and altogether unnecessary. Asking about the purposes of each test as well as potential causes are fair questions for any expectant parent.
If a doctor cannot appropriately explain or justify the reasons for testing, a mom may need to find a new OB who utilizes her resources – like time and money – more appropriately.
1 Seeing The OB Just Doesn’t Feel Right
At the end of the day, a mother’s first instincts are her best instincts. It’s important that she listens to her inner voice that may be indicating to her that a doctor may not act in her or her baby’s best interests. Even if she has been seeing the doctor as a gynecologist for many years, this does not mean the doctor is the best person to care for her from an obstetrics perspective.
A woman should never be afraid to find the best doctor for her personally, one that she feels will take care of her and her baby.
Signs the doctor-patient relationship just isn’t working for a mom include if she doesn’t look forward to going to appointments at her OB’s office or doesn’t ultimately trust and/or respect the doctor. A mom-to-be always has the right to find the best doctor for her, not just the doctor she’s always gone to.