Searching for a OB/GYN during the first pregnancy can be a lot of trial and error. Unfortunately, this is one of those mommy decisions where you really can't afford so much error. Choosing an obstetrician is a lot like choosing a companion for the next nine months, except that this companion is responsible for your and your child's well-being.
You can't just treat picking your clinician like ordering a pizza and call up the first person who comes up in your search with a four-star review. OB/GYNs all come with different expertise, policies, and personalities that mesh better with some people than others. Going off one gut feeling is great, but it could cost you in the long run when you and your doctor just don't click.
What's the golden rule when looking for an OB/GYN? Research, research, research! It's not enough to check out their online reviews. Ask some of your friends if they have experience with a certain doctor and, if so, what they think. Look into their credentials and see if their specialties fit your needs. Give them a call and have an honest-to-goodness conversation. Just whatever you do, don't go in blindly.
This article explores 15 of the most important areas to keep in mind when looking for your OB/GYN. Spend time getting to know this doctor as well as you can before you make your final decision so you know what you're getting into. After all, you really are putting your life into this person's hands.
15 Referral From A Friend
Choosing an obstetrician based off of a friend's good word is one of the safest ways to find a good doctor. After all, an OB/GYN's reviews may look stunning, but you can't ask the writer what their personal feelings were about what's most important to you. With a friend, you get an honest answer for every question and the most realistic expectation of what to expect from your clinician.
If you have any friends who recently had a baby, reach out to them and ask what their thoughts were on their OB/GYN. Because an obstetrician's role is so personal and important during the pregnancy, she will most likely be overenthusiastic to share her feelings. Make sure to raise any questions you have so you have a picture so much more full than any online review can offer.
Keep in mind, however, that you and your friend are not the same person. If a certain doctor worked or didn't work well for your friend, you may have an entirely different experience based on your own needs. Try to evaluate your friend's perspective and keep in mind what areas you may differ from her.
14 Research Their Delivery Attendance
No matter when you have your baby, your OB/GYN will be there and ready to help you through this important milestone... right? As it turns out, you may need to check in with your clinician's policies on this one. Although many OB/GYNs pledge to attend deliveries no matter when they happen, some do not attend if your labor begins in the middle of the night.
In this case, your doctor won't leave you to fend for yourself. Instead, their on-call doctor will take care of you and help you through the delivery until they are on duty. Even so, some new mothers may feel most comfortable with a familiar face there at the delivery. If this is you, make a special effort to look at their delivery attendance.
Turn down a clinician with more strict attendance hours if you feel this might worry you. You can't choose your delivery time, but you can choose your obstetrician.
13 Know Their Policies
In addition to birthing attendance, make sure you've got the record straight on their other policies. Know where they stand on emergency calls or visits. If you have a question after-hours or during the weekends, will they be available? Or what about their hours of operation: some doctors only work out of their office part-time and maintain very flexible hours. Keep in mind that a doctor with shorter hours may be harder to get ahold of.
Every OB/GYN operates under a unique set of policies. Some might be perfect for your situation while others might not float your boat as much. Knowing your doctor's policies can help you a ton when going over pros and cons between different clinicians. The more you understand about their operation methods, the more balanced choice you can make.
12 Does Gender Matter?
While you may not consider an OB/GYN's gender outright when looking for the right doctor, considering whether gender matters to you can save you months of discomfort. Some women feel most comfortable with a female obstetrician. Knowing whether you are one of these people is important to recognize while looking for a doctor.
You might think that a female doctor can understand your needs better than a male one, or you may just feel most comfortable with a female doctor in such an intimate doctor-patient relationship. No matter the reason, be honest with your feelings and take them to heart as you consider different doctors.
Don't feel bad if you realize a male OB/GYN makes you feel anxious. Choosing a doctor is all about your needs, and if you feel safer with a female OB/GYN, reach out to a female doctor instead. Pat yourself on the back for recognizing your preference before you get saddled with the wrong match for you.
11 Certification And Board Membership
Knowing whether or not your clinician is board-certified may not be a current priority, but by all means make it one. Depending on your country, your OB/GYN should receive recognition by a national board for obstetricians and gynecologists stating their competency in the field. A doctor who isn't board-certified is a red flag, as they might not have as much experience or success in their field.
As a patient, you can check in on your potential doctor's membership status without much difficulty. Simply ask if you can see their board certification when meeting for the first time. If they are not board-certified, think carefully about whether you want to trust this clinician with your child. While they may still be a good doctor, you are safest with someone certified by their peers.
10 Research Credentials
When looking for an OB/GYN, credentials are paramount to research. Not only do they give you a good idea of your doctor's experience, but they also give you insight into what issues your doctor may be best at treating. Look into their past employers or alma mater information to get a sense of their experience. The more lived experience they've had as an obstetrician, the better for your situation.
Keep in mind that young doctors may have just as much accomplishment as older ones, even if they have less reviews online. Give newer doctors a chance, but don't use their age as an excuse to skimp out on researching. Look for information on their residency or research topics as a student to understand a little more about their work.
Should you feel that you and a newer doctor are a good fit, keep in mind that they may be just as good as an older obstetrician. Just know who this person is before you put your (and your child's) wellness into their hands.
9 Examine Your Personal Needs
When looking at a doctor holistically, think about your own needs. If you feel most comfortable with a doctor with more experience or with a certain viewpoint, take that into consideration. Look for doctors who have whatever is most important to you. Having a little peace of mind goes a long way through pregnancy, and you'll thank yourself for putting in the extra research later on.
Is it selfish to look for an OB/GYN based on your personal interests? Not at all! After all, this is your pregnancy. Picking an obstetrician that you feel meets all your needs brings nothing but good to your situation.
8 Check Their Bedside Manner
As with everything, different personalities work best with different people. Some mothers might prefer a sweet and caring doctor who knows how to take care of someone. Others might prefer a more distancing but intelligent doctor who can talk them through tough situations.
No matter who your doctor is, though, bedside manners are paramount. Without them, you'll feel so much more uncomfortable and anxious during the labor. Your doctor may not be the cuddliest person around, but you don't want a Dr. House incarnate helping you through the birthing process.
Try to pick someone who meshes best with your personality. If you can communicate effectively with your doctor, they are more likely to offer advice or support that will help you through the tough times later on.
7 Delivery Methods
Some conditions or lifestyle habits might make you more at-risk for a c-section. If this is the case, you may want to find a doctor who is most familiar with certain birthing methods. Although all OB/GYNs are experienced with mainstream birthing methods, they may feel comfortable performing a certain procedure over another. Some may even refuse to give certain procedures, such as a natural birth, based on their own understandings.
Look into your doctor's preferred birthing methods and how they determine which method to use. How you give birth affects so much of your labor experience. Knowing where your doctor stands can help you prepare for certain situations and have a little more peace of mind.
6 Experience and Specialties
If you're a mom-to-be with certain medical conditions, you may already know that your disorder comes with birthing complications. If this is the case, you may feel safest with a clinician that knows how to help with your disorder. Some OB/GYNs specialize in everything from diabetes to cerebral palsy and can help mothers with some conditions have a healthy pregnancy.
Take time to research specialty doctors if you feel like you might need one. Know their treatment plans and opinions so that you can see if you stand on the same page with them. Ask them what complications you may have and their plan to treat you if in an emergency.
Sometimes knowing that your doctor can help you and your baby along can feel so much more real if they are familiar with your medical conditions. If you want a doctor who understands you like general obstetricians might not, check for specialty doctors and how they can help you.
5 Double-Check With Insurance
Perhaps the most practical aspect of this list, make sure you know which providers your insurance covers. In nearly every cases, the best choice is to pick an obstetrician that is in your area. Call your insurance and double (then triple) check to know your insurance will be there for you.
Having a baby is expensive. Even with insurance, trying to get through this process can get a little rough. Working with an OB/GYN who is covered by your insurance is so essential for your financial health. Call your insurance and get a list of providers to work with so you can examine every option within your limits.
4 Find Patient Reviews Or Surveys
Patient reviews may not tell the full story, but they do tell one. Read a bunch, and you might be able to piece together a more personal understanding of the OB/GYN. Because survey and reviews are often done under the internet's anonymity, many are honest and fair in their attempt to rate the clinician.
Before reading through reviews, make a list of what matters most in a clinician. While reading through the list, keep note of anything a potential OB/GYN could provide for you. If a review mentions a certain trait, write it down so you can tally up the positives and negatives later.
Remember that every person is different and that many factors could have contributed to a certain review. Pregnancy is a life-changing time, and the reviewer could have been under a lot of stress when posting. Keep this in mind when reading through reviews and try not to let bias sway you.
3 Research Their Hospital
When you commit to an OB/GYN, the hospital they work with usually comes along as a sort-of "package deal." Not only do you need to love the doctor themselves, but you've got to appreciate their hospital, too. Remember, you're going to be spending your delivery in this hospital. Knowing as much as you can about the hospital can save you many headaches and worries about the big day.
Research hospital policies and procedures for delivery, and know the hospital's history. How old is it, and how much experience does it have with birthing and delivery? What do other new parents think of the delivery rooms? If a policy strikes you as uncomfortable but you love your potential OB/GYN, decide what is more important to you and weigh every option. Sometimes a great doctor is worth the discomfort, but oftentimes, you may want to make a second choice if you can't stand their hospital.
2 Schedule A Quick Phone Call
Once you've heard the word around the street about this obstetrician and you've given their list of credentials a look-through, schedule a call to talk more in-depth with them. Sometimes a phone call can be the key that unlocks your insights into an OB/GYN and whether they're the best fit for your situation. Connecting with your doctor before you make a choice is a great idea, and a phone call may be the most feasible way for you to do so.
Sometimes calling a doctor (especially if you are calling many to pick the right one) can be a little stressful. Make a list beforehand so you remember what you specifically want to bring up when talking with them. That way, even if you're anxious, you won't miss anything that's important to you.
1 How's Their Outlook?
"Clicking" with your obstetrician is more important than you might think. Just like you might work better with some co-workers, a certain OB/GYN might be a better fit than another just because your values align better. The more important matters you and your doctor agree on, the more likely it is you'll feel satisfied with their care throughout your pregnancy.
When meeting for the first time, gage their opinion on the issues that matter most to you. Ask them how they feel about certain birthing procedures like natural childbirth, or whether they allow other people in the room besides your partner during the birth. Even if your question feels a little silly, bring it up with your doctor so you know from the start where they stand.
Once you see how your values align, consider the OB/GYN on a more personal level. Do you feel comfortable with this doctor? Do you feel like they're invested in your pregnancy, and do they explain procedures in a way that you just "get?" Are they respectful of you and are they someone you could respect? Asking the hard questions now will eliminate a lot of emotional soul-searching later on.