Congratulations—you’re expecting! With this wonderful and exciting news comes a multitude of research, questions, and preparation. One of the first questions you’ll probably ask yourself is how to pick the best obstetrician?
The truth is, that only you can decide what criteria is most important to consider in choosing your obstetrician. You may be able to narrow your list of choices somewhat with a simple phone call. You wouldn’t want to meet with a doctor who isn’t in your network of providers if that’s a requirement for your insurance coverage, for example.
Here Are Some Things to Consider When Choosing an Obstetrician:
Are you compatible?
Even the easiest pregnancy and delivery can be stressful. You want to make sure to choose a healthcare partner you feel comfortable with and can communicate with well. It is important you feel the doctor has empathy for your needs and is truly listening to you.
Which hospital does the obstetrician attend births?
It’s important to feel good about the hospital you will give birth at, as well as your care provider. If you already know where you’d like to give birth, whether at a hospital, a birth center or at home—it’s a good idea to interview providers who practice in that setting.
Do you want an OBGYN (obstetrician-gynecologist) or a family practitioner?
Family practitioners are primary care physicians, which means they take care of an array of health problems or conditions that their patients may face. They care for patients of all ages, so family practitioners have a breadth of knowledge on most disciplines of medicine, and many of them will manage and deliver generally uncomplicated pregnancies. If pregnancy or labor gets to a point where there are complications, frequently a practitioner will consult an OB for advice, and the OB might assume the care of the patient.
The OBGYN specializes in women’s health and obstetric issues, both low- and high-risk cases. Typically, the OBGYN will have a significant amount of experience in managing pregnancies and delivering babies, for obvious reasons.
Would you prefer to be cared for by someone other than a physician?
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) are an acceptable alternative to physicians. Typically, nurse midwives consult with OBGYNs for any particular patient concerns they may have but act autonomously for most uncomplicated pregnancies. The high likelihood of having a female midwife (although there are a few men) appeals to many women.
Have you had a pre-pregnancy counseling session?
Many women do not know this, but good obstetricians would prefer to meet and counsel you before you get pregnant. It is beneficial to assess any existing medical issues you might have before the pregnancy, and make sure you’re getting the proper nutrition and vitamins. It’s especially important with women who might have medical considerations factoring into their pregnancy. Factors that might be important to discuss with your doctor ahead of time are:
- Current health and past medical history
- Age of mother
- Heart and/or lung problem
- Drinking or smoking
- Past pregnancy-related history