When you find out you’re pregnant, you suddenly have about a million decisions to make.
When do family and friends find out? Nursing or bottle feeding? How about the nursery decor? What names are in the running?
But actually, before answering any of those, one of the very first decisions to make should be choosing an OB, or obstetrician—the physician who monitors the health of both mother and baby.
Here are 5 questions that helped me make the right decision when I was having a baby.
1. What Can I Find Out From Moms I Know?
I was pretty careful with this one. Once you open that box, advice could just start pouring out of the woodwork. To ebb the flow, I asked a select group of women I knew with babies or toddlers some targeted questions about their obstetrician experiences.
What kinds of questions did they ask the doctor to see if he was a good fit? Did they interview several OBs before selecting one? Did they stick with someone they didn’t really like, or did they find matches made in heaven?
Just hearing about someone else’s experience—the good, the bad, and the ugly—can help women be proactive in their search.
Some women also ask their primary care physician for a referral list, and go from there.
2. My Own Health: Is It Complicated?
With serious health issues—whether it’s diabetes, a heart condition, or an issue that involves the reproductive system—experience is a must.
I had a couple of sporadic blood clotting issues in the past, so in choosing an OB, I looked for someone who also had experience treating patients with blood disorders.
3. Do I Even Want An Obstetrician?
For me, the answer was yes. Obstetricians are trained in medical schools, required to complete residencies, and must receive board certification, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
But some women might opt for the more personalized care that a midwife can provide. For women with low-risk pregnancies who want to go the more natural delivery route (think water births at a birthing center and no epidurals), a midwife is certainly a great option.
4. What About Hospital Quality And Doctor’s Office Policies?
Your doctor’s hospital is your hospital, so make sure it’s a good one. Patients at top-rated hospitals are less likely to experience complications, says HealthGrades.com.
I also inquired about the inner-workings and policies at my OB’s practice. I found out about appointment scheduling, hours (and after-hours) available, emergency options, and other factors that determined whether the practice in general was right for me.
For example, in my OB’s office, I learned that I would see one “main” obstetrician exclusively for my prenatal appointments up until week 28.
After that, the office recommended that first-time pregnant women do their own sort of rotations and meet a different OB in the practice every visit. Because you never knew who would be on call the day you gave birth, this helped patients avoid working with a relative stranger the day of delivery.
5. How Is The Physician’s Personality And Communication?
This was a big one for me. I wanted a physician with the right attitude, an overall positive outlook, and who was respectful of my time.
Choosing an OB who listens, answers questions, gets to know their patients, and supports pregnancy and birthing preferences wherever possible is vital to a great patient-doctor relationship.