Whether you are trying to conceive or just found out you are pregnant, there are a number of steps you'll need to take to prepare for your baby. The first step is finding an obstetrician who you trust to care for you and your baby through pregnancy and birth. Every pregnancy is unique (and so are you!), and your obstetrician should feel that too. Whether this is your first pregnancy or you are just looking for a new provider, these guidelines may prove helpful in finding the right obstetrician for you.
How to Choose an Obstetrician
Looking for the perfect obstetrician doesn’t need to be a daunting task, but you should take the time to find someone who you trust and who makes you feel comfortable. Start by asking for tips from friends and family. When you get referrals from people you trust, you're likely to feel more at ease. Women who have already been through pregnancy can help you decide what to look for in an obstetrician to ensure that you're happy with your experience when it comes to check-ups and procedures during your pregnancy. Your primary care physician may also be a good resource for referrals.
If you have recently moved or you are not ready to share your news with anyone, consider looking online for reviews for the obstetrician practice you are considering. Don’t just randomly choose an obstetrician your insurance covers.
Consider the gender of your obstetrician as well. Be honest about whether you'd prefer a female or male doctor. You may feel as though a female obstetrician can relate to you more during this time in your life, especially if she has children of her own. However, you may find that the demeanor of a male doctor you're considering is more in line with your personality. Remember to do what works for you, so that you can feel as comfortable as possible during your pregnancy.
You may also want to consider basics like the location of the office and office hours. Is this somewhere you can get to easily from your home or workplace? Do the office hours align with your work schedule or other obligations?
What to Look For When Choosing an Obstetrician
In order to choose an obstetrician who will meet your needs, consider the patient experience you are seeking. It is a given that your obstetrician needs to be competent, skilled and experienced. Take the time to consider more specific criteria, such as if you'd prefer someone who would suggest natural or alternative methods for maintaining your health. Or if you are expecting twins, have you considered an obstetrician with a specialty in multiples. Also, take the time to envision the type of birth you want and find an obstetrician with the tools to help you achieve that.
Most important, find an obstetrician who makes you feel at ease and who sincerely listens to your concerns. Pregnancy is a very emotional time and it's essential that your care provider values your thoughts and feelings.
Make sure to meet with a potential obstetrician before making the decision they are right for you. Ask them direct questions about their experience, but even more importantly about their attitude towards the issues that are important to you. Make sure you are not just comfortable, but excited to go through your pregnancy and labor journey with your new obstetrician.
When to Find an Obstetrician
Ideally, you should find the right obstetrician before pregnancy. An obstetrician can help you improve or maintain your health for successful conception and pregnancy. If you don’t have an obstetrician before finding out you are pregnant, it is best to find one early in your pregnancy so that you can be ensured the best care from the very beginning.
If you already have an obstetrician, or your gynecologist is also an obstetrician, you don't have to switch doctors when you find out that you are pregnant. In fact, if you have been with your doctor for some time, you may feel more comfortable going through your pregnancy with a physician you already know and trust.
What to Expect From an Obstetrician
An obstetrician will care for you from conception (or trying to conceive) through birth. In a normal pregnancy, you can expect to see your obstetrician every three to four weeks until your last trimester and then every two weeks until weekly visits in your last month of pregnancy.
On your first visit, your obstetrician will ask you to provide a detailed medical history including any pre-existing conditions. Medical records from your gynecologist and family doctor will be important.
Routine visits to your obstetrician will generally include a routine health check, physical exam and laboratory tests. You will also have regular ultrasounds at your obstetrician’s office. Additional tests and screenings will be explained and offered to you at certain times in your pregnancy.
Protocol for delivery differs from practice to practice. One of the things you can research when you're looking for a great obstetrician is the hospital they deliver at and their delivery attendance. If your obstetrician being present at birth is important to you, you must make this clear as early as possible. Most obstetricians attend their patients’ births but circumstances do arise where they are unavailable. Make sure you are content with your obstetrician’s back-up plan if they cannot attend your birth themselves.
In general, you should be able to expect your obstetrician to be available to answer questions or to calm your concerns after business hours. If you're having pain or discomfort in the middle of the night or want to know if it's safe to eat certain foods, it's important to be able to be in contact with your obstetrician. Be honest about what to expect from an obstetrician so you can narrow down your choices accordingly.
Consider obstetrician specialties that are necessary for your pregnancy. If you have a high risk pregnancy, it's important to find an obstetrician with years of experience in this area. There are also high-risk conditions like gestational diabetes or blood pressure issues that you will be tested for during your pregnancy. If your pregnancy is classified as high-risk, working with an obstetrician with experience in these areas is essential for you to receive the proper care that you deserve.