If you're pregnant, your relationship with your doctor is about to get very personal. (Routine Pap smears have nothing on the nine months ahead!) Choosing the right obstetrician will make all the difference as you experience the hormones, excitement, physical changes and occasional paranoia of pregnancy—and, let's not forget, childbirth itself! We asked three moms—including a doctor—for their advice on finding a new OB-BFF.
Jennifer Linney, mom of two in Fort Worth, Texas, and blogger at Bug and the Sweet Banana
"I chose my OBs—I had three at various points due to a cross-country move and then a bad preterm experience in the labor and delivery department of the only hospital where doctor #2 had privileges—based on my emotional experience with them. (Pregnancy and childbirth are, after all, pretty emotional.) Could I talk comfortably with the doctor? Was she all-business or more like a friend's older sister? I needed to feel at ease with the doctor who would be in the thick of one of the most personal moments of my life. One who made me feel like I was taking up my fair share of her time or who had a rigid personality wouldn't do me much good during labor and delivery. The ones I chose talked with me, not to me, and broke down any stuffy doctor-patient barrier right away."
Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a family physician in Lexington, KY, and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year
"An obstetrician specializes in the management of pregnancy, labor, and birth. About 80 percent of pregnant women choose OBs—as opposed to midwives or other childbirth professionals—to oversee their health and progress during pregnancy and delivery. Depending on your situation, you may even choose a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, an obstetrician who's specially trained in the care of high-risk pregnancies.
"Another choice that many women might not think of is a family practice doctor. These doctors are trained in all aspects of health care, for every member of your family. A family physician can be your doctor during and after pregnancy, and then also your baby's doctor… and, in fact, your whole family's doctor! Clearly, in this case, your relationship will be close and on-going, which is wonderful if you've found someone you like and trust. Whether this doctor will actually deliver your baby depends on his or her schedule, experience and individual practice, though, so you'll want to ask that question.
"Whatever avenue you choose, check with your insurance company to make sure the provider is covered. Consider what hospital the provider is affiliated with—is it covered by your insurance company and convenient to your home? And find out who covers for the provider when he or she is away, and who handles phone calls and after-hour emergencies. Most importantly, talk with the provider and spend some time in the office. Pay attention to how you feel about the provider, the space, and the staff. You'll be spending a lot of time there in the months ahead."
Kelle Hampton, author of Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected, mom, and blogger at Enjoying the Small Things
"There are so many important things to consider when choosing an OB. Obviously, you want an experienced physician who will safely bring your baby into the world, and some of the critical questions regarding an OB can be found online—things like years of experience, proper accreditation, etc. Prenatal care and childbirth include so many more issues though, many of which make us feel a bit vulnerable. Let's face it: we're talking about babies and our bodies. OBs see all of us, and listen to concerns that we might not voice in public. You need to really feel comfortable during your pregnancy experience.
"And remember, your doctor may see you at your appointments and show up for delivery, but a lot of your prenatal care and questions will be handled by other office staff—your nurse or nurse practitioner. We actually chose our current OB based on our favorite nurse who took a new job because we have such a great relationship with her (fortunately, we love the OB too!). I can ask her anything, she calls me right back, she knows I'm a little nutty during pregnancy, so she always responds appropriately."