9 Topics to Consider When Choosing a Baby Doctor

Choosing your OBGYN or Midwife is very important - here is some advice for choosing the best one for you.

Awhile ago, I described eight ways to find a good pediatrician. But long before you have to worry about choosing a pediatrician, choosing the person who will care for you throughout your pregnancy is very important as well.

Recently, Healthgrades.com released their 2013 Women’s Health Report. They emphasize the importance of making educated healthcare decisions in order to have the best outcome. I found this report to be very informative, as it focused on the best hospitals in the country for women. The part that stood out most to me was the section on maternity care. It talks about different complications that can arise from different kinds of births. I learned quite a few things that I hadn’t heard before, and I highly recommend reading it as well.

When choosing the healthcare provider who will help you throughout your pregnancy, I highly recommend checking out websites like Healthgrades.com. Here, you can find out all sorts of information about potential physicians, hospitals, and practices. When I was trying to find an OBGYN, I consulted with Health Grades a lot, and it was one of the most helpful websites I found. It’s pretty comprehensive, and I’ve been able to find information about just about every doctor I’ve ever wanted to look up there.

Looking online can also be helpful, because you can see how others feel about physicians. While some of these things should be taken with a grain of salt (for instance, I LOVED my doctor, but others online talked about how much they hated him), this can give you a general idea of how others feel about physicians in your area.

It’s important to find a doctor early one, because quite often, OBGYN offices are scheduled out several weeks. I would recommend calling as soon as you find out you are pregnant, just to make an appointment. In case you aren’t sure what doctor you want to go to, here are a few questions you an ask beforehand (if the doctor you want to go to allows that) or take note of during your first appointment. If you want to change, doing it early on is better than at 38 weeks.

C-section Rate

Not only should you ask the c-section rate of your physician, but of the hospital. Before I had Jack, I was able to find a report for Intermountain hospitals on maternal care, and I was pleased to see that the hospital I delivered at, Orem Community, had a lower rate than other hospitals in the area. While I’m not opposed to C-sections, especially in emergency situations, I know that overall, it’s better to avoid them if they aren’t necessary. In the report from Health Grades, it talks about how c-sections are becoming even safer, but also discusses the top five complications associated with them (and vaginal births, as well.)

Philosophy on pain relief

This really will depend more on the hospital you deliver at, in my opinion, since the obstetrician really won’t be there until you are about to have the baby, and it will be the nurses asking you about pain relief. However, I still did discuss pain relief with my doctor, and I was glad that we were on the same page. Basically, I told him I wish I could have an epidural before I even went into labor, and he said he was glad I wanted an epidural (mainly because I withered in pain whenever he did any checks.)

How Long They’ve Been Practicing

I’m not saying that going with a relatively new OBGYN is a bad idea. On the contrary, they probably have the most updated information, seeing as they just graduated. However, I do think that experience can be important, especially if you are having a high-risk pregnancy. For me, it gave me great comfort that my doctor had been practicing for 40+ years and had a ton of experience under his belt.

VBAC

Not every doctor is willing to perform a VBAC, so if that is your goal, it would be wise to ask if your doctor will be willing to do one. There are some stipulations behind these, and it’s important to make sure you are a good candidate for one. If there is no reason you shouldn’t attempt a VBAC, then definitely make sure you find a doctor who is on board!

High-Risk Pregnancy

If you have had a high risk pregnancy in the past, or may have a higher chance of having one for some reason, definitely talk with potentials OBGYNs about this. You definitely want a physician who has had experience with your particular situation. You can find ones in your area by looking around on the Internet, calling local offices, or even calling hospitals.

Induction

Some doctors are more prone to induce a person before they need to than others. Be sure to ask your doctor under what grounds they would induce a person (how long they will let a mom go over 40 weeks, how long they will allow labor to go for, etc.)

Breech Delivery

The idea of delivering a breech baby will probably freak most people out, but it is possible. However, many doctors won’t do it, and that’s probably a good thing. However, there are some very experienced doctors that can successfully do this, and if you want to avoid a c-section at all costs, you can look around for someone like this. My OBGYN told me that when he gets to deliver a breech baby, it’s like Christmas to him, and explained to me that it used to be the norm, but then a few doctors didn’t know what they were doing, and gave it a bad reputation, even though it can be safely done.

Update: My second son, Oliver, was breech until 38 weeks. We actually had a consult with a physician in the area who is very well-known for successful breech deliveries. Oliver ended up turning head down, and he wouldn’t have qualified for a breech delivery because of his IUGR, but it was interesting to visit with him. 

Where do they deliver

If there is a particular hospital you want to deliver out, definitely make sure your doctor delivers there! Even though my doctor’s office was right next to a hospital I had assumed I would deliver out, I found out at about 30 weeks that my doctor didn’t deliver there. I was a little taken back by that, since it was right next to our house, but I was later grateful for where he did deliver. However if you do have a specific hospital you want to deliver out, one of the first things you should ask is if your doctor will deliver there!

Partners

Just because you see a certain OBGYN throughout your pregnancy, doesn’t mean they will deliver your baby. I saw a doctor who was in his own practice, but he was in a co-op of sorts with a few other doctors, and they took turns covering weekends. I mean, obviously, a doctor is human and doesn’t want to be on call 24/7/365. They need time off, too! Make sure to ask who the potential providers who could deliver your baby are. And, after you do that, be sure to check out their record, too! One would hope a doctor would work with physicians who have similar skills and philosophies, but that may not always be the cases.

I’m sure there are a lot of other questions you can ask, but I feel like these ones can give you a good, solid perspective on your potential doctor.

And just so everyone knows, I’m not against using a midwife. I know a lot of people use them, and that’s great. I just don’t have any experience searching for one, so I figured I’d just focus on what I do know about! I’d love to hear about your experience with a midwife if you used one though. 

Be sure to check out our most popular post/series — Surviving Pregnancy: trimester-by-trimester tips on how to survive one of the most exciting times of your life!

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5 Comments

  • All such good advice! You don't think asking these questions are important till you have problems, and then it is too late. I learned that the hard way, so it is definitely better to find out before your water breaks out of no where at 36 weeks, and it is a holiday and you have no idea who is going to be your doctor and they want to induce you immediately.
    • That's crazy! I can't even imagine that happening. My friend went into labor around 36 weeks as well, but she had no idea even what hospital to go to.
  • Katie, I completely agree with everything you've stated. The other commenter is right - it's always good to ask these questions and never assume. I always thought I was on board with the doctor in everything I wanted in birth until he didn't deliver at the hospital I wanted to deliver in. It really threw my entire plan out the window. Having a check list is important and I use one handy for my other pregnancies.
    • Thanks for your comment, Jane. I definitely think it is important not to assume, because you just never know! I almost landed myself in the same situation as you. It may not seem like a big deal to deliver at a hospital you weren't originally anticipating, but if you're like me and like to have everything planned, it can make things more stressful!

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