How to Choose the Right Ob Doctor

By Nativity Lennon

Choosing the right ob doctor can be a source of stress, especially for first-time mothers. It is fine to ask friends and family members for recommendations, but in the end you need to figure out yourself which doctor is the best one for you. If you already have a gynecologist, start there. He might be able to recommend a good ob gyn doctor because he already knows you and your medical history well.

Check with Your Insurance Company

It makes little sense to pick a recommended doctor if he is not covered by your insurance plan. So, first things first… call your doctor of choice and find out if he accepts your insurance. Otherwise, you can ask your insurance provider for a list of OB/GYNs that are covered by their plan. If you decide to go with the second option, go down the list until you find a doctor you like and feel comfortable with.

Determining a Good Match

There are a lot of factors that go into determining whether a specific ob doctor is a good match for you. One key factor is figuring out what your doctor’s view is on things like episiotomies, epidurals, fetal monitoring, and other last-minute interventions. Make sure you see eye-to-eye on these issues, so you aren’t met with any surprises in the delivery room.

Once that’s established, you also need to make sure you feel comfortable with the doctor. Whether or not you feel comfortable around a doctor stems partially from confidence (his experience, knowledge, and educational background) and partially from your intuition, or gut feeling. If a doctor makes you feel uncomfortable or seems distant, the diplomas on the wall will mean little. You want a doctor who seems interested in you personally, who answers your questions clearly, and who doesn’t pressure you to make decisions. Make sure the doctor you choose is really listening to what you say.

Good Doctor, Bad Hospital?

If you’re not in good health or your pregnancy is high risk, you need to select an ob doctor at a major hospital. This will ensure that your doctor has all the proper tools at his disposal in case complications arise during the delivery. A large hospital will also have a staff perinatologist, who can help evaluate your pregnancy and determine whether it’s high risk or not. If you already know you want to have an epidural, make sure the hospital has an anesthesiologist on staff 24 hours a day.

The negative side of choosing an ob doctor in a major hospital is that he might not be on duty the day you go into labor. When that happens, some doctors might agree to be called in, but others will simply allow a colleague to take over. Make sure you are comfortable with that. If having your own ob gyn doctor in the delivery room is important to you, ask what the hospital’s policies are. Better yet, ask the doctor himself what he does in those cases.

When a Doctor is Not the Right Choice

An ob gyn doctor might be a great ally during your pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean he has to be the one to deliver your baby, as well. If your pregnancy is healthy and free of complications, you could request a midwife for the hospital delivery or choose a home birth. In either case, discuss your concerns with your doctor early on in your pregnancy. Many doctors are fine with these alternative birthing options and may even recommend somebody they trust. Others are against anything beyond hospital-sanctioned births and might try to dissuade you from having a non-traditional birth. This is something you need to address early on, during your first visit to the hospital.

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