How to Choose an Obstetrician

Knowing how to choose an obstetrician (OB) is a critical part of your pregnancy. After all, you'll be seeing a lot of your obstetrician, monthly during the early part of your pregnancy then twice a month and eventually weekly as your due date nears. A successful doctor-patient relationship starts when you choose an obstetrician with whom you feel comfortable, whom you trust with yours and your baby's well-being, and whose views on pregnancy and delivery mesh with your own.


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    Ask your friends about obstetricians they've used, both good and bad. Ask for details so you'll be able to make an informed decision on which obstetricians you want to interview.
    • Is the doctor's staff professional and courteous?
    • How long are wait times at appointments? Will he or his staff answer questions over the phone between scheduled appointments?
    • How well does the doctor handle sudden high-risk factors or emergency C-section deliveries?
    • Does the doctor have a good bed-side manner, taking time to get to know his patients, or is he more business-like, allowing his nurses to handle the personal side of his practice?
    • Is the doctor a big advocate for breastfeeding, or does he freely give formula samples without providing much information about breastfeeding?
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    Decide whether you'd rather have an obstetrician who is part of a group practice or one who practices alone. This will determine how your check-ups will be handled. When consulting your insurance list of approved providers, you should be able to find a mix of both group practice and single practice OBs from which to choose.
    • Obstetricians in a group practice will each see you at some point in your pregnancy. Your visits will be scheduled based on their rotation so you can get to know them and they can become familiar with you. One of them will be your primary obstetrician, but any one of them could be on call when it comes time to deliver your baby.
    • Obstetricians who practice alone will have a doctor on call to handle their cases when they can't be there, such as during a vacation. In most cases, she will be the doctor you see in the delivery room. Depending on her schedule and her professional relationship with other obstetricians, she may schedule you to meet, at least once, with the doctor who will be on call for her.
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    Schedule interviews with up to three doctors that seem best-suited to you based on your friends' opinions, on those that accept your insurance plan, and on whether you'd rather have a man or a woman doctor. Understand that obstetricians, especially those handling regular gynecological patients too, are pressed for time. Assure the staff that you only need 15 to 20 minutes of the doctor's time.
    • Get the office staff to answer questions about appointments, office hours and payment schedules so you don't need to take the doctor's time for these details. Most OBs require the bulk of your bill be paid prior to delivery, so the staff should be able to explain how payment plans are set up. Ask how additional amounts are billed for emergency C-sections or complications during delivery. Inquire, too, about the doctor's percentages of C-section deliveries compared to vaginal births; a high number of C-sections could mean simply that she specializes in high-risk pregnancies. But it could also mean she pushes moms into C-section which result in additional billable hours.
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    Take your list of questions with you to the interview and don't shy away from things you feel might be embarrassing. This is the optimal time to address any and all concerns you have, as this will be the person caring for you and your newborn for the next year or longer. Pay attention to the doctor's tone and attitude when addressing your concerns, following your gut in making your choice. If you choose wisely, this could be the doctor to take you through post-menopause long after your childbearing years are behind you.


  • Ask for opinions from a variety of your friends with differing ideas and attitudes. Even your most "Earth-mother" friend might surprise you and have more conservative views when it comes to health care. (She may only buy organic foods and homeopathic medicine, but may have still opted for an epidural.) Another friend who seems very traditional may have opted for a water delivery or one that was 100 percent natural with no pain medication.


  • Never settle for an obstetrician you dislike or who seems to dislike you, no matter how highly recommended he/she is. You will be setting yourself up for nine months of misery and you will come to dread office visits.
  • When pregnancies span two calendar years (which most do), some OBs will require you to satisfy the deductibles for both years then refund the excess after your insurance company pays them. Others will only require meeting one deductible. This is important to learn before your first appointment.

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Categories: Pregnancy