Obstetricians are doctors who help women through a pregnancy, the delivery of a child, and for a limited time during the post-natal care. For many women, finding an Obstetrician is as simple as continuing to work with their existing Gynecologist, as it is common for Gynecologists to also specialize in Obstetrics. But for those whose Gynecologist is not an Obstetrician, or who do not work with a Gynecologist, or who have recently moved, or who, for whatever other reason are looking for an OB-GYN, here are five things to consider when looking for the best fit.
- Your Pregnancy – Is this your first pregnancy? Are you high risk? Will you be scheduling a C-Section, do you oppose epidurals, or do you have some other specific request or need? The more specific you want (or need) your pregnancy to be, the more specific a doctor you need. Find someone who can help you (especially if you are high risk), and who is willing to meet your requests.
- The Hospital – For some women, this will not be as big of a concern. But if you live in a small town, or if you have a hospital you really want to go to, you need to be sure the OB-GYN you choose has admitting privileges there. Things to consider here are the support they offer during the stay (lactation consultant, post-partum support, etc.), follow-up care if needed, and quality of care during and directly after the birth.
- Insurance – This should go without saying, but if a doctor is not in your network, you probably don’t want to work with him or her. A pregnancy is very expensive, and if you are required to pay out of network costs, it will be even more expensive. If you do not have insurance, or there are no doctors available in your network, try to negotiate a cost up-front, so that you understand what the expenses will be. Otherwise, the bill at the end of pregnancy could leave you bankrupt.
- Understand the Practice – This includes understanding who you will see for your regular visits, who you will see if there is a need for an emergency trip to the hospital, who will be involved if you need a sick visit, and who will back the doctor up if you go into labor while the Gynecologist is out of town. Many practices, for instance, employ Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to handle most of the routine care; if you are not comfortable with this, you need to find a practice where you meet exclusively with the Gynecologist. Similarly, if you really like the Gynecologist but the backup is someone you have never met, the last thing you want is to go into labor and have a random doctor there delivering the baby and potentially making very important, and personal, decisions.
- Recommendations and Reviews – After narrowing the list down to a few Gynecologists, do some research. Many doctors will have reviews online that will include testimonials from clients. If possible, try to find someone in your personal network who has, or knows someone who has, worked with the doctor. Finally, see if there are any malpractice claims against the doctor and if so see if you can find the details. This information is usually available online and could help you decide whether or not a doctor is a good choice.
Ultimately, finding the right OB-GYN for your pregnancy is a very personal choice. But it is one that you don’t want to regret, so be sure to follow these steps, and your gut, in making the decision.