When choosing an Ob-Gyn, there are many factors to consider beyond the doctor's credentials. The Southwest Washington Medical Center states that an Ob-Gyn has completed both medical school and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. An Ob-Gyn is trained to care for high risk pregnancies and perform surgery, in addition to taking care of women during a pregnancy and for their baby's birth.
Using Referrals and Online Tools
While a referral from a friend or family member is always nice, it is not always available, especially if you have insurance that requires you to visit an in-network obstetrician. One of the best ways to look for an Ob-Gyn is to start with your insurance company. Although their online database may only tell you that they participate in your plan and where they are located, these are two of the most important factors in choosing your doctor.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) provides an online directory of practitioners in your area. Their search results, however, are limited to just the doctor's name and his or her status within ACOG. You will still need to find out where the doctor practices and delivers and what insurance companies he or she participates with.
Pregnant women will visit the obstetrician anywhere from once a month during the first trimester to every few days as they get closer to their due date. Unexpected visits to the doctor's office in the case of complications are not uncommon. The more high risk the pregnancy, the more visits a woman can expect to make. For this reason, when you are choosing an Ob-Gyn it is important to look at where the doctor is located in correlation to where you work and live.
Not all Ob-Gyns treat patients the same way and some have a more pleasant bedside manner than others. Doctors have differing attitudes about such issues as pain relief, circumcision, electronic fetal monitoring, and family participation at birth. If you have strong opinions about how you want your baby to be born, Dr. Donnica says it is important to find a doctor whose practices best match your desires. On your initial visit when choosing an Ob-Gyn, take a list of questions with you. This will help you get the information you need to make a decision. If you leave your appointments anxious or fearful, perhaps you need to find a physician who will be more supportive of your needs.
Size of the Practice
Many obstetricians operate as a part of a group. The doctors in the group will rotate on-call shifts. The larger the group of doctors in the practice, the greater the chance your doctor will not be on duty the day you deliver. Even if you choose a physician who practices alone, there is a chance you will be faced with a different doctor delivering your baby.
Ob-Gyns understand your concern over this issue. It is not uncommon for a group of doctors to recommend you rotate your regular appointments among the practice to help familiarize you with the doctor who will ultimately deliver your baby.
Doctors normally are associated with specific hospitals. Before choosing an Ob-Gyn, find out what hospital options you have with that doctor, then visit the hospital before making the final decision on a doctor. Most hospitals will schedule an official tour of the maternity ward with expectant parents. While at the hospital, make sure to check for such things as delivery options, private rooms, accomodations for your partner, and visiting hours. Find out whether they allow rooming in or if they require your baby to be in the nursery.
No matter how many questions you may ask, it is possible you will end up choosing a different Ob-Gyn at some point during your pregnancy. The chemistry between you and your existing obstetrician may be wrong, you may change insurance plans to one that will not cover your current physician, or you may move out of the area. When this happens, it is important to have your medical records transferred to your new doctor. This will help your new Ob-Gyn best monitor your condition and offer the most appropriate medical advice.
Other Options for Pregnancy Care
There are other options for pregnancy and birth care. Family practice physicians sometimes provide prenatal care and birthing services. There are three main types of midwives who provide pregnancy and birthing care. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) provide pregnancy and birth care and assist births in hospitals, home, and/or birth centers. Sometimes they work with Ob-Gyns and sometimes they practice independently. Midwives and CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives) attend births at home or in birth centers and provide prenatal care. They usually work independently as community midwives. Some states license midwives to provide care for Medicaid recipients or to accept insurance payments. Licensure and certification requirements vary by state, but midwives can legally practice in most regions of the United States.
Don't Give Up
Most Ob/Gyns share their practice with several other doctors, so just because you might meet one whom you don't like, don't leave the practice yet. Make your appointments with different doctors in the practice so you can meet them all and ask the nurses who they would recommend. Find out how often that Ob-Gyn is delivering and weigh your options.