5 Tips for Picking the Right OB/GYN
Your OB/GYN will be the one answering the questions that keep you up at night and helping you bring your baby into the world, so choosing one isn’t as simple as looking at Yelp ratings. Hopefully you’ll have lots of viable options in your area, but that can be overwhelming: which one to pick? We talk to Dr. Robert Atlas, MD, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, about how to choose the right one for you.
1. Create a System
Even if you’re typically more of an unmade-bed, spur-of-the-moment person, it pays to be organized when conducting this kind of important search. You’ll be dealing with lots of information and making the choice may be simpler when you can see all the facts in one place. Use a spreadsheet or notebook to keep track of relevant stats (office locations, educational details) as well as answers to your questions.
2. Cast a Wide Net
Create a wish list of potential doctors who are both covered by your insurance plan and recommended highly. Ask your primary care doctor for a recommendation, and consider asking the same of area childbirth educators. Friends and acquaintances who have recently had babies in your area are a good resource, too. Ask for both positive and negative specifics that they’re willing to share.
3. Do Your Research
“People spend more time shopping for cars then they do physicians,” says Dr. Atlas. So once you’ve created a list of possible contenders, do a deep dive into each one’s history. “Look at their background and education,” he advises, as well as reviews from previous patients.
But while Dr. Atlas says that online information can be “very helpful,” he warns against putting too much stock in reviews, as many good physicians have received negative feedback online. Weigh everything you read carefully. For instance, if a doctor who has overall positive feedback but a string of recent complaints, that might make you think twice.
4. Make a Preliminary Birth Plan
Start making notes about the kind of labor and delivery you envision. Do you want to give birth at a particular hospital with a doula by your side? Do you picture yourself meditating in a serene birth center surrounded by family? Many expectant parents wait until closer to delivery to make a birth plan, but thinking about the kind of birth you want to have now can help you figure out what questions you need answered.
5. Interview Everyone
Make an appointment to meet in person with each doctor you’re considering. Dr. Atlas says you should ask about what will happen both during your pregnancy and once you go into labor.
“I think some of the more important questions are related to how many doctors are in the group, and who will be there to deliver your baby,” he says. “Will you know them or have met them?”
Dr. Atlas also suggests asking:
“What are tests which are required [and] which are ones I don’t need?”
“How is labor going to be managed?”
“What hospital do you deliver at, and if more than one, why should I choose one or the other?”
“What arrangements are there after hours to answer phone calls in case of emergency?”
Pay careful attention to tone and manner during all discussions with doctors. “Are they educating you regarding pregnancy issues and what to expect?” Dr. Atlas asks. “Do they seem to care for you?”
You should have a lot of questions, but they’re all important. So if a prospective OB/GYN dismisses them or rushes you out of the room, that may be an indication of how all your appointments and concerns will be handled. Dr. Atlas concurs: “The biggest issue is, are they willing to listen to your concerns or have time to answer your questions?”
Kathryn Walsh is a freelance writer specializing in parenting and travel topics. Her work has appeared on mom.me, TheBump.com, and USAToday.com.