Expecting a baby is such an exciting time!! It can also however be overwhelming for some soon-to-be-parents. Having information along the way will make it that much less stressful, and easier and more enjoyable. There is registering for things you may have never heard of, setting up the crib, choosing and then setting up a car seat, buying bottles and clothes and more… Those things you can learn easily and i’ll get to that in a future post. Finding the right pediatrician is another important thing to do before your little one is born!
Here are some tips and information so you can get started on finding your new pediatrician that is best for you and your family!
The pediatrician will become such an important part of your life! It is important to take your child to the pediatrician not only when they are sick but also when your child is well. These well visits are a time for the pediatrician to assess the growth and development of your child, and discuss and guide you on parenting topics such as sleeping, feeding, developmental milestones, and safety and more. This is someone you really use for questions you may need along the way, and should be someone you feel comfortable with and has the time you will need. In the early years there is much more contact too, as there are many well visits to the office in addition to any added visits as needed.
I would recommended that you start your search for a pediatrician early enough so that you have enough time to make a decision. I would suggest about 5 months into the pregnancy to start looking- but – NO worries if you are further along than that and haven’t started. Anytime is a good time and you can always switch pediatricians even once the baby is born if you need to. You can start by getting recommendations from your obstetrician, family, friends and even health plans.
Once you have a list of names, it is a good idea to set up interviews to see if they will be a good fit for you. Many pediatricians meet with soon-to-be parents before their baby’s birth. There are different things to look for in the pediatrician and what you would find important may differ from your friends. It is good to be prepared. If you are not sure what is important yet, ask away and then think about it after who seemed to be the best fit for you.
Here is a list of important questions and topics to discuss depending on what is important to you.
For the office:
• How many doctors are in the practice? Some parents prefer small practices while others prefer a large one.
• Who handles and covers the on-call: the pediatrician or nurse? If the on-call pediatrician is not the pediatrician you usually see, will he/she be updated with your call or concern?
• How are questions handled during the day, both urgent and non-urgent?
• If the child is sick, how do you reach the doctor, and is the doctor easily accessible?
• What are the office hours? Are there evening hours? This may be important to working parents. Are there weekend hours? Though we did not have weekend hours in my prior practice, at times (and if we were able), we would open the office rather than having to send them to the emergency room.
• Is the office staff nice?
• Is the office clean?
• Was it hard to get an appointment for this interview? Did you feel rushed during the interview?
• What hospital is the practice affiliated with? This is important to parents for several reasons. Within 24 hours of birth, all babies are examined by a pediatrician. If the pediatrician is affiliated with the hospital you are delivering at, he/she will visit you and examine the baby in the first day of life at the hospital. If the pediatrician is not affiliated with the hospital, the hospital’s staff pediatrician usually examines the baby. In that case, prior to discharge, you would need to call your pediatrician to set up the first check up within a few days after you leave the hospital. Also, if the ER is necessary at any point in your child’s life, many parents prefer to go to an ER at which their pediatrician is affiliated with.
• What tests/labs/blood work are done in the office?
• What are the vaccination schedules? Does the doctor explain what shots are for and when they are given and if so, in a way you understand? Many pediatricians explain what shots are given at each well visit and inform of possible side effects. Also they will let you know what to expect at the next check-up. Some pediatricians give handouts or have a website with information.
For the specific doctor:
• What is the doctor’s background including medical school, training and sub-specialties (if any)?
• What are the pediatrician’s views on breast feeding, circumcision, parenting topics, sleep, medicines and antibiotics, alternative medicines, vaccinations, etc.?
• Did the pediatrician seem understanding to your questions?
• Did you feel comfortable talking with him/her and feel like he/she is someone you can trust? Your pediatrician will be an integral part of your baby’s life and you want to feel comfortable asking anything. You want to know that he/she is truly interested in your child.
• Did the pediatrician seem to really like children?
• Did you understand the pediatrician or did he/she speak too fast or with too much medical terminology that you wouldn’t understand?
• Did the pediatrician rush you?
• Did you feel comfortable with his/her approach to care, policies, philosophy and practice?
As you review the list of questions above or meet someone, think about and decide what is most important to you. You want to get a feel for their personality, approach and philosophy and find someone you feel comfortable with and trust. Only you know who will work best for you!
This is such an exciting time. Congratulations and I’ll be back with more tips to guide you on this amazing journey next week.
Alison enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences as a pediatrician (and mom) with other moms and dads in addition to supporting moms-to-be.She has contributed to various online websites and blogs, including Huffington Post, FitPregnancy, Reader's Digest, Parents, CafeMom, Big City Moms, Bustle, Romper, GetHealthyStayHealthy, Mamapedia, TheList and Mommybites.She also has an interest in fitness and creating healthier lifestyles and safer environments for pregnant women, new moms and children including alternative approaches to their health and wellness.Her outside interests include working out, singing, piano, guitar, dance, and being a mom!