With pregnancy comes all the parenting decisions along the way. They begin just about….welp….immediately! One decision to think about before your baby comes is finding the right pediatrician for your family. Follow our tips to help you find the perfect provider!
TIP #1- Aligning with the care philosphy
Just like us doulas say about aligning with your midwife or OB, you want your parenting philosophies and/or health philosophies to align with the right doctor for your baby.
There are different practice models of doctors that see and treat infants. Family doctors see the whole family, yes including you if you want, and pediatricians specialize in care of babies and children. If you are unsure which model sounds better for you, simply call both types of practices to interview. That’s right, I said it, interview. Ideally you will have an opportunity to have a phone call, zoom meeting, or an actual tour of the practice. Asking your questions ahead of time will help you determine if it feels like a good fit for what you are looking for.
Don’t forget to take into consideration what you prefer in a medical doctor. These preferences will likely be what you will be wanting from your baby’s doctor as well. Things like holistic care options or being in a larger practice size are preferences for some families for example.
What should you ask at the interview? Here are some sample ideas:
What level of familiarity and support with breastfeeding (if it is a feeding choice for you) is offered?
What is the practice’s policies on vaccines? Are delayed schedules, ok?
Does the provider perform circumcision? Does the provider have familiarity with intact and circumcised individuals?
What parenting philosophies are supported?
Does the provider have any specialized training?
Tip #2 – Is it practical for your family’s needs?
Distance- Take in consideration how far away the office is. Don’t forget beyond well-baby visits there may be a day your child feels unwell. How long of a car-ride are you willing to actually endure?
Insurance- On the back of your insurance card there should be a link to a website to search providers, or a phone number to call for a list in your area. Another option of course is asking the pediatrician’s office if your insurance is accepted. This can be a huge factor that dictates where you can go and not all doctors take all kinds unfortunately.
Hospital affiliation- Every doctor will have privileges at specific hospitals. Does it matter to you if your doctor is affiliated at the hospital of your preference? Does it matter if your doctor has privileges at the closest hospital to you? Also upon giving birth a pediatrician will look over your newborn. If your provider is affiliated with your birth place they could be the one to do this. Is this something you are hoping for?
Office hours and systems- What hours is the office open? Some things to look for are evening hours and weekend hours. If there is an emergency what does that look like?
Tip #3 – Wade through the reviews
Crowdsourcing family, friends, and the internet can be a great way to find some names of providers. Our recommendation is to take in consideration the priorities and wishes of those folk who loved those providers. Sally may just absolutely looooooove Dr. Smith, but Sally may also have sought out a completely opposite style of provider than what you would like. It is still good to ask around though because it still creates a list that is an excellent jumping board for you to get started.
Go deeper on the internet reviews. Just glancing at a star rating and dismissing a provider isn’t always the best practice. If there are lower reviews see if there is an explanation regarding the rating. You may not agree with what they found negative. Is the negative something regarding office systems, like wait times, or is it the actual care of the provider? If the practice is able to respond to negative review how was it handled? This can speak loud volumes to how the office truly is.
So putting a little time into the decision before baby is here ,can hopefully lead you in the right direction for picking a doctor that feels just right. Don’t forget life is fluid! Priorities change. So after you pick the doctor that feels right and months go on, if the fit isn’t as you imagined you can always go through these tips again and find an even better fit.
If you have a fantastic family doctor or pediatrician you would like to share with us, leave their name in the comments!
Authored by Andrea Stainbrook