Pregnancy - Choosing a Physician

Making the right choice of doctor to deliver your baby is one of the most worrisome things for any newly pregnant woman. But you can reduce that anxiety by dividing your questions into two sets. One list will involve objective factors, the other will cover issues that are not so easy to quantify.

You'll want to investigate some immediate practical matters, such as whether a physician you are considering is part of your insurance company's list. You'll want to find out whether the doctor has a good relationship with the hospital you intend to use and whether that hospital accepts the same insurance coverage. As part of that research, you'll want to find out whether billing, co-pay and other issues can be handled simply.

You'll want a doctor that is likely to be available when and as you need him or her. The best physician is of no use to you if they can't see you on short notice. Most pregnancies go from start to finish without a hitch, but when a doctor is needed, he or she is generally needed right away. If that person isn't available, they should have a backup you trust in emergency situations.

Questions To Ask

You should ask any physician you're considering how long they've been in practice, and what their C-section percentage is. Most are between 15-20%. This gives you some idea of their views on risk. You should ask also about their views on the use of anesthesia and other factors surrounding pain control.

Talk To The Nurses

Talking to nurses they've worked with (those at the hospital, not the ones employed by the doctor) is a good way to get some opinions. Be sure to ask more than one. Even the best physician won't necessarily be the favorite of every nurse.

Will They be Delivering Your Child

You'll want to ensure that the physician you see regularly is the one who will deliver your baby. Avoiding surprises is near the top of any prospective mother's list and a doctor who knows your history personally is essential. And, you'll want to ensure that they will be present during the entire process. Doctors who flit in and out during labor don't inspire confidence during stressful times.

But there are other, less cut and dried topics that you'll want to explore, too.

It's not necessary that the physician be Mister Rogers and a friend to all womankind. But they should treat you with respect and show genuine concern for your welfare. They should be willing to answer questions without being patronizing. You should feel at ease talking to them. That helps build confidence in their medical judgment.

They should be honest with you, without being unfeeling. Given a choice, most mothers would naturally want someone with excellent medical skills. That's absolutely basic. But those skills can be exercised in many ways. Finding a physician that treats you as a complete person, not just a laboratory experiment to be properly completed, will put you more at ease.

Exploring a little bit about their general philosophy is not a bad idea. They don't have to share your religion, your political views or your beliefs in general. But knowing they are someone you can 'work with' on a nearly year-long effort with such a hugely important outcome will make things go much smoother for all concerned.

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