Last, Watch the Doctor in Action
When you set up the prenatal visit, you can evaluate how the office works, including the all-important phone system. It's fine if assistants occasionally put you on hold for a long time, as emergencies do happen. Two mind-numbing delays in a row, however, are a bad sign. In the waiting room, chat with other parents, asking what they like and dislike about the practice. Also look around. Are there plenty of books or toys to distract children? You may have to wait on busy days; will you want to sit there?
Once you think you've found your doc, the true test is how she performs in real situations. Samantha Smeraglia, who lives in San Diego, found that her doctor went above and beyond when their 6-month-old daughter was diagnosed with a potentially serious genetic condition. "We were grateful when our pediatrician turned up at our first specialist appointment to see how we were doing," Smeraglia says.
Of course, things don't always go so smoothly. When Kristina Leyva, also of San Diego, noticed that, after her baby was born, her M.D. shrugged off her commitment to breastfeeeding, she knew her doc wasn't a good fit.
Unless a doctor makes a blatant error, though, give her a few visits before you switch. Decide it's a no-go? Simply call the office and ask them to transfer your records once you've found your new pediatrician.
"If your criticism is something the doctor could improve on, like 'Your waiting room got too full,' then it's helpful to tell them," Dr. Shu says. "But if you just didn't feel comfortable, move on. No one doctor is perfect for everybody."