Now that you're expecting a baby, you're going to be visiting the doctor -- a lot. But perhaps the doctor you're seeing isn't the right fit. She's a wonderful gynecologist, but she doesn't practice obstetrics. Or she's pro-natural birth and you want an epidural. You'd like to give birth at a birthing center but she only delivers at hospitals. Regardless of why you're looking for a new practitioner, we have expert advice that will help make your search less overwhelming.
Decide on a Type of Provider
"Most women deliver with either a physician trained in the care and delivery of pregnant women, or a midwife," says Michele Hakakha, M.D., an ob-gyn in Beverly Hills and coauthor of Expecting 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy. Trying to decide between the two? Consider which qualities are most important to you in a practitioner, whether it's her credentials, the hospital or birthing center she attends, her point of view on pain relief, or her rate of cesarean deliveries. Then think about the type of delivery you want, as well as special circumstances that apply to your pregnancy. "If you have a condition that would make your pregnancy high-risk, such as diabetes, or you're delivering twins, you should see an ob-gyn and deliver in a hospital," Dr. Hakakha says. If you're healthy and wish to deliver in a birthing center, consider using a midwife.
Talk to others who have given birth recently, and ask about the practitioner's bedside manner, delivery philosophy -- whatever it is that's most important to you in a doctor. Once you have a list of names, do background research on the doctors to be certain they're board-certified ob-gyns. You'll want to note if they've ever been disciplined or lost their license, as well as how often they've been sued, suggests John Connolly, Ed.D., CEO and president of Castle Connolly Medical, which publishes America's Top Doctors. "One or two lawsuits is typical, but more frequent suits might suggest a problem," he says. Visit castleconnolly.com for an online directory of links to disciplinary records for doctors in each state.