The advice of other parents. The atmosphere of the doctor's office. Office hours convenient to your work schedule. Gut instinct. All are important things to take into account when you choose a pediatrician.
Your child's pediatrician is your partner in promoting your child's health and development. That means you should feel comfortable with your choice. Interviewing several pediatricians at their offices is the best way to pick your partner.
When to start? When you're still pregnant. With all of the excitement and physical changes during pregnancy, it's easy to overlook the fact that you're about to become a parent! In the last trimester of your pregnancy, your baby is growing rapidly and you have lots to think about. But feeling comfortable with the person you choose to be your baby's doctor is as important as finding a safe crib.
Beginning Your Search
A Switch in Time
Beginning Your Search
Sometime after the 30th week of pregnancy, make an appointment for you and your partner to meet with a pediatrician or a few pediatricians in their offices.
Be sure that the individual is board-certified in pediatrics or family medicine and has had at least three years of training in pediatrics or family medicine. The state medical society or the staff at the physician's office could give you this basic information.
To get a list of prospects, ask your own health care provider, your parents, or friends you respect. Ask them why they like or dislike a certain doctor — their reasons may not be the same as yours. You could also call your local medical society, board of health, or hospital for some references.
You can find out a lot about a doctor during this prenatal pediatric visit. He or she should be a person with whom you would feel comfortable discussing any issue concerning your child and your family. Each appointment should last 15 or 20 minutes. It's not a good sign if a doctor won't meet with you — scratch him or her off your list!
Some of what goes into your decision may simply be based on impressions, personality, and instinct. You may want to:
Here are a few general things to talk over with the pediatricians you meet:
Here are some specific questions to ask:
If your HMO or birth center has already assigned you a pediatrician, it's not too late to make sure he or she is the right choice for you. Interview him or her. You can ask your health care plan for its list of pediatricians and interview one or two others, too.
If you have already brought your baby to a pediatrician you don't feel comfortable with, it's not too late to switch. Even if your health care plan has a list of doctors you must choose from, that list is probably quite long. Ask your health plan what steps you can take to find a pediatrician within the plan that meets your needs, your schedule, and your style.
Once you begin a comfortable relationship with your pediatrician, you will feel more relaxed and confident about childbirth and the lifelong devotion of parenting.