During your pregnancy, an obstetrician/gynecologist, or OB/Gyn, can guide your prenatal care and help you and your baby stay healthy. Because you will see this doctor many times during your pregnancy, it’s important that you trust him or her and feel comfortable asking questions and expressing concerns. Your OB/Gyn will handle most of your healthcare needs during your pregnancy and in the post-partum (after birth) period. He or she may also deliver your baby.
How To Find the Right Doctor For You
Ask friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances and your current primary care doctor for OB/Gyn recommendations. Make sure the needs of those you ask are similar to your own, as a doctor who is ideal for one type of patient may not be right for you.
Consider any special healthcare issues that you have. Health issues in pregnancy typically include medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression or asthma. Some OB/Gyns may specialize in treating pregnant patients with some of these conditions and may be a better fit for you.
What to Ask Prospective OB/Gyns
Use your first visit with your OB/Gyn to confirm your pregnancy and get acquainted with your doctor. It can be helpful to bring a list of your health concerns to get a feel for how your doctor typically handles those issues. It’s important that you feel your questions are listened to and answered to your satisfaction, and to determine if you and your doctor share similar views on treatments. Here are important things to consider.
Background and Credentials
Our Find A Doctor tool lets you look up Sutter-affiliated doctors by name or specialty to see a brief biographical sketch, including education, board certification, hospital privileges, special interests and other helpful information. If you have questions, you can also check the status of a doctor’s license online. In addition, you might want to ask how long the doctor has been in practice in your area and how the doctor stays on top of the latest medical developments.
Office Hours and Urgent Care
During pregnancy, your body is going through a period of rapid change and growth. Even in healthy pregnancies, unusual symptoms may appear suddenly. Ask about standard office hours and if there are extended hours for urgent care appointments.
If you are injured or become acutely ill during your pregnancy, what procedure does the doctor recommend?
When should he or she be informed if you must go to an emergency room?
Getting Questions Answered
You are likely to have questions that do not require an appointment. Find out what the procedure is to get your questions answered. Will the doctor call you back or will a nurse handle some questions? Should you call your OB/Gyn for all concerns during your pregnancy or are there some that are best handled by your primary care doctor?
Referral to Specialists
In some situations, your OB/Gyn may want to refer you to a specialist. Find out how the referral process works and how likely the doctor is to refer you and for what conditions.
Tell your OB/Gyn about any medications you may take. If you will need a prescription refill during your pregnancy, will this be done through your OB/Gyn’s office or your primary care doctor’s office?
When Your Doctor is Away
Even doctors take vacations and sick days. If your doctor is part of a group practice, his or her appointments should be covered by another one of the practice physicians. If your doctor is in independent practice, you will want to find out who will see you if your doctor is unavailable.
Today, most OB/Gyns are part of group practices that take turns covering deliveries in the hospital. This is generally best for all involved as your doctor will not be called away from regularly scheduled appointments with you to attend to other patients giving birth. However, it may mean that the doctor who delivers your baby will not be the one you’ve been seeing for your prenatal care. Ask about how the OB/Gyns within the group share information about patients and how much the doctor on duty will know about your personal concerns and wishes.
Notice the tone of the office and how friendly the staff is toward patients. Would you feel comfortable calling with a question? How convenient is the office to where you live? Keep in mind that long car rides may get uncomfortable toward the end of your pregnancy when your appointments are weekly.
Check with the office staff to find out how billing is handled. Depending on what type of insurance you have, you may have to pay a co-pay amount before you see the doctor. Find out if the office bills the insurance company or if you have to pay and send the receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement. Also find out about paying for lab work and other outside testing.
Ask if the office offers any access via email or Internet services to ask questions or to request appointments or prescription refills. Also check to see if the office performs on-site diagnostic services such as blood tests, ultrasounds and urine tests.
If you are not satisfied with any of the information you receive during your first exam, you should schedule time with another OB/Gyn and decide which doctor best meets your needs.