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Choosing an Obstetrician

How to Find an Obstetrician for Prenatal Care and to Deliver Your Baby

 

When should I start looking for an obstetrician?

If you’ve been seeing a gynecologist or family practitioner for your yearly Pap Test, you may already have a physician to deliver your baby. Many gynecologists and family practitioners also deliver babies. If you’re happy with your physician, but he or she is not currently practicing obstetrics (delivering babies), ask for a recommendation.

Need help finding an obstetrician? Tanner has both male and female obstetricians on staff. Choose Find a Doctor on any Tanner Web page to find an obstetrician in your ZIP code or call Tanner’s physician referral line at 770.214.CARE to get the names of physicians who deliver babies in Carrollton or Villa Rica.

What criteria should I use to choose my obstetrician?

Visit several physicians and interview them before making a final decision. Ask each one about his or her policies and make sure you have similar views on labor and delivery. For example, if you know you want to be medicated during labor, you don’t want a physician who does not agree with your pain management preferences. The best answer, of course, is that the physician will respect your wishes going into labor and will consult with you throughout the event.

Ask which labor procedures he or she routinely performs. Also ask under what circumstances he or she would induce labor, how often and under what circumstances would he or she give an epidural, and when he or she thinks a cesarean section is warranted. You can’t predict what your individual case will require, but you’ll get an idea of the provider’s outlook from his or her responses to these questions. Bedside manner counts, too. Is the obstetrician forthcoming with explanations and up to date in his thinking? Does he or she seem interested in you personally, or does he or she rarely look up from your charts? You want a healthcare partner, not someone inflexible.

How can I find out how accessible my obstetrician is to answer questions or deal with emergencies?

Call the office and find out what your doctor’s policy is on this. Some physicians return all calls at a certain time each day, while others reserve a special line for messages or have nurses answer questions and act as a go-between for other information. The main thing is not who answers the calls, but how quickly they’re answered. You might also call the office after hours to find out how long it takes for someone to return your call.

What are the odds that one of his or her colleagues will deliver my baby?

Many group practices rotate on-call duty, so the likelihood of your regular physician being on call the day you go into labor will be one in however many doctors are in the practice. To minimize difficulties with another physician and increase your comfort level, make a point to meet all the partners in the practice and to communicate your needs and wishes to each of them. If it’s important for you to have your main doctor deliver your baby, you may be happier with a smaller practice. But that doesn’t mean a solo doctor will definitely be there on Labor Day. Nobody can be available all the time.

At which hospital does the obstetrician deliver?

If possible, tour the hospital before making your ultimate decision on a practitioner so you’re familiar and comfortable with its requirements. Tanner Health System provides tours at both hospitals in Carrollton and Villa Rica. Ask about the policies on things like 24-hour rooming in with your baby and postpartum visiting hours. Many women, unfortunately, wait until the third trimester to do this, when they’ve already developed a relationship with their practitioner and when making a change can be difficult. Ideally, you should be comfortable with the hospital as well as with the practitioner, and both should be within a reasonable driving distance from your home.

What other issues should I consider?

  • Is the doctor’s practice convenient to your home and/or work?
  • Do you have any chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure, epilepsy or diabetes that may require special care? If so, ask the doctor what experience he has caring for patients like you.
  • What are the doctor’s fees, and how are they covered by your medical insurance plan, if you have one?
  • What is the doctor’s attitude about circumcision, pain relief and the presence of fathers, partners or coaches in labor?

What should I do if I’m not entirely happy with my obstetrician?

Before you move on to someone else, talk to him or her about your concerns. If the problem cannot be resolved or if your worries are not addressed, you shouldn’t hesitate to change physicians. Above all, you need to find a practitioner you’re comfortable with, since childbirth can be as stressful as it is exciting.

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