If you just found out you are pregnant and plan to see an obstetrician for your pregnancy and delivery (as opposed to other providers), you may be wondering how best to select the doctor who will be involved in this very important time in your life.
Here are a few things to consider when picking an OB/GYN:
- Male or female? For some women, it is very important that they only see female obstetricians. If this is important to you (and be mindful that male obstetricians have made a conscious decision to care for women and do so respectfully), be sure that whoever you choose does not have any male partners who cover labor and delivery for her.
- Solo or group practice? Some physicians work independently, meaning they are the only doctor to care for their patients. While the continuity is a huge bonus, keep in mind this may mean your prenatal appointments may run late or be rescheduled entirely if another patient is delivering in the hospital, as your doctor can only be in one place at a time! The benefit of a group practice is that this conflict is usually avoided, but it may mean whoever happens to be on labor and delivery when you arrive will be the one attending your delivery. Be sure to clarify if this is the case if your OB/GYN has multiple partners. If so, it may be a good idea to see all the partners at least once during your pregnancy so you’ve had a chance to meet everyone.
- Where does your doctor deliver? Some obstetricians deliver babies at multiple hospitals, while others only work out of one. Find out where yours delivers and ask what the level of care is available for your baby. For example, does the hospital have a NICU or would your baby need to be transferred if any problems arose? A tour can also give you a feel for the nurses and environment. Lastly, be sure your insurance is accepted by both your doctor and the hospital where you would give birth.
- What is the C-section rate? These can vary widely between doctors and hospitals. Ask for your practice’s most recent C-section rate to get an idea of where they fall (the national average is about 33 percent, so a C-section rate of 50 percent might be something to be wary of).
- Is your doctor board certified? Being board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology is optional, but doing so means your doctor passed a series of vigorous written and oral exams. You can find out this information here, but keep in mind if your doctor isn’t listed it may be because he or she has not yet been in practice long enough to sit for the last in the series of exams.
- How easy is it to schedule an appointment? Is your doctor only in the office once a week or every day? How hard is it to get through to a nurse when you have a question?
- Does your doctor have additional training in breastfeeding, or employ or refer to someone who does? This can make all the difference if a breastfeeding problem pops up. Very few physicians have adequate training when it comes to breastfeeding, and this can lead to incorrect or antiquated advice that may be damaging to your breastfeeding success. If you plan to nurse, be sure to ask!
- Are medical students or residents involved? Some doctors train medical students or residents in their office or while on Labor and Delivery. While some may allow you to opt out of their involvement, others may not (for example, at a large academic institution obstetric residents depend on this training). Ask ahead of time if you have concerns, but keep in mind having extra (smart!) brains on the team is usually very helpful!
- What’s the general vibe? Is your doctor known for scoffing at all birth plans, or does he or she seem open to your requests? Don’t wait until your last visit to ask, especially if you have many “non-traditional” desires, as you don’t want to be scrambling for a new provider right before your due date.
- What’s the word on the street? Who have your friends used and loved (or not)? Why did they feel this way? A cold call to Labor and Delivery can be very informative, too, as the labor nurses can give you a very honest opinion of who they trust. A quick word about online reviews: they can be very misleading. It’s better to ask around and then make an appointment and decide for yourself.
Find a Local OB/GYN
When you’re ready to start looking, Bundoo has partnered with Amino to make it easier to find an OB/GYN, estimate costs, and book an appointment. Amino’s personalized, free service helps you find and book an appointment with doctors based on how much experience they have treating pregnant women around your age, and with similar risk factors (if relevant). You can filter by additional factors, such as location, insurance accepted, and the doctor’s C-section rate.
The Amino database covers health experiences from more than 200 million people, which can help you make an informed decision about which doctor to choose and where to get care.
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, April 2020
- When deciding on an OB/GYN, make sure you find someone with whom you feel comfortable.
- Sometimes word of mouth is the best way to find a good doctor.
- Don’t be afraid to ask about things like C-section rates when choosing your doctor.