Disclaimer: The following writing is for information and education only. Please consult your doctor or other professional for medical advice.
I often get the question on how to search for a new doctor. This challenge arises when you move, your doctor retires or you’re just not getting the care you expect and deserve from your current provider, so it was perfect timing that Jason Kenner of On-Par Parent contacted me to share his experience and advice on finding a doctor.
You might be surprised to learn that some pregnant women never even see an OB. In fact, this was my case in my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies. I was a US Marine Corp Spouse stationed overseas. There were just not enough obstetricians to serve all the pregnant women in each base where I was pregnant (Okinawa, Japan and Rota, Spain) and believe it or not, I was not considered high risk, so my primary care doctor monitored my pregnancy and delivered my babies. While we now know that Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a high-risk disease state that requires extensive knowledge and training, not all HG patients are afforded this care. I hope you learn something from the following information. Enjoy his guest blog…
Finding a New Primary Care Doctor for Your Pregnancy
When you’re expecting a baby, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is finding an appropriate primary care provider for prenatal and postpartum care. Having a solid, well-trained professional in your corner will minimize pregnancy-related risks, make your pregnancy experience smoother, and give you peace of mind besides.
Below, HG Clinical Solutions offers suggestions on finding a new primary care physician (PCP, an umbrella term) if yours is unavailable or does not offer pregnancy-related care:
Do you need an OB, a midwife, or a family physician?
First, it’s important to pinpoint whether you need an obstetrician, a midwife, or a family doctor. Obstetricians (OBs) are pregnancy-care specialists with advanced training. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, are expecting a complicated pregnancy, or need a C-section, an obstetrician is advisable.
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) offer care during labor and delivery. Picking a CNM may be smart if you want a “natural”, treatment-free childbirth and aren’t expecting complications. If complications develop, your CNM will refer you to an OB.
Family doctors, as you doubtless know, are your everyday doctors who treat everything from backaches to fevers and everything in between. Many such doctors offer pregnancy-related care and assistance. Some offer a full range of prenatal (pre-birth) and postpartum (post-birth) services, including assistance with delivering your baby, while others only offer prenatal care. A family doctor can be a good “middle ground” between a CNM and an OB.
What are your other primary needs?
If you have an idea of the type of PCP you want, it’s time to consider your other needs:
- Location: Needless to say, a PCP who lives nearby and is easy to reach should be prioritized. Alternatively, you may want to consider someone who is available online.
- Availability: Many PCPs are incredibly busy people. Despite their experience, they may not be able to dedicate the time and attention that you need. Make sure your PCP is available.
- Personality: Bedside manner is not something you should ignore. It can help you feel more settled during your pregnancy. You should also choose someone you feel safe with.
- Insurance coverage: Last but not least, make sure any doctor you choose is covered by your insurance provider.
Ask the people you know for referrals
You could ask the people you know for a referral to a good doctor, such as your friends and family who have had a baby before. They should be able to point you in the right direction, give you advice, and help you avoid problem doctors. If you have a family physician who doesn’t offer pregnancy care, they may be able to refer you to a doctor who does.
Check your insurer’s “in-network” doctors
Your insurance provider will pay for healthcare costs with a select few healthcare providers referred to as “in-network” providers. You may be able to find qualified, reputable doctors by going through the list that’s up on your insurer’s website.
Move to a better health insurance plan
Sometimes it’s better to move to a different health insurance plan, one that offers access to more “in-network” doctors and, perhaps, extra benefits for pregnancy. You should carefully research your options if you need to purchase a health insurance policy. If you’re a freelancer, then you can purchase a policy through the marketplace or through the Freelancer’s Union.
Check your doctor’s credentials
When you have a shortlist of suitable doctors, it’s important that you check their credentials. Make sure they’re certified by a body like the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Furthermore, you may want to see their specializations. For instance, some doctors work exclusively with alternative medicine, which you may or may not want to avoid.
What’s their reputation?
Your doctor’s reputation is important. This includes the reputation of the people who work with them – such as RNs, assistants, and other staff. You want someone with good reviews, a good attitude, experience, and a willingness to work with you. You should read testimonials, check reviews, and have a face-to-face meeting with your doctor to get a feel for their services before making a choice. Reputation Defender offers some reputation-check pointers.
Work with specialists for disorders like Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Using specialists for conditions like Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) – intense vomiting and nausea – may be a good idea. This is a serious condition that could cause central nervous complications, kidney injury, and acute liver failure if left untreated. You will receive extra attention, targeted advice, and better care for your condition in general.
Take your time when finding a primary care doctor for your pregnancy. It pays to shop around, check reputations, and even change insurance providers for more in-network doctors. Your choice will have a massive impact on your pregnancy experience, not to mention the quality of care your newborn receives afterward.
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