How to Make the Biggest Decision of Your Pregnancy Right
You're blissfully happy. You've found Mr. Right and you're going to have a baby with him. Now the only thing left to do is find Dr. Right. Your choice of health provider will determine how your pregnancy pans out. The right choice can make the experience pleasant and safe for both baby and you. Here's how you can make the biggest decision of your pregnancy right.
Narrow It Down
There's no point lusting after a highly-rated OB/GYN who practices a thousand miles away. You have to be practical about your choice. Figure out what's important to you. For some women, the number one priority is limiting out-of-pocket expenses, so the OB/GYN must be available on their insurance plan. For other women, the gender of the doctor is a deciding factor. If you work insane hours, after-hours availability may make or break the deal. Credentials, online reviews, and track record are all important, but a friend's recommendation could swing the vote in favor of a less well-known physician.
It's tempting to sign up with the newest kid on the block. Younger, less experienced OB/GYNs are more likely to be savvy marketers with a great online presence and social media engagement with patients. All of this can be appealing, but remember, experience counts. Sometimes, things don't go as planned. One of the best ways for you to ensure your baby's safety is to choose an OB/GYN who has experience in dealing with complications and emergencies. For example, failure to recognize an abnormal heartbeat and deliver the baby in time can result in hypoxic ischemic injury. For your peace of mind and your baby's wellbeing, choose experience over an attractive website.
Go With Your Gut
At the first visit with your new OB/GYN, you should take a list of questions. After the visit, assess the OB/GYN. Did the doctor really listen to you? Did you feel less overwhelmed and anxious after the visit? How accommodating did the OB/GYN sound to your wishes? You may want a natural birth with minimal intervention. Or you may want an epidural to make the birth as pain-free as possible. It's important to discuss your thoughts with your doctor and get a sense of their general approach to pregnancy and labor. And if after a couple of visits, things just don't feel right, don't hesitate to switch to another care provider. Just be sure to tell the new OB/GYN why you switched and any relevant medical history and care you've received so far.
Pick the Right Birthing Center
Finding an OB/GYN you're compatible with isn't the only thing that's important. Picking the right birthing center or hospital is equally critical. At large group practices, doctors rotate on-call duties, so on the day you go into labor, your regular OB/GYN may not be in. If you don't like the idea of an unknown doctor delivering your baby, a smaller practice may be a better choice for you. If receiving care at a large hospital makes you feel more comfortable, ask your OB/GYN if they can commit to being present for your delivery. Ask if your doctor has any planned vacations around your due date and what the backup plan is if he or she happens to be sick or has multiple patients in labor on the same day.
You May Not Need an OB/GYN
Not all women need to be cared for by an OB/GYN for prenatal care and delivery. Up to 8 out of 10 pregnancies are low-risk and can be managed by a certified nurse midwife. Midwives are trained to spot potential problems and consult an obstetrician if needed. Believe it or not, there are actually some disadvantages of using an obstetrician during your pregnancy. OB/GYNs are trained to use a variety of medical interventions in case of complications. The rate of inductions, assisted deliveries, and cesarean births is higher in women who are cared for by OB/GYNs. If your wish is to keep the pregnancy and birthing experience as natural as possible and perhaps even give birth at home, provided you have no underlying health conditions or complications, you may not need an OB/GYN.
Making the biggest decision of your pregnancy right can seem daunting. Let's hope you find a caring, responsive, and experienced healthcare provider to take you through this exciting time in life. And of course, all the effort will be worth it when you hold a piece of your heart in your arms.