Almost every new parent wonders how to go about choosing the right pediatrician (or family doctor) for their new baby! For most families, we suggest starting your search in the late second trimester, or early third trimester (when you are about 22-32 weeks). This gives you time to have started to think about what you want in a pediatrician in early-pregnancy. It also gives you time to meet and interview a few pediatricians as needed in later-pregnancy!
How to Find a Pediatrician
There are many different ways to go about finding the right care provider for your baby. Here are a few of them:
- Do a Google Search in your area.
- Do a search through your insurance provider.
- Ask your friends and acquaintances for a recommendation (especially if they have a similar parenting-style).
- Ask your provider if they have any recommendations.
- Ask your doula for a recommendation. We are able to give referrals to clients looking for a pediatrician in the greater Cincinnati or Dayton area.
Setting Up a Meeting Before the Birth
Most pediatricians and family doctors will allow you to schedule a consultation to meet them and ask questions before deciding. This is a great way to see their office, and get to know the unique personalities and communication styles of different providers ahead of time.
Also, it is helpful to know that the hospital you deliver at will require the contact information for your chosen pediatrician, and most also require you to schedule the first appointment for your baby before you are discharged from the hospital. This is why we want to make sure that you have made your choice before delivery!
If this stresses you out, though, don't forget: this decision isn't set in stone for life! We hope that you will find the perfect fit right off the bat, but if not, you can always switch later if needed.
Questions to Ask Yourself & Your Partner
Before heading in to talk to the pediatrician or family doctor, here are a few things you might ask yourself and your partner first so that you have a more clear picture of what you need out of a doctor (and make sure you and your partner are on the same page!):
- How do we plan to feed our baby?
- What are our preferences for vaccination?
- How far away are we willing to travel to see a pediatrician, and would this preference change when the baby needs to go in for a sick-visit?
- If our baby ever had to be admitted to the hospital, which one is our preference?
Questions to Ask the Pediatrician
Once you are ready, here are a few questions you can ask to help you start to get a sense for who that right fit might be in a doctor:
- Do you support our feeding preference?
- What are your vaccination policies?
- If breastfeeding, do you have an IBCLC on-staff if needed?
- How many other doctors or nurse practitioners are on-staff, and how does scheduling work?
- Do you have hospital privileges at any of the local hospitals, and especially the one that would be our preference if the need arose?
- How easy is it to make appointments, especially last minute sick appointments?
- How are emergencies handled?
- What are your office hours and days?
- How long do office visits usually last?
- If we come in for a sick visit, is there a separate waiting area for sick versus well children?
- How is payment handled, and is my insurance accepted?
At the end of the day, it is important that you feel comfortable and confident in the care your pediatrician or family doctor can provide. Being on the same page, and able to clearly communicate is important. Good luck in your search!