Disclaimer: This post is simply reflecting on my own experiences and is in no way intended to override professional healthcare advice.
Selecting your child’s pediatrician is quite possibly one of the most difficult decisions you can make about your child’s healthcare. Your child’s pediatrician will be your guide in navigating everything your child experiences from a common cold to puberty. If you’re like me and you spent a good amount of time reading pregnancy and preparing for baby books, you’ll know that shopping for a pediatrician before your child is born is important.
Interviewing and selecting a pediatirican early allows you to get to know your child’s future doctor before you’re completely lost in a sleep deprived world of counting feeding times and dirty diapers. If you’re going for a hospital birth, your child’s pediatrician will most likely be the one to monitor your baby after they are first born. Whether you have a hospital, birthing center or home birth, you will most likely see your child’s pediatrician within the first few days of your child’s life.
I tried to shop early for our pediatrician and even had a few picked out thanks to personal references and “shopping” online via my local pediatrician office websites. Of course, things didn’t go as expected, but I still ended up with a pediatrician that we adore, and who treats our little lady like a queen.
Here are some things I found helpful in my hunt for a pediatircian:
1. Word of Mouth. Talk to other moms, childcare professionals, your OBGYN and even your family about who they use for a pediatrician and why. This can be some of the most useful information about a doctor because it gives you a “review” of what the pediatrician is like and how their office operates.
2. Interivew. Most pediatricans/family doctors will welcome a visit from expecting parents so they can discuss how the office operates, answer questions as to parental preferences (such as circumcision, vaccinations, etc.), and give you a sense of what the doctor is like in person.
3. Keep an open mind. Because I knew I was having a girl, my husband and I were sure we wanted a female doctor for our daughter so that in the future, we wouldn’t risk having to change doctors to meet her comfort level. The only local female pediatrician was one I knew personally from my own experience and while she is a competent doctor, I knew we had differences in opinion on important issues. We ended up selecting a new (male) doctor to the practice and we couldn’t be happier with our choice.
4. Emergencies. Ask perspective doctors about who you would contact during an emergency situation after office hours and who would treat your child. While no one wants to end up in the ER with a baby, it’s helpful to have a bit of knowledge on the process before you experience it.
5. You can always change your mind. Lets say you have found your dream doctor for your child. Things go great for a while and then suddenly, there’s a difference in opinion on an important issue or you discover that your doctor is moving out of state. Doctors are like car insurance — you can change doctors at any time. If you’re under restrictions due to insurance, you will want to check to see who is covered under your plan, but in general there is nothing binding you to a specific doctor.
6. Go with your gut. In my opinion, there is nothing more crucial in parenting then being able to trust yourself. You know your baby better then anyone else and if you don’t feel comfortable with something about your child’s care provider, address it. There’s no shame in doing what’s best for your family.