It is said that breaking up is hard to do. However, what if the person you want to part ways with is your prenatal health care provider?
Can you really change your doctor, midwife or other health care provider mid-pregnancy?
The short answer is yes: It’s possible to switch at one time or another. Whether you move, they move or retire, your insurance changes or you just don’t feel comfortable with them anymore. But when you’re pregnant, is it a good idea?
Here are common reasons why pregnant people often switch doctors mid-pregnancy and how to make the change as smooth as possible.
Why pregnant people switch doctors mid-pregnancy
If you’re thinking of seeking another provider, ask yourself why. Is it a personality conflict? You don’t like the staff? Do you want to deliver at another hospital or facility?
There are lots of reasons why you might decide to switch your provider during pregnancy, but one of the most common reasons is poor communication skills.
When you go to an appointment with questions or concerns, you should leave with answers. Your provider should not only answer your questions, but they should also address any anxiety or fears you may have.
Finding someone who will support you throughout pregnancy, even between appointments, is important. If you aren’t feeling heard, respected or have even been belittled, you may want to look elsewhere.
Another issue that can arise is if you don’t see eye-to-eye on your prenatal care and birth plan. You might want a vaginal birth after a cesarean or to have a doula and avoid pain medication during delivery, and your provider doesn’t agree.
“There are often legitimate circumstances where your provider may not offer something or recommend against your birth plan because they don’t want to put you or your baby’s health at risk,” said Meghan MacCleary, DO, an OBGYN with Banner Health in Glendale, AZ. “These risks and the rationale should be clearly explained. If they won’t explain their thoughts, concerns, reasons and just simply refuse something without an open dialogue then it may be time to look for someone else who will.”
If you have legitimate concerns, bring them up with your provider and see if you two can’t resolve them.
“It’s worth having an open and honest conversation to see if you can clear up any misunderstandings,” Dr. MacCleary said. “What’s most important is that you find a place that feels right to you.”
How to switch providers mid-pregnancy
Whether it’s one of the reasons above or simply a gut feeling that you and this provider aren’t a match, you’ve decided it’s time to find a new one.
Here are four steps to follow to make sure it’s a smooth transition:
Step 1: Do some research
Believe it or not, it can take some time to find another health care provider and sometimes even longer to get with them as a new patient. You only have nine months before your baby arrives, so timing and proper prenatal care are very important.
“Regular prenatal care is extremely important in optimizing the health of both you and your baby,” Dr. MacCleary said. “Regular visits help decrease the risk of any complications or adverse outcomes and help your provider know how best to care for you and the baby.”
Before you leave your current practice, research other practices in your area that are accepting new patients and ask if they will accommodate the reasons you intend to switch. Some practices may stop taking new patients between 36 to 38 weeks pregnant.
“Research online to see what providers cover prenatal care under your insurance or ask friends for recommendations,” Dr. MacCleary said. “Friends, family and neighbors who are parents are all great people to ask. You can also check with your doula or childbirth educator.”
Step 2: Schedule the appointment
Once you’ve chosen a few names, research them further and schedule an appointment with the provider who is the best fit. Try to make the appointment in the normal timeline you need to be seen.
Contact your old provider’s office and request to have your medical records sent over electronically or request a copy to have on hand.
“Having a copy in hand to take yourself to your new doctor for when you meet them is always great, so they can pick up your care and continue without gaps,” Dr. MacCleary said. “It also helps so you don’t have to have a lot of the same things repeated unnecessarily.”
Step 3: Say goodbye
You may or may not want to also let the practice or your provider know why you have left.
If you have a history with your provider and/or believe they’ll be better for knowing, you may decide to let them know in person or over the phone before you request your medical records. In all other situations, an email or a letter is acceptable.
Be honest, specific but polite. Thank them before you leave. Express your concerns to the best of your ability, so your provider knows the reason you are leaving.
You may not be the first to leave for this reason. If no one ever tells them why they’re leaving, the provider can’t address these concerns.
Step 4: Enjoy your pregnancy
Pregnancy is full of changes, some of the biggest you’ll ever experience. Don’t let your decision to change providers rattle you. You will know what’s best for you and your baby, and you’re the best advocate for yourself.
Don’t let your negative experience get in the way of enjoying this precious time. Lean in on those who love and support you and savor the moments of happiness and anticipation.
Switching providers mid-pregnancy isn’t always an easy decision, but it is possible. While your provider may know you inside and out, it’s important to be with someone who you feel comfortable with and who respects and honors you and your wishes.
To find a Banner Health specialist near you, visit bannerhealth.com.