Pregnancy is a period of anticipation, change and excitement. Learn how you can ease your pre-baby nerves by choosing a pediatrician before the big day arrives.
“I recommend my patients choose a pediatrician or family medicine doctor at 28-34 weeks of pregnancy,” says Dr. Michael Bradfield, a Family Medicine practitioner with Banner Health’s North Colorado Family Medicine. “Prospective parents want to allow plenty of time to research and ask friends about potential doctors so they can find someone they will feel comfortable with and trust.”
Questions to Ask
Picking a pediatrician is a personal decision, as you more than likely will stay with the same doctor until your child turns 18. But, don’t let this overwhelm you. Pediatricians are here to guide mother and baby into childhood healthily and happily.
You can meet with pediatricians one-on-one before and during pregnancy to discuss your personal needs and values. This a valuable opportunity to ask important questions, including:
- How often, and when, is the provider in office for appointments?
- Does the pediatrician offer same-day appointments for sick visits?
- Are phone or clinic services available after hours, in cases of illness?
- Who will your child see if your specific pediatrician is not available?
- Is the physician able to see your newborn in the hospital at birth or if they become sick in the future and need to be hospitalized?
- Does the practice accept your insurance?
- What are the doctor’s beliefs or practices when it comes to breastfeeding, circumcision, and vaccine schedules, and do they match yours?
- How long has the pediatrician been in practice? This will allow you to decide if you prefer a physician who has been practicing longer and is more seasoned, or a younger physician your child can be with for years to come.
- If you anticipate your child will have any special needs or complex medical issues: does your provider have experience and confidence in those areas?
Dr. Bradfield recommends ensuring your pediatrician is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics or the American Board of Family Medicine – information you can access through the Federation of State Medical Boards.
“I recommend parents do their own research on potential providers, but also ask friends and your own primary care physician or obstetrician for recommendations,” says Dr. Bradfield. This gives the family time to decide if a doctor is a good “fit” to care for them and their child.
At the end of the day, what matters most is that parents find someone they trust and who listens to them, according to Bradfield. “The most important factor is that you, as a parent, have confidence that your child is getting good care.