Your doctor’s just not that into you, or maybe you’re not into him/her/them. This happens way more than you’re guessing. There’s lots of reasons why you might need to break up with them, so let’s talk about how to do it.
Hi, I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I’ve also had 3 kids of my own and dealt with MANY doctors in my time. Hopefully my experience with so many providers can help you get what YOU need.
Please consider joining me in my pregnancy series so I can meet you right where you’re at in your pregnancy:
Why You Might Not Like your Doctor
There are a lot of reasons you might not like your doctor (and not all of them are even close to personal):
- Office is too far away (you’re going to have frequent visits at the end, so be true to yourself and your time limits here)
- The office is gross
- Office staff isn’t good
- They don’t have equipment you prefer (like an ultrasound machine in office)
- They’re always late for appointments (keep in mind MANY OB’s are always late due to deliveries and it may not get better at another practice)
- They are too swift in the room, don’t seem to be able to answer questions
- They dismiss your questions
- You have seriously conflicting plans
That last one is one I’d like to speak on for a minute…
If you have something that is REALLY important to you, I’d run that by your provider long before your third trimester. Things you may think are important (plenty of other reasons, these just came to mind):
- Very delayed cord clamping (all providers should be good with 30 seconds – 1 minute)
- Your ability to VBAC (even if you go to your due date or past it)
- Delivering in a position not on your back
- No episiotomy without a bedside informed consent (most do not do this)
- Etc — think about what is REALLY important to you
“Hey, I was wondering what you think about patients delivering squatting or something like that?” “How often do you deliver like that?” “Are you OK with delivering my baby not in the bed?”
This isn’t a time to accuse them of how they work or explain why. This is just asking them if they’ll be OK with that. Specifically and clearly.
I would guess that most will say:
“I normally deliver patients on the bed, but I am open to delivering other places.” — they may caveat that with “As long as we are able to monitor the baby and everything is safe.”
That caveat is hard — are they REALLY open to delivering off the bed (many are not). That being said they can’t be pinned into doing ANYTHING by saying this in the office.
If you can’t get a full answer — you could say:
“Ok, I am considering switching to a practice that is more open to that type of delivery. Do you have anyone you would recommend?”
Hopefully you can discuss it like adults at that point, but they may get insulted and turn things less than professional, but that also tells you a lot about them. Either way you’ve opened the door so you know what they think.
This is WAY better than them saying “sure” and walking out — and then finding out there was NO way they were ever going to squat with you.
BTW, if this type of communication is hard for you, or you’re not sure what to say — I totally recommend taking a great prenatal class that shows your options and how to talk with your health care team. This one can be done in just 3 hours, has 3 price points to fit your budget, and couples love it!
Finding a New Doctor
If you decide that you would like to try another doctor or practice, you FIRST need to find a new one to go to.
You’re in the middle of a medical life event. Just like a job — you don’t quit the one before you have a new one lined up.
I would also call my insurance to let them know you’d like to switch providers. There may be some additional fees due to switching. You’ll need to check with them (and then decide if that price is worth it).
PRO TIP: If you’re past 30 weeks it is going to get harder and harder to switch. Many providers don’t want to take on a new patient that late in their pregnancy, especially when it’s not due to a move or a big life event like that. Try to switch as soon as possible. And, if you’re past 30 weeks you can definitely look around, but it may be too hard to find someone else.
What to Take With You
Once you have a new provider, call your previous office and ask for your prenatal records. Some may charge you for it, but many will just do it for you. If you have access to your own lab results, that’s a big part of it (so you don’t have to have all those labs drawn again).
Some may ask why you need them or if you are switching. Some might get aggressive but your prenatal records are YOURS and you have the right to have a copy of them.
Keep in mind this may take a week to 10 days to get the records (nope, some don’t make this easy).
Letting Your Doctor Know
You may choose to let you previous doctor that you’re moving on.
I would try to do that professionally so you don’t burn a bridge. Especially if it’s a reason that doesn’t have to do with them (location, office staff, insurance issues etc). You never know when you might need their skills, so try to keep this cordial (really, can I say this enough?).
If asked for a reason that IS them, just say your viewpoints don’t seem to match up and you need someone who you’re more sure will support you and your birth preferences. Then thank them for their previous time and care.
You also can move on and just not tell them. However, once you’re safe & happy in a new practice. I’d call them to tell at least the office staff so they don’t wonder if you’re getting care.
How to Know If It’s a Good Fit?
The reality is a lot of people bounce from doctor to doctor, just not finding what they want.
The reality is that they may not find that in a doctor. Perhaps they need a midwife practice or need to consider a home birth.
Remember that doctors HAVE to set certain boundaries for themselves as humans, just like we all do. Also, there are specific things that doctors have to follow on their malpractice policies. Things like home birth, breech deliveries, and early elective inductions are ones that come to mind there. They would lose their malpractice insurance and basically lose their career (as you have to have it to practice) if they didn’t follow them.
Again, when you’re at the new provider I’d ask them about your specific birth preferences and see what they say. You COULD just go see the new provider for an interview-type appointment to see if they are a good fit (some do that, many don’t).
Make sure you’re doing your part. Keep your thoughts and intentions positive towards the new provider. If you go in with a chip on your shoulder, you’re likely to find something wrong.
You do have some other options:
- Go to a different provider in that practice. If it’s something just about office visits, maybe you’ll like someone else more. Just keep in mind that the providers all take their own turns on call so that one you didn’t like may deliver your baby.
- Talk to the provider about what is bothering you, or why you want a specific thing. They could maybe accommodate you with some changes. Remember you’re both humans and you both want a good outcome — it’s just some logistics in the middle that you need to hash out.
- Be OK with being flexible in the moment. I see SO many people getting their ire up about delivering on their back, but there ARE different ways you can push in the bed and may still feel very comfortable to you. You might have ideas in your head right now, that don’t end up being as much of a big deal.
You can also help your head on #3 by being grateful for good providers that will make the right call on delivery day. Positivity can go a long way (rather than centering your head on all the things you DON’T like about them).
Whatever you do, be professional. Just like with any person you’re hiring to perform a service, they may or may not be a good fit. At any point in time you can pay then for the services they HAVE rendered and move on. Be kind and respectful with your communications and hopefully they’ll be the same.
And yes, a LOT of this comes back to YOUR comfort level in asking for what you want. And a lot of that comes from knowing what’s normal and how to ask your provider to give you the risks and the benefits of your choices. That’s why a prenatal class is so helpful. Save 10% on The Online Prenatal Class for Couples with code PC10.
Have you ever had to quit your doctor? Do you have any tips for making it as smooth as possible? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.