Your first pregnancy visit is an important one — and these five questions will help you know if your doctor is the right fit for you and your growing family.
Your first visit to your OB is likely to be very chaotic. In fact, many women don’t actually even SEE their OB on the first visit because they are mostly getting lab tests, and setting up paperwork/payment options with the office staff.
However, once you get IN to see your doctor (or midwife, or whoever you are seeing) here are 5 questions NOT to be missed (and they may not be for the reasons you think):
In fact, I just did an episode on how to pick an OB that talks about those first questions you should ask:
First of — 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. 🩺 BTW, I have a newsletter that covers pregnancy from early on, clear through delivery — I’d love to have you join!
I want to stress that it’s not so much the ANSWERS to these questions that are important, but more their attitude as they answer. You can learn a lot about their teaching style/ability from these types of questions:
Who & How are they covered when they are not on?
The reality is that doctors just can’t cover themselves 24/7. Even if they DO do a majority of their own deliveries, there will still be times they are at a conference or on vacation.
Doctors HAVE to have other doctors cover them.
And the reality is, that when you deliver you actually won’t see the doctor very long. You’ll mostly see the nurses.
BUT, you’ll want to know:
- Who covers them when they’re not on
- If that doctor also takes phone calls when your doctor isn’t in (a good OB practice will be available for urgent questions 24/7)
- How similar those practitioners are to that doctor you’ve chosen
If the people who cover your OB are in his/her office, you could even ask to see them at one of your appointments, just so they are a friendly face.
**However, I can’t stress enough that you really won’t see your doctor much at the delivery, you will mostly see them at prenatal appointments, and after you have the baby.
What is their episiotomy rate?
Now, this question is two-fold
- Find-out their episiotomy rate — every doctor is given theirs from the hospital. They should know it and be OK with sharing it with you.
- AND, to find out how open and honest your doctor is. If they’re, right off the bat, saying “that’s not important” or “I don’t know it” (lies — they should have a basic idea) then that is a red flag in my book!
- Keep in mind that Episiotomies DO need to happen sometimes. A rate of zero is suspect, for sure.
What are their office hours?
We have some doctors that seem to NEVER be in the office!
Also, if they’re in surgery, do they have nurse practitioners/midwives that might see you from time to time instead (nurse practitioners and midwives give GREAT prenatal care, and although NP’s can deliver the baby, they are well trained in what to look for and have done an OB rotation).
Sidenote: I am, personally, not a fan of seeing PA’s for OB appointments (especially as you get closer to your delivery). Personal preference….
So, find out:
- Usual Office Hours
- If they have surgery days, and if someone is in the office even if they’re not
(OB’s do a LOT of surgery so, that is something to be aware of).
What is their C-Section Rate
This is another question that gives you a lot of answers:
Clearly, it tells you their C-section rate, but it also tells you their open-ness and honesty.
I think you’ll just get a “vibe” from them with these questions — a good one to see if you mesh with.
Once again — doctors KNOW their C-section rate. They should be willing to share it.
What hospitals do they deliver at?
It is likely that they talked about this when you started with the practice, but it does you no good to see a doctor that doesn’t deliver at the hospitals your insurance covers.
Often, people pick a doctor BASED off of the hospitals they’d prefer to go to. Because a hospital is not a hotel.
Things to consider in a hospital:
Distance from your home (and any traffic in that area)
Insurance — anymore, insurances are REALLY cracking down on which hospital systems they cover in-network and that can be a COSTLY mistake to go out of network.
Price. Some of you may not even hit your deductible with your delivery, and Hospitals will give you a cash price (around 6-7k) if you’re willing to pay up front. Call around, that number varies (but to be clear, that number only includes hospital care, not the physicians or epidural if you want it),
Clearly, if there are topics like doulas, tearing at delivery or birth plans then you can discuss those with them as well, but those first 5 are questions I think every OB should be ready & able to answer quickly and effectively, and give you a sense of who they are.
Do NOT be afraid to switch doctors if you don’t like the one you’ve chosen. Especially up to your 3rd trimester, you can switch fairly easily. If you plan to switch, I would 100% recommend getting a copy of your records on your way out the door, so you don’t have the hassle of getting those or, worse, having to re-draw the labs.
However, after about 30 weeks you need to stick with who you have. Many doctors won’t take new patients after 30 weeks, unless there is an extreme case like you had great care and just moved to the area (there is a lot of liability in taking on a patient later in their pregnancy) — so stick it out. Then, pick a new doctor for your next baby. 🙂
If you feel like you just haven’t been educated enough by your doctor (and I feel like MOST women haven’t) be sure to check out this class. It answers everything from third trimester testing up through the baby coming home in an engaging way — at 3 price points! Save 10% with code PC10.