You selected the nursery colors.
The paint is drying on the walls.
The baby shower is over.
The cupboards are full of onesies and diapers.
You have everything your newborn will need.
The clock is ticking down! Wait, have you chosen a pediatrician yet?
Choosing a pediatrician is one of the most critical choices you will make in the early years of your child’s life. The process can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you out. We’ve kept it simple because we know you’ve got a lot on your mind already.
When Is the Best Time to Look?
The best time to start looking for a pediatrician is between weeks 28 and 34 of your pregnancy. Having a pediatrician that you have already met, respect, and feel comfortable in place before your baby’s arrival will relieve a lot of postpartum pressure.
Why Have a Relationship with the Same Doctor?
Your sanity! Did you know that during your baby’s first year you will visit the doctor at least six times? Having a pediatrician that knows you, knows the baby, and has all of the baby’s medical records in hand will relieve a lot of fear and pressure. Your baby will also become comfortable with the doctor, and they will build a relationship of safety and trust.
How Do You Go About Finding a Great Pediatrician?
- Ask family and friends first. They will be your best source.
- Compile a list of 3-6 pediatricians. If you can’t make a list of at least three from friends and family use social media channels to help you out.
- Make notes:
- You will be going there often, so a short commute is desirable.
- Which hospitals is the doctor affiliated with? You’ll want one that is convenient and reputable.
- If the pediatrician isn’t on your insurance company’s provider list, call them. The pediatrician may have been added recently.
- Check their credentials and experience.
By definition, a pediatrician specializes in the care of infants, children, and adolescents and has completed training in pediatrics following graduation from medical school. Make a note of how long they have been in practice.
What Do All Those Letters Mean?
- Board-certified: A pediatrician has completed med school as well as a three-year residency in pediatrics. They have also voluntarily chosen to pass a series of routinely administered exams.
- AAP member: The doctor belongs to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- FAAP listing: The doctor belongs to the AAP and is board certified.
Should I Speak My Opinions
Solidify your opinions about how you want to raise and care for your child. They do not need to be set in stone— and you don’t have to know everything— but if you have a solid opinion about something, perhaps breastfeeding, vaccines or circumcision- know what it is before you go in for your first meeting.
Do I Set up a Meeting?
Many pediatricians offer a free interview, prenatal visit, or monthly Meet and Greet. Others charge a small fee that is usually covered by insurance. At the meeting, this is a great time to evaluate how the office works.
- How long did you have to wait on the phone when making the appointment?
- Chat with other patients in the waiting room. Ask what they like and dislike about the practice.
- Check out the area. Are there toys, books, or other devices to distract children?
When you are with the doctor, ask questions that are relevant to you and your baby. This is where knowing your opinions comes into play. This person will be your partner and advisor when caring for your new baby.
It’s essential to be confident that your own approach in caring for your child is taken into account. The two of you may not necessarily have to agree on every detail, but you mustn’t feel judged or shamed.
What Essential Questions Should I Ask?
Be sure to ask these essential questions:
- What is the doctor’s availability?
- If she works with a group practice, how likely is it that you will see her for most visits?
- If you need them off-hours who would be on call — a nurse or your doctor?
After you leave, ask yourself, did:
- You and the doctor click?
- Your personalities work well together?
- You feel comfortable? Heard? Stressed? Rushed?
How Does the Doctor Interact with Your Newborn?
Now it’s time to see how your doctor interacts with your newborn! During your first few visits with the pediatrician assess how the doctor interacts with your child.
- Do you feel comfortable with how the pediatrician interacts with your baby?
- Does your baby appear to feel comfortable with the doctor?
You will also learn more about how your doctor— and their office- really works when they are in the thick of day to day activities and during pressure situations.
What If It Doesn’t Work Out?
That’s okay. At any point in your relationship with the pediatrician, you are allowed to change your mind and look elsewhere. But unless a doctor makes a blatant error, visit her a few times before switching.
We all have bad days. If you decide that this doctor isn’t the one for you, call the office and ask for your records to be transferred. No explanation is required unless you feel that it would help the pediatrician improve her practice.
Contact Us Today
Starting a relationship from day one with a baby is very special. Since Buford Family Practice is a family practice, we see babies grow into adolescents who grow into adults who turn into parents.
We value these long-standing relationships deeply and are honored to offer your family the highest level of expertise and excellence in medical care. If you are in the process of choosing your baby’s pediatrician, we will be happy to meet with you. Contact us for a meet and greet today!