How do I find a doctor for my baby?
Choosing a pediatrician for your new baby is one of the biggest jobs during pregnancy. Parents often look to friends and family when starting the search, but the final selection involves more than just a helpful suggestion. You need to take several factors into consideration when choosing a pediatrician, including parenting values and beliefs, communication, insurance, and availability.
Does the pediatrician take your insurance?
It's important to start with the list of pediatricians who accept your family medical insurance. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of nearby providers. Many insurance companies also publish a list of pediatricians in the “network” on the official website.
Do your parenting values align?
Once your research is done and you have a final list of 5-10 names, make another list of all the parenting values you find important to raising an infant and child. It is vital for your pediatrician to have the same parenting values because disputes can lead to ineffective medical care.
Some parenting values to take into consideration include:
- Breastfeeding versus bottle feeding
- Natural versus medicinal care
After listing parenting values, make a checklist of questions to ask potential pediatricians during the pediatrician interview. Most pediatricians will accept appointments for interviews with new parents at no charge. Make the most of your time with the pediatrician by carrying your checklist with you during the interview. You want to make sure that you and your pediatrician are on the same page and that you feel comfortable enough to express your opinion, and also that you and the doctor can communicate well.
How available is the doctor?
The final element of choosing a pediatrician is availability. During the interview, it is important to ask about after-hours care, contact during off-hours and coverage for the practice when the doctor is out of town or unavailable.
In certain cases, pediatricians may not have hospital rights at the hospital you’ve chosen for childbirth. If this is the case, your infant will be seen by the attending pediatrician immediately after birth with the first appointment in the pediatrician’s office occurring after the baby is discharged. If there are any complications, the pediatrician will be unable to care for your infant.
Choosing a pediatrician can be a difficult task, but one all parents are faced with when having a baby. If your first choice turns out to be the wrong choice, you can always change pediatricians. The new pediatrician will contact your former pediatrician for patient records before or immediately after the first appointment.