Finding out you’re pregnant is a time filled with tons of questions, emotions, and feelings. Once you’ve finally wrapped your head around the idea of becoming a mother, it’s time to make important prenatal care decisions—like finding the right OBGYN to care for you throughout your pregnancy.
Finding a physician can be overwhelming, but finding a physician to care for you and your unborn baby comes with added pressures. To help you make the right decision, BRIDES spoke with Dr. William Schweizer, clinical associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Health for his expert advice.
“Many patients prior to pregnancy seek to create a relationship with a physician or midwife that will provide gynecologic care. If the patient is satisfied with this relationship they will often turn to this provider for Ob care or ask his/her advice on choosing an Obstetric Practitioner,” Schweizer explains, while adding that many patients also seek referrals from friends and family, or head online to rating services or messaging boards.
However you decide which doctor is right for you, the first step is considering what factors are most important to you. Aside from wanting a smooth and healthy pregnancy and delivery with a healthy baby, there are other factors to consider, too. Schweizer says among these are: “Location of the office in relation to scheduling office visits, location of the hospital or birth center where delivery will take place, whether they practice as a solo practitioner or in a group, and what is the coverage system of the practitioner if he/she is unable to attend the delivery.” He also adds that for patients with previous diagnoses or obstetric complications, it’s important to know if the practitioner of preference can handle the specific health issues and needs.
If torn between selecting a large or small practice, there are pros and cons. Dr. Schweizer explained, “A large practice group may seem daunting to a patient who feels ‘bonding’ with a particular practitioner is important, but most practitioners are not available 100% of the time. A large practice can be a cohesive unit, where all practitioners have similar philosophies, information is easily known by all, and practitioners are practicing evidence based medicine. A single practitioner or small group can be an excellent option, unless chart information is not available easily, and medical decisions are not shared by all.”
The patient/physician relationship is also important., and begins with your first appointment. He explained, “The relationship of the patient-practitioner begins usually with a 30 to 45-minute initial prenatal visit, optimally during the first trimester of pregnancy. I suggest 3-4 weeks after the missed period. There is a thorough discussion of the mother’s history; prior Obstetrical history, medical history, surgical history, allergies, medications, Family history, use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.”
Dr. Schweizer also says that patient education is important, and should be, “covering diet, exercise, medication use, foods and/or habits that should be avoided. There should be a discussion about how to screen for abnormalities in the pregnancy and what testing is available to discover genetic diseases,” along with discussing fears and concerns about pregnancy and/or delivery and discussion about delivery options, too. He adds, “It is most important to identify in this first visit any risk factors or problems that the mother or pregnancy may have. Discussion of the mother’s age, prior surgeries, health issues, medication use are important to identify risk issues the mother should consider.”
For the remainder of your care, typically Dr. Schweizer suggests, “for the low risk patient, monthly visits until 26 weeks, then biweekly until 36 weeks, and then weekly until delivery,” while higher risk pregnancies may warrant more frequent visits. Cumulatively an expectant mother may meet with 12 times or more during her pregnancy. Therefore, he says, “The relationship between patient and practitioner is quite strong after so many prenatal visits.”
When it comes to delivery, there are many variables in length and delivery time, but Dr. Schweizer explains: “It is not unusual for this to last more than 12 hours. Practitioners will spend a great deal of time with the mother, evaluating the labor and assisting during the delivery.” While selecting an OBGYN for prenatal care, it’s important to also remember the talents involved in the profession, including, “maintaining focus, decision making, and utilizing obstetrics tools need to be considered in choosing the obstetrician.”
Additionally, Dr. Schweizer agrees it is important to “click” on a personal level, too. “Yes, it is important to ‘click’, as ‘click’ is interpreted to trust the practitioner’s ability and integrity, appreciate his/her wisdom and care, and know this person will always treat you with respect and give you a careful explanation of risks and benefits. “