As you look at your checklist of things to do before baby arrives, finding the right pediatrician is one that is worth your time and energy. It’s important to find a provider that is aligned with your needs and beliefs. You want someone who will personalize the care of your child. You want someone who will educate you along the way, give you choices, allow you to choose what’s best for your family and empower you as a parent.
Your baby’s first pediatrician appointment
You will see the pediatrician as early as 3-5 days after the birth. This is a time when you’re still figuring out your newborn, sorting through breastfeeding sessions and missing out on sleep— that’s not a good time to realize that the pediatrician you picked doesn’t align with your beliefs, doesn’t answer your questions or listen to your concerns. Putting in the time to find the right pediatrician beforehand, while you’re still pregnant, is time well spent.
A few tips on how to find a pediatrician:
- First, gather a list of pediatric practices. We may be able to provide you with a list, or you may get a referral from your OB practice, from friends, or from your insurance company.
- Give them a call to make sure they are taking newborns.
- Verify they take your insurance (if you haven’t done so already).
- You may want to consider the distance from your home. There are several standard appointments in the first two years of your baby’s life, so you will be at their office a fair amount.
- Schedule a consultation or tour with them. Most pediatricians have some sort of meet-and-greet that offers a chance to speak to a doctor. Take advantage of this to get a good sense of what they are about. Be sure to ask questions at this meeting and get their beliefs on:
- Vaccinations or alternative schedules for vaccinations
- How they treat a typical ear infection
- Their beliefs on circumcision and other practices
- If they have separate waiting rooms for sick versus well children.
- You may not even know your own feelings or beliefs on some of these and that’s okay. Gather the information and sort it out later. Sometimes the most important things you can learn from the discussion are: whether or not they looked you in the eye, answered your questions fully and with respect, and presented their answer in a clear, nonjudgmental way.
- Finally, once you choose, wait until the baby is born to call and set up that first appointment. Pediatric practices leave room in their schedules each day for the birth of newborns.
If you did your homework and spent time choosing a pediatrician beforehand and still you arrive to those first few appointments to discover that something feels off, then don’t be shy in switching. Perhaps you can switch to a different provider within the same office/practice or maybe you need to switch practices altogether. Remember, this is your child’s care and they deserve the best.