Inside: find out the 5 essential questions to ask when choosing a pediatrician for your baby. First time moms or veterans, there is important information here for every mama.
There are so many things to look forward to during your last trimester of pregnancy:
- swollen feet and/or fingers
- the inability to get comfortable while sleeping
- shall I go on?
But really, I can’t sugarcoat things. It’s just not my style. It is what it is.
So with all these third-trimester hurdles to overcome, now you have to find a pediatrician who will care for your newborn baby on top of being bloated and sleep-deprived?!
Mama, fear not, for I have narrowed down a million and one questions to an essential 5. Choosing a pediatrician for your future baby does not have to be an Olympic Sport. Instead, with some smart planning, you can have the perfect doctor picked out just in time to meet your squirmy little munchkin.
Related: How to Survive Morning Sickness
Most OB’s will advise that you choose a pediatrician before 36 weeks.
If you deliver in a hospital, your baby’s doctor will typically visit you there when the baby is 2 days old. I personally delivered at a birth center with a midwife, so I brought both babies to the pediatrician’s office at 2 days old.
In either scenario, you will need to have a pediatrician on file with your OB before your baby is due!
It should be noted that how you choose your baby’s doctor is obviously up to you. The tips in this post are based on my own experiences with my two kids. I am not a pediatrician or any sort of medical professional myself.
That being said, here a few things to consider when selecting a doctor’s office:
- Proximity to your home
- Recommendations from fellow mom-friends
- Weekend/holiday hours
- Standing in the community (how long they’ve been open, etc.)
After speaking to friends and co-workers, if the same office or same doctor is repeatedly recommended, that’s a good place to start. Notice that I did not recommend Googling or Facebooking. I personally never ask for advice on Facebook as I often think you get way more than you bargained for and people tend to get personal, same with Google reviews.
Chatting with friends in person, or even other pregnant woman in the waiting room at the OB or midwife is more productive in my opinion.
Tip: Having trouble finding recommendations, ask your OB or midwife if their facility has a pediatrician’s office affiliated with their practice or if they have a practice they recommend.
When choosing a pediatrician for your baby, it’s helpful to think long-term. Someone who you could see your child growing up with. Someone who’s advice you value and could see yourself turning to in the future when your child starts elementary school and then eventually becomes a teenager.
If you’ve narrowed in down to a couple of candidates or you simply think you’ve found “the one” call the office to be sure they accept your insurance. This is probably your biggest deciding factor!
Once that has been cleared, ask if the pediatrician you are interested in is accepting new patients. If they are, set up an appointment to meet with them. They should set aside at least 15-20 minutes to meet with prospective patients. If they are too busy or are not willing to meet with you, this is probably a good sign you should look for another doctor.
Resources for New Moms
Choosing a Pediatrician for Your Baby
5 Essential Questions to Ask
1. Do you support breastfeeding mothers?
You’d be so surprised how many stories I heard in my prenatal birth classes about doctors (even female doctors) who actually discouraged new moms from breastfeeding.
Some doctors will advise that you can simply “supplement with formula” if the baby isn’t gaining weight or you’re struggling with breastfeeding. But if you have your heart set on breastfeeding, then this is not the advice you want to hear, especially when you’ve just gone through childbirth!
If you intend on breastfeeding, don’t let anyone (let alone a doctor) discourage you. Obviously no one can make you do anything, but why choose a doctor who is not there to support you as a new mom?
A supportive pediatrician will lead you to the right resources, help you find a lactation consultant or even provide you tips from their own experiences as a parent.
Helpful Breastfeeding Resources
2. What is your stance on prescribing antibiotics?
Let’s face it. Some doctors are medicine-happy. It doesn’t matter what your baby or toddler goes in for, they’ll leave with a prescription for something.
I’m no doctor, but I most certainly know how to read. New research in the medical community has demonstrated that over-prescribing antibiotics to babies is not only ineffective, it can also have long-term consequences, such as these antibiotics not working later on when your child really needs them.
I am never against giving a child medicine when they really need it, but every cut & scrape does not require a prescription.
If this is a concern for you like it was for me, be sure to ask their opinion on this.
3. Are the other doctors in the office like-minded?
As if by some weird twist of fate, the pediatrician we chose was on vacation when my first baby was born. And I’ll be completely honest with you. I was a hot mess. The doctor who was available to us at the time was simply not the right fit for us. He was the exact opposite of the doctor we chose for our little girl.
Therefore, I do believe it is worth it to ask your future pediatrician who they would recommend if they are unavailable; because more likely than not, you’ll be seeing the other doctors there for any unexpected sick visits, etc.
4. Does your office have a 24-hour nurse hotline/weekend/holiday hours?
By the laws of the universe, babies never get sick when it’s convenient.
For the record, every time I have been on the phone with the nurse’s hotline, it has always been between the hours of 9 PM and 2 am and on a weekend.
Never at let’s say, 11 AM on a Tuesday. Always, always in the middle of the night on a weekend.
As a new mom, I found the 24 hour nurse’s hotline to be extremely helpful. Never feel badly about calling, even at 3 AM. That’s what they’re there for!
Update: When I wrote this post, my first child was still a baby, and now at 3 years old, we have had our fair share of weekend and holiday visits. Toddler’s always to seem to get injured or sick when the doctor’s office is usually closed.
5. How do you feel about answering 1,003,467 questions?
Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating by about 3 questions, give or take. With my first child, I attended every well visit armed with at least 10-15 questions. I truly value my pediatrician’s advice, as she is also the mom of two kids.
In my opinion, one of the best traits in a doctor is one who takes their time and doesn’t rush you out. When choosing a pediatrician, you want someone who will answer every single one of your new-mom-crazy-questions, look at every bump, red mark, scratch, and boo-boo and assure you that your baby is perfect.
Disclaimer: This is not a substitute for medical advice. I am simply sharing my real experiences as a mom