When I became pregnant with my first baby I had recently moved to the area so I had no clue about local pediatricians. I got a couple recommendations from friends and after far too much procrastination I got an appointment with a doctor. I had read all the blog posts and heard in my birthing classes about how you should interview the pediatrician, but honestly that seemed like such an exhausting process. In the final months of pregnancy I just did not have it in me, so I went with the recommendations of friends and family and honestly felt very comfortable with my choice. However fast forward a few weeks and newly-not-pregnant me wanted to repeatedly smash my face into the doctor office’s wall.
Since my husband and I chose to give birth through a midwife at a birth center, we were required to have our baby seen 24hr after delivery just to ensure all is well. So at 24hr postpartum I had been at a doctors office standing for 4 hours. Four hours. Four. After admitting that he rarely saw babies this young, our pediatrician sent us home with a box of formula and a appointment for the very next day for a weight check as he felt it had lost too much weight and was not feeding sufficiently. As a brand new (very tired) momma I felt defeated, stressed, and completely overwhelmed.
Our pediatrician talked over me, was abrasive, and discounted my own desires for my child’s healthcare. That first week postpartum I was at the Pediatrician’s office every. Single. Day.
These appointments went on till he was three weeks old and had finally reached a weight that satisfied the doctor. I refused to give up on breastfeeding and supplement with formula even though I was encouraged to do so on many occasions.
At two months it was time to head back to get vaccinated; once again the doctor insisted on a weight check. That was when my husband and I finally decided that enough was enough. We were able to find a doctors office that would allow you to meet with the pediatrician before become a patient (isn’t that how it should be?!)
So what should you ask before deciding on a pediatrician? Here are some ides based on my experience:
What are your views on breastfeeding? What are your resources for breastfeeding moms? When would you suggest formal as an alternative to breastfeeding?
These three questions go hand-in-hand. I never anticipated struggling with breast feeding so I did not realize how important this would be. Other than a kind nurse’s personal advice I wasn’t offered any resources to help me. Thankfully, I had access to resources via my midwifes office. The Doctor also went straight to offering formula on the first visit- pumping and bottle feeding wasn’t even mentioned as an option.
How do you feel about a homebirth/midwife/birth center?
Another issue that arose with our pediatrician is that he did not support midwife births. This led into his questioning everything that was done during labor and all of the advise I was being given.
What are your views on vaccinations?
While my husband and I chose to vaccinate, this is a very personal decision and your pediatrictian should support you no matter what your choice is.
How many of your current patients are newborns or infants?
I feel like this was one of the biggest issues we faced. Our pediatrician mainly had older patients. Very few infants, especially ones that were only 24hr old, were in his care. I feel like this was part of the disconnect- he was not a horribly doctor, he just did not fulfill the needs we had as new parents.
No matter how many glowing reviews you hear about a pediatrician remember that you are the parent. You are your child’s only advocate. If you don’t fee like they are getting proper care or even just that you don’t jive with their doctor it is okay to switch!