Choosing an Obstetrician Before Pregnancy and Birth
Having a baby is one of the most important health events in a woman’s life. Finding the right medical partner (or team of partners) for pregnancy and birth can provide peace of mind and ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. Whether a woman is having trouble getting pregnant or experiencing health issues that may make a pregnancy more difficult, our obstetricians specialize in helping women prepare for all aspects of pregnancy and birth.
It’s critical, whenever possible, to start the conversation and develop a trusting relationship with an obstetrician-gynecologist before pregnancy. Like many important relationships in life, finding the right OB-GYN requires time and consideration.
Tips for choosing an obstetrician
Women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy may not have an established relationship with an OB-GYN. This is particularly common in a fast-growing city like Denver, with many women being new to the area and in need of a physician. Other times, moms-to-be may wish to seek a new obstetrician specifically for pregnancy and birth. Below are some general tips for making this important decision.
Ask friends and family for recommendations. What do they like about their obstetrician? What was it like going through pregnancy, labor and delivery with them? A lot of our patients at CU Rocky Mountain OB-GYN have been referred to us by current patients who appreciate our focus on developing lifelong relationships.
Check out online reviews. Reviews on sites like Yelp, Google Business and Healthgrades provide an inside look into how a particular obstetrician or practice operates. Reviewers provide insights on issues such as bedside manner, office efficiency, caring attitudes and good or bad experiences. But, as with reviews of restaurants, not everyone has the same tastes or experiences. Use reviews as a guide.
Look up the OB-GYN’s website. This can provide a great deal of information about a physician and the practice. Look for excellent healthcare information that empowers patients with knowledge. Biographies of OB-GYNs can often include information about their unique approach to care. Videos or written blogs by an obstetrician communicate their interests and attitude. Testimonials or patient stories can also be helpful in determining what a particular doctor or practice is like.
Set up an appointment. There’s nothing like meeting the doctor face to face for a prospective patient to find out if she and a particular obstetrician are a good fit. It’s a good time to get to know each other a little bit and for the patient to discuss her expectations for care, while learning about the obstetrician’s approach to women’s health.
Why a preconception appointment is necessary
Meeting with an OB-GYN before pregnancy is ideal. Women who are already pregnant are encouraged to schedule an appointment as early as possible in the first trimester. A preconception appointment, which can be a special appointment or simply a discussion at an annual checkup, is an opportunity to discuss concerns and goals regarding pregnancy and birth. During the appointment, patients can discuss birth plans, medical history and tips for a healthy pregnancy.
Why is an early appointment so critical?
Trust. An OB-GYN should walk side by side with his or her patients through pregnancy, labor and delivery. To that end, it’s important that this is a relationship built on trust and confidence. The earlier a woman can get to know her OB-GYN, the better.
A healthy start. Whether a woman plans to start trying to have a baby tomorrow or in a few years, she should be as healthy as she possible can be before conception.
Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended or unplanned. That means that often a woman’s baby is developing before she even knows she’s pregnant. If she’s already had a conversation about pregnancy plans, she will ideally be doing all the right things to keep herself and the baby in optimal health.
In a typical preconception appointment, an obstetrician reviews the following.
- Medical history and overall health. This includes discussing underlying conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes so they can be treated or controlled before pregnancy. It’s also important to know about any genetic diseases.
- Diet and exercise. As with many aspects of normal life that pregnancy changes, diet and exercise habits should adjust to accommodate the baby-to-be. For example, many women don’t know that fish high in mercury can be harmful to unborn babies. Men can benefit from watching their diets, too, so that they can produce healthy sperm. Not all physical activities a woman used to do are a good idea when she is pregnant.
- Ways to boost the chances of conception. Many women do not pay much attention to signs that they’re ovulating. Obstetricians can provide the tools needed to help women know when they are most fertile.
- Fertility issues. Women are now having their first child at around age 28. And women in their 30s are now having more children than women in their 20s, according to 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Since fertility begins to diminish in a woman’s 30s, it’s important to talk about any reproductive concerns before then if possible.
- Prenatal vitamins. Depending on when she wants to get pregnant, a woman’s obstetrician may recommend starting a prenatal vitamin regimen. Women often don’t know they’re pregnant until their fetus is a few weeks old. By then, the neural tube along the baby’s back is closing, and the brain and spinal cord develop from the neural tube. When the tube doesn’t close completely, babies can be born with spina bifida or other spinal defects. The folic acid in prenatal vitamins can help prevent these defects.
The bottom line
Preparation is vital. Especially when planning a family.
Whether a woman’s baby is just a happy hope for the future or a positive line on a pregnancy test, her relationship with an obstetrician is vital. Finding one that fits can help a woman and her baby get off to the healthiest start possible.