When you’re pregnant, it’s a really emotional time. You want the absolute best for yourself and your baby, and that means choosing the right health care provider. Are you comfortable with your care provider, or do you need a new doctor?
There are many options out there (midwives, OB-GYN, family practice), but the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with the provider you’ve chosen. If you don’t, you shouldn’t hesitate to switch — even if you’re fairly far along.
If you’re not sure if your chosen provider is really a good one, check out these 10 signs. If you’re seeing a lot of warning signs, then you need a new doctor!
10 Signs You Need a New Doctor
1) Your questions are not really answered
Especially if it’s your first baby, you should be able to get all the information you need from your doctor (or other provider). The doctor should be willing to answer your questions thoroughly and allow you to ask follow-up questions as necessary. S/he should not be halfway out the door while answering, either. S/he should sit down, be patient, and honestly and truly discuss all your concerns.
If the doctor “answers” your questions but doesn’t really get what you are asking, and you feel like getting the information you really want is like pulling teeth (whether it’s on purpose or just because the doctor doesn’t “get” you), it’s time to find someone else.
2) You don’t feel very comfortable asking questions at all
If your doctor really is halfway out the door when she calls over her shoulder “Oh yeah, do you have any questions?” you may not feel like you can even ask! This is not good. You should feel comfortable bringing in all your concerns and asking until you are satisfied. Pregnancy can be a confusing time, especially if you’ve never experienced it, but also any time! If you can’t even ask, you need a new doctor!
3) You can’t or don’t feel comfortable calling between appointments with questions
There may be situations that crop up between appointments which require a call to the doctor. If you are experiencing spotting, cramping, extreme nausea, or anything else unusual, you should call to ask what you should do and if they want to see you. If your doctor doesn’t allow this (!!) or is really rude and unhappy about being “bothered,” find another doctor. A good doctor understands that in obstetrics, they can be called day or night with questions, concerns, or a delivery.
I once needed to call my doctor because I was 34 weeks pregnant with my first baby and bleeding significantly. We were out of town (about 2 hours away). She said “Umm, go to the hospital. You’re far away, what do you want me to do about it?” That was really rude and not the least bit reassuring!
4) The doctor is rude or impatient with his/her staff
The way the doctor treats her staff is huge. She should be at least respectful to them. If she is cold, rude, or ignores them — there’s a problem. If they don’t seem to like her much, there’s a problem. The way she treats her staff is indicative of how she will treat you, and the staff at the hospital where you deliver (or birthing center, etc.).
Once, when I was around 37 weeks, there was a brand-new medical assistant in the doctor’s office. The doctor tried to explain to her what to do so she could “help” when the doctor checked me. When the medical assistant didn’t immediately get it (on her first day!), the doctor rolled her eyes, grabbed the stuff out of the assistant’s hands, and said “Oh, just let me do it!!” This is a bad sign!!
5) There are a lot of staff turnovers
If you notice a lot of staff turnover during your pregnancy (keeping in mind you’re only seeing this person for seven or eight months), something is wrong. Perhaps the doctor is rude to the staff, or they disagree with how she practices, or she overworks them….
But if the support staff is constantly changing because, likely, they don’t like or respect the doctor, then she’s probably not going to be any nicer to you. You need a new doctor!
6) The doctor doesn’t ask if you have or want to create a birth plan, or doesn’t want to look at one you’ve already written
The doctor should be concerned with how you want your birth experience to go. Most will caution you “If things go wrong, this may not be how it goes,” which is fine and realistic (and you should be prepared for that). But if she says “Well, I do a routine IV on everyone, that’s just how it is” or “I have a standard birth plan I follow with all my patients; you don’t need to write one out” this is a problem!
Your birth experience, given normal circumstances, should be as much what you want as possible. If you’d like to skip the IV, be able to walk around, receive (or not) pain medications, etc. the doctor should support you.
It’s different entirely if the doctor goes over the plan with you and mentions specific concerns she has or what the hospital’s policies are. But if she flat-out doesn’t consider a birth plan at all, you need a new doctor.
7) The doctor tells you how things will go, instead of asking what you would like
If your doctor simply assumes that “this is how we do birth” and that you will do it the same as everyone else, there is a problem. Where there are choices, the doctor should be asking you what you would prefer. For example, would you like to be checked early in labor or not until the end? Would you like pain medication or not?
There are friends I’ve known whose doctors said “Wow, you had to push for three hours this time. Next time I’m not going to let you go past 37 weeks; we’re inducing early.” Another heard “If your next baby is any bigger, you have to schedule a c-section.” If the doctor explains to you exactly how things will go and doesn’t ask what your preference is, find someone else. It is not about the doctor letting you do anything, it is your body!!
8) The doctor seems to be missing some medical knowledge
If your doctor is trying to explain to you why you “have” to do something (get cervical checks, be induced, etc.) and cannot explain to you why that is necessary, something’s wrong. “Because that’s how it’s done” is not a good reason. Your doctor should have and be willing to discuss with you the reasons why you need to undergo any procedure or test. She should also be willing to get your informed consent for these procedures and tests!
The bottom line is, if your doctor doesn’t know why X procedure is the “best practice,” find someone else. Find a new doctor who can explain to you why she feels so strongly that a procedure is in your best interests, in a way you can understand.
9) The doctor makes comments, even off-handed ones, that make you go “Huh?”
Even if your doctor seems okay in most ways, if she makes comments that make you go “huh?” something is probably wrong. For example, my doctor made two comments that really made me go “huh?” The first was when we were talking about what would go on at the hospital, and she said “When someone comes in and asks why they have to have an IV,” sigh “I know it’s going to be a long day!” Umm…so you’re saying that patients don’t have the right to question non-emergency procedures?!
Another time I mentioned some concern about my weight. She said “You were probably overweight when you got pregnant anyway.” Um, thanks?
If you find your doctor making these types of comments, you need a new doctor!
10) There’s just something ‘not quite right,’ but you can’t put your finger on it
Even if you’re reading this list and you’re saying “Hmm…my doctor might have done some of these things, but I’m just not sure…maybe she was having a bad day…” if you feel like something is wrong, listen to that instinct and realize you need a new doctor! You do not have to stay with someone whom you are not comfortable!
Do not make excuses for your doctor. Your birth experience in a hugely important part of your life and your baby’s life. If you don’t switch and things go wrong because of the doctor’s attitude, you will never forget it. You will wish you had just made the switch. You have the right to a care provider with whom you are comfortable, one who listens to you and works with you!