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10 Signs You Need a New Doctor

admin September 29, 2010

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!

Have you ever found yourself in a position to need a new doctor?  Did you make the switch?

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10 Comments

  1. I went to an Endocrinologist for my PCOS/Hypo thyroid. I was overweight and had a difficult time losing weight. In fact, when I was originally diagnosed I gained 100lbs in a year and I was not eating pizza or ice cream every day either. In fact I was a vegetarian eating a low fat diet which I thought was best at the time. Anyway, she told me that i couldn't eat an junk food (fine with me) and to stop eating sweet potatoes and carrots (uh???) and that all I could eat was chicken and salad (uh…..that sounds balanced???). When I said that I was worried that there was something wrong with my metabolism she turned to me and said " Just eat chicken and salad and you will be fine. PCOS is not a metabolic disorder". Then she prescribed Metformin and said that I should take it even tho my blood work came back negative for insulin resistance – in fact my glucose was normal!

    Needless to say, I never went back. Luckily, I was able to find and OBGYN who knew how to handle my PCOS without prescribing medication. I knew she was right for me when she took 45 minutes to talk to me about my issues, explain my options and supported my decision to not use medications unless medically necessary. She actually, helped me figure out what was really wrong with me and to find solutions that increase my quality of life.

    Good doctor's are far and few between. Don't waste your time on the crappy ones!

    Reply

  2. Thanks for this post – it has given me some good things to think over! I find it is hard to navigate what I want versus what the insurance company wants.

    Reply

  3. Great post. My previous OB and I just never clicked, though she did provide great care through most of my pregnancy. I had to switch doctors at 40 weeks (!) for hospital choice reasons, and I ended up with an awesome OB. I felt comfortable with him within 2 minutes of meeting him. And he was fabulous during labor and delivery.

    The only problem was that in switching doctors mid-pregnancy, I had to pay for two maternity care programs (and I was a cash patient so that was about $2000, for each). If possible, have a meeting with potential OBs prior to signing on as a maternity patient.

    Reply

  4. I had my first baby in a hospital, and my OB was not right for me at all. I knew that my OB was unlikely to be the one at my birth because the on call doctor handles birth at our hospitals, so I didn’t bother doing any research or anything. I just took what I got. My OB told me at 38 weeks, “I actually prefer just doing c-sections.” She was not on call when I gave birth, though. Unfortunately, the doctor on call was a controlling jerk who wanted to punish me for choosing to not have an epidural. I switched hospitals after the birth and had early prenatal care with a nice OB. Her open answers led me to the realization that my expectations for birth do not match up with a hospital at all. She suggested that I call up a local CPM and talk about homebirth. I loved my homebirth and recommend both the OB and the CPM to anyone interested.

    Reply

  5. I chose my OB the same way (look on insurance site and choose the person with the name I can pronounce!), and at the time I thought he was ok. I had a pretty bad birth experience at a hospital for my first birth, and discovered there is a different way of doing things (a whole natural lifestyle!) when my baby was a few months old (after a vaccine injury). This pregnancy I have a midwife and I’m planning a homebirth. The midwife is so thorough in everything! I didn’t even realize what I was missing with the OB! (For instance, at my appointment yesterday she let me feel the top of my uterus…my OB never even told me what he was doing when he was feeling around, let alone let me feel anything!). I can’t believe the high level of care I am getting with my midwife! She told me when I hired her that she never does anything to me, she is only there to assist and suggest. That’s why I hired her!

    Reply

  6. I moved to the Houston area a few years ago. When it came time to find an OB/Gyn for my annual PAP, I had a difficult time finding a good doctor I was comfortable with. I have a preference in not using birth control and a history of PCOS. When I found a doctor, I looked up her reviews online and there was one bad one. Since that review was about someone’s birth experience, I figured it didn’t apply to me. I should’ve listened to that person’s complaint.
    When it came time for my appointment, I told the doctor that I didn’t want to be on birth control pills even though I had a history of PCOS. I had regular periods and I didn’t want to use something I didn’t need. I also told her I didn’t want to use them for religious reasons. She pretty much made me feel stupid for saying that and said that when I end up at the endocrinologist, he’d ask her why I wasn’t on birth control and she’d have to explain things to him. She also explained the way that birth control worked in a condescending way. Needless to say, that was my last visit. When a doctor talks to me in that way, do they really expect to keep my business?

    Reply

  7. […] are some out there – even doctors – who will tell you that you can’t.  They will tell you that breastfeeding during pregnancy […]

    Reply

  8. I liked how you made a point at the end to focus on what to do if you’re still not sure whether you should change doctors. I feel like it can be common for people who only have their instincts. I’ve heard that there are actually studies that hint that your stomach could be considered a second brain which is why you should pay more attention to that gut feeling.

    Reply

  9. […] What it boils down to is this: if you are bleeding, strongly cramping, feel very sick, or are just very uneasy, get thee to a phone and call.  It’s better to call than not to, and your care provider should expect this and be ready to reassure you.  If not, find a new doctor! […]

    Reply

  10. My wife is pregnant, and I know she wants to find a new OBGYN. I think she isn’t comfortable calling to ask questions, like you said. I want her to be as comfortable as possible with this pregnancy, so I’ll tell her to look for a new doctor.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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