Selecting a Healthcare Provider
Healthcare providers will be key team members in your baby’s development, and you will see them frequently for check-ups and routine visits, especially in the early days after baby arrives.
It’s important to select a provider you feel comfortable with, and one who will respect and support your parenting and breastfeeding goals.
Although it is widely accepted that breast is best, the level of knowledge and commitment to breastfeeding can vary widely among healthcare professionals. It is a good idea to interview healthcare providers before your baby is born to ensure they are breastfeeding-friendly and are supportive of your parenting wishes.
Get Recommendations from People You Trust
Asking friends, family members, and other medical professionals for their recommendations is a good place to start. Once you’ve compiled a short list of possible pediatricians, you can call several offices to see if they’re taking new patients and, if they are, schedule a brief interview. Many practices will not charge for this service, but inquiring up front will avoid any confusion.
Prepare Key Questions Ahead of Time
It’s also helpful to develop a list of the logisitcal, parentings and breastfeeding questions you want to ask in your provider interview. Planning ahead will help you to ensure you don’t forget anything, and don’t be shy about taking notes during the interview! After a few interviews, things may start to blur together, so do what you can to help everything in order.
Here’s a list of common questions to help you get started:
- Do they accept your health insurance and what methods of payment are accepted?
- How long have they practiced?
- What hospital will they admit your child to in case of emergency?
- Will you see the same doctor at each visit?
- Are there evening and/or weekend hours?
- How do they handle breastfeeding questions?
- Is there a lactation consultant or counselor in the practice, and if not, will they provide referrals?
- Do they support the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that infants should receive breastmilk exclusively for the first 6 months, through the first year along with solid foods, and longer if mom and baby wish to continue?
- Do they recommend introducing solids to the baby earlier than 6 months? If so, will they respect your wishes if you choose to exclusively breastfeed and wait until 6 months to start solids?
- What are their views on circumcision, antibiotics, and parenting methods? Are those consistent with your views?
- How does the office respond to call-in questions?
- Is the practice conveniently located?
Getting your questions answered up front and discussing your parenting goals with your baby’s healthcare provider while you’re still pregnant can reduce anxiety after your baby arrives and allow you to focus your attention on your little one.