By Jen Garcin
Before I was pregnant, I could have never even come close to imagining how much there is to do when you’re expecting. On top of the fact that your body is busy building and growing another human (you’re officially a high-endurance athlete), it can feel like there are endless things to figure out, research, and set up. Plus, you’re probably still working full-time. I had never been so busy in my life.
Right about the time I entered my third trimester, I received a letter from the hospital asking me to list my pediatrician. Queue the mom guilt—was I supposed to already have a pediatrician lined up at seven months pregnant? The short answer is yes—seven months along is a good time to start shopping around for a pediatrician. You don’t want to be scrambling (read: waddling) into different pediatrician’s office when you’re days away from giving birth. Your little one will need a check-up in the hospital and then a few days after you’re home, so you’ll want to have a pediatrician all set up and ready to go. Plus, who are you going to call during those middle-of-the-night freak outs with your newborn? Your new pediatrician!
I called my cousin (and mom tribe savior) who had just given birth to her son. She encouraged me to write a list of questions to ask pediatricians when you interview them in person and to choose a few to ask over the phone when you’re setting up the appointments. Genius! You may be able to immediately eliminate practices that won’t be a good fit for your family with these phone questions alone. Choose questions that have answers that are most important to you. My pediatrician’s office doesn’t have separate waiting rooms for sick and well visits, and that’s okay with me. For my cousin, having separate rooms was really important—a deal breaker question for her. There is no one size fits all pediatrician. This is completely about fit for you and your family.
Before calling around, hit the internet for some online research. There’s so much information out there, so you can save some of your precious time by reading reviews and asking your local mom’s Facebook group for a recommendation. Once you narrow the list down, you can call and use these questions to pick your finalists.
Questions to Ask Over The Phone:
Do you take my insurance?
What hospital are you affiliated with?
When I call the office with an immediate concern, will there be a nurse or doctor available to speak with me? Will someone call me back? How quickly? How does this work after hours when the office is closed?
Are there same-day sick appointments available?
What is your policy on vaccinations?
Do you have separate waiting rooms for sick and well visits?
*Any of these questions that you don’t ask on the phone, move to the in-person list.
Questions to Ask Yourself When You Hang Up:
Were they kind and respectful?
Did I feel listened to?
Were they happy to speak with me and answer all of my questions? Did they rush me off the phone?
If I was panicked about something with my baby would this person be patient with me?
Questions To Ask the Doctor In-Person:
Tell me about yourself and your philosophy as a pediatrician.
What do you love most about being a pediatrician?
What do you like the least about your job?
Are there other doctors in your practice? Would we be seeing anyone else when we come in?
Do you come to the hospital for the initial checkup?
What is your schedule for well checkups?
What tests (bloodwork, etc.) are you able to perform in the office and what needs to be done somewhere else? Where would we be going?
What is your stance on vaccinations? (Even if you asked this over the phone, it is a good idea to see how your pediatrician reacts to this question. Regardless of what your viewpoint is around vaccinations, there might be other issues that come up during your child’s care and you want to see how they explain things and communicate to parents.)
What is your philosophy on breast and bottle feeding, parenting techniques, sleep training, alternative medicine, antibiotics, and anything else that might be important to you?
Is there anything else I should know about you and your practice?
Based on our initial conversation, do you feel your practice is a good fit for our family?
Questions To Ask Yourself After Your In-Person Visit:
First and foremost, what does my gut tell me? (When it comes to your baby, your mama gut is actually a very good place to start.)
Was the office somewhere I can imagine myself bringing my little one? Was it clean? Were there fun toys in the waiting room?
How long did it take to get there? Is this somewhere I could easily bring my baby if they were sick?
How long did we wait in the waiting room?
How were the support staff and nurses? How did they interact with other babies and kids? Did they seem like a good fit for us?
Was the doctor present and a good listener? Were they patient? Did they answer questions? Did it feel rushed? Could we clearly understand the doctor?
Would I trust this doctor to have the very best knowledge, give the very best advice, and clearly communicate things to my partner and me if something was wrong with our baby?
Jen Garcin is a proud mom of a human baby and two kittens. She had an exciting and fulfilling career in criminal justice reform before transitioning to her favorite job ever, being a stay-at-home mom to her daughter & boss, Eloise. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Jen is passionate about all issues related to motherhood, social justice, and dabbles in freelance writing and marketing consulting. She is super active in her local community, and hosts a monthly cookbook club.