should you switch obs?
Feeling anxious or ignored? It may be time to dump your doc. Plus, how to improve your relationship if you can't.
Flexibility. If, while pregnant, you begin to feel that a hospital birth is too clinical for you, discuss your ideal delivery—including pain management and alternative laboring positions—with your obstetrician before switching to a midwife or birthing center. “Just because physicians have to be cautious about medical issues doesn’t mean they can’t strive to meet a patient’s expectations,” says Stephanie L. Nicholas, M.D., clinical associate professor at Magee-Womens Hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Red flags Your doctor discourages natural childbirth techniques, like walking during labor or epidural-free deliveries, won’t even discuss using a doula, or changes the subject when you mention your birth plan. Or, the hospital where your doctor delivers doesn’t offer options you want, such as allowing the baby to room in with you.
Sticking with your OB
Whether you love or hate your obstetrician, the following strategies can help improve your relationship.
Come prepared. Bring a list of questions, but don’t pull it out at the end of the appointment. “Go in and make it clear right away that you have questions,” Garrett says. “The doctor will tend to take them more seriously.” Still concerned afterward? Ask to follow up by e-mail or to speak with a nurse.
Describe your ideal delivery. “Discussing expectations is one of the keys to a good relationship with your care provider,” Powell says. Ideally, you should talk about each part of your birth plan. To learn your doctor’s expectations, ask her to describe a typical labor and delivery.
Share your concerns. Are long waits, cancellations, unreturned calls or rude office staff driving you crazy? Your doctor may be unaware of such problems, Powell says, so speak up. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated or ignored by staff members.
Provide as much information as possible. “Don’t say, ‘My stomach hurts,’” Garrett advises. Instead, point to the painful area and use descriptive words such as “throbbing” or “shooting.”
Do your homework. A lot of first-time moms don’t read the “bad news” parts of the pregnancy books, Garrett says. “Knowing about bad things doesn’t make them happen. But it might save your life or that of your baby.”
If your reconciliation attempts fail and you do decide to change OBs, try to do it sooner rather than later; some physicians won’t take patients late in their pregnancies, and it might take you longer than you expect to find a doctor you like (see “Where Have All the OBs Gone?” below). Plus, why delay achieving peace of mind? Once Trish Jorquiera saw her new doctor, the difference was immediate. “It was like night and day,” she says. Unlike her previous doctor, the new one listened to her medical history and addressed her concerns point by point. “I felt I had an ally,” Jorquiera says.