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When she was seven months pregnant with her second child, Trish Jorquiera moved to a different state. Forced to quickly choose a new obstetrician, she found the receptionists hostile, the waits unreasonable and the doctor barely civil. “I tried to imagine I was in the delivery room and that doctor walked in,” Jorquiera says. “I wouldn’t have felt I was in the right hands.” When she tried to switch to a different OB, however, the new doctor initially refused to take her as a patient because she was so far along. Luckily, he relented after Jorquiera explained her concerns about her physician, discussed her problem-free first delivery and offered to fax her medical records for his review.
“Feeling comfortable with your care provider eliminates some of the anxiety associated with pregnancy and becoming a parent,” says Jill Powell, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. But you don’t want to rush into a decision to switch either, and perhaps end up unhappier than before.
Put your doctor to the test
Consider these factors when deciding whether to stick with the physician you’ve got or jump ship.
Trust and confidence. Bedside manner counts. But if push comes to shove, you want someone who is competent, not just warm and fuzzy, says Anne E. Garrett, founder of The Preeclampsia Foundation in Bellevue, Wash. “I had a doctor who was outright rude, but she saved my life—and perhaps my baby’s—when I started showing signs of preeclampsia [a dangerous high-blood-pressure condition]. The goal is a healthy baby and a healthy mom,” Garrett adds. “Everything else is a perk.” Bottom line: Follow your instincts.
Red flags Your doctor fails to order routine tests, shows irritation if you ask for a second opinion, or seems unaware of new research or advances you’ve learned about. (To check a doctor’s disciplinary record, see “Find It on the Web,” below.)
Communication. Dwindling appointment times leave little opportunity for chitchat. Still, a good obstetrician will listen to all your concerns without rushing you out the door. “It’s important that you get their undivided attention while they’re with you,” Powell says. The stakes can be high if you don’t have the chance to discuss your symptoms or health history.
Red flags Your doctor dismisses or ignores your questions and concerns; you don’t feel comfortable discussing your medical history or lifestyle because you feel “judged.”