I remember the fear I felt leaving the hospital after I had our first daughter like it was yesterday! The hospital was the nice place with all the nice people that knew how to take care of babies, and I did not know how to take care of babies yet. I remember being so scared putting her in the car and getting on the highway that I sat in the back with her (as almost every new mom does) and hovered to watch her every breath and make sure she was still alive. That fear and desire to protect our kids spills over to finding the right pediatrician because let’s face it – this is the person that is going to calm your fears, deal with your freak outs, and above all they are going to care for your child, so you want to make sure it is the right fit and you feel comfortable.
There are several steps to take to make sure you find a doctor that is right for you. The easiest way to start is by asking your local friends and family how they feel about their pediatrician and what it is that they like the most and least about the practice. This can quickly narrow (or add to) your list and help you on your search.
Once you decide on a couple of practices you also want to make sure you sit down with the doctor and talk about what is important to you before you decide to move forward. Take some time to think about what you are looking for in a predication, what characteristics they must possess, and what is less important. Be sure to ask the questions that you really want answers to, and don’t worry about offending him or her, because chances are they have heard it all before. This can also be a great way to find out if it’s a good fit; if they are easily offended or do not react in a way that you’re comfortable with than maybe it’s not the right choice for you. Here are a few things to consider asking:
- How many pediatricians are in the practice?
- Can I get a same day appointment when my child is sick?
- What is your opinion of vaccinations, and if I choose to limit the vaccines or not to vaccinate my child is that something you are okay with?
- How do you feel about breastfeeding? While many mothers do nurse their children there are also as many that choose not to or their body makes that choice for them. You want to make sure your doctor will not pass judgment or make you feel guilty if you choose not to breastfeed your child.
- Does the office have Saturday hours?
The harder side to this process comes when you decide that it’s time to break up with your pediatrician. I have had to do this once with a pediatrician and once with a pediatric dermatologist and I have to say that in one situation I conducted myself in an appropriate manner and with the other I just dropped them like a bad habit and moved on without so much as a good-bye. Having said that, I felt much better when I respectfully communicate my frustrations and let the doctor know that I did not feel that it was the right fit and we would be changing practices. There were no hard feelings and I have not given it a second thought since then, so if you are worried about having that conversation don’t stress out! Just like any other relationship, people break up everyday and I am sure your doctor has been dumped before and knows how to handle the situation. Don’t ever feel guilty for doing what is right for you and your family.
Starting a new relationship with a pediatrician is important and it can be difficult to find someone you feel comfortable with so just remember to be honest and do what is best for you and for your child. Only you know what’s best.
Good luck and happy (doctor) hunting!