When we first found out that I was pregnant, we could not contain our excitement and started planning everything far ahead of time. From buying clothes and baby products to choosing a name, we bought and planned everything we knew on earth. We’d also keep calling other mothers and relatives for advice and planning. The first 6 months went flying by, with 3 months till delivery we started looking for a pediatrician. We consulted our family doctors and relatives for pediatrician recommendations and whatnot. I know choosing the right pediatrician is one of the chief decisions for you and your baby because this is going to be a long-term relationship. Which is why I am going to share some of the tips and criteria, you should keep in mind while making this life dependent decision.
Pediatricians recommend finding a pediatrician when you are 29-34 weeks pregnant. Choosing a pediatrician that is not just familiar, but have earned your respect is far important. Because after the baby is born it’s hard to change or look for another pediatrician with all the baby hustle. Dr. Alessandrini, a pediatrician at the Children`s Hospital of Philadelphia, conducted a recent study and found that babies, who received treatment from the same pediatrician for the first 6 months, were more likely to have undergone important tests before they turned 2. With the same pediatrician, you are able to dig much deeper into the immunizations and vaccines. Your pediatrician is responsible for making life-changing decisions for your child. They can help you prevent a life-threatening problem through timely diagnosis. The best way recommended to choose a pediatrician is to ask around within the family and friends or if you have a doctor within a family then you can take their recommendation as well. But before choosing your friend’s recommended doctor make sure that you do your research on him and ask them what is it that they like about him. Your needs and preferences may be different than the person who recommended the doctor to you. Some parents like the pediatricians who prescribe antibiotics for almost everything. Which can not only be against your preferences but also the guidelines of the American Academy of pediatricians. So, make sure to ask all the questions you have in mind before you hastily choose a pedestrian as per your friend’s or family’s recommendation.
Pediatrician Credentials to look for
When looking for your future pediatrician look for the following key designation attached to their names.
- A “board certified” pediatrician is the one who has completed his medical school along with a 3-year residency. They have also passed several rigorous exams and will be retaking regularly.
- Look for “AAP membership”, this means that the doctor belongs to the American Academy of Pediatricians, and adheres to their standards and guidelines.
- If the pediatrician has “FAAP” written with his credentials, it means that he is both an AAP member and board-certified.
Ways to research a Pediatrician
You might feel daunted by the decision of choosing a pediatrician, but remember this is going to save you and your baby the trouble of switching to other pediatricians later in life.
So, this needs to be a well-thought and well-researched decision for the sake of the physical and mental well-being of you and your baby.
The best way to find a pediatrician is to ask your family and friends because they have already tried and tested the pediatrician. If you do not have any recommendations then research on your own by referring to the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatricians.
Check your insurance
Call your insurance and get the list of pediatricians they have on board. Research them well and you might find a doctor that you desire.
Choose a pediatrician in your neighborhood
Since you will be paying many visits to the pediatrician, make sure that the office is close to your house.
Schedule a meeting
After you have selected the most appropriate pediatrician for your upcoming baby, make sure to have a face-to-face meeting with them, and share your needs and concern.
This way it will be easier to choose the pediatrician that resonates the most with you and your needs.
Make a list of questions
Make a list of questions to make sure that all your needs will be fulfilled by the pediatrician. Do not ask them about their medical education as it will seem like you are trying to ‘catch the doctor’.
Also, experience goes hand in hand with education in this field.
Questions to ask your baby’s pediatrician
- Does your clinic or hospital have separate waiting areas for sick and healthy babies?
- What hospital network does he prefer using?
- What’s the duration of a standard checkup?
- Does he come under your insurance?
- What subspecialties does he have?
- How long he has been practicing?
- What is the process of appointment?
- Will he be available via call or email?
- What days and what time is he available at?
Questions to ask friend and family about their recommended pediatrician
- What’s the duration of each appointment and do they feel satisfied or not?
- How hygienic the place is?
- Is the doctor or nurse available at midnight in case of an emergency?
- How professional is the staff?
- Does the doctor explain everything clearly?
- Do they return calls on time?
- Does the pediatrician emphasize antibiotics or not?
How will your pediatrician help you and your baby?
The pediatrician that you choose will be responsible for the health and wellness checkups of your newborn up to 18 years. Since he has been treating your child since day one, he will be more aware of his needs, progress, and development.
You will have to see your doctor every 5th day after delivery for one month, then every 1 month for up to the next 2 months, and then every 2 months up to 6 months. After 6 months, you will need to visit your baby’s pediatrician every 3 months until the baby is 18 months older, then every 6 months until your little one is 30 months older. Afterward, the checkups will be scheduled on annual basis.
Your pediatrician will do the following things during checkups:
- Examine full body
- Take measurements
- Record and check your child’s development
- Undergo necessary vaccines
- Guide you about health and safety measures
- Answer your questions
What’s the difference between a Pediatrician or Family Physician?
Most of the pediatricians along with their assistants and nurses treat the children and teens up to 21 age. Pediatricians are able to treat babies and teens whereas, family physicians are able to treat patients of all ages.
Both pediatricians and family physicians go through the same training years, but pediatrician’s specialty is in treating children and teens. Their specialty is that they have in-depth knowledge of treating different conditions known only to babies and teens. Therefore, they are capable of fulfilling the needs of a growing baby.
The difference between MD & DO?
MD stands for doctor of medicine whereas, DO stands for Doctor of Osteopathy. Pediatricians have the choice of getting an MD or DO degree. Both degrees train and offer knowledge of treating various diseases, and their prevention in some cases.
DO programs involve studying the whole body known as a holistic approach. MDs on the other hand, study medicine in a traditional way. Both MDs and DOs have to complete a residency, where they train for getting a license to practice medicine.
How to switch Pediatricians?
If you are not happy with your present pediatrician, or the location of the hospital or clinic is not convenient for you, then you might want to change your pediatrician.
Before changing your pediatrician consult your OB-GYN or family doctor again. They usually have recommendations that might be helpful to you. Do not hesitate to switch, if you are not satisfied with the experience or consultation, and in choosing another pediatrician from the same practice group.
Also, you can contact The American Board of Pediatricians to find a board-certified pediatrician nearby.
How to communicate well with your pediatrician?
It’s your duty as well, to be transparent and communicate effectively with your pediatrician. Note the questions down that are bothering you before every check-up and ask them to satisfy yourself.
During setting up an appointment do mention your concerns in short, so that the doctor can do his research before answering you. Sometimes you might need to schedule another appointment to have all your concerns answered. Note down or memorize every instruction that your doctor mentions, and speak up if something is not clear to you.
Never hesitate in speaking your mind especially, when you feel like your doctor rushes you or does not take your concerns seriously or answer them in detail. Tell your pediatrician about how you feel about these sessions, this will help you both in the longer run. Do not call your doctor out in a rude way during feedback, you might put your doctor in a defensive state.
Your baby is going to have several appointments during his childhood and teenage. So, it’s wise to choose a doctor that will provide the best care and listen to all your concerns patiently.
Never hesitate to change your pediatrician if you have reservations because it’s not just about the wellbeing of your baby but also yours!