How to Choose the Right Family Doctor for Your Pregnancy

One of the biggest hassles and stresses that comes with moving to a new city is finding a new family doctor. If you are pregnant, then this is even more stressful. After having three (almost four!) babies and living in six different cities, I’ve experienced my share of doctors and prenatal care and the stress of finding the right care during pregnancy.

How to Choose the Right Family Doctor for Your Pregnancy

Now, the Vancouver Division of Family Practice is making it easier for pregnant moms to find a prenatal doctor. PregnancyVancouver.ca features an interactive, searchable map of family doctors who offer maternity care and a collection of information and resources for pregnant patients. You can also refine your search preferences according to the language spoken by the doctor or whether you prefer a male or female physician.

If you’re wondering how to choose the right family doctor for your pregnancy, here are a few tips to consider, from my own experience with four pregnancies and 6+ care providers.

Personality Is Important

Labour is the worst pain you will likely (hopefully!) have to deal with in your life. You want someone you trust and are comfortable with to help you during that time. If something about the doctor’s manner bothers you during your initial or prenatal visits, I would recommend trying to find another doctor. You do have several months in which to get to know the doctor, but when you’re in labour, you want to be focused on the baby and what your body is telling you to do, and not on how you dislike this doctor.

When I was pregnant with Lily, I really didn’t like my second prenatal doctor. She was young and hadn’t had any kids of her own, and she had an “I’m the doctor you’re the patient” attitude that bothered me. I like natural childbirth and had spent hours researching and thinking about my pregnancy and upcoming labour, and she wouldn’t agree to several of my ideas.

As a result, I was super stressed about labour (one of the reasons I think Lily was a week late) and dreaded the thought of even going to the hospital. Unfortunately, we lived in a small town so I had no other options. Thankfully, the weekend I went into labour, she was out of town and I ended up with the doctor on call—who, along with the nurses, respected what I’d requested in my birth plan.

Ask Lots of Questions

There are a lot of choices you’ll have to make during your pregnancy. If this is your first pregnancy, the choices can be overwhelming. A good doctor will take the time to clearly explain your choices and help you make the best choice for you and your baby.

I recommend writing down questions you want to ask at your appointments (I’ve often forgotten something I wanted to talk about until after my appointment). Try to ask the big questions at your first appointment, to get an idea about the style of care the doctor offers and whether that agrees with the care you want.

When I was pregnant with Sunshine, my first doctor seemed to barely have any time to see me. He gave me blood tests without explaining why and made me feel like I couldn’t ask questions. I was happy when a friend told me about the local midwife program. The midwives took the time to answer all the questions which my doctor hadn’t—and they also treated nearly every test during pregnancy, including ultrasounds, as optional, explaining the pros and cons to me. (That was part of the reason I got in trouble with the doctor I had with Lily, because she didn’t see things as optional.)

Where Will You Deliver the Baby?

An important part of choosing your family doctor is knowing where you’ll be delivering the baby. I really dislike that drive to the hospital when I’m in labour and I recommend going with the hospital that’s closest to you or easiest to get to. (Think about rush hour traffic too, especially here in Vancouver—you don’t know when you’ll go into labour and you don’t want to get stuck in traffic!) With Lily, we had a twenty-minute drive to the hospital and as my contractions got closer together, I started calculating how many I’d have to endure while sitting in the car.

Make sure to ask your doctor where he or she has hospital privileges. I had to switch doctors halfway through Lily’s prenatal care (from a doctor I liked to the doctor whom I mentioned above) because the first doctor didn’t have privileges at the hospital that did deliveries. Continuity of care is important, though, so try to determine early where you’ll be delivering and which doctor can be there.

For more information about maternity care in Vancouver, check out the PregnancyVancouver.ca website. Right now, they aren’t listing midwives or family practitioners outside the Vancouver area, but there is a ton of other information available on the website as well. They have a great list of helpful websites, tons of breastfeeding resources, and book lists to consider for your reading pleasure during the next few months.

With this pregnancy, I’m thankful to live in a big city like Vancouver that offers a variety of maternal care options. I wish every city had a website full of resources for pregnant moms like PregnancyVancouver.ca.

I was compensated for this post, but all opinions expressed remain my own.

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