Most women probably go into their pregnancies thinking or at least hoping that the obstetrician (OB) they initially see will be the one they spend the next 9 months with.
But sometimes, life has other plans. If you're switching OBs in your second trimester or later, here is some guidance from Travis R. Moulton, DO, a West Valley family medicine physician who specializes in obstetrics.
Q: What are some reasons women might switch to a new OB in their second or third trimester?
Dr. Travis R. Moulton: It could be something as simple as relocating to a new town, changing insurance, needing a service not provided by your doctor or needing to transfer to a higher level of care.
Sometimes, the change is more personal in nature. Pregnancy is a very wonderful yet difficult time in your life, and it helps to have a doctor you feel comfortable with. Just like in any occupation, there are many personalities and not everyone is a good fit for you.
If you feel that your needs are not being adequately met, your questions are dismissed or unanswered, you can't get in to see your provider in a timely manner or your doctor is just impersonal and difficult to communicate with, then switching physicians might be best for you.
Q: What are some challenges women might encounter when making the switch?
Dr. Moulton: Switching doctors can be a simple process. Most of the time, it takes just a few phone calls.
The biggest barrier is probably worries that you might have. For example, you might wonder if your current doctor is the best you can find, or you might even be worried about hurting feelings.
Or you might feel it would be simpler to hang in there for a few more months, rather than switch partway through your pregnancy.
But if you are not satisfied after several appointments, chances are, you'll keep having the same problems and concerns throughout your pregnancy. Obviously, the sooner you make the switch, the better.
With that being said, sometimes, there can be some logistical complications. Some providers do not accept new patients after a certain gestational age, so make sure you have a plan and safe place to land prior to making that switch.
Q: How can women go about finding the right OB at that point in their pregnancy, especially since time is of the essence?
Dr. Moulton: First, you have to know what you want. Then, do your research.
One of the best places to start is with your own friends and family. Ask about the providers they have used and what they liked and disliked about them. You can even call offices and ask the head nurse if they have any providers they would recommend.
Don't forget to find out how the practice is set up and how deliveries are handled: Do they work together as a group to cover all the deliveries, or do you just establish a relationship with a single provider? Try to get a grasp of their overall philosophy to see if it fits with your own.
You can then schedule a “meet and greet” appointment with the provider to test the waters. Bring all your questions written down so you don't forget any of them and take notes. Let the provider know why you are switching and see if they will better be able to meet your needs.
Q: What are the first steps you take when you have a new patient who is further along in her pregnancy?
Dr. Moulton: At the “meet and greet” appointment, I like to get to know you, your partner and your situation, so we can make sure we will be a good fit.
Then, we have to know your due date. That date is set based on the first day of your last menstrual cycle, ultrasound or a combination of those. While your baby is the only one who truly knows your due date and your baby will not be telling us when it is we still like to have a firm date set. This is because we make a lot of decisions based on that date.
Next, I do a record review to assess any potential risks to both mother and baby. This requires all the information that was typically gathered within the first couple of office visits or at the “new OB visit.” This can be time consuming, but is vitally important.
Q: What advice would you give to women who are switching OBs later in the pregnancy?
Dr. Moulton: Be your own advocate. The more you speak up for yourself, the happier you will be. It does not matter what part of pregnancy you are in or if you are changing providers or not, you need to be heard.
West Valley Medical Center has 12 family medicine and OBGYN providers ready to partner with you on your birth journey. Learn more at westvalleybaby.com.