There is an awful story circulating on Facebook about a young mother who lost her first child because of her doctor’s negligence. It’s a heartbreaking story because the baby was healthy throughout the pregnancy and the mother made it to full term. However, allegedly, because of the doctor’s poor decisions, the baby died during the delivery.
This story reminded me of the horrible OBGYN experience I had during my first pregnancy with my now 4-year old son. I had just found out I was pregnant and asked my primary care physician to refer me to an OBGYN. She referred me to a gynecological office that was a sister office to her practice. My husband and I were extremely excited about our first baby, so we quickly scheduled an appointment.
“You want a practice who will treat you with dignity and respect.”
Warning Signs All Around
My husband and I arrived to the appointment ready to discuss our first pregnancy. However, the appointment turned out to be a nightmare. First, we waited for almost two hours to see the doctor. The waiting room was filled with disgruntled pregnant women. When the nurse finally took us back to an examination room, we could hear the doctor yelling “NEXT! Who’s NEXT?” throughout the office. When it was finally our turn, the doctor didn’t introduce herself to us. She didn’t take any time to get to know us. She didn’t ask us about the pregnancy. She just rudely said, “Let’s get your bloodwork done to see if you’re still pregnant.” We thought that was an extremely insensitive comment. Then when she took us into her office, she sat in front of us writing notes for 10 minutes. When she finally acknowledged us, she said, “I assume this pregnancy is wanted.” She didn’t even answer any of my questions about hypertension during the pregnancy. Needless to say, we never went back, and I filed a complaint with their office. I ultimately found a wonderful OBGYN afterwards who delivered both of my children. This is my first piece of advice. Shop around! Visit as many offices and doctors as it takes to find one you’re comfortable with.
What to Look For When Choosing an OBGYN
As a result, I want to help other mothers know what to look for when choosing an OBGYN. Both of my pregnancies were high risk – the first ended in an emergency C-section because of a placental abruption and the seconded ended with me having an eclampsia related seizure during the C-section. In both cases, my baby or I could have died. Thankfully, my doctor made educated and quick decisions that saved all of our lives.
You can find almost anything on the internet. Do your research. Make sure the doctor is board certified and is licensed to practice. Research any complaints or cases against the doctor. See what others are saying about him or her. Ask around. Get referrals. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” Do your research so you know their reputation and credentials.
2. Respectful Bedside Manner
The first OBGYN my husband and I visited didn’t even acknowledge us. She made insulting comments to us and didn’t care about our overall experience. Watch closely how the OBGYN interacts with you and your family. The Bible says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). You want to make sure the doctor has a heart for their patients and cares about you and your baby. You don’t want to have an OBGYN who doesn’t take time with you to explain things, doesn’t ask for your birth plan or who doesn’t take your wishes into consideration. You want someone who cares about the outcome of the pregnancy and who will do everything he or she can to ensure a healthy delivery for mom and baby.
3. Clean Office and Respectful and Responsive Staff
The first OBGYN office I visited was dusty and dirty. The furniture and equipment were old and outdated and some of it wasn’t even in use. This is the first warning sign that the doctor doesn’t care. If he or she doesn’t care about the impression they make to potential patients, then that says a lot about the doctor. You’re going to spend a lot of time in your OBGYN’s office over the course of your pregnancy, make sure it’s a place where you’re comfortable and not exposed to dirt, allergens and illness.
Also, the front desk staff is very important. You need to be able to reach your doctor and easily schedule your appointments. If the front desk staff forgets appointments, loses important medical and billing documents, or are just plain rude, go somewhere else. You don’t need the unnecessary stress during an already stressful time. You want a practice who will treat you with dignity and respect.
4. Is the OBGYN Accessible? Can You Easily Reach Him or Her in Case of Emergency?
This is critical during your pregnancy. If you can’t reach your OBGYN, if you don’t have a direct line of communication, then choose another doctor. You may have emergencies throughout your pregnancy like spikes in your blood pressure, early labor or any of the like. You need to be able to reach your doctor. Also, your OBGYN should have another doctor in place you can reach if for whatever reason he or she is unavailable during a particular time. This is extremely important.
5. Find Out What Hospital Your Doctor Uses
In Maryland, there are a few hospitals where women want to deliver their babies. They include Holy Cross, Sibley Memorial (Washington, DC), Shady Grove and a few others. Make sure the OBGYN you choose can operate out of your preferred hospital.
6. Trust your gut. Listen to your inner voice. Harken unto the voice of the Holy Spirit.
If you feel like something is wrong with the practice you visited or with the OBGYN, trust your gut. Trust God’s leadings. This goes for the duration of your pregnancy. You can get second opinions. You can make requests at the hospital. Be your own advocate. Create a birth plan. Hire a doula if you don’t feel comfortable speaking up for yourself. Make sure your spouse or a family member knows your wishes and will work with you and your doctor to implement them as safely as possible.
Do you have any advice for expecting mothers when choosing an OBGYN? Please share in the comments!