He'll usher you through morning sickness, sonograms and false labor. Through these situations and others, your OB/GYN should provide sound medical advice, but you'll need more than that. All doctors aren't created equal, and the doctor that's right for a pregnant friend might set your teeth on edge. Narrowing down the field to find the right doctor takes work, so get started as soon as you finish celebrating the positive pregnancy test.
When you're on the hunt for an OB/GYN, poll everyone you can for names of doctors to try or to avoid. Beyond local friends who've recently had babies, ask your general physician, an older child's pediatrician, local support groups for pregnant women and new moms, or even other moms at the playground. OB/GYN Craig Bissinger, writing for "Parenting," suggests asking doctors and nurses who they or their wives have used. Any doctors whose names come up repeatedly are worthy of more research.
Phone It In
Once you have a list of highly prized doctors, call each office. See if you can ask a few questions as a potential patient. Office staff can answer certain logistical questions, Bissinger notes, such as whether the office accepts your insurance, how many board-certified doctors work in the practice, with which hospital the doctors are affiliated and who will deliver your baby. If you feel comfortable with the answers and with the demeanor of the staff, request an interview appointment. If it will be weeks before you can be seen, that gives you an idea of how hard it is to get face time with the doctor.
With your spouse, compile a list of questions to ask the doctor during your interview, suggests AskDrSears.com. Your preferences should play a part in your questions. For instance, if you'd like to use a doula or desire a natural birth, ask whether the doctor supports these choices. If you can, chat up office staff and other pregnant women in the waiting room. You'll get a sense of how the staff treats patients and whether the patients feel supported by the practice.
You have three trimesters' worth of appointments ahead of you, but the ultimate goal of your partnership with your OB/GYN is the delivery of a healthy baby. Because emergencies happen, the doctor you choose should be prepared for them. Ask about the doctor's experience with emergency deliveries and complicated pregnancies and how many deliveries he's done. Ask too whether he would induce elective labor before 39 weeks, or if he'd induce labor before 41 weeks if the cervix is unfavorable — the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns against these practices unless delivery is medically necessary.