While you are checking out the color scheme for your babies room and sorting all the baby clothes, start to think about who you will choose to be your pediatrician. It is worth taking the time to sort though your choices before the baby is born, rather than in the hospital.
Your pediatrician should be considered a resource for your family and not just the doctor who sees your child yearly: A resource to answer your questions as a new parent, a resource to help you parent, a resource to give information in many areas regarding child-rearing.
While you are pregnant, you can call different offices to ask if they offer prenatal visits. During this visit you can have your questions answered. At this time, they can give you the low down on what to expect from them in the hospital after the baby is born to what to expect when going home.
I suggest you ask about board certification which indicates the level of training they have. A Board Certified Pediatrician has been to 4 years of Medical School and 3 or more years of Pediatric Residency to learn how to care for children. Board Certified Pediatricians typically only see children, not adults too, which is desirable as they will have lots of experience with kids. Medical care for children, particularly babies and young children, varies greatly from adult medicine.
During the visit, discuss their availability after hours and on weekends and holidays. At PAA, our office is open 364 days a year so we can see your baby if he or she is sick on New Year’s Day or the 4th of July and every other day except December 25th. Also, ask about their vaccine policy. With the increase in concern by the public about vaccines, it is important to know and understand this issue, as well as the pediatrician’s recommendations for vaccines. During the prenatal visit, we can explain why vaccines are so important to your child’s health. Check out this website for more information on vaccines and vaccine safety: http://www.cispimmunize.org
Bottom line, putting in effort into the choice of your pediatrician, in advance of delivery, can open the door to an amazing relationship between your child and his or her doctor. As a pediatrician, this relationship is what keeps me coming to the office with a smile on my face everyday.
See this article for more information: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/choosing_a_pediatrician.pdf
Katrina M. Hood, MD, FAAP
Pediatric & Adolescent Associates