Choosing a pediatrician: what to ask?

[deleted account] ( 10 moms have responded )

We're due mid-February, and want to line up a pediatrician ahead of time. However, having never used a pediatrician before as adults (Beka will be our first child), we're trying to compile a list of questions to ask, so we don't get blindsided by something radically out of skew with our parenting style or needs six months on and have to change horses midstream.

A few notes on what we're like, to help:
-We will breasfeed exclusively for at least 6-8months, assuming all the plumbing cooperates.
-We will babywear, and use slings and carriers far more than the carseat-and-stroller-everywhere modality.
-We're interested in treating this pregnancy, and our child's childhood, as natural processes and not medical problems, but we're not Christian Scientists or anything.
-We're both massive geeks, and deal best with new situations by getting LOTS OF INFORMATION.
-We're both very experienced dog-owners, and are used to handling most small, maintenance-style veterinary issues (nail clipping, ear mites, anal glands, etc) on our own without having to take them in, and are interested in learning how to do that for our child as well.

What sorts of things should I be sure to bring up with a pediatrician before we 'hire' them? What kinds of questions have you found particularly telling as to medical style? What issues have blindsided YOU with your pediatrician, that you wish you knew about ahead of time?

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Glynis - posted on 12/01/2008

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Ask if she has children, girl/boy, how many, how old? Breastfed or no? Did they co-sleep? What would he do differently if he could repeat with the exact same child?

Ask any other questions to sniff out how close her parenting style aligned with your planned style. (I say planned style, because sometimes a baby's personality or needs change the best laid plans of mice and men.)

Not only will you have it easier if the doc parented like you will, but his answers and his willingness to answer openly and without a "tude" will tell you a lot about what would happen in the future if your path differs.

As for your geekiness, I trust you have found the La Leche League? Start NOW. Most of the breastfeeding problems happen in the first week, so you need to know what to do ahead of time.

Amy - posted on 12/01/2008

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Sorry - didn't read your replies about a family doctor first. Maybe now is a good time to find a PCP for all three of you?

I'm leaving my other reply because of the info about the sling...

Amy - posted on 12/01/2008

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We don't have a ped. All four of us see the same family doctor, which makes things MUCH easier when we all have the same bug. I wouldn't have it any other way. If we each had a different doctor, we wouldn't be able to stack our appointments so that we only have to go out once. Also, since our doctor has treated us since before we had kids, and has treated our kids since birth, he has a longitudinal view of our health. I would look, first, at the doctor you already go to, and see if he would be willing/able to treat your whole family.

Good luck with your baby! It sounds like you have a lot of great ideas about parenting. For babywearing - check out the Kangaroo Korner adjustable pouch. I used it with my second child until she outgrew it. I had a Maya Wrap with #1, but like the KK pouch MUCH more. It's so easy.

Dana - posted on 12/01/2008

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The insurance thing is important. I would probably just talk to several of them. Have you asked your dr or midwife for recommendations? I have mixed feelings about the nurse answering services. It's nice that they're there, but I wouldn't count on them for much more than asking how much Tylenol to give when it's 2 in the morning and you can't find your paper with the rates on it :) Keep in mind, though, that I have had a really awful experience and I know that it's not going to happen to everybody, but I also know that I wasn't the first and won't be the last. So this trust your Dr. trust your instincts stuff is really important to me.

Amanda - posted on 12/01/2008

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I think one big thing is for you to ask things like what their feeling on antibiotics is... lots will just give them quickly, others will use them sparingly. Are you going to immunize? Then find out what their feeling is one that. If you have decided not to you will need a pediatrician who is kind of on board, though I don't know many who don't advise it. Is there a nurse line available 24 hrs a day? How many docs in the office and will you always see yours other than unforseen circumstances (your doc is a the hospital with another kid, etc.). What is their on call procedure? If your child ends up in the er or hospital for a serious problem will your doc come in or whoever is on call? I would also say ask around (maybe at local moms groups, MOPS or something like that) to see who likes their doc and then see if your insurance covers them. It is rare, but sometimes you ask and really find out that someone had big problems with they style of their doc, or bedsided manner etc. I found my peditician and then later found out that my hairdresser uses the same one for her daughter and loves her. We both found it nice that the Doc really takes the time to gain your childs trust. Wearing funny hats, waiting until they are ready for her to touch them, showing them her equipment things like that. I have been to another one in the office that is very different in his demeanor and my kids really don't like him. After you have found someone you think you like, call the office with a question for the nurses to answer and see how they treat you. (even one as simple as my kid had a 103.5 fever what should I do) One thing that really turned me off at my last pediatrician was that when you would call the first thing they would ask was "is this your first child?" and then when they answered your question they seemed to have an attitude about it. Bottom line, no matter how many kids you have, no matter how small the problem the nurse should always take it as important because to you, this child is the most important thing in the world! If they don't, find somone who does. After all, you don't want to feel like you can't call there in your time of need.

Hope it helps...

[deleted account]

All my friends with kids live way out in the suburbs; we live in the city proper, and it'd be a massive PITA to haul kid and me and all an hour in the car to any doc my friends could recommend, I'm afraid. Plus, with finances as they are, they HAVE TO be on our insurance, so we're probably going to search the insurance website by office location, then call a list of docs with phonescript in hand, once we have the questions.

Dana - posted on 11/30/2008

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One of the things that really bothered me with my son's pediatrician was that I could never see him unless the appointment was made months in advance, (for well baby checkups). If I needed to change the appointment time, or take him in because he was sick I had to see the nurse practitioner. I don't mind that generally and I don't have to take my kids that often, but I like the idea that my kids dr. has some idea who they are without having to read the whole chart every time. My daughter sees a family practice dr. and I LOVE him. I think being comfortable with your dr and feeling like they don't discount mothers intuition is very important.

April - posted on 11/30/2008

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I started taking my kids to their doctor because of a friend. She told me how great they were and I have to agree I love them. They don't prescribe a medicine just because and the nurses are great when I have to call them. Do you have any friends with kids you could ask for referrals? My husband and my PCP doesn't see children under age 3. I was going to have the kids start seeing him when they turned 3 but I like their dr so much I haven't yet. Good luck!

[deleted account]

Yeah, that'd be great if I or my husband had a family practitioner for our primary-care physician ... but neither of us has a PCP at all, so that won't work.

Laura - posted on 11/29/2008

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I had a very hard time with this same thing myself. However, one day I realized that I liked my doctor just fine and since he was a family doctor and my son was certainly going to be a part of my family, why couldn't he come to the family doctor? My son is now almost 13 and has a brother as well. Neither has ever seen a pediatrician in his life. (Ok, I think one of the times we went to the ER for a head split there was a pediatrician there, but you know what I mean.) It's an option to consider if you like your family doctor.

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