How can I find a pediatrician I'm comfortable with?

September 21 | offbeatbride
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Photo by edenpictures, used under Creative Commons license.
I am six months pregnant and I very much appreciate the Offbeat Mama community.

I'm wondering how members of the community came to find an offbeat/accepting/respectful pediatrician within the confines of area and insurance.

I'm having a hard time finding someone that will be respectful of my decisions as a parent. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
-Jamie

Do you love your pediatrician? How did you find them? What questions should one ask — and what should you avoid?

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  1. As with many things, we found ours through personal recommendation. We're lucky because a friend of ours is a pediatrician (who as a rule doesn't take friends as clients–smart move) who was happy to tell us about a few people she likes. I would ask around to see who people recommend, and then ask about insurance once you have a few names. That way, if they don't take your insurance they may in turn have more recommendations for you.

    Also, in my very short experience with a pediatrician (Olive June is 4 weeks old) I've found that even though we really like our doctor, we don't necessarily always agree with her. And that's ok–she has her opinions on things like pacifiers and where Olive should be sleeping, and we have ours–but the MOST important thing is that she understands that in the end, it's whatever works best for us and Olive. So far we have not run into my-way-or-the-highway issues, but then again when we interviewed her we went over potential dealbreakers, so we knew where she stood on that stuff. VERY important to interview them…even if you hear super amazing things, it often just comes down to how you feel about them and their overall nature. Definitely go with your gut too…we were sent to a highly-sought OB when we got pregnant (I was between OBs at the time) and we just plain didn't like her and found a midwife instead.

    Anyway…hope that helps!

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  2. Ask people you know! Since I am assuming that you are friends with people who have similar interest/beliefs as yourself, they might be able to direct you to a peron/office that you would like. Also when you call the pedi office ask them a few questions! Oh and ALWAYS trust your gut period.

    For myself, we're military so I have a very limited selection of doctors (unless I go off post, switch etc…) and I try to find the one that I can talk with the easiest. Sometime though (ie. seeing a different doc for sick calls like this past weekend when we ended up in the er) I just politely tell them that I disagree, let my daughter get treated and then attempt to never see that doctor again (or if it is a bad experience file a complaint).

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  3. I was very lucky to find myself living in a town in which GPs deliver babies (though, to my disappointment, we have no certified midwives), and as I like my GP (again–lucky me, as I just kind of landed randomly on her patient list!), this worked well for me. I was thinking the other day, though, about the nightmares friends have had finding/dealing with their OBs and I decided that if I were ever in a position in which I had to find a new doctor, I'd treat the first appointment like an interview and ask all sorts of questions about breastfeeding, induction rates, C-section rates and probably I'd bring up Ina May Gaskin's books. (I'm not sure I'd want to see an OB who's unfamiliar with/unsupportive of Ina May's birthing philosophies!)

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  4. We got very lucky in the beginning when we hadnt picked a pediatrician and the one on call just happened to be perfect! now he is retiring and we are going through the process of finding a new one, we've taken friends recomendations and done some googling. This has actually been really helpful, its amazing what you can find online and this step helped us narrow or list of recomendations down a little bit.

  5. First, it is perfectly ok to meet and interview an OB and Pediatrician before signing on with them. I simply called the office and said I wanted to meet them because I was looking for an OB/Ped, and we had an office meeting, like a job interview! You don't have to actually make a medical appt and be examined and THEN decide whether you like them. Sometimes out of politeness people feel like they can't switch after that. Express to them honestly your beliefs of what kind of birth you want and see if they speak to you respectfully and openly or if they are condescending and start "correcting" you or get authoritarian on you. If you live in a medium to large city, a simple Google search should bring results at Yelp, parenting boards, or doctor review sites. For example, I searched for "Chicago pediatrician delay vaccines" and found several reviews for the ped we ended up choosing. Your local Le Leche League would probably have some good member referrals, and midwives tend to know the reputations of OBs and who are the like-minded OBs in your area. Good luck!

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  6. I'm not sure of it's an option in your area, but we just went with a Family Practice Nurse Practitioner. I love the nurse Practitioner model. She treats everyone in our family and is able to spend more time with us than any doctor I've been to. She's always the one we see. While doctors tend to have a rotating staff of nurses and aides and then you only see the actual doctor for 5 minutes. I've been able to develop more a relationship with my NP.

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  7. Don't forget family practice doc's. We love that our whole family sees the same doctor! And remember, it's your kid, there is a difference between medical advice and parenting advice 😉

    • Our midwife recommended at family doctor because it is a person that your child can grow up with and get to trust; they outgrow the pediatrician at a time when they might need someone other than a parent they can trust to talk to and ask questions. That said, we had been looking for a family doc for 2 years and when she said someone in her building was accepting patients, we jumped at the chance. We don't particularly like him, but it's better than the walk-in clinic. Also, I think it's better for him to be in a waiting room full of seniors who are in for their arthritis than to be in a waiting room full of sick kids. Our friends said they were so worried they took their babies and waited in the car!

  8. I amazingly found mine through my insurance. We are in Denver and our pediatirician will go the homeopathic route before handing out the perscriptions (unless it is necessary of course). It is a group of P.A.'s and M.D.'s and we haven't met one we don't like. If an office won't grant you an interview don't go. Interview the practice get a feel for the Dr.'s beliefs and see if it coincides with yours. You'll know when you have found the right one 🙂

  9. We found a family practice and met with all the doctors a year before we had our baby. That way we knew how the care was first hand and they offer pediatrics there and there is never a wait, and they are super supportive of our ideas and child rearing practices. It was the best match for us.

  10. I don't know if it's possible in the states, but it's quite common in the uk to register with a gp practice, where they might say you're under dr smiths care, but when you make appointments you can see anyone in the practice. Essentially that way you can try out a couple of the Drs on your first few visits and then request that you only see one.

    It might be completely different across the pond though

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  11. My pediatrician's office had an open house, so I visited the physical space and talked to three of the doctors in the practice and decided I liked them and they could handle my offbeat family just fine. I was referred to them by my obs/gyn, whom I still adore.

    I did check out other reviews of the office through parenting lists and the like.

    And, I actually ended up with a different pediatrician from the practice than I planned on, though, due to a scheduling change. It was a happy accident because I could not be more pleased with who I ended up with.

  12. I adore our ped, especially after hearing horror stories from other moms about mean, incompetent, or otherwise shitty doctors. I feel very very lucky to have found her. Her office had fliers up at my midwives' center, and I attended an open house to check it out. What sold me was their statement that they would always listen and respectfully discuss any concerns (vaccine, diet, etc). Too many docs just want to say "that's just the way it is" and send you out the door. But my ped and the others in her office really open up dialogue with you, never make you feel rushed, and are genuinely warm and caring people. Oh, and she is more educated than most about breastfeeding issues, when I had bf trouble in the beginning she sent me to a lactation consultant and recommended herbs for my supply. Never once suggested I give up.

    • Forgot to add, even after some dialogue we have disagreed on certain issues (vitamin d supplement for example). I absolutely take her opinion into consideration, but I do tons of my own research and sometimes reach a different conclusion. Just know that it's ok to do that, and if you wind up with a combative or unsympathetic pediatrician, it's also ok to not tell them everything.

  13. We had a horrible time with the first pediatricians we signed up with because we choose not to vaccinate our son. The doctor who saw him immediate after he was born told me, while I was sleep deprived, bleeding, and recovering from a C-section, that he would have me arrested if he could! I went online and found on Dr. Sear's website a list of doctors who are "vaccine friendly" in that they respect parents' decisions about whether to not vaccinate at all or choose to vaccinate on a limited schedule. We only found one in our area, but we ended up loving her and she is now about to deliver our second child (she is a family practice doctor). I don't know if your issue is with vaccines, but my guess is that if the doctors on this list are respectful of that decision – with all the controversy surrounding it – they will also be respectful of other decisions. At least it is another option to the ones listed above. Here is the website: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/vaccines/find-vaccine-friendly-doctor-near-you

  14. We took the recommendation of my boss (a physical therapist). One of the things that I love about our family doctor is that he looks at the whole picture. When my son was born at home in January, he was jaundiced. The breastfeeding counselor I went to was freaking out and wanted us to get a ton of bloodwork done at a specfic hopsital because the turn around was fast, etc. Then, they said the numbers were borderline high. When I called our dr's office, they were very calm about everything; said that we needed to look at the whole picture: was he eating (yes), was he pooping (yes), was he lethatgic(no). They sent a home nurse to us (so glad we didn't have to leave the house again) and then said that we could just come into the office the following week. It was so reasuring to have a calm voice on the phone saying that we were doing everything right.

    Also, they are very open to different parenting styles. I don't think I've once heard a recommended way to do things. It's all 'however you want to do things is fine'. Example- we took some vax and not others- fine; no lectures about birthing at home either.

    One benefit with a family dr is being able to talk about more than one family member. When Brennan got sick, then Declan and I starting getting sick, he just said to call him if anyone else came down with symptoms and he'd call in a prescription, so we wouldn't have to come back to the office.

    Also, I like that he doesn't always try to medicate. I always ask if it's something we truly need meds for and he will only give us something if it's needed.

  15. And, this is completely not important, but because it is a family dr practice, they see less babies and the nurses always make such a fuss over Declan. It's cute!

  16. We see a family practice doctor, we've been attending the same practice since I was pregnant with our eldest. I told my co-worker that I might be pregnant and that I needed to find a doctor for a check-up and to confirm it, she recommended the new practice down the street and we've been seeing them ever since. My original doctor left the practice, but we have an awesome 'new' (3+ years now) doctor, as well as two back-ups at the same practice. The receptionists are amazing, and the child health nurses are just lovely. The support is great and it all just fell in to place thanks to an ad that caught my co-worker's eye.

  17. We moved when our son was 3 weeks old, so we've had a couple of peds. The first one I LOVED. I interviewed him when I was pregnant. When I asked his thoughts on breastfeeding, he said, "I am so pro breastfeeding, I border on the obnoxious." This was the perfect answer for me. It was also a good answer because if someone planned to bottle feed, they might decide that this doctor isn't for them. Then we moved to a different state and switched insurance. We had a couple peds that I wasn't thrilled with. Then I had to go to the doctor, and the one I happened to go to, I loved! I discovered that he's a family practitioner, so now all of us see him. The best part is that he gets that as a working scientist, and someone with a biology degree and a graduate degree in the life sciences, I'm not your typical patient. I may not know the medical terms, but I know more about the human body and disease process than most people, and he speaks to me at my level. 🙂

  18. Lots of people don't like large practices, but we ended up choosing one by default because we had just moved 2 weeks before our baby was born and our insurance became active the day he was born (thank goodness, that was lucky), so we were forced into choosing the only pediatrician close to us who would take us sight unseen for our baby's 48 hour checkup. We ended up in a practice with 9 different pediatricians, and I LOVE it, because we get to try a new doctor every time, and if it comes down between one we've seen and I know I don't like, and a new one, I get to just pick the new one. We already have 2 pediatricians at the practice that we really like and 4 more to try out.

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