Choosing a pediatrician for your baby may feel like a bigger decision than finding your own healthcare provider. Your pediatrician will be one of the first people to see your baby. Your pediatrician will also be the healthcare provider that you see the most over the course of your Baby's first year (or really, the next 18 YEARS!) Here are things to consider when choosing your pediatrician.
Your experience can and will be very different than someone else's. If something doesn't feel right then listen and consider looking elsewhere. If you click with your pediatrician and he/she "gets" you, then continue forward and feel confident in your choice!
You want someone that is easy enough to get to when you have a sick kid at 5PM on a Friday (because, let's face it, this is inevitably when your child will get sick)!
Does the practice have evening and weekend hours for sick visits? And are those visits done at their office or a satellite office? Naturally, you want to avoid going to urgent care or the emergency room with your baby.
Speaking of sick visits, do you speak directly with a nurse or do you have to leave a message and wait for the nurse to call you back?
a. Consider your personal preference between a male of female pediatrician. Does the gender depend on if you have a boy or girl? You might have a male doctor and a female nurse practitioner depending on the office. This can be a nice balance.
b. Does the potential care provider have children? Is this something that is important to you? Before you even make a phone call to an office, check out the practice's website and you can usually find biographies on the team.
c. What is the doctor's experience with your feeding choices (ie breastfeeding, bottle feeding, donor breastmilk, etc.) As moms who have breastfed, we found it nice to have someone, either a doctor or an NP, who has personal experience with breastfeeding and can give you professional as well as real life advice. You can also have someone on speed dial for any breastfeeding concerns, questions, or issues and we will be at your house within 24-48 hours for a lactation visit.
d. What are their views on important parenting points such as, feeding choice, sleep advice, screen time, potty training, school/classroom related issues? You want to find someone that is either open-minded or whose are in line with the types of parents you plan to be.
Lastly, check to see where their admitting privileges are. Boston Children's Hospital, Mass General Hospital, elsewhere? Since we live in an area with the most prestigious hospitals in the world, take advantage of this luxury!
We know some of these points are so far ahead to think about. But it's good to consider all of these things now because your pediatrician is the healthcare provider you will see the most, for the next 18 years! You want to make sure you choose a pediatrician who is someone you connect with, trust, and who understands you and where you are coming from.
What if you want to change pediatricians? If you find you are not loving your pediatrician, it is ok to switch doctors! This may seem more daunting than just sticking it out, but it is worth the search to find the right provider for you, your child, and your family. Your relationship with your pediatrician is important and can impact the choices you make in those first few weeks, months, and years of your child's life. You owe it to yourself and your child(ren) to ensure this is a positive relationship.
Many pediatricians’ offices offer an "open house" once a month where you can go and meet the practitioners in the office. This may be a good place to start.
About the author:
Emily Silver is the co-founder of Boston NAPS, LLC. After graduating from Boston College, Emily began working on a medical floor for a few years before transferring over to labor and delivery. During her eight years working as an RN on these floors, she obtained her Master of Science in Nursing and her Family Nurse Practitioner license.
Emily currently works in a private practice in Brookline seeing OB/GYN patients. Her passion lies in education and she works as a maternity clinical instructor for undergraduate nursing students for both Boston College and Northeastern University.
Emily utilizes her Nurse Practitioner license and Certified Lactation Counselor license to spend time during the week doing in home breastfeeding visits for both new and experienced breastfeeding mothers. One of Emily's favorite part of Boston NAPS is visiting new mothers during their first few days home from the hospital. She spends time helping them adjust to life at home with a newborn through educating parents and providing support during this new milestone in their lives.
Emily lives in Charlestown with her husband and two daughters (Grace and Madelyn). When she isn't working, she enjoys going on walks with her family and sweet yellow lab, Maisey, around town. She also enjoys beach trips and traveling.
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From our friends at Boston Naps: We have found that almost every mother wishes she was better prepared for breastfeeding. Not only did we experience this feeling ourselves as new mothers, but we’ve found it to be true in our daily work as nurses and lactation specialists supporting breastfeeding women.
And we’re not just talking about taking a breastfeeding class. We are talking about the opportunity for women to have more open and honest conversations about breastfeeding and their experiences.