Should You Get a New OBGYN? Here’s What to Consider and Do - Baby Chick
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Should You Get a New OBGYN? Here’s What to Consider and Do

If you think your OBGYN will not support your labor and birth preferences, here are things to consider and how to get a new OBGYN.

Updated April 8, 2024

by Nina Spears

The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert

You’re probably filled with excitement and anticipation when you call your doctor’s office to let them know you are pregnant and need to schedule an appointment. This is when your doctor will confirm your pregnancy and monitor your and your baby’s health through your big birthing day. That’s pretty exciting!! Now that you’re pregnant, you will see your OBGYN or midwife frequently and build a different relationship with them. After each appointment, you’ll see why your doctor or midwife is a significant part of your pregnancy and birth experience. Sometimes, feelings of excitement can turn into anxiousness and apprehension. Those are the furthest things I want you to feel on your baby’s birth day.

First, it’s important to understand what type of experience you ultimately want for your labor and baby’s birth. Do you want an epidural? A planned C-section? An unmediated birth? Once that is determined, you need to find out if your doctor or midwife is on the same page as you and if they are the right fit to be your care provider. (Here are some questions for your OBGYN to help with that.) But what if you start seeing some red flags during your prenatal visits and you’re beginning to consider switching OBs? Do people change doctors? Is it too late to switch care providers? What do I do? I have several birth doula clients who have had these questions after negative experiences with their initial care provider.

Getting a New OBGYN: What to Consider

Here’s what you need to know and what you need to do if you find yourself wanting a new OBGYN.

1. What Are Your Doctor’s Intervention Rates?

Your doctor, doctor’s office, or hospital should be able to tell you their intervention rates. When asking about intervention rates, it should include inductions (for example, breaking someone’s water or using Pitocin to induce labor), assisted births (episiotomies, vacuum, and forceps), and C-sections. If they are unable—or unwilling—to provide you with their rates, that’s not a good sign. They may be hiding something. If so, it might be time to look for a care provider who can answer those questions and have fair percentages.

Note: I encourage you to get your doctor’s and the hospital’s intervention rates. Your doctor may not be on call when you go into labor, and you want to know that anyone else who could be delivering your baby also has good rates.

2. Is Your OBGYN Supportive of Your Labor & Birthing Preferences?

If you decide to create a birth plan, make sure that you go over it point-by-point with your OBGYN during one of your prenatal visits (or maybe during several appointments if you need more time). During your discussion, you should be able to determine if they will support your labor and birth preferences. You may want to rethink things if you feel they are not 100% on board.

Another thing is to pay attention to whether they use the words “let” or “allow” when answering your questions. These words indicate they believe they are the decision-makers for your baby’s birth. Yes, you have hired your doctor to care for you and your baby medically, but they ultimately need your consent with each decision. YOU are the ultimate decision-maker for your labor and birth. This is a good thing because your labor and baby’s birth will live with you for the rest of your life. Educating yourself and surrounding yourself with supportive care providers is essential to making it a positive experience. If you have tried to work this out with your OBGYN without any positive results, listen to your gut and start seeking a new care provider who will support you.

I want to say that it’s natural to feel that we need to listen to doctors, do as they say, and leave the decisions in their hands. However, it is your legal right to ask for more information, understand the benefits and risks of those options, and refuse anything they offer if it is something you do not want to do, especially if it is not a medical emergency. It’s the role of your OBGYN to support you with evidence-based information and care and to respect your role as the mother and key decision-maker in the birthing process.

3. Ask Yourself These Questions

If you’re having second thoughts, consider why you chose this person as your doctor.

  • Was this the doctor that you’ve had since you were a teenager?
  • Did a friend or relative recommend them?
  • Did they have excellent reviews and accept your insurance?
  • Is their office location convenient for you?

These are important questions to ask yourself to remember why you initially chose them and if you chose them for the best reasons.

We spend so much time making decisions on other major life choices. For example, when we buy a car, plan a wedding, or even plan a baby’s nursery or what stroller to get. But when it comes time to plan and prepare for a baby’s birth, many people spend a fraction of that time preparing. Do yourself a favor and spend more time learning what you want for your pregnancy and birth care. The more you know, the more empowered you will be. You’ll be glad you did.

4. It’s Never Too Late to Change to a Different OBGYN

I’ve personally had birth doula clients change to a different doctor at 38 weeks pregnant because they felt it wasn’t the right fit. They didn’t feel fully supported, and they knew that they wanted a different outcome at their baby’s birth. I don’t recommend waiting this long to switch doctors. However, I want everyone to know that if you are that far along and are not feeling supported, you can get a new doctor. It may be more challenging to find someone who is still available, but it is possible. You’re never too far along to get a new OBGYN. So, as soon as you see those red flags, start looking at your other options. I don’t want you to feel like you have limited options because you’re making this change late in your pregnancy.

5. Don’t Feel Bad for Your Doctor

Look, I understand that it can feel awkward “breaking up” with your doctor for your birth. But remind yourself that this is a business transaction. This isn’t personal; it’s just not the best fit for you. Many people continue seeing their OBGYN for gynecological visits but see someone else as their obstetrician. Just keep reminding yourself that you are the one who is paying the medical and hospital bills. You are the customer; as the customer, you have the right to switch care providers and should feel satisfied with your experience. Would you feel bad if you switched to a different dentist or chiropractor because you were unhappy? No!

Whether you are at a salon getting your hair done or at the hospital having a baby, it is a service being rendered. This is all part of their job. You should never feel bad if it will help you have a better experience.

Getting a New OBGYN: What to Do

1. Schedule Consultations

Before you switch doctors, you’ll need to research who you would like to be your new care provider. You shouldn’t have a problem finding other options anytime before 32 or 34 weeks pregnant. I recommend reading reviews, asking friends and family, and local doulas. Doulas have seen many doctors work firsthand and know who’s great and who’s not. See which doctors are the most compatible with your wants and wishes. Of course, make sure that those doctors accept your insurance.

Once you have determined a few potential great doctors (who accept your insurance), call their office to see if they have availability for your due date. (Some high-demand doctors book up quickly.) If they are still accepting patients with your due date, schedule consultations and ask them the questions that are most important to you. Just keep your previous doctor’s bad-mouthing to a minimum. Keep it positive, and mention why they would be an excellent fit for you.

2. Get Your Medical Records

Once you have decided to switch, you must request copies of your medical records. You can have them sent to you or your new doctor’s office. Make sure that they include all tests, lab results, etc. You may have to request your medical records in writing and have to pay for copies. If your doctor has sent you to a specialist, it’s also a good idea to ask for copies of the consultation notes from these visits.

3. Speak with Your Old Doctor’s Office Manager

Before you make the switch, you should also consider speaking to the office manager about your experience. Many practices want to know if their providers aren’t doing a good job, especially if it’s causing you to go elsewhere for care.

4. Consider Telling Your Doctor

On your last visit with your previous doctor, consider discussing your reasons for leaving them. This is the time to do it, but I recommend bringing someone with you. Of course, be polite and respectful when doing so because you don’t want to burn bridges. If you don’t feel comfortable having this discussion face-to-face, you can always write a letter or fill out a form. This is information that they and their practice should know.

Good luck finding the best care provider, and best wishes for your upcoming labor and birth day!

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Nina Spears The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more

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