Transcript episode #3:
how to be sure you have the right doctor
Click here to download a transcript.
[00:00] On today's episode of the Podcast, I'm going to share information to help you make sure you have the right doctor for you during your pregnancy.
[00:13] Welcome to the all about pregnancy and birth podcast. I'm Dr Nicole Calloway Rankins a board certified Ob Gyn physician and certified integrative health coach. Every week I break down topics, share birth stories and interview experts to help you have your very best pregnancy and birth. Quick note, the information is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. See the full disclaimer at www.ncrcoaching.com/disclaimer.
[00:43] Welcome, welcome, welcome. I'm so glad to have you here today. Your doctor during your pregnancy has a huge impact on the course of your pregnancy as well as your birth. You want to feel confident that you're in good hands for one of the most important events of your life. You should feel well-supported during your pregnancy. You should feel that you are respected throughout your care, and you should feel that your concerns are addressed when you have concerns. If you're in search of an ob doctor, then this episode is definitely for you, but it's also for you. Even if you already have an ob doctor. I'm going to cover some things you may not have considered to make sure your doctor is a good fit for you. Now, before I get into the episode, let me tell you about an awesome giveaway I'm sponsoring to celebrate the launch of the podcast.
[01:41] I'm giving away three spots in my online childbirth education class. The Birth Preparation Course. The Birth Preparation Course is a comprehensive course that will leave you feeling knowledgeable about your options and the process of birth, prepared to deal with any possibilities that may arise. You'll feel confident in yourself and your choices after going through the course, and you'll also be empowered to advocate for the birth experience that you desire. There are over eight hours of content in The Birth Preparation Course, and that content covers everything from getting in the right mindset for your birth to all of the details of labor, to how to make your birth wishes, to what happens in the postpartum period and everything in between. All of the material is online so you can go through the course on your own time and at your own pace. There's also a private course community just for course members and that community is run by an experienced Doula. In the course community, you'll get support from other pregnant women as well as me. I'm in the community as well doing regular Q and A sessions. Now, last but not least, you get lifetime access to the course, so enroll once and you have the material there for all of your future pregnancies. The Birth Preparation Course is easily valued at $400. However, all you have to do to enter and get a free spot is go to www.ncrcoaching.com/giveaway. That's www.ncrcoaching.com/giveaway, and that link is in the show notes.
[03:19] Okay, so let's get to the show. First thing you want to do when you're looking for your ob doctor and making sure it's good fit for you, you want to ask questions. Now, this seems obvious. You're like, of course I'm going to ask questions, but you want to be sure that you ask the right type of questions. You want to ask questions that are what and how questions, as opposed to yes or no questions. When you ask questions that begin with what and how, you'll get much more helpful responses than if you ask questions that can simply be answered with yes or no. Now, let me give you an example of what I mean. A yes or no question would be, are you okay if I have a birth plan? A what or how question would be, what are your thoughts about birth plans? It's easy for a doctor to answer the first question. Oh yeah, I'm okay if you have a birth plan and move on, but that doesn't give you any insight about how supportive she is of birth plans. Now, when you ask the second question, what are your thoughts about birth plans and not in a confrontational way or anything like that. You're going to get much more insight as to where she stands and if her approach is in line with what you're looking for.
[04:45] So for example, if someone asked me, what are your thoughts about birth plans? I would say, well, first thing we need to do is get rid of the term birth plan. Because the truth is we cannot plan birth. Birth is an unpredictable process. I can't plan your birth. You can't plan your birth. Your baby is actually the one who's most in charge of how your birth unfolds. A better term is birth wishes. Now, this is incredibly important in special events. So of course you have wishes about how you'd like your birth to go and I am definitely supportive of you getting as many wishes for your birth as possible. So see how that gives you a lot more information about where I stand in my approach as opposed to just, are you okay if I have a birth plan?
[05:34] Now what I want to do is go through a few questions that you can ask that will give you a quick feel as to the style of the doctor and the way she practices and whether or not that's in line with what you're looking for for your pregnancy and your birth. So first question you can ask is, what is your philosophy towards pregnancy and birth? There's no right or wrong response to this question. Again, you're just trying to see where she stands and if it's in line with your views. For example, someone asked me that question, what's your philosophy towards pregnancy and birth? My response would be something like this, pregnancy and birth are normal and natural. Most of the time things go fine and there are no problems, but sometimes problems, even very serious problems, can arise and we cannot always predict when that's going to happen. I am ready to deal with any problems that may arise. I'm ready to deal with those problems in a way that keeps you safe, that keeps your baby safe and is in alignment as much as possible with what you want for your birth. So I expect the best because that's what's most likely to happen, but I am always prepared for the worst just in case.
[06:52] So see how that helps you. Just want to ask the question, listen to their response and see if it feels right for you and how you want to approach your pregnancy, and your birth. Next question is, what is your C-section rate? The C-section rate should ideally be around 20 percent, especially for first time moms. I am proud to say that my C-section rate hovers about 20 percent or so. Now a doctor's C-section rate may be higher if that doctor has more high risk patients so you need to keep that in mind when you ask. However, if the doctor hesitates to respond to the question, or gets defensive and questions why you're asking, or if they say that their rate is 40 percent or higher, then that may be someone who does too many C-sections. We know that vaginal birth is safer, so we should really try to have a lower C-section rate if possible.
[07:50] All right, next question, and I forgot to say that I'm going to put all these questions in a pdf document that you can download. It's going to be right in the show notes, no email or anything necessary. You'll just be able to click on it and get all these questions so you don't have to worry about writing them down. Okay, the next question is, what if I have questions outside of my appointments, either during the day or after hours? You want to be sure that there are processes in place to get your questions answered, even if it's outside of your appointments. It may be that you can call during the day and speak to a triage nurse. It may be that there's an electronic medical record system and you can send non-urgent questions through the patient portal after hours. There should be a number for you to call where you can speak with a nurse or a doctor, so you just want to be clear what the process is iff you have questions outside of your appointment.
[08:44] Similarly, you want to ask, what happens if I need an urgent appointment? Occasionally issues will come up where you need to be seen soon. I would say most practices have a system where you can be seen within 24 hours or so. Now, keep in mind that for an urgent appointment, you may not see your regular doctor. You may see another doctor in the practice. You may see a nurse practitioner, you may see a midwife, so keep that in mind, but there should be some process in place so you understand what happens if you need an urgent appointment.
[09:17] Now, a lot of practices these days are group practices where it's a group of four or five doctors, even more who are practicing together. If you are with a group practice, then you want to ask, who will I see for my appointments? Every practice handles it differently. Some practices have it where you see the same doctor throughout your pregnancy. Some doctors have it where they like you to rotate, to see the different doctors in the practice so you can get to meet everybody as it's a possibility that you may have one of those other doctors there for your delivery. Similarly, you want to ask who will be there for my birth if you're in a group practice. In a group practice, there's a good chance it'll be whatever doctor is on call. It could also be maybe even a hospitalist doctor like me, all I do is work in the hospital and deliver babies. So you just want to be clear who you'll see for your appointments and who will be there for your birth. There's no right or wrong answer to this question. You just want to see if it's in line with what you're looking for.
[10:19] Now, that's it for those few questions to ask. That was the only like four or five questions. And when you ask these questions, you're really maximizing your time and the reality of the limited amount of time that's available in office visits. You're going to get a lot of information in return just by asking these few what or how questions. Okay. Next thing you want to do when you're trying to make sure you have an ob doctor that is a right fit for you, is you want to get recommendations from other women. But the key here is you want to specifically include women who are like you. Now you may ask lots of different women, but be sure that you get one or two who are similar to you. You want to ask women that have a similar philosophy towards pregnancy and birth that you do. For example, if you know that you want to give birth without pain medication, then you want to ask a friend who also gave birth without pain medication.
[11:19] You may get a different response than someone who wanted an epidural as soon as she got to the hospital. Also, if you know, for example that you like to ask a lot of questions, then you want to ask your friend who also likes to ask a lot of questions. Another example is if this is your first baby, ask someone for sure who just had their first baby. Although you can get a lot of information from someone who's having their third or fourth baby just because they've had a lot of experience, they're probably going to have different expectations for prenatal care than someone who is a first time mom. So if you're a first time mom, you probably want to ask someone who's also a first time mom or recently had their first baby.
[12:03] Now, when you talk to women, just ask some basic questions. You want to ask how was the doctor's bedside manner? You want to feel comfortable that you can talk to your doctor. Ask how did the office run? What were the wait times? How easy was it for you to get an appointment? How was the staff? How was the front desk staff? How was the staff when you called and had a question, how were the nurses in the office? How easy was it for you to get your questions answered either during appointments or after appointments. And then of course you want to ask were they happy with the care that they received? At the end of the day, everything may not be perfect about how the office runs. Maybe you have to wait a little bit longer or maybe sometimes it's tough to get an appointment, but overall, were they happy with the care that they received from their doctor?
[13:01] Okay, the last thing I want you to do, and this is really important, I want you to do a gut check. I want you to just pay attention to how the doctor makes you feel when you're talking to her. Does she make you feel comfortable? Do you feel at ease with her or did she rush you when you were asking questions? Did she seem annoyed when you were asking questions? Was she ever dismissive of any of your questions? Did your spidey sense go up and you have this feeling that I don't know if this is going to be a good fit. If any of those things are the case where you felt like you were dismissed or something just didn't quite feel right, then I want you to give some serious consideration to finding another doctor. I've seen women stick with a doctor who they didn't feel good about because maybe they've been with that person for their yearly checkups or maybe they just didn't want to hurt her feelings, but I can tell you if you're not happy with your doctor, you want to find someone else as soon as possible.
[14:19] I've seen women regret not doing that and it gets harder to find someone the further along you get in your pregnancy, so if you have concerns, the earlier you can find someone else, the better. Do not worry about hurting anyone's feelings. The most important thing is that you have a doctor that works for you. You absolutely deserve to have a good doctor who you feel comfortable with, who you feel respected when you talk to her, and you should feel supported throughout your pregnancy. Now I know that there's a lot of press, there's stuff on the Internet, on blog posts about bad doctors out there, and sadly some of that press is warranted. However, there are good doctors out there, great doctors out there who are kind, who are caring, who are supportive, and they will be there for you in your pregnancy the way that you need them to be.
[15:19] So if you're not happy with who you have, then keep looking until you find someone that works for you because you deserve it. Okay? So that's it for information to help you know if you have the right ob doctor for you, it's not a lot of questions. This doesn't have to be a complicated process. Just a few questions will give you a ton of information and again, there's a pdf in the show notes. You can just click on it, download it to get all these questions written out for you. Now, I would love to hear what your experience has been finding an ob doctor. Send me a DM on Instagram. I'm on Instagram at Dr. Nicole Rankins. Also be sure to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts so that you do not miss an episode and if you feel so inclined I'd really appreciate you leaving an honest review in iTunes. It helps other women find my show. And last but not least, do not forget about the giveaway. Enter to win a spot in The Birth Preparation Course. Go to www.ncrcoaching.com/giveaway. Each spot is an over $400 value. You don't want to miss this opportunity, so go to www.ncrcoaching.com/giveaway. That link will be in the show notes. Okay, that is it for this episode. Until next time, I wish you a healthy and happy pregnancy and birth.
[16:49] Today's episode is brought to you by Women's Wellness Coaching by Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins. Head to www.ncrcoaching.com to check out my free one hour mini course on how to make your birth plan, as well as my comprehensive online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course with over eight hours of content, and a private course community. The Birth Preparation Course will leave you knowledgeable, prepared, confident, and empowered going into your birth. Head to www.ncrcoaching.com to learn more.