When you become pregnant, you read all the pregnancy books and attend the many prenatal checkups necessary to ensure your baby is healthy.
However, in the whirlwind of preparations for your baby’s arrival, you may forget about finding a pediatrician.
You may suddenly wonder, “Do I need to find a pediatrician before my baby is born?”
Yes, you need to find a pediatrician before your baby is born!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), all expectant parents must have one prenatal pediatric visit during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Choosing a pediatrician before your baby’s arrival can be especially helpful to first-time parents, mothers experiencing a high-risk pregnancy or pregnancy complications, those expecting multiple births, or those taking part in the adoption process.
Let’s explore what you can expect during your prenatal pediatric visit and some useful tips on how to choose a pediatrician before your baby is born.
Your Prenatal Pediatric Visit
Starting your search for a pediatrician between your second and third trimester of pregnancy will allow ample time to review pediatric practices and make an informed decision.
Many pediatricians offer free visits to get to know them. Take advantage of this opportunity, as it will allow you to meet the doctor and their team and ask questions about their practice’s culture and philosophy.
According to a clinical report published by Dr. Michael Yogman in AAP, finding a pediatrician before the baby is born gives parents “a chance to talk about how to keep a baby safe and thriving physically, but also ways to build strong parent-child bonds that promote resilience and help a child stay emotionally healthy.”
Other topics that may be covered during the prenatal pediatric visit may include:
- Safety topics, such as car seats, crib or bassinet bedding, and proper newborn sleeping positions
- Family member’s immunizations to protect your newborn
- Nursing options
- Donating cord blood
- Demands of caring for a newborn and coping strategies for overwhelming moments
- Anticipating under-recognized challenges, such as post-partum depression
How to Set up a Pediatrician Before My Baby is Born?
With so much information out there, you may wonder, “How to set up a pediatrician before my baby is born?”
However, this process does not need to be overwhelming. Here are some helpful tips for choosing a pediatrician that’s right for your family.
1. Think Proximity
From wellness visits to unexpected illnesses and injuries, your little one will require numerous pediatric checkups throughout the years. This will be especially so during their first few years of life.
Therefore, it is essential you find a pediatric practice close to you. Never underestimate the convenience of having a pediatrician near your home.
If you use public transportation, keep it at the top of your mind when making your selection.
When interviewing pediatricians, consider their hours of operation and accessibility to care.
Some practices are open during the weekends or have extended evening hours, which are essential for working parents.
Additionally, some pediatricians offer 24-hour care, holiday hours, and welcome walk-ins and urgent appointments.
3. Atmosphere and Culture
Whoever you choose as your child’s pediatrician, you must feel comfortable with their care and the practice’s atmosphere.
Consider the front office staff. Are they friendly and patient? Do they listen to your concerns and return phone calls promptly? What are the phone wait times?
Is your potential provider genuine, a good listener, and compassionate?
Always listen to your instincts. First impressions truly are important.
4. Hospital Affiliation
A detail not often considered is a pediatrician’s affiliation with a hospital.
When a pediatrician is associated with a hospital, they enjoy certain privileges, such as seamlessly visiting the newborn at the hospital once they are born.
However, don’t let a lack of affiliation deter you from choosing a good pediatrician. Your child will still receive in-house pediatric care to assess your baby’s health.
Be sure to schedule a visit to your pediatrician within five days of leaving the hospital.
Additionally, find out the hospital’s protocol for an unaffiliated pediatrician visit, should your infant require admittance to the hospital due to illness or unexpected complications.
5. Connection to Other Providers or Specialists
In the unfortunate event of your child being born with a pre-existing condition or developing one down the road, you may need coordinated care from a team of specialists.
Find out if your pediatrician is part of an extended care team to ensure continuous service should you ever need it.
6. Other Services
Inquire if your pediatrician offers additional services, such as an on-site laboratory and telehealth consultations.
Furthermore, some practices also offer behavioral coaching, and lactation and nutrition specialists.
When choosing a pediatrician, be sure your insurance covers their services. And learn about all the costs associated with visits and services, such as co-pays or additional fees.
8. How to Start Your Search
You have learned some helpful tips in choosing a pediatrician; however, you may still be wondering, “How to set up a pediatrician before my baby is born?”
Don’t underestimate the power of others’ experiences. Talk to trusted friends and family members who have kids, to learn about pediatricians in your area.
If you are giving birth at a hospital, inquire about a list of affiliated pediatricians and research their standing and reviews.
You can also try the American Academy of Pediatrics “Find a Pediatrician” tool to find pediatricians in your area.
Google can be helpful as well. Simply search for “pediatricians near me” and you’ll see a list of pediatric practices in your area along with helpful reviews.
Finding a pediatrician before your baby is born may seem overwhelming. However, with enough planning, you can make an informed decision and choose a pediatrician that is right for you and your family.
Follow your parental instincts and remember that nothing is written in stone. If after a few visits, you find your chosen pediatrician is not the right fit, switching providers is perfectly normal and acceptable.