Monday, March 29, 2010

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo…Choosing your Ob/Gyn or Midwife

Ok so this post is a bit serious.  Choosing your Obstetrician/Midwife is an important and difficult task, especially if you are new to the area.  And by now you’ve probably noticed that this isn't the easiest area to navigate.  So after speaking with a number of friends and colleagues (my local momtourage), I’ve compiled a list of more than a dozen practices in Northern VA, DC & MD that were highly recommended.  It is by no means comprehensive.  There are way more practices out there and as I receive recommendations I'll add more.  This list can be found on the Ob/Gyn’s, Midwives and Hospital page of this blog.  I’ve included the addresses, phone numbers, and websites (if applicable) for each, as well the hospital where the practice delivers.  Below the list of doctors is a list of hospitals in the area. 

But how do I know if a practice if right for me?

Well here’s where you have to do some homework.  There are a number of websites that provide interview questions for you to take to your first Ob/Gyn meeting.  However, some of these questionnaires are long and you might not care about half the questions on it.  So first you need to figure out what is important to you.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Do you only want to see one doctor or are you ok with being seen by several doctors in a practice?

At many practices, you have a main ob, but will rotate towards the end of your pregnancy and aren’t guaranteed your doctor.  My practice, Physicians for Women, does this. While Dr. Hibshman was/is my main Ob, I rotated between the doctors during the last two months of my first pregnancy so they were all familiar with me.  In the end I went into labor a week early and Dr. Siegel delivered Sophie.  I really liked all of the doctor’s in the practice and had no problem with this.  However, you may want the same doctor the whole way through and want that doc and no one else to deliver your baby.  If that is the case you better find out from the get go.

What kind of labor do you envision?

Epidural? No epidural? Bradley Method? Induced?  Episiotomy? C-section?  I was pretty laid back about this.  I wanted to deliver vaginally and figured I would go as long as I could without an epidural.  If I was overdue, I was ok with being induced and if there was a problem then I would be ok with a C-section.  I really didn’t want an episiotomy, but if needed then fine.  I wanted to be prepared for anything and left it to my doctors to do what was best for our health.  I have at least a half dozen friends who were the complete opposite.  They had very specific birth plans and did not want to deviate.  However, if you choose to go natural or want to be induced or want a c-section (without medical need) you will have to make sure your practice shares your philosophy or you are going to have problems.  

How far is the practice from your home/office?

You are going to be there more than a dozen times during your pregnancy—try to find a practice that is convenient or you are going to stress yourself out.

Do they do blood work & testing in their office or do you have to go to another location?

Some practices do everything in house, especially if they are attached to a hospital. At others you have to get all your tests done at a different location.  Just make sure the testing center is convenient.

Where do they deliver?  How far is the hospital from your home?

Make sure you find out where you are going to deliver and make sure this hospital is right for you.  Does the hospital have a religious affiliation? Are you ok if it does/doesn’t?  Also, figure out how far the hospital is from your home.  You really don’t want to be stuck in a traffic jam on the beltway or the 14th street bridge while you’re in labor.

Do they offer childbirth classes? Is there a tour of the hospital?

I definitely recommend taking a childbirth class.  I just found my “baby school” binder from when I was pregnant with Sophie this morning.  I dusted it off and brought it back into the bedroom for when I need to brush up.  Not all practices offer a class but almost all can recommend one.

Are the doctors/nurses accessible by e-mail?

If you have a question, can you e-mail it or do you have to always call in, leave a message and then wait for a call back?

What insurance do they take?

Don’t fall in love with a practice until you know they take your insurance! You don’t want to pay for this stuff out of pocket!

Once you have an idea of what you want, check out one of the online doctor questionnaires.  Here’s the link to’s questionnaire, it provides a lot more in depth questions...possibly too many, but it's better than some others I've seen I actually recommend going over this list (or which ever you choose) before meeting with the doctor and marking the questions that are really important to you.  No sense in wasting your time or the doctors going into issues that aren’t important to you. 

Once you go to meet with your doctor, talk to some women in the waiting room, most will openly tell you their favorite/ least favorite doctor in the practice.  Also ask them what they like most/least about the practice.  Again, most women will gladly offer up their opinion on this issue!

Basically read up on a practice before you meet with a doctor.  Most practices have a website where you can get a pretty good feel for their attitude/philosophy before you even step foot in the door.

Happy doctor hunting!


  1. This post assumes you are choosing a group practice, but there is a 3rd option (besides group OBs and CNMs) that you have left out: Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). There are a number that practice locally, and in my personal experience, they are WORLDS apart from the CNMs at Physicians & Midwives and even BirthCare. For one, they are not under the thumb of an OB the way the CNMs are. Granted, they only do home birth so you have to be committed to that decision, but if true midwifery care is what you're looking for, CPMs are the way to go in my opinion. BirthCare forced an induction on me that I didn't agree with, and it ended in a c-section - I believe, all due to pressure from their referring OB. Unfortunately, I've met other moms that had the same experience with the same result.

  2. Summer, I'm sorry to hear about that. I did not have a natural birth so I am a bit out of my league when it comes to that topic. Instead of me writing about something I know nothing of, I am having local women write about their experiences with different natural birthing methods--the series will also list CPM options in the area.