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When You Should Consider Switching Ob/Gyns

by Amelia on October 2, 2008
category: Practical Tips,Pregnancy

doctor.jpg No one likes switching doctors. It is a pain to do–especially when you are pregnant but sometimes it is worth it. There is no rule that says that you can’t switch providers during your pregnancy. Some women put up with poor service from their doctors or their staff because they feel the hassle of changing providers is too complicated. And we feel guilty and don’t want to make anyone feel bad. Some women stay with their doctors for future pregnancies even if their doctor left a bad taste in their mouth from their first pregnancy. Well ladies, I am here to encourage you to break free and find a provider that you feel comfortable with, that doesn’t make medical decisions based on their fear of being sued, and who will support the choices you want to make during your pregnancy or well-woman health care.

Even if you aren’t interested in an unmedicated, natural birth, there are some things to look out for that tell you a doctor has a bad habit of meddling in labor when it isn’t necessary. It is important for us to voice our concerns to the people we trust for our healthcare. I cannot even begin to stress how important it is for us to also take charge and responsibility for our own health. Educate yourself, ask questions, read books and be your own advocate!

I have compiled a list of “red flags” for you to consider as you think about your experience with your own Ob/Gyn:

Your doctor starts pressuring you to have a c-section as early as 28 weeks for fear of a large baby.

Your doctor’s c-section rate is at or above the national rate (33%).

Your doctor patronizes you or mocks you for wanting a birth plan or a natural birth.

Your doctor has an episiotomy rate over 30%.

Your doctor doesn’t fully inform you of the risks on induction, c-section, epidural etc.

Your doctor will only allow you to push your baby out with your legs/feet in the stirrups and/or on your back. (Feels uncomfortable with hands and knees or squatting or whatever position you want to birth in)

Your doctor’s routine procedure for induction is to break the bag of waters early on in labor.

Your doctor uses cytotec for labor induction. (Run the other direction!)

Your doctor makes you feel stupid when you ask questions or share how you feel about pregnancy, procedures, birth, or your general health.

Your doctor makes you feel bad about your weight gain but doesn’t offer you any guidance on nutrition or diet.

If you want a natural birth with minimal interventions:

Your doctor says things that aren’t supportive of your desire to have an unmedicated birth. For example, “you don’t need to suffer needlessly…the drugs are safe for the baby…good luck with that…”

Your doctor requires continuous electric fetal monitoring.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it is a start. If your doctor or practice makes you feel uncomfortable at all or if you have a gut feeling that leaves you uneasy as you interact with them then consider switching practices. Emotional relaxation during labor is very important and if you feel uneasy around your birth team then it can have a negative impact on labor.

You will remember your birth for the rest of your life so it is important to go to someone who treats you with dignity, respect, and care. Doctors don’t have emotional attachments with all their patients and will not be offended if you switch your care to someone else. Many doctors are overbooked (How many times have you had to wait and wait to see your doc only to feel rushed during appointments?) and will not be personally offended if you switch providers. You don’t have to tell them why at all–unless you want to.

If you are looking for a more personal care style for your womanly health care then I would encourage you to see midwives for your pregnancy and well-woman visits. Many certified nurse midwives also do yearly exams. There are many women who enjoy the holisitic care that midwives offer but still prefer epidurals or need c-sections for their births.

Finding a doctor or midwife that you feel comfortable with may be a challenge but it is worth the extra time and effort!

Have you ever switched doctors? What’s your story?

14 Responses to When You Should Consider Switching Ob/Gyns

  • Comment by Amanda
    October 2, 2008 @ 9:42 am

    This is a great post Amelia! I just switched doctors. I liked my doctor well enough. She was fine, but I just switched to a midwife. All of them I have met have been so warm and friendly. I was hugging her after my first visit. The only problem I had with the midwives is that they can’t prescribe meds yet. I had to call in to my old doctor and have the nurse call in some meds for me.

    I know some OBGYN Groups have midwives that work under doctors and birth at hospitals. All my friends who have used loved them and even got epidurals, but their experience was great.

  • Comment by Dawn
    October 2, 2008 @ 10:37 am

    Oooh, great advice, Amelia, and really helpful list. This is a timely topic for me because I am “between doctors” right now. After our move, I needed an appointment with an obgyn immediately (3 weeks post partum) and I made an appointment with the first available female I found… and boy, did I not like her. I tried changing to a different doctor in their practice and they wouldn’t let me! I was shocked – and more than a little angry. It was one of my town’s only all-female practices.

    But a friend recommended a different doctor and I have an appointment with her next week. I’m hopeful that we’ll have a better connection. I really miss my old obgyn from Virginia, she was amazing.

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    Comment by Steph
    October 2, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

    I so wish I’d have read this before my first baby…before all my babies. I’ve had some great ob/gyns and some not-so-great ones. Having this list in hand when “interviewing” doctors would have been awesome.

    Great post!

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    Comment by Jenn
    October 2, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

    Thanks Amelia for this post! We need to be reminded of our power and rights! I actually did change doctors while I was pregnant, but I didn’t change offices. I liked the staff there and ended up with an awesome doctor. Reason for my change? The doctor thought he was smarter them me. In a nutshell, I told him I was pregnant, he told me I wasn’t. He scheduled a blood test for me, I drank several cups of water, so the lab tech can see my veins. When I arrived to the office and after my ultra sound, he changed his mind and had me do a urine test. I had so much water in me, I tested neg. There is more to the story, but I will stop there.

  • Comment by Amelia
    October 2, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

    I’d love to hear the rest of the story!

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    Comment by Lauren
    October 2, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

    Amelia…brilliant!! Love it!!

    You should also switch if you want to try for a VBAC. In our litigious culture, most OBGYNs are refusing to do VBACs; midwifery is the only way to go for the support (for other reasons why Midwives are good for VBACs and even for failed VBACs, please visit http://theneedlethepotandthepen.blogspot.com/2008/09/another-chapter-of-great-story.html).

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    Comment by Natalie
    October 2, 2008 @ 4:08 pm

    I love my doctor, but the worst story I have ever heard is the one of my husband’s mother. She gained 19lbs and he told her she was fat! She is one of the smallest women I know! It was horrible and she basically starved herself because of it. That is definitely a reason to change.

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    Comment by Michelle
    October 2, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

    How about when your doctor tells you she will induce you if your 2nd baby’s weight exceeds your 1st before 40 weeks…and then she DOESN’T…even though the sonogram estimates the baby’s weight OVER 9 lbs 2 weeks before your due date…

    My daughter was born weighing in at a WHOPPING 10lbs. 15ozs. and I almost died on the table.

    You can email me for the gory deets….not that you really want them! LOL!

    Love your site.
    Will be back!!

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    Comment by Mommy Zabs
    October 2, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

    My first baby was 9lb 11oz and i was a 4th degree tear. Upon going to a new doctor in a new state when pregnant with my 2nd the dr. looked at my records (i was 7 weeks pregnant) and said… OH yeah, you’ll be a c-section. And that was it… No sympathy, no further discussion. nothing.. then se proceeded to try and sell me pyramid marketed vitamins for $55 dollars a month. Bye Bye! Needless to say, I cancelled my next appointment.

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    Comment by Melissa
    October 2, 2008 @ 9:33 pm

    As a mom of a preemie (26 weeks), I hear lots of nurses in the NICU complain about elective births prior to term (36 weeks)!

    I met my doctor about 20 minutes before Addie was born, since I hadn’t made it through all the doctors in the practice before delivering. I LOVE LOVE LOVE her, and recommend her highly…

  • Comment by Sharon M
    October 3, 2008 @ 5:57 am

    My first Dr. was OK, not the best, but I probably would NOT have gone back to him if we had stayed in SA. When I had baby #2 in CO, I really liked the office, the doctors (all female :) , everything. And when they recommended a version to turn my breech baby, they were very straightforward about the procedure, also gave me some suggestions to try to have her turn naturally. I appreciated the fact that, when I asked why they didn’t do breech births, they didn’t give me the whole “it’s not safe” line. My doctor actually told me, “Well, because of the study on breech births back in 2000, most places just stopped training doctors to do them.” THEN, she told me if I wanted to go that direction, she knew a couple of doctors in the city that would be willing to do a natural breech birth. I was so thankful that she was more concerned about me having the kind of birth I wanted than keeping me as a patient! I stayed on with her group, and they were excellent.

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    Comment by Stella Blue
    October 4, 2008 @ 10:51 am

    Great post! I constantly butted heads with my OB, especially toward the end of my pregnancy. He wanted to induce me on my due date, even though there was no medical reason, and I had expressed to him that I was committed to a natural birth. The worst part of the whole experience was that he and I had initially discussed my birth plan, and agreed (so I thought) that we wouldn’t discuss induction until 42 weeks. I ended up going into labor on my own at 41 weeks and delivering my little girl without medication or intervention.

    Even with contractions every 2 minutes, I had time to think “heh heh in your FACE!” when we called him at 3:30 AM to say we were heading to the hospital. At one point during transition I started losing steam and my doula whispered “lets show him that women can deliver babies naturally!!” and that encouraged me to get through the rest of the delivery!

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    Comment by amelia
    October 4, 2008 @ 7:35 pm

    Good for you Stella Blue!!!! I think it is awesome that you were able to have the birth you wanted! I hope you decided to change docs for your next baby?!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by amelia
    October 4, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

    Michelle–I’m a sucker for the details! I’d love to hear them….every birth story is a learning experience for me….

    My third was 11# 12.5oz and it could have been a disaster had I not had a midwife who knew to get me on my hands and knees to get him out. If I had been in a hospital (with docs) laying flat on my back pushing the baby out it would have been much more difficult and I think it would have ended up with Graham breaking his collar bone.

    I’m glad you are okay though–traumatic births stick with you for a while. Are you planning on having more?

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