One of your first decisions as a parent—choosing your baby’s pediatrician—is also one of the most important. It’s key that you establish that relationship prior to being admitted to the hospital for your baby’s birth.
Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital’s Evie Robison, RN, pregnancy nurse navigator, and Ashley Conner, RN, BSN, pediatric nurse navigator, share advice for parents making this important decision in this ParentingU podcast episode.
Start By Asking Friends, Family and Colleagues
Expecting parents can turn to their community for recommendations for pediatricians. Those friends, family members and coworkers can also provide insight into providers’ values and how they practice.
Your OB-GYN may also have guidance and recommend pediatric providers whose philosophy and approach may work best.
Checking your insurance plan is another good place to start – to make sure the provider you’re considering is in-network and their services will be covered by your plan.
Why To Select a Pediatrician Before Baby is Born
Robison and Conner recommend moms choose a pediatrician by the sixth month of pregnancy. Not feeling rushed, having plenty of time to do research and ask questions can lead to a greater likelihood of a good match between parent and pediatrician.
One perk to choosing a pediatrician before delivery is that they can care for baby in the hospital, giving you peace of mind that they will already be familiar with your child.
Newborn screen results are usually not reported until after discharge from the hospital, and it’s important that any abnormalities be received by a doctor right away to avoid delay of care. Some diseases that the newborn screen tests for can be detrimental if not caught early enough.
Results of jaundice, or high bilirubin levels, screening in particular are important for newborn follow-up, and that happens most effectively when a pediatrician is listed in baby’s chart so the hospital knows where to send the results.
It is critical to catch rising bilirubin levels as soon as possible and be admitted to the hospital for phototherapy if needed to prevent potential hearing loss, seizures, brain damage and death.
What to Consider When Choosing a Pediatrician
Selecting a pediatrician is usually the start of a very long relationship, which can last for the next 18 years of your child’s life. It’s important that parents are comfortable with the provider they choose and that their values align.
In babies’ first year of life they go to the doctor often, within a few days after discharge from the hospital and then about once a month for well-visits. Download our what to expect at well-checks guide here.
Pediatric providers across our network offer complimentary prenatal visits to help expecting parents make this important decision. During a prenatal visit with a pediatrician some things to ask about include:
- Immunization guidelines
- Breastfeeding support
- Convenience – does their practice offer extended hours, weekend hours and virtual visits?
No relationship is perfect, and parents have freedom to choose differently if things change or it ends up not being a good fit. But establishing a relationship with a pediatrician can make for an easier transition into parenthood and ultimately a healthier childhood for your baby.