Choosing an Obstetrician

Choosing an Obstetrician

It’s been confirmed, and you’re pregnant so where to from here? How do you choose who will care for you and your unborn baby? This is potentially one of the biggest decisions you will make, beyond choosing to have a baby in the first place. You will want to feel confident that you’ve chosen the right man or woman for the job.

And from one mother to another, let me just say this – you will want to be really comfortable with your obstetrician as they will be required to work with body parts that previously only your partner was privy to!

So how do you choose an obstetrician? Personally, I got the ball rolling by asking trusted friends and family about their own personal experience with a chosen obstetrician. I know that someone else’s opinion doesn’t necessarily give credit to a Doctor’s professional ability, but it did give me an idea of their personal approach. And both were on my list of considerations. This gave me a starting point, and once I’d spoken to several people, I had begun to work up a list of potential Obstetricians.

From this point, only you can decide what is important to you, however here are some aspects you might like to consider.

Skills and experience

To practice as an Obstetrician in Australia, the doctor must be accredited by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG). Therefore finding details of obstetricians in your area can be relatively simple. You can visit the RANZCOG website (www.ranzcog.edu.au), click on Women’s health and then locate an obstetrician. This search will list the specialists in your location.

To be a member of RANZCOG, it usually takes a minimum 13 years from the point a person begins to study as a doctor, and at least 7 from the point they are fully qualified. To become a Doctor, it takes approximately 6 years of basic medical training at a university and teaching hospital. And then to progress to obstetrics and gynaecology, it takes around another 6 years. So by the time a typical obstetrician enters private practice they will have helped over 1000 babies into the world using a variety of methods.

However, having said that, not all practitioners choose to be listed here, so if a friend has recommended a specific doctor, there is a chance you may need to conduct some of your own research if they’re not on the registry. But I’m sure it’s nothing Google couldn’t solve!

Team of practitioners

Being that all Obstetricians are human and therefore will need to sleep, eat and attend family commitments, you may want to research who will be there if your chosen obstetrician cannot not attend the birth of your baby. Although most obstetricians work privately through their own entity, they will also have another practitioner on hand to call upon and step in if they are unavailable to tend to a patient. So keeping this in mind, if it would make you more comfortable, perhaps you could ask to meet the alternative Obstetrician also. That way you can make an informed decision on the “team” as a whole and not just your doctor.

Public or Private

Depending on where you live, you may get the choice of either a public or private hospital facility.  Some Obstetricians choose to work at only private hospital facilities, while others combine the two or simply operate through the public system. If you would prefer to have continuity of care, then you may want to choose a private Obstetrician that operates from your chosen hospital (either public or private) and pay for the privilege (you may find that your private health cover, depending on your level of insurance will cover a fair portion of this).  Whereas, if you choose to go purely through the public system, you could have any number of health professionals caring for you throughout the pregnancy.

Accessibility

Convenience of appointments can be an issue when choosing your doctor, as most of us are strapped for time. So location of consulting rooms, time frames for appointments and working hours may also be a consideration for you. It pays to do your homework on these things, to save time and frustration further down the track.