Why do I need a doctor for my baby before he/she is born?

Most babies are born healthy and will receive their first examination from their doctor within the first day of life. Your baby's doctor will monitor your baby's health during his/her hospital stay, and answer any questions you have. If you select a doctor before the baby is born, you can be confident knowing that your baby will get good medical care from the beginning, and you will get sound medical advice you can rely on.

When should I select a doctor for my baby?

It is best to have selected a doctor before the baby's birth. During the third trimester of the pregnancy, you should make arrangements to find a doctor. By not waiting until the last minute, you can make an informed decision and be comfortable with your selection.

What kind of doctors care for babies?

Pediatricians are doctors specially trained in the care of infants, children and adolescents. They have graduated from a four year medical school and completed a three year residency training program in pediatrics. They are knowledgeable about well child care, child development, and the care of children with mild to serious medical problems.

Family practitioners are doctors who are trained to treat people of all ages. They are graduates of a four year medical school and have finished a three year residency in family medicine, which includes several months of pediatric training, along with surgery, internal medicine and obstetrics/gynecology.

The major difference between the two types of doctors is that a pediatrician is an expert on children while a family practitioner can care for the entire family including the children, parents and grandparents.

How do I find a pediatrician or family practitioner?

Talk to people who know the doctors in your area. Your obstetrician will have the names of several doctors he/she knows and recommends. Family members, friends, or neighbors who have children may also be able to give you information about good doctors in the area.

You should call the doctor's office and ask for an interview with the doctor. During this prenatal visit the pediatrician or family practitioner should answer all of your questions, give you information about his/her practice, and explain some things you will need to know as a new parent. This prenatal interview is especially helpful to first-time parents who have questions about feeding, behavior and parenting.

How do I know the pediatrician or family practitioner is a good doctor?

A good doctor is someone who is knowledgeable about medicine and also works well with children and their parents. Doctors who have finished their residency training program and passed a thorough examination will be board certified in their specialty. This certification will tell you that the doctor has been judged to be competent by others in their field.

Only you can decide if he/she is the right doctor for your child. You should be able to establish a comfortable and trusting relationship in which you feel the proper attention is given to both you and your baby. The prenatal interview and the baby's first office visits should help you decide if you have found the right doctor for you. If you believe you need to change doctors you certainly have the right and the responsibility to your child to do so.

Are there other things to consider when I select a doctor?

Your doctor will either work alone in a solo practice or with other doctors in a group practice. In addition to the doctors, some practices employ pediatric nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurses to provide some of the medical care to patients. The larger the practice you select, the more people will provide care to your child.

You will want to find out when you can talk to your doctor and when you can bring your child to the office for a visit. Will you need to speak with a nurse first, and how available is the doctor to speak with? When are appointments available? Can you always see the doctor you chose originally? What are the office hours, does the office run on time, and how much time is allotted for the visits?

You may also want to ask about the philosophy of the doctor's practice. Some doctors focus on treating children who are sick while others pay special attention to educating parents and helping children grow up healthy.

You should feel comfortable with the doctor you choose. You may want to talk to several doctors before making your decision. The doctor you select may be your children's doctor for many years to come. Because the relationship between doctor and child and parent is a special one, it is an important choice, and one about which you should feel confident.

Dr. Jeffrey S.Feldman | MelrosePediatrics.com | 340 Main Street Suite 101, Melrose, MA | 781.662.4560 | Copyright 2012   Site Design: Gordon Design