I've met a lot of OB-GYNs, but for some reason I don’t always have the best luck with them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known a few great ones and I'm grateful. For the most part, though, the OB-GYNs I've met have been, well, the worst. Like "I'm walking out of this office crying" the worst. It’s hard to find a doctor you can trust, who is well-qualified, and who you get along with. In other words, there are more than a few reasons why you should absolutely find a new OB-GYN if you feel it necessary. Simply put: just because someone is wearing a fancy white coat and went to school for a million years doesn't mean you can't demand a few things from them. An OB-GYN is there to care for you, not the other way around.
Between my two pregnancies I’ve had about six, count them six, OB-GYNs. That’s not including the perinatologist group that also cared for me during my second, high-risk pregnancy. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had trouble connecting with the right doctor. That said, I’ve known many people who end up stuck with doctors they're uncomfortable with, simply because they didn’t realize they had a choice or the ability to demand better. I’ve also known people who failed to seek the care they needed because of a prior, bad experience with past doctors. Both scenarios are, to say the least, terrifying and heartbreaking.
People need to know and understand that they have a say in who cares for them during something as difficult as pregnancy, labor, and delivery. We have a right, as patients, to find someone who works well with and for us. It’s OK to hold your care providers to a higher standard. When searching for your next OB-GYN, you may want to consider the following, which prompted me to search for a new doctor of my own.
They Don't Accept Your Insurance
This one’s pretty simple and straightforward, I will admit. Health insurance (or lack thereof) often forces people to switch doctors, and I was no exception. During my first pregnancy, and after losing my job, I had to go on Medicaid. That was my initial reason for switching doctors.
They Have A Horrible Bedside Manner
Do you have any idea how difficult it can be to find a good doctor who is also a genuinely kind person? Apparently harder than one might think. After losing my first child, I returned for a postpartum visit to my then-OB-GYN. Rather than offer any sympathy about my loss, this guy thought it was fine to tell me it was perfectly normal to lose a baby, and that I was young and could just “try for another one,” like I was playing goddamn ring toss or something. Nope. Bye.
That said, you want to be sure a doctor with perfect bedside manner is also someone with experience. I’m alright with younger doctors, so long as they are professional and knowledgeable. I’m not going to feel confident if mine is the first baby you’re delivering, though. Sorry, not sorry.
They Don't Understand Consent
One doctor I saw was giving me a pelvic exam and, about halfway through the process, I started to feel like he was being a too rough. I was nervous as is, but he didn’t seem to understand (or care) when I asked him to please stop. I had to continue to repeat my request until I ended up yelling and pushing his hand away.
It doesn't matter if a doctor is more knowledgable than you, or more capable than you at whatever it is they're doing: a doctor must stop what they're doing to you when you ask them to. Always. Consent is important, even (and some might say especially) in the medical field.
They Make You Feel Uncomfortable
As you might imagine, it was hard for me to find a doctor I felt comfortable with after enduring so many negative experiences. Personally, I tend to feel more at ease around female doctors (though I know gender doesn’t really make anyone more or less competent). I'm not alone, either. According to The Los Angeles Times, women feel more comfortable when they're being seen by female doctors.
In the end you need to decide, for yourself, who you're most comfortable with. After all, it's your body and your baby.
They Won't Actually & Actively Listen To You
Being pregnant, especially when you’re high-risk, can be an extremely stressful situation. As a result you’re going to want a doctor who listens to your questions and concerns, and addresses them each and every time. I know that when my OB-GYN isn’t listening, it’s time to look for someone else.
They Lack A Gentle Touch
This goes for OB-GYNs and gynecologists in general. These doctors end up handling some of your most intimate, delicate body parts. The last thing you want is someone who doesn’t have a soft touch. I’ve had pap smears where I could barely tell the doctor was even laying hands on me. That’s the sign of quality, capable care.
My last OB was amazing. She was very receptive to my concerns, answered calls at all hours of the day or night, had a nurse line, a great office staff, and wonderful back-up doctors. The last thing you want is an OB-GYN who is frequently unavailable to you. They’re part of your baby’s first moments, after all.