Expecting a baby can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are so many decisions and preparations to make, it’s enough to wear out any mama! It’s our hope to make the process a little more manageable today with some helpful tips for choosing your child’s pediatrician.
Children’s of Alabama is a longtime partner of BMC and an invaluable resource for our community. We were thrilled to talk with Donna Wiggins, Nurse Educator for Strategic Communications and Marketing at Children’s, to gather some expert advice. In her 39-year career as a certified pediatric registered nurse, she has experience working in inpatient units, outpatient clinics, outpatient surgery, and the operating room. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our conversation today!
When should an expectant mom choose a pediatrician?
Choosing your baby’s pediatrician is important to give your baby the healthiest possible start. A pediatrician specializes in children’s health needs, behavioral issues, and monitors growth and development. This decision requires time and careful consideration. An expectant parent should choose a pediatrician approximately three months before the due date allowing time to obtain pertinent information and schedule a visit to meet with the pediatrician before the baby arrives.
What should an expectant mom consider when choosing a pediatrician?
There are many things to consider when choosing a pediatrician:
a. Is the doctor a provider on your insurance plan?
b. Is the doctor accepting new patients?
c. Recommendations from friends/family/other doctors?
d. Is the office location convenient for you and your family?
e. What are the office hours? Is the office open on weekends?
f. What is the protocol for returning phone calls during and after office hours?
g. Who will see my baby in the hospital after delivery?
h. What are the pediatrician’s views on breastfeeding, sleep methods, circumcision, vaccinations, etc.?
i. Is the pediatrician board certified? According to the American Board of Pediatrics, board certification is a voluntary process that goes above and beyond state licensing
requirements and is a commitment by the physician to continuously expand their
knowledge in a specialty or subspecialty.
j. Where will your child be referred if hospitalization is necessary?
k. What is the doctor’s hospital affiliation?
How can someone get started with a pediatrician affiliated with Children’s Hospital?
If a parent wishes to choose a pediatrician with Children’s of Alabama, they can refer to Children’s of Alabama’s website and view our practice locations. The website includes the office’s contact information and hours.
What are the benefits of choosing a pediatrician with Children’s Hospital?
By choosing a Children’s Primary Care practice, you are choosing a pediatrician who is linked to Children’s of Alabama. This direct connection means the hospital can link to the same EMR (electronic medical record), ensuring quick and easy access to lab results, imaging reports, specialists’ clinic notes, and recommendations. It also provides ease with making referrals and collaborating with other providers if needed.
What closing thoughts do you want to share with our readers?
I encourage all expectant parents to invest the time necessary to choose the right pediatric practice for their baby and their family. Ideally, your pediatrician will take care of your baby from the time he/she is a newborn through their teenage years. This should be someone you have established a rapport with and trust. Making a confident choice concerning your child’s pediatrician can help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with becoming a new parent.