As any parent will tell you, concern for the health of your children is a big part of raising and caring for them. It’s only natural; you want the best for your child. Being able to rely on the assistance and advice of a good Pediatrician can address a lot of this concern, especially for fist-time parents. However, finding the doctor that’s right for you can present a challenge.
How do you know which Pediatrician in your area is the best? Perhaps your child has special needs…which doctors are qualified to handle them? Should you choose a Pediatrician before birth and stick with them throughout childhood, or switch doctors as your child grows? Click here to find a local pediatrician in your area.
These are all very common questions among parents, first-time or otherwise. Here, we’ll review some basics on finding the right Pediatrician for you and your child.
How to Choose the Best Pediatrician
Your choice of Pediatrician should be based on a mixture of trusted recommendations, meetings with several potential doctors, and the specific needs of your child.
Recommendations can be a wonderful resource for parents who are trying to find the best Pediatrician. Ask around! Your friends and family likely have some great suggestions, especially if they have children around the same age as yours.
Online groups are also good resources. You can find groups based in your local area (in most cases), and talk and trade messages with parents who have the same concerns.
If you are the parent of a child with disabilities or other special needs, support groups can be another resource for finding the right Pediatrician. These groups are made up of parents of disabled children. Many groups are very specific, and serve parents of autistic children, children with multiple sclerosis, and any number of other disorders.
These groups not only allow you to share your questions and concerns, but they can be invaluable in finding the right Pediatrician. The parents in these groups have been through exactly what you’re going through, and their recommendations will be based on those very specific struggles and concerns.
Support groups also exist for first-time parents and mothers, single mothers, parents of very small children, and many other special situations. Many parents find that the recommendations of other parents in the same situation can be much more reliable than broad suggestions found elsewhere.
Trust your gut when meeting with a Pediatrician for the first time. Good communication is essential for a productive relationship, and it’s often hard to communicate effectively with a Pediatrician you don’t get along with. If you feel that you don’t “connect” with a particular doctor, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. Your persistence will pay off in a more open and effective line of communication, which will translate into better and more comprehensive care for your child.
Start the Process Early
You don’t want to be scrambling, once your baby is born, to find a good Pediatrician. Start your search early. Many mothers begin looking for a Pediatrician as soon as they learn that they are pregnant!
While it may seem to be too soon, this is actually the perfect time. You will have time to really think through your options, gather and weigh many different recommendations, and time to meet with as many doctors as you like.
You also give yourself the option of choosing a Pediatrician who will not only treat your baby once he or she is born, BUT will work with you throughout your pregnancy! These are generally specialists in the areas of neonatal and perinatal medicine. This sense of familiarity fosters some of the best doctor-patient relationships, and can put your mind at ease.
Seeing the same doctor throughout your pregnancy and your child’s early years can also foster a sense of trust that’s often lacking in today’s world. Ultimately, it’s better for your child as well.
A doctor, who has known him or her since before their birth, is going to have a much better picture of their history and overall health than a new Pediatrician seeing them for the first time.
What Does a Pediatrician Do?
In the broadest sense, a Pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in children or adolescents. They have gone through all the required schooling for medical doctors, and have completed additional schooling and training in the special needs of children.
What an individual Pediatrician does depends on their chosen specialty. Many Pediatricians see and treat “everyday” issues for the bulk of their practice. Colds, earaches, and sprains are good examples of the common issues which a general Pediatrician may see on a daily basis.
Other Pediatricians choose to specialize. You can find a Pediatrician who has focused their career on neonatal and perinatal medicine. These doctors are highly experienced in, and knowledgeable about, treating expectant mothers and infants. This is a very popular choice of doctor for expectant mothers, especially those who are about to give birth to their first child.
Don’t be Silent or Intimidated
Sadly, many parents who are unhappy with their Pediatricians are too intimidated to speak up or to switch doctors. Since doctors can appear to be intimidating, we tend to think of them as being “larger than life.” Due to this perception, many parents feel too intimidated to speak up if they don’t agree with something the Pediatrician suggests.
While a certain degree of trust in your Pediatrician is necessary and healthy, it’s important to remember that no doctor is omnipotent. They are humans, and humans can make mistakes.
If you disagree or question something your Pediatrician does or recommends, speak up. Watch closely as to how the Pediatrician takes your comments. If they freeze up, act defensively or begin to talk down to you, take this as a red flag.
A good doctor is open-minded and glad to explain things to the parents of patients. A Pediatrician who doesn’t communicate well with their patients’ parents may very well be a brilliant doctor. However, if they can’t effectively communicate the reasons for their actions, they’re likely to make you, as a parent, more concerned than reassured.
If you feel that your Pediatrician is no longer a good fit for you and your child, don’t be afraid to move on. Start the process over again; ask for recommendations, meet with doctors, and find somebody you connect with.
It may seem drastic, and your former Pediatrician is not likely to be thrilled with your decision. Remember, though, that it’s your child that’s being dealt with. You have the right to choose the Pediatrician they see, so don’t be afraid to exercise that right.
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