By Hyacynth Worth

Oftentimes, it’s one of the last things to cross a newly pregnant mother’s mind, but finding the right pediatrician before baby meets the world can help ease the new mom and dad into parenthood by having a trusted practitioner on their side the moment baby arrives. Here’s a guide to finding the right practitioner for your family.

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Read and Talk

Pregnancy is a wonderful time for mom and dad to pick up a few books on parenting and pick the brains of parents they respect. Take time to dig around and see which parenting styles seem to call to your heart and explore the philosophies behind them. If you know some families that have built healthy relationships with their healthy kids, explore what they did to build such strong bonds and bodies. Some questions to consider during pregnancy and then to read about, discuss with your partner and other parents you love:

Will mom nurse the baby? Will she be pumping?

Will vaccinations be given?

Do mom and dad prefer holistic methods or prescription medication?

Of course, many parents may change their philosophies as they learn and experience life with baby, but knowing loosely the answers to these questions will help guide new parents in choose the right pediatrician for their family and parenting styles.

Word on the Street

Once parents know roughly what they hope life with baby will look like in an ideal situation, mom and dad can seek out other parents via parenting messages boards, groups like Mothers of Preschoolers and MOMS clubs and find families who are just a few steps ahead of them – all of whom they can solicit for recommendations based on similarities in parenting styles. A mom who has decided to delay vaccinations would likely glean a lot of good information about local pediatricians who support such a decision. If there are not parenting support groups available locally, new parents can always turn to helpful places on the Internet like Yelp to begin looking for doctor recommendations.

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Checking It All Out

Once parents have a small list of pediatricians who have come with recommendations, mom or dad need to make some phone calls to check out the following:

Is this provider in my insurance network? Do you have a discount for patients without insurance?

Is this doctor taking new patients?

Is this provider located within a reasonable distance to the home? (Driving far with very sick children is rarely anything less than stressful! Remember to take into consideration Chicago and suburban rush-hour and traffic.)

During the initial phone call, was the office staff friendly, encouraging, supportive and happy to answer questions?

Is the pediatrician available for an interview?

Does the pediatrician have a website with more information about his or her practice?

If all questions are followed by suitable answers, schedule a time to meet the physician and conduct a short interview.

Bring it to the Table

Because parents trust a physician to make recommendations for treatments to both routine illnesses and developmental issues as well as guide them quickly through emergency situations, the parents must trust their child’s health care provider. An interview is a great way to make sure you are on the same page about healthcare and parenting styles alike; then during a serious illness or emergency situation, mom and dad’s mind will be at ease in trusting the doctor’s recommendations, as all parties are on the same page. Here are some questions to consider:

Do you see all patients or do you have another doctor or physician’s assistant who regularly attends to patient visits?

Do you have nurses available to speak to me via phone and help me decide if I need to bring baby in for a visit when I am unsure?

Do you have an after-hours call line or paging service?

Do you feel passionately about breastfeeding or formula feeding?

Do you advise patients to take holistic measures or lean more toward prescribing medication?

What is your stance on baby’s best sleep place?

How do you determine a child’s vaccination schedule? Do you support delayed vaccinations?

Do you advise parents to start solids at a specific time or recommend baby-led weaning?

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Do you advise parents to allow baby to cry it out?

Do you feel strongly about any particular parenting styles or methods?

Do you tend to give options for treatments or recommend one way that you think is best?

Do you work out of a specific hospital?

Do you work closely with any other professionals like chiropractors, lactation consultants, allergy specialists, nutritionists, etc.?

While at the office take note of the following:

The friendliness of the staff, nurses and, of course, doctor.

The time spent in the waiting room.

The cleanliness of the toys and rooms.

The office hours.

The general disposition of the practice as a whole.

After interviews, pick the healthcare provider with whom you can best relate and take care of initial paperwork so that there is less to fill out when baby is actually in tow. If after baby is born the relationship doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to part ways and seek a practitioner who supports your parenting styles, choices and decisions.

Hyacynth Worth writes almost daily at Undercover Mother about life, faith, motherhood and boys, as she’s the only girl in a houseful of testosterone. While she wouldn’t say she’s a doctor expert, she’s taken many, many trips to the doctor and emergency room and has been thankful more than a handful of times for the prep work of choosing the right physician for her family.