This is such an exciting time in your life! By now you probably already know if you are having a boy or a girl, have a list of potential names, and have figured out everything you will need for the upcoming baby arrival.
Is there something you could have possibly overlooked?… Have you already picked the baby’s pediatrician? I know you are busy during this nesting period, but it is a crucial aspect of the preparation.
Choosing the ideal pediatrician and office practice for your baby is essential to ensuring a head start. Most pediatricians offer expectant moms the opportunity to come visit, meet them, and ask questions.
What is a prenatal visit?
A prenatal visit is a scheduled visit at the pediatrician’s office which provides the opportunity for you to meet the pediatrician, their staff, and visit the office facilities. During this visit, the pediatrician will gather essential information about your current pregnancy and answer all the questions you might have.
When is the best time for a prenatal visit?
You can schedule the prenatal visit any time during your pregnancy. Most expectant moms arrange for this visit during the third trimester, between 32-36 weeks. Don’t wait too long, or you might end up having the baby before meeting the pediatrician.
What is typically covered during this visit?
- During this visit the pediatrician will ask many questions regarding your pregnancy, past pregnancies, and past medical history in order to identify any potential risks for the baby.
- The pediatrician will also ask about what hospital you will be delivering at and what type of delivery you are planning for.
- Other topics for discussion are the typical length of stay at the hospital, hearing and newborn screenings done prior to discharge, first immunization, and the proper safety car seat installation.
- The pediatrician will discuss with you several other topics including bringing your newborn home, breastfeeding, typical newborn issues, typical newborn care, newborn safety, the recommended well checkup schedule, and immunizations.
- The pediatrician might use this opportunity to point out factors that could be a concern for the future like how to recognize postpartum depression or parental fatigue and will inquire about the family dynamics and support system.
How to prepare for this visit?
Most expectant moms show up for this visit and are not sure what to ask. I totally get it, how are you supposed to know what to ask if the baby is not born yet?
Well, there’s a lot of information besides what’s listed above that you might want to know before signing up for this pediatrician or pediatric practice.
Questions you must ask during the prenatal visit:
Are you board certified? How long have you been in practice?
What are the office hours? Is the office opened during weekends?
The last thing you want is to bring your healthy newborn to the doctor office and expose the baby to an illness. That’s why it is important to ask about the office facilities. Do they have a separate waiting room for newborns? Is there a separate waiting room for sick and well visits?
How can you get in contact with the pediatrician after hours or during the weekend?
Do you have hospital privileges? If so, will you be seeing my baby at the hospital or is there is a coverage system in place.
What happens if my baby is born during the weekend?
If you plan to breastfeed, ask about what kind of support you will receive from the office. Do they have a lactation consultant in house to support you through this new and sometimes difficult experience?
If you are on the fence about breastfeeding, this is the perfect chance to learn more about it and why it is beneficial to the baby.
If you have decided not to breast feed, ask if they will be supportive of your decision without passing any judgement on you.
These are just some sample questions, get inspired and come up with your own list…and don’t forget to bring your questions to the appointment.
Why are prenatal visits important?
It is imperative that you feel comfortable with the person who will be taking care of your child. During this visit you can get the feel for the pediatrician’s style of practicing, believes and biases.
The prenatal visit is a chance to start building a relationship with the pediatrician and the office staff before the baby’s arrival. Consider the prenatal visit as the footing for a trustful, long lasting relationship that will hopefully last for the next 18-21 years.
What if I can’t physically make it to the prenatal visit?
If an in person prenatal visit is not possible, expectant moms can initiate contact with their baby’s future pediatrician by calling the office and requesting any/all paperwork that is required in order to join the practice. Also, you can inquire about the possibility of a phone visit with the pediatrician.
Who can benefit the most from a prenatal visit?
Prenatal visits are particularly important for:
- First time moms
- Experienced moms, but a long time has elapsed since your last delivery.
- High risk pregnancies
- Parents expecting more than one baby (ex; twins/triplets)
- New family to the practice
- New adoptive parents
- New foster parents
If you are new to town, how can you find a reliable pediatrician?
Currently, it’s all about online searches and reviews, but please don’t disregard your family’s, friends’, and OB-GYN’s recommendations. Ask around town whom they think would be the best fit for you and your family.
Are prenatal visits covered by insurance?
Even though there’s ample evidence that these visits are beneficial to the infant, most insurances do not cover for it. I believe the prenatal visit is extremely important, which is why I provide this service free of charge.
About 80% of pediatricians offer prenatal visits, but only around 35 % of expectant moms take advantage of this informative and preventative visit. If you are pregnant and are not established with a pediatrician yet, please consider scheduling a prenatal visit with the pediatrician of your choice.