A doctor (OB-GYN)

Choosing an OB-GYN – 12 Essential Questions That May Help You Getting the Best Pregnancy Doctor

What is an OB-GYN?

An OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynaecologist) is a pregnancy doctor who will be taking care of you during your pregnancy journey until after the process of delivering the baby. A good OB-GYN can answer your questions about pregnancy, sex, reproductive health, infertility, and other various related topics.

According to medicalnewstoday.com below are the procedures that an OB-GYN can perform;

  • Cesarean delivery (c-section)
  • Hysterectomy
  • Ovarian cysts removal
  • Surgery to repair pelvic organ injuries

An OB-GYN can also perform routine procedures such as;

  • Pap smear tests
  • STI tests
  • Fertility treatments
  • Infertility treatments and counselling
  • Breast exams and health management
What is the difference between OB-GYN and gynaecology?

Many people misunderstand this and think that OB-GYN and gynaecology are the same thing. They are different. An OB-GYN has mastered two specialties – obstetrics and gynaecology, while gynaecologists specialize in gynaecology only.

Why do you need the right OB-GYN?

Besides your spouse, your OB-GYN will be your new best friend during your pregnancy journey. A good prenatal care is an important ingredient in making a healthy baby and mom. You’ll want to choose an OB-GYN who will provide not just sound medical advice but who is patient and willing to listen to your concerns.

Questions to help determine the right one

So, what questions you need to ask before deciding which OB-GYN is the right one for you?

#1 – Should you choose the hospital first, before choosing OB-GYN?

Different doctors work in different hospitals and they understand the needs of their patients better, so it is better not to go for a hospital first. Instead, choose an OB-GYN who works at that particular hospital.

#2 – Do you prefer a male or female obstetrician?

The majority of women prefer to have a female OB-GYN in case they are uncomfortable discussing their medical conditions with someone of the opposite gender. However, there are some women who are more comfortable with male doctors, so you need to make this decision for yourself. If you're not sure which one would be better for you, then your family doctor will be able to help you out in case they know anyone that is looking for an OB-GYN. It's also important to note that most patients end up being satisfied with their choice because the relationship between them and their OB-GYN helps them feel more at ease during some pretty critical moments of their lives.

#3 – What do other mummies think of him/her?

This is an important question to ask, especially if trying to find a good doctor via word-of-mouth referrals from friends. You may not have access or know anyone who has given birth in the hospitals your doctor practices at - never fear!

You can use online resources such as local mommy forums and Facebook groups to see how other mummies rate their doctors.

If you are still in doubt after going through what people have to say about them, go ahead and personally interview a couple of your shortlisted doctors. Ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable with this person? Does s/he address all my concerns well? Is s/he sensitive enough when dealing with patients that come from diverse backgrounds?

#4 – Do you feel comfortable interacting with him/her?

Once you meet with the doctor, ask yourself this; do you feel comfortable about the language of communication? Is she/he too busy to interact with you? Or do they have time for you? Language is another factor that contributes to your ease of interaction. If English is not your first or native language, it may be advisable to choose someone who speaks your language. A good doctor should make every attempt to make sure he/she communicates well and makes the patients understand what treatment, if any, they need.

#5 – Does the OB-GYN supportive of natural birth?

A woman's body needs time after each contraction to allow the uterus to relax between contractions; otherwise, bleeding may occur. A woman's body also needs time to prepare for another contraction; otherwise, she could become exhausted.

An OB-GYN who respects the laboring woman will allow her to move around as much as possible and support whatever position she adopts for herself; whether upright, walking, squatting, sitting, kneeling or on hands and knees. If you want all these things during labor (or any of them), then look for a doctor who doesn't force women into bed or one who will honor your wishes if you say no to medical procedures.

Remember, almost all births are normal - even those few which may involve obstetric intervention.

#6 – Does the obstetrician supportive of alternative methods like water birthing or hypnobirthing?

Some OB-GYN will support your decision to deliver your baby in a pool or at home using hypnobirthing method. If this type of delivery seems acceptable to you then there shouldn't be any problem with choosing a doctor supportive of these methods.

If, instead, the idea of having the baby in water makes you feel nervous for some reason - even if it has been proven to reduce pain during birth - or if someone close to you doesn't want you to use alternative birthing methods because it's what they believe in, then chances are that you should find another doctor.

After all, you and your unborn baby will be the ones enduring this experience and you should definitely try to feel as comfortable as possible with those who are going to attend the birth. And if having someone close by whose opinions matter to you makes you feel more secure then it is totally fine that they come along as well since they'll be there to support and help you in any way needed throughout labor.

#7 – Do you have pre-existing medical conditions, and does the obstetrician have experience in handling possible complications?

You don't want to go to an OB-GYN who is new to the job, or has no experience in certain conditions you are already aware of. Even if they are kind and caring, all doctors have their own limitations both physically and emotionally, and you should know about them before committing yourself.

Every doctor should have at least some experience before starting your OB-GYN, but it is also important to make sure that the doctor you choose has encountered these situations. It is not part of their training because no one expects emergencies to happen, but only the people who are prepared for them will know what to do when these unexpected instances arise. You need a doctor who doesn't panic or freeze even in critical moments.

#8 – Which hospital or health facility will he/she deliver in?

Now we’re talking about the hospital or health facility. OB-GYNs are generally free to provide antenatal care in any hospital or facility they see fit. There is no legal obligation for them to deliver in the hospital where they are registered. This means it is up to you, as a client, to find out which hospitals your preferred OB-GYN plans on delivering at during your pregnancy.

#9 – How far and long are you willing to travel to get to his/her clinic?

The time and distance you need to travel to get to your doctor is influenced by where you live and will ultimately dictate which doctors are in the vicinity of your home. If you live in a rural area, finding a doctor close by may be difficult.

You may also currently have insurance that only covers care within a certain geographical region (possibly due to the insurer's business arrangement with specific physicians or hospitals). You cannot change insurance companies until you finish your pregnancy, so if this kind of policy applies, ask potential OB-GYN near you whether they accept it and how much they charge for their services (the rate may be lower than what is available elsewhere).

#10 – What is the waiting time in the hospital/clinic?

This is actually one of the most important things to consider. You don't want to be that patient who has her baby at a General Hospital because it only takes them 1-2 hours for registration when you're already about to go into labour, do you? The last thing you'd want is having your unborn baby stuck in the middle of a crowded obstetrics ward waiting for an available bed. It's best to consider hospitals that have adequate facilities and technology, and also well-trained staff.

#11 – What service and precautions does the hospital policy have regarding COVID-19?

You want to make sure that your doctor is aware of COVID-19 (otherwise known as the virus), and that he/she follows the guidelines set by the hospital policy. These include rescheduling pregnant patients with confirmed COVID-19 tests, offering terminations for those who are suspicious of infection, requiring STD/STI panels before pregnancies begin, and ensuring quick access to help (in case you experience any issues).

#12 – What are the costs and payment terms?

According to wise.com, Singapore offers maternity packages and subsidies for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents.

Instead of paying per visit, you’ll pay a lump sum that covers a variety of appointments and treatments you’ll have. Prenatal packages are offered by most gynaecologists, and they tend to cost anywhere from S$1,500 to S$2,000. Singaporean citizens and permanent residents can deduct costs from prenatal care for their first 4 children. The costs depend on what type of maternity package you use and whether you give birth in a public or private hospital. It varies between S$5,000-8,000 for regular birth, and between S$8,000 – 13,000 for c-section.

Now, before you choose your doctor, check what kind of payment is expected. The fee schedule can be different from one place to another and they could include:

  • An initial consultation cost – this includes the time spent with the doctor and all associated costs such as medical tests and medications that may or not be required during that visit
  • An annual exam cost
  • Cost of specialist visits - usually a percentage on top of the total fees charged by the specialist about 5-10% depending on your insurance plan, but sometimes it could reach 15%
  • Cost of giving birth
  • Cost of amniocentesis test – it depends on location and type of facility, but this is usually covered by insurance companies
  • Sonograms costs – plus additional fees for transvaginal procedures.
Conclusion

Having a baby is one of the best experiences in life, but it's your body that takes the brunt of the load. Do yourself a favour, and find a doctor who has had plenty of experience with women before you take on this daunting task. The more c-sections they have done, the better; even if they are due to forceps, vacuum extraction or other measures (especially during difficult labors).

Also make sure they can offer epidurals for pain relief; you don't want to be suffering needlessly through labor pains without medication. Ask around, and find out where this doctor ranks in your area (or city), then decide whether or not you want to go with him/her.

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