Baby, Pregnancy

Questions to Ask Pediatrician During Prenatal Visit

Did you know you can schedule an appointment with a pediatrician before your baby is born? Yup, and it’s usually free. Prenatal visits are a great way for you to interview potential pediatricians and find the doctor’s office that fits your family.

How do you know if the office fits you? There are some questions you can ask during the prenatal visit with your pediatrician. These are the questions I used. My pediatrician loved them and asked where I got them.

Number of providers:

It’s important to know if you will have the same doctor everytime you visit the office. Many locations have more than one doctor on hand meaning your child may not always see the same person.

That doesn’t bother me any. Sara has seen a different provider almost everytime she’s gone to the pediatrician’s.

But it is an issue for some people. Some really enjoy the intimacy of seeing the same person at every doctor’s visit. Knowing your preference can help you choose the office that fits.

Office Hours:

Is the office open at times you can take your child to the doctor’s? This is especially important if you work. It’s not always easy to get off work to take your baby in for their appointments. It’s an important consideration for your ease of access.

Outside of Office Hours Care:

I admit I was confused by this one. My first thought was, “If my baby is sick, don’t I take her to the hospital?” Thankfully, my pediatrician explained when I asked.

A pediatrician’s office should have some way for you to contact them outside of normal hours. The contact is not to go in and see someone, but for advice on whether or not the hospital is necessary.

For example, Sara’s office has a nurse hotline after hours. If she gets sick, I can call and ask if we should bring her to the hospital. A good example is a teething fever. When babies teethe, their temperature can increase a little bit. The temperature does not increase to the levels of a real fever.

A nurse can help parents identify in such a case that they don’t need to worry. In other cases, the nurse can inform the parents to go to the hospital.

Consulting with a nurse before going to the hospital can avoid unnecessary alarm and frustration for parents and avoid having non-emergency cases in the ER for hospitals.

Well-Baby Visits:

These are really important. During a well-baby visit, you take your baby in to get their weight checked. Checking weight is the best way to tell if your baby is eating enough and growing properly.

Many pediatrician offices have free well-baby visits, mine included. If the pediatrician you are looking to bring your baby to doesn’t have free well-baby visits, it’s important to check how much of the cost your insurance will cover. If your baby is struggling with weight, well-baby visits will be a weekly affair to check progress.

It is important to note that well-baby visits have strict guidelines. For example, Sara’s pediatrician’s office has a sign up that says any concerns addressed during the well-baby visit that do not fall under the purview of the visit is cause for the parent’s to be charged a fee by law.

The sign also states that if parents have additional concerns, they may schedule a separate appointment to address them with the doctor.

Well-baby visits are meant to be a check-in for weight and growth. They are preventative in nature and not a time to ask about that rash on your baby’s cheek. You need to schedule a separate appointment for that or at least be aware you will likely be charged.

Be sure to understand your office’s policy on well-baby visits and to what extent your insurance covers them (even better if they’re free).

Contact Options:

It’s important to know how to contact your doctor if you have a concern. Do they correspond through email, phone, or a special online service? The doctor’s offices in my area often use an online messaging system that lets patients get in touch with their providers as well as check test results and history of visits.

Breastfeeding Support:

If you plan to breastfeed, you need to know that your pediatrician supports the decision. In addition, it is necessary to know what weight gain chart they use for breastfed babies.

Babies who are bottle-fed gain more weight than breastfed babies. Using the same chart for both makes breastfed babies appear to be behind in growth and that they’re not eating enough.

If you are breastfeeding, be sure to find out if your pediatrician uses the WHO chart for breastfed babies.

It’s also good to know their overall attitude towards breastfeeding. Sara’s office has a policy that if she is in the middle of feeding, they’ll wait to check her vitals and conduct the appointment. They also let me use the exam room when the appointment is finished to feed her before I go home or go on to my next errand.

They never rush us and are very supportive.

Separate Waiting Areas:

Separate waiting areas provide different locations for kids who are sick to wait for their appointments from kids who are well. If you have a baby with a compromised immune system (like a premi or newborn), you’re not going to want your little one near sick kids.

Sick waiting rooms and well-waiting rooms are a preventive measure against spreading sickness.

Vaccinations:

Vaccines are a hot topic, and you should make sure your pediatrician agrees with your vaccine choices. If you don’t plan to vaccinate, is your pediatrician okay with that choice? Some don’t like to expose their patients to unvaccinated kids.

If you plan to adjust the schedule for vaccines, is your pediatrician willing to work with you to find the best schedule?

If you don’t know what to think about vaccines, ask. A good pediatrician will be happy to go over them with you. You can get a head start learning about vaccines here.

Finding the right fit

Finding the right pediatrician before Baby comes can ease a lot of headache in the labor and recovery rooms. When I went to the hospital to give birth to Sara, they wanted to know her pediatrician so they could notify them of the birth.

I couldn’t remember the name of the office, and I knew I wouldn’t. I told them the name was written on the birth plan. It was figured out. It was done. I didn’t have to worry about it.

The hospital notified them and it was my chosen pediatrician who authorized Sara’s release from the hospital. Because I had figured it out beforehand, I knew I trusted the doctor checking her over for release.

Are there any questions I missed that you found important to ask about during your prenatal visit with a pediatrician? Or do you have an experience you’d like to share?

Sources: 

Injoy Health Education. 2017. Understanding Birth A Comprehensive Guide. 10th ed. Injoy Productions, Inc.

Mohrbacher, Nancy and Kathleen A. Kendall-Tackett. 2011. Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

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Laura Endahl
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Laura Endahl

Your site is wonderful and to the point, how I wish I had this when I had my first daughter.  I believe our pediatrician considered building a nursery onto his practice for us to stay in.  LOL

I believe all first time parents tend to be over-cautious.  Were you?  

Thanks for sharing, for your information will soothe many, many moms to be, as well as first time moms!Laura

Leo
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Leo

Hi Nicole. This is one of the best articles read recently. It is very helpful for new income mamas that didn’t have a previous experience on pregnancy. For my personal opinion is crucial the following with the same doctor than changing those each time you make a visit. Especially echos need to be read correctly in order to examine any abnormality.  

Sophia
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Sophia

I wasn’t aware that I was able to meet and greet my pediatrician prior to having a baby! I am the mother of a one year old little boy and we share the same doctor. It just worked out that way because my doctor was my general care practitioner and obstetrician, she is also a Family doctor so its just appropriate in our case that she works with both of us. The clinic we go to is called the Family Health Care Center at the new Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. So everything is really fancy there now and I guess this… Read more »

Sujandar Mahesan
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Sujandar Mahesan

This article is not a really useful for me but I shared this article with my aunt and she said it awesome. She was really happy that I shared it with her. She told me that it had a great sets of information she needed. i should really thank you for writing this article and sharing it with us. 

Taylor
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Taylor

These are some really awesome questions to ask. I don’t have any children yet, so I’m glad I found this article now. I never would’ve thought to ask about their thoughts on breastfeeding, and I had no idea that breastfed babies need a different weight chart. I just assumed it was all the same.

I personally believe that all babies should be vaccinated, but for those parents that do not, it is important to find a doctor that aligns with their beliefs and still works to keep the baby healthy.

Jill
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Jill

Hi Nicole, As a grandmother, I was privileged to attend most of the prenatal visits with my daughter when she was pregnant with her son. More so after he was born, when I attended the postnatal visits. It was so interesting but I know that these were not free of charge.  When my daughter had all her top-up vaccinations against whatever was required as I was to be the primary carer, so I has them as well. It turned out that she could not bear to be without her darling little son so did not return to work until much… Read more »

Billy.W.
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Billy.W.

Hi Nicole,first let me say great work here on the creation of this site.Any blog aimed at becoming a source of information on any topic for folks is a good thing,A reality is society needs alternate sources of information other than mainstream media.I liked this article for the following reasons: 1.great easy to read layout 2.This is written in an easy to read conversational  style. 3.A good section provided on the ever controversial subject of vaccination 4.it is empowering alone just knowing some questions to ask a pediatrician as well as encouraging new moms to find one they like and… Read more »

Daniella
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Daniella

Hi Nicole,

Great article! I really enjoyed the reading!

My children are adult today, but when I was pregnant, I didn’t know that we can have a pediatrician. I was just going to do check up, and that’s all until my babies were born. My younger sister is pregnant, and I think she is not aware of this too. I will share this article with her so she can get informed. 

Thank you for this excellent post!

William
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William

Really nice article, thanks Nicole! I am being newly acquainted with a newborn that just arrived in my family, and as someone who has watched said newborn, I found a lot of nice knowledge bombs, like the fact that prenatal appointments can be scheduled along with many other good tips regarding that topic & others discussed within the article. Also, I personally think this is a great article for first-time expecting couples, as i know that the winding road around a newborn can be not only scary, but confusing. I think this serves as a nice guide for any new… Read more »

Matt's Mom
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Matt's Mom

I never even thought to do this.  But, I will say that it is a GREAT idea.  I ended up with a very strange pediatrician which I won’t go into.  Looking back, it would have saved us a lot of time and heartache had we checked out our pediatrician before hand.  You will have your children with them for 18 years, and you most definitely want to feel comfortable with them.  Great ideas on what questions to ask, and great post!

Norman
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Norman

Hi! Thanks for sharing. There are several interesting points you raise. The first one regards having the same paediatrician for every child visit. I practically grew up with the same doctor, and our children have had the same paediatrician since birth. Of course, on remote occasions when our doctor has been on holiday, we’ve had a different one, but those instances are extremely rare. Call me a worry wart, but I find having the same doctor extremely reassuring. Also living in Switzerland, breast-feeding is highly recommended and supported over formula. It’s almost considered wrong not to breastfeed, as a matter… Read more »

Mary Ann
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Mary Ann

This is a well put together article with lots of valid information. Back in the day, when my kids were born, I sure could have used this information. I think I ‘winged’ it a lot with mine. This is a great guide for new moms, from being comfortable with their pediatrician right down to discussions on vaccines. Your article will put a lot of moms’ – and dads’ – minds at ease knowing the right type of questions to ask. Thanks for sharing!

marlasmith
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marlasmith

You have some very good points and I feel that having your pediatrician picked out prior to the birth is a great idea.  That will reduce the amount of stress that you are already feeling.  Two of your points I found expecially helpful.  I like the idea of finding a doctor that has after hours help line.  There are many things new parents stress about, and having a cool minded and experienced person to check with before racing off to the ER is great.  It will also save you money if they feel you don’t need to go.  I also… Read more »

Barbara
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Barbara

Hi, Nicole! This is a great article for new mamas. I remember I had a ton of questions and lots of books where I was searching for answers. Being a nurse, I think I had more questions. But, thank God, everything was just perfect! We had one pediatrician throughout the entire period. She was the best doctor ever. I think she was smiling even she was asleep.

You’ve provided a lot of useful information for new parents.

Barbara

Alenka
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Alenka

Hi and thank you for this really informative post. What a great idea to visit your baby’s pediatrician even before the baby is born! It takes the stress out of the first visits with the baby, for sure.  When I had my babies, we were very lucky to get a lovely doctor who was very understanding. Also very patient with a new mother of twins…crying twins…  We also have the section for the children who are sick and the other for the children who are well, but are there for their vactinations etc. This is a great idea, and worked… Read more »

Daniel
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Daniel

This is great article Nicole. My wife and I was going to some pediatricians but we were not satisfied with their job. I will share this post with my wife and we will make a list of questions when we go to the next doctor. I think that it is very important to know which doctor cure our babies and moms.

BEazzy Shifts
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BEazzy Shifts

Hello Nicole. Thank you for sharing this article. We’ve not had our first baby yet. These are really smart questions to ask Pediatrician during Prenatal visit. Would make my wife (mMJ) look smart too. Never thought about these questions before now. These questions can really save time, enable proper planning and reduce stress. Thank you Smart Nicole 🙂

Ngonidzashe Manzwangani
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Ngonidzashe Manzwangani

Honestly, you helped me so much by providing this article, its like you were reading my mind. As I speak, we are preparing to go to see Pediatrician tomorrow, my wife is 5 months pregnant and it she is having some complications. Questions like contact options and  outside of office hours were missing on questions list. Thank you so much for such great info.  

Ruben
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Ruben

I am a father of three, two boys and a girl. I think is very important to have a trusted pediatrician to check your children. If you are new to maternity, you should ask your friends or family about their experience with their children´s doctor, and pick the one you think is best for you.  In my case, our chosen pediatrician did the well-baby checks, for a fee, and we could call him outside the office hours if our kids got sick. We could take our children to the doctors home to check on them. This is very useful when… Read more »