September 7, 2008

Ask the Right Questions to Find Your OB ; Consider Each Doctor’s Practices and Personality.


Your obstetrician is there to make sure you and your baby are healthy from conception to delivery. That's why choosing the right doctor is important.

"You want to choose an obstetrician with a practice style and personality that you're going to find compatible with you," said Mark Grant, maternal-fetal specialist at the Center for Maternal- Fetal Care.

"There is no way to get that information other than to speak with other women who have had their delivery with various doctors in town."

That means asking not just about doctors, but also the hospitals and nurses.

"Talk to people who have delivered at various institutions and compare experiences," Grant said.

Web sites such as and can give you information such as hospital affiliation, board certification and any state or federal disciplinary actions. Some also list patient feedback on topics such as ease of making emergency appointments, friendliness of staff and bedside manner.

Check to see whether an obstetrician is board-certified, meaning he or she has passed a medical specialty examination, or board- eligible, meaning the doctor qualifies to take the examination.

Also, ask who will do the delivery if your physician is unavailable.

"Most OBGYNs are going to deliver 50 to 70 percent of the women they've been providing care for," Grant said. "A physician cannot be available 100 percent of the time. Some catch more, some catch less."

If you are concerned about avoiding a C-section, ask about your obstetrician's C-section rate, which can vary considerably by physician, Grant said.

In addition to checking into your obstetrician, you might also check that your ultrasound facility is credentialed through an organization such as the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, Grant said.

Some common scans include:

- The crown-rump length is usually the first prenatal ultrasound, performed during the first checkup at six to 12 weeks. This scan checks the length of the baby from the top of its head to the end of its tailbone, which helps determine your baby's age.

- The nuchal-translucency scan, performed at 111/2 to 121/2 weeks, allows your doctor to assess the fold at your baby's neck, which helps look for early signs of chromosomal problems such as Down syndrome or heart defects. This scan also might be accompanied by a blood test.

- The morphology scan is done at 18 to 20 weeks. This scan gives a good look at all your baby's anatomy, assesses growth and determines whether you're having a boy or a girl.

- The fetal echocardiogram, performed at 22 to 24 weeks, is only performed if there's reason to believe the baby might have a heart defect.

- The biophysical profile is just a checkup. Women 35 or older or those with diabetes, high blood pressure or other risk factorsmight start getting these scans weekly in the third trimester.

- 3D/4D ultrasounds are fetal portraits and videos taken at about 28 to 32 weeks. These scans are not a diagnostic tool, so insurance companies won't cover them. However, they provide eager parents a clear, detailed sneak peek.

Reach Caroline Dohack at (573) 815-1727 or [email protected]

Originally published by CAROLINE DOHACK of the Tribune's staff.

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