The decision to change doctors or midwives is never easy, particularly during pregnancy. Though sometimes there comes a point when you realize that neither you nor your practitioner are happy and that you need to find someone who can provide you with the care that you need and deserve in pregnancy.
There are many reasons why you might decide that you need a different doctor. Some of the reasons that women share include:
- Practitioner doesn’t listen (poor communication)
- You don’t like how you are treated
- Too many doctors in the practice
- Not enough time is spent with you
- Different philosophies of birth
- Found another practitioner you like better
- Disagreements on treatment practices
- Issues with office staff or insurance
- Very long waits for appointments
- Your practitioner leaves practice or no longer does births
The first thing you should try to do is to resolve the issue with your midwife or doctor. Explain the problem and search for a resolution together. This may not always be possible. If you find yourself in a situation where you have tried and things still aren’t working out, it is time for a change.
- Interview other practitioners.
Go back to your original list of questions and find others to interview. Perhaps you had a second choice when you originally selected this doctor. If you’ve already interviewed them, you might simply select them off the bat.
- Make a decision on which one you will chose.
Call to see if the practice is accepting new patients and takes your insurance. Sometimes, at the end of pregnancy you may have a harder time switching practices. Usually you can get in if you talk to the office manager or practitioner and explain the situation.
- Notify your old practice.
Once you’re ready to leave, you will need to notify your old practice. You can do this in writing or via a phone call. Be sure to cancel any previously scheduled appointments well enough in advance to prevent missed appointment fees.
- Get a copy of your medical records.
You will need to request, in writing, a copy of your medical records. You can chose to hand carrying these records or to have them sent directly to your new practitioner. State laws may vary slightly but they cannot refuse you your records, they can, however, charge you for them. This is usually a slight copying fee and in many states the first copy is free. This can be done in person or have them fax, email or mail you the form they need you to fill out.
- Start seeing your new practitioner.
Be sure to make an appointment with the new practitioner. Depending on how far along your are in your pregnancy, the timing may not be convenient if they are working you in.
You may or may not decide to let your old practice know why you have left their services. If you think that you would feel better or that they would learn from it, you may decide to send them a letter. Many women never hear back from their old practices. Though occasionally they will get a letter or a call. Decide in advance how you will handle that and be prepared for it, in case it happens.
While switching doctors is never easy, so many moms have done it before and are very glad that they did. One mom said that she had considered waiting until her next baby but then asked herself, “Doesn’t this baby deserve the best I can offer?”