The relationship between a pregnant woman and her doctor is an intimate one — or at least, it should be. You bring the body, the baby and the energy to birth, and the doctor or midwife brings the knowledge to ensure a safe delivery. Seeing the wrong care provider during pregnancy can leave you feeling trapped, nervous and worried. No woman should ever feel like that. Well, guess what? You really don’t have to.
How do you know if you really need to break up with your care provider? There really is no set reason, action or feeling that will make a change necessary for every woman. It’s a private thing, something that only you can know. And when you know, you know.
Real moms weigh in
For Kate Burch, director of communication at the Price College of Business of the University of Oklahoma, the decision to change came when her doctor make an insensitive, hurtful and rude comment. “I broke up with my ob/gyn when I was 22 weeks pregnant with my first daughter. I was leaking amniotic fluid, and he told me that if I was under 20 weeks, he would do an abortion. You just don’t use the word ‘abortion’ with a pregnant woman. Naturally, I was freaked out and upset, and I found another [ob/gyn] who was willing to take me on,” says Kate.
It was a difference of birthing philosophies that led Madelin Zero to break up with her longtime doctor. “He had been my doctor for 7 years, and I loved him. But when I finally forced him to discuss his views on natural childbirth, he grew red faced and angry. He said to me through clenched teeth, ‘Childbirth is very painful,'” said Madelin.
Sometimes, the reason for the break up is more instinctive. That was the case for Karen Shopoff Rooff, a certified personal trainer (balancepft.com) from Austin, Texas. “Throughout the pregnancy, I felt less and less comfortable with the [midwife]. It was clear we weren’t communicating well and had different expectations. I kept trying to tell myself that it would all be okay in the end,” she says, “but I couldn’t shake the bad feeling I had each time I saw her.”
“Finally, on the day before 34 weeks, two different people — neither of whom I knew well– told me that they felt they needed to tell me about some less-than-positive experiences they each had with her. I took that as a sign that I could no longer ignore my feelings, and I needed to make a change,” says Karen. She found a new midwife who made her far more comfortable.
When you aren’t getting what you need or want from your doctor, or when she isn’t supporting your decisions, it’s time for a change. Ask other moms and moms-to-be for advice, scour the web and do some legwork until you find the right one. Then, make sure the practice will take you on as a patient.
Once you are accepted, call your old doctor’s office and have your records transferred over to the new office. Finally, do the deed: Either call your old doctor’s office or write a letter letting him know that you won’t be needing his services any longer. This can be hard, but ultimately it’s necessary. And really, if you are afraid to share this with him for fear of the reaction, then you have definitely made the right decision.
When is the right time?
Having the same doctor throughout pregnancy is best, of course. If you’ve already made sure that your beliefs line up with your doctor’s, you’re ahead of the game. However, sometimes you find out later that the care provider you trusted just isn’t the right one for you. No matter how far along in your pregnancy, it’s okay to find a new provider. Ultimately, you want the best experience possible — and if your provider isn’t offering that, then you should make the change.
>> Another take: I hate my doctor. Can I change?
Even if you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, you can still make a change if something just isn’t sitting well. That’s what happened to Karla Trotman, owner of bellybuttonboutique.com. She was just 1 week from her due date when she had an appointment with a doctor at her practice whom she knew but hadn’t seen during her pregnancy. He read through her chart and asked why she was aiming for a VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean).
When she told him, she was shocked by his response. “The doctor then said, ‘If you thought recovering from a c-section was bad, try recovering from a ruptured uterus.’ He then berated my decision and went on to tell me about all of the complications associated with VBACs, but never said a thing about the complications of a c-section. I was in tears. I felt disrespected, and I refused to chance having him deliver my baby,” says Karla.
>> Also see VBAC: Choosing your caregiver
Despite being so close to her due date, Karla set out to ensure that doctor wouldn’t attend her birth. First, she told the practice she didn’t want him there. When they couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t be on call, she looked elsewhere, asking her doula for a recommendation. “I didn’t have much time, so I called a new doctor and explained my situation. She practiced boutique-style medicine. They didn’t accept insurance for the office visits; instead, they charge an annual membership. She accepted me as a patient. From the first visit, I knew that I had made the right decision,” says Karla. She ended up with the birth she wanted and a much better experience.
Tell us: Did you switch doctors during your pregnancy? Comment below!