During my first pregnancy, I switched from my OB/GYN to a midwife practice.
Sometimes there are warning signs that indicate you should change pregnancy doctors.
There may be a doctor who has been a great OB/GYN for you, but is not the person you want delivering your baby. They may not accommodate the birth location or experience you desire.
Or you may be moving to a different region prior to giving birth and simply have no choice but to find someone new.
Whatever your reason(s) for changing doctors, you want to make sure you choose a new doctor that will work out well. And you want to have a smooth transition.
Based on my experience with changing doctors, as well as having worked in a doctor’s office for several years, here are the 9 steps I’ve discovered you need to take to switch pregnancy doctors.
Note: While I often use the terms ‘pregnancy doctor’ or ‘OB/GYN’, the same steps and principles apply with switching to a new midwife.
The reason I put this as the #1 tip is because the farther you are in your pregnancy, the more of a challenge you’re going to have finding a pregnancy doctor who will accept you as a new patient.
The fact is, not all OB/GYN practices accept new patients once they get to a certain point in pregnancy. Every medical practice has different policies in this regard, but this is a common issue for women in later pregnancy wanting to switch.
It’s better for you to switch as early as you can for your sake too. The earlier you change doctors, the sooner you can get to know the person/staff who will handle your prenatal care and ultimately deliver your baby.
This also gives the new doctor(s) a chance to get to know you, and your medical history & personal needs. Then they can best handle with full knowledge any situation that arises.
So if you’re serious about switching, don’t procrastinate, (like I did.) Instead, start taking these steps right now, so you can find a qualified doctor or midwife to switch to.
Before switching to a new OB/GYN, you’ll want to first determine what you need/want out of your new pregnancy doctor.
Is it because you’re moving and don’t have a choice, except to find someone new?
Are you uncomfortable with the practices and policies of your current doctor?
Does your OB/GYN not accommodate the birth plan you desire or the facility or location where you want to deliver?
Take a minute and write down what is not working, any deal breakers, and what you need out of your new pregnancy doctor.
For myself, I wanted to change doctors because my current OB/GYN didn’t deliver where I wanted to go. And one of the doctors there was really rude to me. This doctor walked in the door yelling at me the first time I met her, called my baby ‘the alien inside of me’, and said my baby’s brain wasn’t going to develop because of my diet, even though the nutritionist there told me what I was eating was healthy. (And that’s not even all of the negative things she said to me that day.)
Your reasons are no doubt different than mine, but whatever they are, write them down.
If your #1 concern is where you deliver, (and you aren’t looking to have a home birth,) birth facilities and hospitals will often provide a list of the doctors & midwives who can deliver there, if you ask.
Friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors, (who are moms,) are all good people to ask. Ask specific questions that pertain to what you’re looking for in a doctor.
While not all online information or opinions are truthful or relevant, it can be good to read online reviews and see what other moms have said about them.
Keep in mind that some online reviews may be from patients who didn’t actually give birth. Unless it’s a place that only specializes in pregnancy, there are going to be other women who go to that OB/GYN for check-ups or other issues besides prenatal care.
Experienced doulas who have worked in a region for a while will eventually get to know the typical policies and practices of different OB/GYNs and midwives.
Doulas are present at deliveries at different places with different doctors, so they can be a wealth of knowledge. If you tell your doula what you want and don’t want when it comes to your prenatal care and delivery, they can likely point you in the direction of what you’re looking for.
If you didn’t do this in the previous step, find out where the new midwife/OB/GYN delivers.
Delivery location is one of the biggest factors that will affect your labor and birth experience.
Of course, the health of you and your baby plays a big part in how your birth goes. But the location you deliver at has a big impact on your labor & delivery experience.
There‘s a big difference in choosing a midwife who will assist your birth at home versus a doctor who delivers in hospital. And there are also birth centers that have an atmosphere somewhat in between that of a hospital & home birth.
Different hospitals have different atmospheres, policies, and procedures that’ll affect your labor and delivery. I personally switched to a midwife practice that allowed me to labor in a jacuzzi at the hospital they deliver at. (The hospital where my first OB/GYN delivers allows women to labor in a shower, but not a jacuzzi.)
Choosing a delivery location that’s a good fit for you, (and a health care provider who delivers where you want to go,) is a decision you don’t want to take lightly.
In our free 5-day Pregnant & Prepared email course, (which you can quickly sign up for here,) on Day 4 we share more tips about delivery locations. (Day 4’s free printables include a workbook & maternity tour questions to ask.)
It’s important to ensure that the new OB/GYN facility and the specific doctor you’ll see, (along with the facility/location they deliver at,) all accept new patients with your insurance.
It’s possible for a doctor to ‘technically’ participate with your insurance company/plan, but for them to not accept new patients with your insurance.
In general, not all doctors accept new patients all of the time, or continue to accept new patients with certain plans, especially if they‘re already overbooked with their current load of patients.
Additionally, as I mentioned in step #1, some physicians/practices don’t accept new patients once they’re in later pregnancy.
So always check about these things first.
If you‘re considered too late in pregnancy to switch to a new OB/GYN (by their policies,) but you have extenuating circumstances, make sure you explain these.
For instance, if you’re moving into a new area, if you last doctor died or retired, or your OB/GYN is no longer delivering at a location near you, etc., let the staff member you speak to know, and specifically ask them to check with a supervisor or doctor there because of your situation.
Granted, there’s no guarantee they’ll see you, but it certainly can’t hurt to ask. Sometimes doctors make exceptions to their own policies when someone has a unique situation where they absolutely need a new doctor.
Once you’ve determined a new OB/GYN takes your insurance and will accept you for how far along you are in your pregnancy, make an appointment.
If you’re already positive this OB/GYN is where you want switch to, you can likely make an appointment while you’re still on the phone with them (when you do the previous step.) But you’ll need to make sure you have your insurance information on hand to schedule your first appointment.
Once you’ve set up your first prenatal visit with your new OB/GYN, (or they’ve assured you that you can make an appointment once they have your records,) complete a written medical records request with your current OB/GYN. This way, they’ll send all of your medical records and test results to the new pregnancy doctor.
Note that some OB/GYN facilities will not schedule your first visit until they first obtain all your prenatal records.
Sometimes your new OB/GYN will provide you with a form to fill out and sign that they will fax over themselves. Or you can do this directly with your current doctor’s office by completing a written request with them.
It’s very important they have this information either way. And it’s common for medical practices to allow a certain time frame to process medical records requests.
Depending on the local laws and policies of your specific OB/GYN’s office, it may very well be a week, 10 business days, or longer, before your new doctor receives your records.
If your current OB/GYN has a patient portal, you may be able to print out some/all of these records yourself. It is possible, though, that the new pregnancy doctor will still require an official medical records request to ensure they receive all of the records.
If you know your insurance plan doesn’t require a referral, or for you to contact them with the name of your OB/GYN provider, simply disregard this step and move on to the next one.
Depending on what type of insurance you have, some policies require a patient’s primary care physician to submit a referral through the insurance company for certain specialty doctors. (Or your insurance may require you contact them and list on file with the insurance the OB/GYN you have.)
Where I live in the US, most insurance plans don’t require this. But some do. (And this can change from year to year, even with the same plan, so that’s why I’m mentioning this.)
Your insurance card may indicate this, or you can simply give them a call to ask, if you’re unsure.
If your insurance does require a referral, it’s possible the new OB/GYN won’t allow you to schedule until this has been obtained.
Either way, if it is required, you’ll want your primary doctor to do this with the insurance asap. And the referral start date needs to be on or before your first appointment.
Insurances that require a referral won’t pay for visits requiring a referral if it hasn’t been obtained.
Note that if you need an insurance referral, this is different than a referral form your doctor prints out that just says you are referred to a new physician. An insurance referral usually needs to be processed through your insurance company. It often includes a start date, an end date, and a confirmation number, (depending on your insurance.)
The US Department of Health and Human Services stresses the importance of keeping all of the recommended prenatal visits and “all the medical tests that your doctor or midwife recommends.”
So don’t cancel or stop scheduling appointments with your current OB/GYN until you are able to get an appointment with your new pregnancy doctor.
Try to make your first visit with the new doctor in the normal timeline you need to be seen.
For example, imagine you have a prenatal appointment today and your current OB/GYN has you going to prenatal appointments every 2 weeks.
If you can’t get an appointment with the new doctor for 4 weeks, you’ll want to schedule another visit with your current OB/GYN 2 weeks from now. And of course, you’d also want to keep or schedule any testing/ultrasound visits you’d need between that time.
Those are the 9 steps you need to take to change your OB/GYN or midwife during pregnancy. By carefully researching and finding a new OB/GYN, making sure they’ll accommodate you into their schedule, and getting all the details straightened out, you can have a smooth transition.
If you haven’t completed the rest of your pregnancy preparations, sign up for our free Pregnant & Prepared email course here. We’ll send you pregnancy tips and printables to help you prepare for your baby for the next 5 days. And you’ll get Day 1 as soon as you sign up.
Have a great day, and thanks for reading!
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