You’re pregnant. You’re getting more and more excited to meet your baby, but you’re starting to have second thoughts about your doctor or OB practice. Maybe they discouraged your birth plan, don’t seem to share your philosophy, or made you feel like you weren’t heard or respected. Or maybe you just want to explore some options you didn’t realize you had when you signed up for care, like delivery in a birth center or with midwives in the hospital.
Whatever your reason for switching – or even just exploring – remember that it is common to change providers and that it doesn’t need to be complicated. You deserve to feel respected, informed, and supported in your choices.
Below are some helpful tips if you are interested in changing your prenatal care provider.
You’ll need your prenatal records, but you don’t have to let on that you’re looking.
You are entitled to a complete copy of your medical records. Practices are used to providing copies, not just in the case of patients switching providers, but also for insurance and other personal reasons. You can feel free to request records even if you’re not sure you want to break up with your current provider. Having your medical information while you explore your options will help you discuss with the potential new provider any specifics about your care.
You have options for navigating the break-up.
It can feel a bit sticky to tell your provider you’re considering someone else. You get to chose between leaving quietly or openly telling your provider. If you want to avoid the awkwardness, you can request your records and cancel appointments through a patient portal, call the front desk, or have your new provider request them on your behalf. If you feel comfortable telling the provider you are switching, go for it. Providers understand that this is common and may be interested in understanding your reasons so they can improve their care in the future. Don’t stress about “feeling bad” for your provider – switching is very common and providers want their clients to feel comfortable.
Sooner is better, but later is usually fine, too.
Transferring to a new practice earlier in your pregnancy is best, but most practices will accept transferring clients well into the third trimester. Don’t be afraid to switch even if you are farther along, especially if you’re seeking a different birth experience.
Keep it simple – no need for duplicate exams and procedures.
Your new care provider shouldn’t need to perform the same physical exam that you had at the start of your prenatal care, or repeat labs and ultrasounds. Ask your new provider to review notes from earlier in your prenatal care. Keep in mind though that your new group may recommend additional testing, or may want to repeat parts of the physical exam if there are any medical concerns.
Save your money for the baby – switching groups shouldn’t cost you.
Switching to a new practice shouldn’t increase your out-of-pocket expenses. If you pre-paid your current practice for visits you don’t intend to keep, they should be able to issue you a refund when you switch. You should only pay for visits you’ve already had. Your new group will charge you for the remaining visits in your pregnancy, and the birth and postpartum care, and should be able to provide an estimate of these costs as you start care with them.
If you’re changing practices because your insurance is changing, you’ll usually have to meet the deductible for your new plan before your insurance kicks in. This could mean that your total out-of-pocket cost goes up, but towards the end of the year, it’ll even out when all those pediatrician visits are covered.
Focus on good communication.
Check in with your new doctor or midwife about the kind of relationship you are expecting to have with them. Be clear about what you are seeking and be an active participant in your care. You will have fewer visits to get to know your new team, so communication about your health and your needs is key.
If you are interested in changing providers to the physicians or midwives at Baby+Company, contact us! We look forward to talking with you.