Choosing an OB/GYN can be stressful, especially if you’re pregnant with your first child and don’t previously have one. It gets overwhelming trying to google local doctors, reading reviews, and then having to check with your insurance carrier regularly. I found that many doctors aren’t updating their insurance carrier information and change who they accept frequently.

My pregnancy was unexpected. We found out about it around the nine-week mark (I was in denial), so it was a scramble to get myself into a doctor’s office and start regular care. With the hormonal changes kicking in, constant hunger, and repetitive sickness plaguing my body, the last thing I wanted to do was research a damn doctor! That’s when I created this simple guide.

Step One: Find The Hospital

Not all maternity wards are the same. Every hospital has its own vibe that may or may not fit your personality. Do some research. Choosing a hospital requires you to know where your insurance is accepted. Check that out first, then make a list of two that you feel comfortable with. Then schedule a visit to tour the facility and speak to some nurses. Trust me. You don’t want to forgo the tours. They might seem silly and a complete waste of your time, but go and take your partner. It’s essential you both feel comfortable. When I walked through my hospital for the first time, I thought, “okay, I’m ready now. Check me in.” I wasn’t ready, but I felt so comfortable there.

*For birthing centers, it’s different. They’re typically out of pocket, so you don’t need to worry about your

Step Two: Search For An OB/GYN Through The Hospital Website

Did you know you can look at current practicing OB/GYNs through each hospital’s website? I didn’t. Most of the time, you can filter them through insurance type, gender preferences, etc. My enormous list of doctors was cut down to 5 after I found my hospital and used that as my OBGYN springboard. It makes a lot more sense to find your hospital and then narrow down your hospital. You can fall in love with a doctor and then find out they don’t deliver at the location you were dreaming about.

*Remember, your doctor will probably not be with you throughout your laboring. The doctor-on-call and your assigned nurse(s) are your primary support provided by the hospital for most of your time there. When you’re getting closer to pushing, your doctor is called.

Step Two: Narrowing Down The OB/GYN List

Easier said than done, right? I get it. I had a really long list at first and didn’t really know what I wanted in a doctor or what qualities I should be looking for. When I sat back and thought about me, I realized that my A-type personality and high-strung nature would be better off not knowing what was happening. I wanted to feel like my doctor had everything under control, so I didn’t have to think about anything except enjoying my pregnancy. Having an OB/GYN that was pro-epidural and all about modern science was also important. I didn’t want a lot of “common pregnancy restrictions.” Basically, I wanted my damn coffee. It turns out that OB/GYNs are split into two categories: too hands-on and intricate or reserved and simple. I needed the latter.

Know yourself, and know your partner. I knew Brad was uneasy about our pregnancy; it was pretty obvious he wasn’t emotionally ready for this change. So, I definitely wanted a male doctor he could relate to. That might sound silly, and you might be thinking, “but it’s about you, Margaret!” No. It’s not. It’s about the baby. I wanted to have the least amount of stress possible, and that meant having a happy (or as close to happy as I could get), future dad. I’m also really really really not a “girls girl” type of woman. I get along with men. Men are simple creatures. I can work with that. Plus, men tend to listen to women a lot more, and I knew that I wanted everything “my” way in terms of my birth plan. A male OB/GYN was the way to go for me!

Step Three: Involve The Daddy-To-Be

I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it. Always keep daddy involved. If you are in a situation where the man isn’t thrilled about the baby, aren’t (or weren’t) together, even if everything is going perfectly – you keep that man involved. As long as he’s answering the phone, make the call. It will bode well for you in the future. You don’t have to take it. It’s always nice to be heard, right? So, hear his thoughts. After I narrowed down my doctor’s choices to a manageable number, I sent them to Brad. Here is precisely what I said:

Hey. Here is a list of doctors that I’m looking into. Is there anyone that jumps out at you? I know you will want to be at appointments and will probably have a lot of questions and concerns. Is there anyone you think you would feel more comfortable with?

I never told him my “favorite” one, even though I knew exactly which OB/GYN I wanted. To this day, I don’t know if he actually read the information, but he did respond. We wanted the same doctor. Brad never understood why he chose this specific doctor, but it happened to be the same one I wanted. It connected us. Do you see what I did there? I found a common ground. They ended up sharing many laughs, and if I’m being candid, I owe my doctor more than a thank you. I firmly believe he is part of the reason Brad and I stayed together throughout the pregnancy.

Step Four: Confirm Insurance & New Patients Acceptance

Don’t forget to triple check this step! I checked everything and was cleared entirely‚Ķ until I went for my first appointment. There I was in the waiting room of my future OB/GYN when the receptionist let me know that a specific portion of my insurance wasn’t accepted. Medical insurance is a pain in the ass, plain and simple. There is so much detail that goes into every person’s policy that gives me a headache even thinking about it. But, it’s essential to know your provider, group, co-pay amount, additional fees, and whether you need a referral from your primary.

Congratulations! You Have An OB/GYN

I hope this list has helped you navigate the stress that comes with finding an OB/GYN. If you need to ask for recommendations, ask about specific doctors. I don’t suggest doing it tough. Don’t be influenced by outsiders that you do not personally know. Finding an OB/GYN is a very personal decision. Make it yourself, or with your partner. Don’t be afraid to change providers if you aren’t happy. But, don’t wait too long into your pregnancy. Like everything, communicate with your doctor about your needs and make it work.