SingaporeMotherhood | Pregnancy

February 2013

8 considerations when choosing an Obstetrician

After testing positive for a pregnancy, the immediate concern of many first-time-mums is to find a good obstetrician. Given the many options available, the following considerations may help you to narrow down your choices and choose the obstetrician best suited to your needs.

1. Preferred hospital for delivery

The first criteria which Mrs M. Ow, 33, considered was the hospital where she would be delivering. The mother of two children, aged four and one, found it important that “the doctor is from a restructured hospital which specialises in children’s medical needs as the medical support and facilities which they have may make them better equipped to handle critical situations.”

Furthermore, she added, “If there are unforeseen circumstances, such as a premature delivery which results in the baby being warded in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the cost incurred may be lower as compared to private hospital.”

This article gives an idea of the costs of delivering at various hospitals. In general, the delivery packages offered by private hospitals are more expensive than those offered by restructured hospitals.

2. Consultation costs

In addition to the hospitals where the obstetrician delivers at, Grace, 28, a mother of a 13-month-old, also checked whether the obstetrician offered antenatal packages as these would make each visit more economical.

If you are on a budget, you can get a referral from the polyclinic to see an obstetrician at a restructured hospital at subsidised rates. However, you will not be able to choose the obstetrician whom you are assigned to.

3. Consultation location and times

Some obstetricians in private practice may have more than one clinic to cater to mothers who live in different parts of Singapore. Others open on weekends or close late on certain weeknights to make it more convenient for working mothers to go for their check-ups without having to take time off from work.

As a busy engineer, Mrs M. Ow found it preferable to go for check-ups near her home or workplace. The waiting times to see the doctor may vary for different obstetricians. Be prepared to wait for more than an hour if you are seeing a popular obstetrician who packs many appointments in a day. Also expect delays or cancellation of your appointment if the obstetrician has to attend to a last-minute delivery.

4. Gender of obstetrician

Mothers who do not mind being attended to by a male obstetrician will have a wider selection of doctors to choose from. Grace was comfortable with a male obstetrician as “he gave me a better sense of security, confidence and decisiveness.”

Other expectant mothers may prefer a female obstetrician, especially one who is a mother herself, as she would have a first-hand experience of pregnancy and child birth. If you prefer a lady doctor, do check that she has another female colleague to cover her duties in the event that she takes leave or is unable to deliver your baby.
doctor talks with pregnant woman

5. Experience and skill of obstetrician

While Mrs S. Law, 34, preferred a lady obstetrician, she also looked for “someone experienced in case of any complications”. The mother-of-one was coincidentally assigned to the obstetrician who had delivered her as a baby and felt at ease knowing that her obstetrician had performed many successful deliveries since her time.

Concurring, Grace’s checklist for her obstetrician was “one that has many years of experience, whether his stitching skills are good and whether he is someone who listens to patients”. Having heard complains that “some gynaecologists are rather rough when checking the dilation”, the Senior Finance Assistant wanted a doctor who was gentle when checking for dilation as well.

Apart from word of mouth, you can use the credentials of the obstetrician as an indication of his or her experience. For instance, you can check whether he or she was trained locally or overseas, the number of years of work experience he has, the number and type of awards received, and the position held by the obstetrician in the hospital. An experienced obstetrician could possibly be a senior consultant or one who lectures at the university and is involved in training younger doctors in the hospital as well.

6. Obstetrician’s bedside manners

Some obstetricians are, by nature, people of few words, who go about their duties in a professional and clinical manner. While some mothers do not mind as long as the doctor has “a good pair of hands”, others may find it unnerving and prefer a doctor who discusses issues with them and hears their concerns.

In addition to the skill of the doctor, Mrs S. Law felt that it is important to find “someone you’re comfortable sharing your concerns with and who makes you feel reassured.”

7. Obstetrician’s position on issues

Before settling on an obstetrician, it is good to talk to the doctor to find out his or her position on issues which are important to you. Mothers who prefer to have as natural a pregnancy as possible will not be comfortable with a doctor who prescribes numerous supplementary pills a day.

Mums who want a natural birth experience may also prefer an obstetrician who believes in minimal intervention during the delivery process, compared with one who chooses to burst the water bag and give hormones to speed up the labour.

Similarly, those with specific preferences for birth plans (such as water birth) can check whether the obstetrician is experienced with and supportive of such plans.
Mothers who are against abortion may also like a doctor who is pro-life, as she would find support to keep the baby in the event that tests and scans show a possible birth defect or abnormality.

8. Experience of others

In addition to the recommendations of relatives, friends and colleagues, Grace suggests finding out more information from online motherhood forums. The discussions and experiences shared by fellow mothers and mums-to-be can provide useful information to help you make your choice.

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8 considerations when choosing an Obstetrician