Finding the right pediatrician for your preemie is particularly important as preterm infants often have different needs than full-term babies. While your friends may be raving about their pediatricians, there are several additional factors you need to consider when choosing a doctor for your soon-to-be NICU grad.
Prior to making an appointment, be sure to identify how many patients the doctor has seen that are born at your baby’s gestational age. In addition, if it’s a group practice, be sure all of the clinicians in the practice have experience with babies born as early as your baby was born.
Many preemies require support from pediatric specialists, such as ophthalmologists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists and immunologists, etc. Be sure the doctor you choose has partnerships with the specialists you anticipate your baby needing to see for smooth and timely referrals.
If your baby requires Synagis, a monthly injection to protect against RSV during the winter, enquire whether that medication is administered in the office. Because of how expensive the medication is, not all doctors will offer it at their facility.
Also, ensure that the pediatrician has a separate sick-child waiting room so your preemie is not exposed to unnecessary germs while waiting for an appointment. Additionally, if your preemie is immunocompromised or has medical conditions such as chronic lung disease, check with your doctor if they will room you right away instead of having to wait in the waiting room at all to minimize exposure to viruses.
Preemies may need to see the pediatrician more frequently than full-term babies so be sure the office is close enough for you to make frequent trips easily.
While all of this information can be given to you by the office staff, I highly encourage moms and dads to ask these questions during a phone or in person interview. This is so you can get a sense of how comfortable you feel when speaking with this doctor directly.
The NICU can be a very busy time, especially toward the end, but the more research you do before discharge, the more likely you’ll find the right doctor for your baby and your family so you can feel supported as you transition home.
A doctor who takes time to listen to your concerns and provides information to ease your anxiety and who is available to you (or has colleagues who are available to you) for any questions night or day will help alleviate the stress that parents feel when they bring their baby home from the NICU.
In the end, you want a doctor who is open to treating your child as an individual, trusts your parental instincts and encourages you to continue doing the incredible job you’ve already done to care for your baby.
For more information on how to find the perfect pediatrician, download the Find the Perfect Pediatrician Free Guides.