Your obstetrician is responsible for your health and your developing baby while the baby is in utero. Your obstetrician is also responsible for helping you deliver your baby. A midwife is also licensed to deliver. But it is a pediatrician who cares for your baby from birth on ( while in the hospital ) and for the next several years, usually through high school.
So it's a very good idea to have a pediatrician in mind towards the end of your pregnancy. There are meet and greets for you to check them out, but you don't have to participate in order to choose that group. Word of mouth is a fine way to find a pediatrician. If you hang out at the grocery store and ask all those moms who their pediatrician is, when you hear one name more than the others, that's usually a good indicator for you that may like to try that doctor. If you don't like your pediatrician, for whatever reason, you can change anytime you'd like.
If you are delivering at a facility where your preferred provider doesn't have hospital privileges, you may have the staff pediatricians evaluate your baby while in the nursery. Sometimes, doctors have arrangements with groups to cover hospitals they don't frequent. Your pediatrician will see you and your baby within the first week of life and then there will be a schedule for routine visits and inoculations provided to you.
It's very important to choose a group of pediatricians who have staff rights at the best children's hospital in your area. Sick kids are better off at a good pediatric hospital or emergency room, than just a generic facility. These institutions are geared specifically for youngsters and do the best job medically and psychologically.
If you are very determined to breast feed, you may want a pediatrician with a lactation consultant on staff. You may also want to know who answers the phone at the office, what credentials that person possesses and how long it usually takes for a return phone call. You may want to use a nurse practitioner; do they employ them at your pediatricians office?
You want to make extra sure that your insurance plan lists this doctor as an in-network preferred provider and that the facilities and consultants this doctor uses are also listed in-network on your plan. Know about protocols for weekend and emergency care, Saturday hours; this all has an impact on what and how you may have to pay for services.
Mostly, you want to be able to talk to this provider and know that he is listening to your specific questions and concerns about your baby. If you are intimidated by the doctor, you may miss making an important call. This is the one doctor you should never be worried about calling with any question, doubt or concern. You are your baby's advocate, so it is vital that the provider is warm and welcoming, never condescending or judgemental. A good pediatrician should help you guide yourself to choices you will be making for your child and not making those choices for you. There is a wide range of right, when you are caring for a newborn. No one way is ever the only way. You will grow into the role of parent and a good doctor is a good teacher. Sometimes a good pediatrician becomes a good friend for many months after you bring that baby home.