If you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant, you’ll know there’s loads to be done before the arrival of your little one. One of the most important things to consider is a good obstetrician-gynaecologist to support you during pregnancy and delivery.
If you’re having your first child, you may also be unfamiliar with what exactly an obstetrician-gynaecologist (or OBGYN for short) does. How different are they from your regular doctor? And what’s the difference between a gynaecologist and obstetrician?
Well, an obstetrician-gynaecologist is a doctor who specialises in female reproductive health. This encompasses both obstetrics and gynaecology. Obstetrics involves care of a woman during pre-conception, pregnancy, childbirth and immediately after delivery.
A gynaecologist looks after medical issues affecting a woman’s general reproductive organs, like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina and uterus. They don’t typically deliver babies or treat pregnant women, but do screenings like pap smears and pelvic exams.
Many doctors chose to practice both obstetrics and gynaecology, so they can provide holistic care to patients in all areas.
Here are tips to help you make the right decision.
1. Get recommendations
A good start in your search for an O&G doctor would be to ask for recommendations. Your best pals, a sister, or a colleague may be able to share with you why they picked their own doctors.
Find out what they like about him or her, and why they’d recommend them. Perhaps they like the doctor’s demeanour, or maybe the doctor has a tremendous amount of experience.
And think about your own criteria for your ideal OBGYN ― is he or she soft spoken or chatty? Is he or she forthcoming with information, or more reserved with comments?
Whatever the case, their recommendations should give you a good feeling. Otherwise, move on. If you’ve visited a doctor and found that he or she isn’t suitable, don’t be afraid to make a change.
2. Do your research
There are plenty of online resources these days. Besides searching for individual doctor reviews, check out local parenting forums and websites. Blogs are another resource ― parents often write about their O&G doctor visits on their social media pages.
Many O&G doctors also have their profile, qualifications, experience and accolades listed on the website of their practicing hospital. For example, Thomson Medical’s Find a Doctor page lets you search for doctors based on their specialty. Simply set the search filter to ‘Obstetrics and Gynaecology’ and scroll through the list.
Learn more about the doctors’ policies too. Are they readily accessible? Is there a 24-hour hotline you can call in case of emergencies? What happens if the doctor’s out of town when you’re about to give birth?
Don’t hesitate to call the clinic if you need someone to clarify pressing questions. It’s a good idea to see how friendly and forthcoming the clinic staff are too, as you’ll be interacting with them frequently when making appointments.
3. Factor in the cost
Having a baby doesn’t come cheap. Each OBGYN visit will set you back around $30 to $200, depending on whether you choose private or public prenatal clinics. You’ll need to see the doctor at least once a month.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of your prenatal supplements too. On average, this would cost around $63 for 3 packs.
There’s also delivery costs to consider. Fees for a normal delivery start at around $1,200 for a C Ward, and can go up to $8,000 and beyond for a private hospital. There’ll be additional costs if an assisted delivery (using forceps, for instance) or a C-section is needed.
Making several phone calls should help you determine the fees that your potential O&G doctor will charge.
4. Think about the distance
Where your OBGYN’s clinic is located is important. For example, if you live in the east, you may want to think twice about seeing a doctor who is situated all the way in the west.
Location is especially important if you experience pregnancy complications. This may include symptoms like regular spotting during your first trimester, severe vomiting or even going into early labour.
Having a prenatal clinic close to your home is beneficial in such situations, where a doctor may be able to save your baby before it’s too late.
5. Decide on the gender
Not of your baby ― but your doctor! Some women (or their husbands) find it awkward to have a male O&G doctor, or you may feel that a female doctor may be able to understand your needs better.
Many women feel more at ease talking about reproductive health with another woman rather than a man. Obviously, many are also far more comfortable with a woman conducting medical screenings, such as a pelvic ultrasound.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that a male doctor won’t be as competent and professional. Many are outstanding medical professionals in their field too. It’s a good idea to discuss the gender of your potential doctor as a couple, before deciding which direction to take.
6. Factor in you and your baby’s health
If you have certain medical conditions ― like diabetes or thyroid issues ― you may need special care during your pregnancy. If so, you may want to consider seeing a doctor who has treated expectant mums with that particular health condition.
Women with a high-risk pregnancy may also want to pick an OBGYN who specialises in these conditions. For example, you may be an older mum, are carrying multiples or a special needs baby, or you may have had previous miscarriages.
7. Choose the hospital you want to deliver at
There are some doctors who only deliver at a particular hospital. Otherwise, you may have “top up” doctor fees to deliver at the hospital of your choice.
You’ll need to decide if you want to deliver at a private or public hospital. Factors to consider include waiting times and the ease of securing appointments, costs and the availability of government subsidies.
As you might know, the costs of delivery at public hospitals are definitely lower, especially if you go in as a subsidised patient. Most public hospitals also offer excellent prenatal care and delivery facilities. However, you won’t get to choose your OBGYN, and will end up seeing a different doctor each time.
Whilst private hospitals are more expensive, you can still utilise your MediSave savings under the MediSave Maternity Package. Administration and waiting times tend to be shorter in private hospitals too. Some hospitals like Thomson Medical Centre also offer luxurious delivery room amenities, as well as ParentCraft services to support you in your journey to becoming a new mum.
8. Ask about the preferred birthing method
You may have your ideal birth plan in mind, but, well, things don’t always go according to plan. For instance, your baby might be really big, or you may have a breech baby. In such situations, some doctors may recommend a C-section.
If you’re determined to deliver naturally, you’ll need to go to a doctor who is confident, willing and adequately experienced in this area. Some doctors are willing to do VBACs, but others aren’t.
If you prefer a water birth, take note that not all hospitals in Singapore offer this. Not all doctors have experience with water births too, so it’s important to find one that does. Thomson Medical Centre is the only private hospital that offers water birthing facilities. The National University Hospital is another option if you'll like a restructured hospital environment.
A good O&G doctor will also ask about your preferred delivery method, whilst giving advice about what is safest for you and your baby.
9. Assess how comfortable you are
From your first visit, you should be able to tell whether you can “click” with your OBGYN. You’ll need to be able to consult someone you are comfortable with and not be afraid to ask embarrassing questions. You should also settle for someone whom you can understand clearly.
Don’t fret, just because you aren’t comfortable with your initial choice or doctor, it doesn’t mean you’ll have to stick with it! You can always make the switch, so that you’ll get that amazing birthing experience you’d always dreamed of.
Find a O&G doctor
Looking for a hospital and an experienced obstetrician-gynaecologist to deliver your baby? Consider Thomson Medical Centre and its maternity offerings. Singapore’s first private hospital for women and children, Thomson Medical has decades of experience in delivering babies. Find out more about their doctors here.
Like us on Facebook and check SmartParents regularly for the latest reads!