Sleeping newborn infant
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You've recently discovered you're pregnant and are happily counting down the months until baby arrives. Over these next several weeks there will be many decisions to be made. One of the most important decisions you will face is choosing a pediatrician for your child.

There are several things you'll want to consider when selecting a pediatrician because you want to be sure you select the right match. That being the case, this is a search you'll likely want to start long before your baby is born, this way arrangements will be made for the pediatrician to see your baby shortly after he or she is born. It also allows you ample time to choose a doctor without having to make a hasty decision; this ensures you make the right choice for your family. If you do not plan to move out of your current area anytime soon, the relationship with your child's doctor will be a long one so, ideally, you want to make the right fit from the beginning.

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Check Your Insurance Plan

As you begin your search for your baby's doctor, one of the first steps you'll want to take is to check your insurance plan. Ideally, you'll want to choose a doctor that is covered under your existing plan. Insurance companies generally have lists of doctors broken down by specialty. Additionally, in the event you cannot find a doctor you're comfortable within your insurance's network, you'll want to check with your company to see whether or not your healthcare coverage allows you to see doctors out of network; if it does, your options will be expanded.

Talk to Your Obstetrician

A good resource when seeking a pediatrician is to talk to your obstetrician, especially if you are new in town and do not know many locals. Healthy Children notes your own doctor will "know local pediatricians who are competent and respected within the medical community." [1] Additionally, this way you can choose a doctor where both your OB/GYN and pediatrician are affiliated with the same hospital network and your pediatrician (or one from the doctor's practice if another doctor is on call) will likely be the one to examine your baby after his or her arrival.

Ask Friends and Family

One of the best resources to tap into when looking for a family pediatrician is to ask family and friends for referrals. If the people closest to you trust specific doctors and have had good experiences, this is perhaps one of the best reasons to consider selecting a specific pediatrician. Get a few referrals, this way if you don't take to one physician or feel a particular doctor doesn't share your philosophy, you can meet with other doctors before your baby is born.

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Meet with Potential Doctors

Once you narrow down a few names, it is a good idea to set up appointments to meet with the doctors you've selected. Pediatricians are accustomed to expectant parents wanting to meet their newborn's doctor before their baby arrives. Ideally, both you and your partner should meet with the pediatricians and ask any pertinent questions and get a feel as to which doctor would be the best match. Keep in mind many doctors provide a free prenatal visit, however, some do charge a fee. iVillage offers a list of suggested questions to ask the doctors you are considering choosing as your baby's pediatrician. [2] It is hard to sometimes remember everything, so take notes if you need to during the appointment. Also, be sure any pediatrician you are considering is licensed.

Selecting the right pediatrician will be one of the most important decisions you make during your pregnancy. This relationship between the doctor and your family is likely to be a long-term one and it is important to be comfortable with both your decision and the doctor you choose. You'll want to be sure to choose a physician that shares similar philosophies and perspectives on raising children. If you choose one that doesn't align with your primary beliefs, chances are you'll be starting a new search after your baby is born.