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Johns Hopkins Bayview News - Ask the Expert: Choosing An Obstetrician

Winter 2013

Ask the Expert: Choosing An Obstetrician

Date: February 4, 2013

Shari Lawson, M.D., medical director of Johns Hopkins Women's Services
Shari Lawson, M.D., medical director of Johns Hopkins Women's Services

Having a baby is exciting, but also can be a stressful time in any woman’s life. Shari Lawson, M.D., medical director of Johns Hopkins Women’s Services, answers some of the most common questions about obstetrics care.

What are important things to consider when choosing an obstetrician (OB)?
When you are choosing an OB, you want to find a provider who makes you feel comfortable and best meets your needs. You may want to consider:

  • Size of practice (small vs. large group of providers). You will have better access to care with a larger group of providers; however, you may not have the same provider deliver your baby who you see on a regular basis.
  • Years of experience
  • Number of deliveries
  • Hospital affiliation
  • Operative procedures (forceps or vacuum)

What services or specialized care should you look for when choosing a hospital?
When I delivered my baby, I made sure the hospital had a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Just in case something went wrong, I didn’t want to be separated from my newborn. The health care providers at the hospital also should be trained to care for critically ill mothers.

Johns Hopkins Bayview and The Johns Hopkins Hospital receive maternal transports for women who have life-threatening conditions, such as severe preeclampsia or cardiomyopathy.

If you deliver at a hospital that receives transports, you know you’re in good hands.

When should you first make an appointment with an OB?
Ideally, you should make an appointment with an OB when you start trying to get pregnant.

He or she will perform screening tests for certain genetic disorders, ask about your family medical history and provide pre-conception counseling. Once you find out you are pregnant, call your OB to schedule an appointment to confirm your pregnancy.

What lifestyle changes should you consider before getting pregnant?
You should first talk with your primary care physician or gynecologist about any pre-existing medical conditions and how you can get them under control (i.e. high blood pressure, diabetes).

You’ll also want to discuss any medications you are taking and whether or not they can be continued during pregnancy.

Three months before you start trying to get pregnant, you should start taking prenatal vitamins with folate (also called folic acid). This also is a good time to modify your diet and lifestyle by eating healthier, quitting smoking and abstaining from alcohol.

To schedule an appointment with Johns Hopkins Women’s Services at Johns Hopkins Bayview, call 443-997-0400.