Right now, your OB or midwife is monitoring the health of your unborn baby. But as soon as your baby enters into this world, your baby will need his or her own doctor. Start looking into a doctor for your baby several months before your due date. Deciding on a doctor and figuring out health insurance before your child's birth saves time and gives you peace of mind as you near labor. Also, if you deliver early, somebody you know and trust will be at the ready to care for your new child.
Choosing a doctor
One of the most important things you need to do before giving birth is decide on a doctor for your baby. Babies need frequent checkups, vaccines, and they sometimes get sick. So don't wait until you need a doctor to make a choice. Doctors that care for babies and children include:
Some nurses with special training also can care for your new baby. They are called pediatric nurse practitioners. Many medical offices have both nurse practitioners and doctors on staff.
To help you choose a doctor for your baby:
Call your health insurance company for a list of doctors covered under your plan.
Find out where they trained and how long they've been in practice. Some insurance companies and hospitals have this information. Details on some doctors can be found using DoctorFinder on the American Medical Association website.
Request an interview with the doctors you like best.
Find out about their office hours and how they handle concerns and emergencies after office hours.
Find out who else in the office can see your child if your doctor is out.
Get recommendations from other patients.
If you deliver at a hospital where your baby's doctor normally sees patients, she will see the baby right after the delivery. If not, a pediatrician on staff at the hospital should see your baby right after the birth. Then you can call your baby's doctor to schedule a visit a few days after birth. Remember to get your baby's medical records before leaving the hospital. Your baby's doctor will need them.
To get regular checkups and important vaccines, your baby will need health insurance. Some women have health insurance through an employer or are able to buy it on their own. If you have health insurance, find out how to add your new baby to your policy. You also should find out which doctors will work with your plan and what types of care are covered by your policy. Find out how much you have to pay for visits.
If you're worried about paying for health care, programs for women and children in need can help. The following organizations can help you and your baby get medical care:
Insure Kids Now! – This program provides children under age 18 with free or low-cost health insurance. It covers doctor visits, prescription medicines, vaccines, dental care, hospitalizations, and more. Each state has its own Insure Kids Now program. Learn about your state's program or make a free call to 877-KIDS-NOW for more information.
State and local health departments – They can tell you what programs are available in your area. Ask about health insurance, medical care, and how to qualify for this help.
Local hospital or social service agencies – Ask to speak with a social worker on staff. She will be able to tell you where to go for help.
Community clinics – Some areas have free clinics or clinics that provide free care to women and children in need.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program – This government program is available in every state. It provides help with food, nutritional counseling, and access to health services for women, infants, and children.
Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule - This website has links to vaccination schedules by age for children and adolescents as well as interactive schedulers. The schedules recommend when children should get immunizations and offer advice on what to do if a child does not have all the recommended immunizations.
Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) - The Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) helps families by providing free or reduced-cost vaccines for eligible children up to 18 years old. This website explains the VFC program and gives information on who is eligible.