Why Finding An OBGYN Who Centered My Needs & Wellbeing Was Important To me

By Jenny Paul Rothschild

One thing will I always remember about growing up: my dad was the teachers’ doctor. Dozens of my personal teachers saw my dad as their doctor—whether they lived in our small suburb of Dallas, Texas or not. Aside from being super embarrassing (and really cool!) at points, my dad was a very popular doctor before he retired– known for his bedside manner, warmth, intuition and understanding in medicine, general charisma and extremely high standard of care

Maybe it’s because he took the school district’s insurance and others didn’t, or maybe they just all liked him. I’m not entirely sure. (I do know for a fact that he always saw a lot of extra Medicare patients despite a large income reduction to his practice). Either way, I do know, despite any financial or bureaucratic obstacles that may have been present for him, he made a point of seeing the teachers because he wanted to. I know this because long after his practice was overfull and closed to new patients, he would still make find a way to fit any school teacher that wanted to become his patient into his very tightly packed schedule. 

Fast forward 13 years since I moved to New York City. I now produce comedic educational shows and social media content while still teaching SAT/ACT prep and coaching college essay writing for my 13th year running. I am married, and my husband is a newly tenured high school English teacher for the New York City DOE (Department of Education) in lower Manhattan. Working in a small school, he teaches more than three subjects in the course of a day, and took it upon himself to create and build a new, now flourishing music department.

After asking everyone on the planet for recommendations and scouring the internet thoroughly for important information about picking an OBGYN group in our preparation to start trying for our first child—successful birth rates, possible complications, commendations, all the way down to bedside manner and likeability ratings— we were having a really hard time finding a great OB-GYN that checks all the important boxes and, you guessed it: takes our insurance. My husband’s DOE insurance. The insurance plan that every teacher in the NYC public school system is offered if they don’t want to or can’t afford to pay a large additional premium.

This bears repeating: we had a lot of trouble finding a highly regarded OBGYN group that will deliver a baby to a New York City public school teacher on the city’s default health insurance plan. 

Is the city to blame in part? Maybe. There’s a solid chance that the insurance plan offered to city employees is slightly lower paying/higher bureaucracy than many private sector plans, and we all know more money talks, BUT…

I realized something in all of this—although it would have been nice to have our pick of every single highly rated OBGYN group on the planet (or at least in NYC), we really only needed one. After extensive research and digging, I finally discovered one group, one doctor in one group really, that takes the NYC DOE insurance and is one of the very best anywhere, a highly regarded Ivy League teacher herself, and is affiliated with one of the best maternity hospitals in the city and arguably the world.

And, although my husband and I could look into shelling out significantly more money for a different plan come next September (the only time of year he’s allowed to switch plans), we may not have to. The process was kind of self selecting because, after all is said and done, this is the doctor I want to see, that I’m excited to see. The one that cares for the caretakers. Even if it means a little less money in his/her pocket at the end of the day.  

If the doctor we have an appointment with were to read this article, she probably wouldn’t even know that we’re her patients yet. But she will. And we will thank her from the bottom of our hearts for being willing to see us through this inevitably exciting and scary time. And hopefully, if we’re truly lucky, for a healthy baby (or two!) who might just grow up to be caretakers themselves one day. 

Some tips in hunting for the right OBGYN for you—

  • Make a short list. Get referrals. People you already know and get along with are inevitably going to have some similar tastes and values to you. Family, friends, other healthcare providers, and people you know with healthy babies are all great places to start building your short list. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials, experience, and crowd sourced opinions and reviews. You can always add and subtract as your research gets further along.
  • As I learned the hard way, check your insurance. It’s very important to understand what your insurance does and doesn’t cover—also which doctors are ‘in network’. Make sure to go through your benefits and ask questions if you don’t understand any part of the coverage (or non-coverage). Babies are already expensive and complications/luxuries of any sort can inflate the costs even more if you aren’t careful.
  • Find out if you’re going to/might need a higher level of care.  Do you have diabetes, heart disease, or previous pregnancy complications? Are you old enough that complications are a factor, or do you have any other known issues that might require a higher level of care? Consider a practice that provides high risk care. Insurance companies can often be persuaded to cover it as it will more than likely cost them less in the end. Money talks.
  • What hospital does your OB candidate work with? Is it in network? Does it have a strong NICU? Does it have a good reputation for successful births and non-complications? What is the C-section rate?  Are classes or lessons provided to patients? What type of care is offered to new parents after birth? Lactation support? General 101? 
  • Once you’ve chosen your top one or two, make your appointment(s). Be aware that new patient appointments, especially for well regarded doctors, can take a while to get. Start early if you want to have time to work it all through at your pace. Keep your short list in case you decide that that/those docs aren’t for you in the end.
  • Be prepared to ask questions at your first pre-conception appointment. As you do your research, make a list so you don’t forget all your questions. They’re used to answering a million of them. Don’t be shy. Although every pregnancy is different and unpredictable at best, you want to make sure you’re on the same page with your doctor(s) as much as you can be. Some important topics to consider:
    • Vaginal vs. C-Section delivery (their thoughts and protocols)
    • Pain management in Labor
    • Birth plan/doulas
    • Their availability to you during and after office hours.
    • Elective induction after 39 weeks or fetal heart rate monitoring.
    • Availability of OB group if/when your doc isn’t available and likelihood that she/he will indeed be available to deliver. 
  • Arguably the most important thing to consider once you’ve met with them— do you like and trust them? Don’t be afraid to have the answer be no. It’s your life, your body, and your baby. Either way, be sure to go with your gut. Happy hunting! 

Sources: 

https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-choose-an-obstetrician_1582.bc

https://utswmed.org/medblog/choosing-obgyn/

https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/womens-health/8-tips-for-choosing-an-obstetrician-gynecologist

https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/womens-health/8-tips-for-choosing-an-obstetrician-gynecologist

Jenny Paul Rothschild is an award winning actress and producer New York City. Follow her at @jennypennypaul on Instagram and www.imdb.me/jennypaul and check out her website at www.JennyPaul.info. She is currently playing recurring character “Maureen” on Hulu’s ‘The Looming Tower’.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.