It is recommended that at 7-months of pregnancy with a single baby, parents should start “meet & greets” or interviewing pediatricians. For multiples, you guessed it, start earlier.
Although I had my first interview at 6.5 months of pregnancy, I felt like I had a good jump because the doctor came highly recommended, and I had all my questions ready. Here are some tips to help you through the interviewing process and to assist in determining the best pediatrician for your multiples.
Firstly, get recommendations. I honestly asked everyone and anyone about their pediatrician, but it wasn’t until a childbirth education class where our instructor actually gave me a name that seemed best for our multiples. My biggest piece of advice is to find a doctor who either has multiples or has a great deal of experience with multiples.
Secondly, I would highly advise doing research before scheduling a “meet & greet”. For example, we are considering an alternative vaccine schedule for our twins. It is best to ask the office if the doctor is open to alternative vaccinations before scheduling an interview. Also, if your children are diagnosed with any type of ailment during pregnancy, you may consider doctors with certain sub-specialties unique to your child’s circumstance. Doing your research will prevent unneeded appointments and less wasted time – you’ve read my previous posts, you know I have no patience for inefficiency.
Before you even meet the doctor you should be assessing the following:
1. Commute: You will be making many trips. Is the office close?
2. Office Location: You are going to be in and out with a larger than average stroller, can the parking lot accommodate a wide load? Ample parking? Ease of getting through doors, etc.
3. Office Environment: How’s the waiting room? Lots of room? Now picture the waiting room with a bunch of ill children, crying, etc. Still enough room for you and your multiples and all the paraphernalia that comes with?
4. Exam Rooms: We will discuss this later, but again – is there enough room for everyone? More below.
When interviewing the doctor, you want to come prepared with questions. I was uncomfortable with this at first, as if I was “drilling” the pediatrician with questions, but many people do this – especially parents of multiples. It’s important that the doctor know you and your expectations as well as you getting to know them. Come prepared.
Here are some sample questions to consider:
1. How much experience do you have with multiples? This is an important question, and it’s loaded. The more experience, the better the doctor is with multiple-exclusive conditions. Consider things like speech and growth development, especially with premature babies. Also, multiples have different needs from behavioral assessment and interaction. If a doctor is experienced, you will find more help if these issues arise.
2. Do you have any sub-specialties?
3. What you are Office Hours?
4. How would I reach you on a regular basis? Is email or text available? What is your average response time?
5. What is the after-hours, holidays and weekend’s procedure and recommendation?
6. What are your thoughts on breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding? Sleeping? Circumcision? Traveling with infants both close and far? Immunizations?
7. Do you have any child-care/book recommendations for multiples?
8. Is a nurse available to answer our questions should you be unavailable?
9. If you are on vacation, is there another doctor in the office who we would see?
10. How far in advance do we need to schedule appointments?
11. Will you see our multiple children at the same time or at separate visits? Consider this when considering the size of the exam room. If only one at a time, no problem, if two – are the rooms big enough?
A completely different discussion is in regard to vaccines. Some individuals are perfectly comfortable with giving recommended vaccines at the recommended times. If so, you may just want to ask general questions. If you are a little more concerned about the vaccination schedule and the ingredients used in America’s vaccines, you may want to get more detailed in your questioning. I am probably somewhere in the middle. I suppose I would say, I have questions, which works to your benefit because I will pose some here.
Generally speaking, I think every parent should want to know and should be prepared to ask a pediatrician the following:
1. What is the vaccination schedule?
2. Can I deviate from the vaccination schedule?
3. Is there any way you can give vaccinations to our multiples at the exact same time? This is a tip I am pulling from “What to Do When You’re Having Two” by Natalie Diaz. Natalie says that her twins almost always started crying when the other started crying so she asked her pediatrician to allow a nurse to give both shots at the same time, to avoid unnecessary tears.
If you want to become more detailed with your research, the list of questions is endless, but for starters:
1. Do you support an alternative vaccine schedule?
2. If we chose an alternate vaccine schedule, do you bill “vaccine-only” appointments the same as regular wellness checks?
3. Can you provide a list of the brands of vaccines you use in the office?
4. Is the office willing to order alternative brands for our multiples if asked? Are their fees associated with this?
I have attached two FREE documents in this post for you to print and bring to your pediatrician interviews. This is what I used and hopefully it will help you as much as it helped me. The first is a general list of questions for pediatrician interviews. The second is a detailed vaccine questionnaire that may be useful if you are concerned about the typical vaccination schedule.
I wish you the very best in finding a pediatrician that works for you and your multiples. Happy recruiting!