From awkward first interviews to relying on friends for personal recommendations, finding the right OB is kind of like dating. You want the doctor-patient relationship to be perfect. And most important, you want it to last. And while your OB knows you inside and out (literally), it’s also important to realize that you always have permission to call it quits. (After all, you hired her!) Easier said than done, right? With the help of Shoshana Bennett, PhD, a clinical psychologist, we’ll help you figure out when it’s time to cut the cord with your doctor—and how to do it.
Relationship Red Flags
She’s too busy
“My OB told me that since I was a new patient, she couldn’t see me for a week — and that if I was so concerned, I should just make my way to the ER…” – erind0213
Sure, doctors are very busy, and it’s not unusual for a doctor to see a different patient every 15 minutes. But remember, your 15 minutes are yours. So during your appointment, it should come across that you and baby are the most important thing on your OB’s mind right then. That means she should be sitting down or standing by your side. One big no-no: hovering by the door, or generally just giving off the vibe she’s ready to jump to the next patient. So if your ob-gyn has her hand on the doorknob before you even tell her how you’re feeling, guess what? You’re not getting the time you deserve, says Bennett. Another sign she’s not totally in the moment: a lack of eye contact. If your doctor’s eyes are constantly darting between your face, her watch and the clock, consider it time to think seriously about whether this is the right fit for you.
She’s not listening
“My OB asked if this was my first pregnancy. I told her no; I miscarried in February. I think a doctor should read your file before coming into the room…” –enion76fl
If your ob-gyn still refers to your time on the NuvaRing when you’ve told her numerous times that you were on the Pill, chances are she hasn’t really been listening to you. We all have days where we’re frazzled (and you certainly should allow some wiggle room), but it’s her job to know your medical history. On the flip side, she can’t remember info that you don’t provide, so you’ve got to be sure you’ve laid it all out before jumping the gun, says Bennett. Have you shared all your thoughts, fears or concerns about the pregnancy? At home, jot down things throughout the week that you want to mention or ask, and make sure you hit upon every one during your appointment.
“I just had a few questions, and my OB cut me off before I could even start asking…” –cdobry01
If your OB doesn’t respect your beliefs or answer your questions, that’s most definitely breakup material, says Bennett. Your OB needs to be open-minded and respectful. Of course you should look to her for expert advice, but if she’s defensive or inflexible when talking about your choices, you may want to look elsewhere.
How to Break It Off (Gently)
Schedule a consultation
Whether you just want to see a change in your relationship or plan to break up altogether, don’t blurt it out in the middle of your regular appointment. (Let’s face it: You probably aren’t going to have the clearest mind-set mid-checkup with your legs in the air.) Instead, schedule a private consultation for another day. Feel free to let the receptionist know that you’re deciding whether to stay on as a patient, if you want, or tell her that you’d like to discuss some concerns with your doctor. Simple as that.
Don’t be angry
Bennett advises not to go into your meeting angry, which, like with any confrontation, definitely won’t get you the results you’re looking for. Be firm and assertive, and have your thoughts clearly planned out so you can make the most of the meeting. If you have a tendency to get heated, have a friend or partner come with you to the appointment to keep things level-headed.
Express your concerns to the best of your ability and remember to be as specific as possible so your OB knows these issues weren’t onetime occurrences but an overall behavior that you aren’t happy with. Need some talking points? Bennett shares some ways to broach the subject:
• Start on a positive note : “You’ve been great in the past, but here’s what I’ve been experiencing lately that has been making me very unhappy…”
• Be specific : “When I called on Tuesday, the 23rd, I was put on hold for 15 minutes…”
• Be honest : “I felt that you were looking down on me at our last appointment when I mentioned my sexual history…”
• Thank her before you leave : “Thank you for all of your help. I’ve appreciated it…”
That said, you’re not obligated to tell your OB you’re leaving—you could easily just drop off the face of the earth. But your feedback can help her be better to her other patients, and it will probably make you feel better about the situation. What matters most here is your comfort level–it’s all up to you.
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