Choosing a Private Consultant Obstetrician
I have noticed that a lot of moms who take my classes, also decide to go with Private Consultant Obstetrician as their option for maternity care. A Consultant Obstetrician is the consultant that looks after your maternity care during your pregnancy, labour and birth of your baby. (I had no idea what type of consultant I was supposed to be looking for when I was pregnant with my first little girl! I think I googled “consultant pregnancy”! I had not got a clue!)
It appears that the main reasons that couples decide on a Private Consultant is because they want the best possible care and, believe that paying for private care is the best option.
Unfortunately I think this is a little misguided. There are other options to be considered, which will also give you the same level of care and service that you require. A lot of the moms at my classes that decided on a consultant, had a set of expectations and have been left feeling a little disappointed.
The purpose of this blog post, is to outline, what the service of Private Consultant involves, so that you will have clear expectations and can then make the right decision for you and your baby. It will also provide you with some helpful tips on how to choose the right consultant for you.
It is important to keep in mind, when deciding on whether to go with a Private Consultant, what aspects of maternity care are important to you and what you want from a private consultant.
Firstly let’s consider why you would choose a private consultant and look at what the benefits are.
Overview of Benefits:
Continuity of care – seeing the same person for your scans and health checks ensures continuity of care and also allows you to feel more comfortable and familiar with your doctor. If you suffer from anxiety or are very worried about your pregnancy, then the continuity of care that a private consultant can offer, may be the right option for you.
More frequent appointments – with private consultants, your appointments are every four weeks and weekly/fortnightly after 36 weeks.
Additional scans – at every appointment you will be scanned to check the health, development of your baby. The consultant will take measurements of your baby and will plot the length of the baby, size of head, to a graph and will also check the location of placenta and check amniotic fluid levels.
Opportunity to ask questions – you may feel less rushed and therefore may have more time to ask questions. Since you will see your consultant at each appointment you will also feel more comfortable to ask them questions. However, be under no illusion, the private clinics are just as busy as the public clinics and your consultant could be called to the hospital to attend to a patient, so they will not have time to sit around chatting!
Consultant will be on call for you during your labour and birth – most consultants will make sure to let you know whether or not they are available around your due date, and if not available due to holidays etc they will have another consultant ready to take over your care.
Consultant will lead/guide the progress of your labour – your consultant will be notified that you have been admitted to hospital and are in labour, and will seek updates on your progress and will offer instruction to the midwives as necessary. They may not be present during your labour but may pop in and out to see your progress, in order to ensure that they will be present for the birthing stage.
Early detection and management of complications – Consultants have specialised skills and training to detect complications and will be able to manage them without needing to send you to another specialised clinic. This will be particular beneficial if you have had previous medical condition or current ongoing medical condition that could impact on the health of your baby.
Surgical skills – if you require a cesarean section then your consultant will be able to perform this. You will have built up trust and confidence in your consultant throughout your appointments and this will help to make the experience more positive for you.
Increased risk of medical intervention:
A consultant is a highly skilled and trained, medical professional specialised in the management of pregnancy, labour and birth. While this is a major advantage to have access to this skilled professional when complications or special circumstances arise, using an obstetrician may be a disadvantage, if you wish to have a more natural, birth without medical intervention.
There is an increased risk of medical intervention such as episiotomy, induction, assisted delivery and c-section. (World Health Organisation)
Location: Some consultant’s clinics are located off the CUMH campus which is great in some ways because you do not have the hassle of parking, but a slight disadvantage because you do not get the chance to familiarise yourself with the hospital. The first time you visit, it could possibly be when you are in labour. Therefore if your consultant is off-site, it’s worth doing a little test run to the hospital, check out the car park and know where to find the A&E so that it will be less stressful on the labour day.
Cost: While you can only attend a Private Consultant if you already have private health insurance, you also need to pay a fee of €3000 approximately ( depending on your health insurance cover, you may be able to claim back, 50% of this fee and you can claim back 20% of the remaining from Revenue) . This is an additional expensive that you will need to consider.
Private room: as you will be considered by the hospital as a private patient, you will be able to avail of a private room (depending on availability). If a private room is not available you can request to be moved to a private room as soon as one does become available.
Your decision to go with a private consultant, like all other options of maternity is a personal one, and should be the option that feels right for you.
If you have made the decision, to go with a Consultant, now you are faced with another decision, which one?!
1. Request recommendations from your GP or the midwife at your GP clinic – they will have heard recommendations from other moms and might have an idea of who might be suitable for you, based on your preferences.
2. Ask friends and family for their advice and experience with consultants. Be sure to ask them specifically, what they did or did not like about the consultant as what might be important to one person might not be important to another. For example, you might prefer a consultant who has a low rate of c-sections, whereas your friend might have a preference for a c-section. Everyone’s preferences are different which is why you need to be clear on what you what.
3. Online Communities – there are a whole range of online Irish communities, such as www.everymum.ie , www.rollercoaster.ie where you can get advice and support from other local pregnant moms to be. Just bear in mind that their opinions while valuable are subjective to their own experiences. However these forums are fantastic if you have decided to keep your pregnancy a secret for the first few weeks and feel like you can’t ask family and friends maternity questions without arousing suspicion.
4. Take a look at the consultant’s website to get a feel for the priorities and the service they provide.
5. Give them a call and ask questions you may not get the opportunity to speak directly with the consultant but their receptionist will be happy to provide you with any information you need.
6. – at the first booking you will have the opportunity to meet your consultant, have some questions prepared of things that are on your mind. Write them now so you don’t forget. You will be able to get a good sense of your consultant by how s/he answers your questions. Does s/he give you the time? Encourage you to ask questions? Make you feel comfortable? Make you feel involved in any decisions? Do you feel like you could grow to trust and have confidence in her/him? Think about the next few months, if a tough decision needed to be made, would s/he make you feel part of the decision process? If you don’t feel comfortable and don’t feel that your needs will be met, then you can actually change to a different consultant. It’s your money and your choice!