How and Why to Change Your OB-GYN During Pregnancy

Woman discussing her prenatal care with doctor
Courtney Hale / Getty Images

The decision to change doctors or midwives is never easy, particularly during pregnancy. Sometimes, a switch needs to happen due to practical necessity, such as a move or a change in health insurance. Other times, you may simply realize that you aren't happy with your prenatal care and want to find someone who can provide you with the care that you need and deserve during pregnancy.

Reasons to Find a New OB-GYN During Pregnancy

There are many reasons why you might decide to switch doctors during pregnancy. Some situations that might prompt you to look for another doctor are if your practitioner doesn’t listen to you, has poor communication skills, or makes you feel disregarded. Additionally, you might want a new doctor if you simply don’t like how you are treated, if there are too many doctors in the practice, or not enough time is spent with you at your prenatal visits.

Alternatively, you might want a new OB-GYN or another medical provider if you discover you have different philosophies on prenatal care and childbirth or discover disagreements on treatment practices. Sometimes, you might just have found another practitioner you like better.

Practical considerations, such as issues with office staff, your health insurance not being accepted, or if you experience very long waits for appointments, may also make you want to find a new OB-GYN. Also, your provider may leave the practice or no longer do births. Sometimes, you're seeing the person who has been an amazing gynecologist to you for years, but you find you need something different in an obstetrician.

If you have reservations about switching doctors, you might consider trying to resolve the issue with your midwife or doctor. Explain the problem and search for a resolution together. Resolution may not always be possible, but it can be worth exploring if the issue seems fixable to you. What's most important is that follow your heart and find a new provider if that's what feels right to you.

How to Switch Doctors

If you find yourself in a situation where you have tried and things still aren’t working out, it is time for a change. Regardless of your reason for wanting to get a new care provider, once you make the decision, you'll want to establish yourself with a new medical practice as soon as possible. Follow these steps to find a new OB-GYN, midwife, or another type of practitioner for your prenatal care.

Start With the Practical Considerations

Firstly, you'll want to find out which nearby doctors are covered by your insurance plan and are currently accepting new patients. Typically, your health insurance company can connect you with a list of approved providers. You can also look online for the medical practitioners affiliated with your local hospitals or birthing centers.

Do Your Research

From there, you can research online or call their offices to ask all the questions you have before making your decision. Consider asking like-minded family, friends, and other medical providers for recommendations as well. Talk to parents who have had experiences like the one you're hoping to have and start there.

Remember to ask specific questions. Questions like "did you like your doctor or midwife?" are subjective and potentially may elicit vague answers. Instead, ask questions that get to the heart of your concerns and desires. Maybe you want to know what doctors in this area are supportive of natural birth or have low cesarean section rates. Or maybe you prefer practices that have an all-women provider team.

Interview Your Top Picks

Once you've winnowed down potential providers to a smaller group of possibilities, it's ideal to interview them. Make a list of questions to ask and things to notice (such as how attentive they are to you and how comfortable you feel in the office) when you meet them.

Perhaps you had a second choice when you originally selected your current doctor. If you’ve already interviewed them, you might simply select them.

Note that, sometimes, at the end of pregnancy, you may have a harder time switching practices as some doctors may not want to take someone on mid-pregnancy. However, occasionally, they will make an exception if you talk to the office manager or practitioner and explain your situation.

Make Your Choice

Make a decision on which new medical provider you will choose. Then, set up your first appointment.

Be sure to cancel any previously scheduled appointments with your previous doctor well enough in advance to prevent any missed appointment fees.

Get Your Medical Records

Notify your old practice and ask for your medical records to be sent to your new provider's office. You can do this in writing or via a phone call, but there is usually a medical records release form that you will need to complete and sign before they will release your records either to you or to your new provider.

You can choose to hand carry ​these records or to have them sent directly to your new provider. State laws may vary slightly, but they cannot refuse you your records. They can, however, charge you for them. This is usually a copying fee and in many states the first copy is free.

You may or may not decide to let your old practice know why you have left their services. If you think that you would feel better or that they would learn from it, you may decide to send them a letter. Many people never hear back from their old practices. Though occasionally they will get a letter or a call. Decide in advance how you will handle that and be prepared for them to respond in a variety of ways (or not at all).

Enjoy Your Prenatal Care

Start seeing your new provider. Note that depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy and the schedule of your new doctor or midwife, the timing of your first visits may not be as convenient if they are working you in. You may want to explain to your new provider why you left your last one so that you are on the same page about any previous concerns or issue you had. That way, you can move forward knowing that you will get the care you need.

A Word From Verywell

While switching doctors mid-pregnancy isn't always easy, many pregnant people have done it before and are often very glad that they did. Ultimately, follow your instincts on whether or not to change providers—and on which new individual or practice will be the best fit for you for your pregnancy and birth.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. March of Dimes. Prenatal care checkups.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Obstetric health care providers: choosing one right for you.

  3. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Health Information Privacy, Individuals’ right under HIPAA to access their health information 45 CFR § 164.524.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.