Obstetrics (OB) is specialized care related to reproduction and childbirth, whereas, gynecology (GYN) deals with woman's reproductive health.
Once young women reach their early twenties―or as soon as they become sexually active―they need to find a good OB/GYN doctor. Unfortunately, many women do not know what to look for when choosing an obstetrician or gynecologist. They will often simply choose a doctor that is nearby to them, or see the one that their mother uses. While there isn't necessarily anything wrong with doing this, there are other important things to look for, especially if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
While location is important in choosing your doctor, it should not be the only deciding factor. However, the location of the clinic is something that you should keep in mind for sure.
If you are not pregnant, you would likely be seeing your doctor once a year or once every other year. But if you become pregnant, those visits would increase to once a month in your first and second trimesters, and once a week in your third trimester. Choose a doctor who isn't too difficult to get to, since you would likely be spending some time there down the road.
Medical schools are popping up everywhere, but not all schools are created equal. Take a while to research doctors you are interested in seeing, to find out their background. Make sure they have graduated from good schools with good degrees. You can also check their class rank. You would want a well-qualified and good doctor to take care of you at this important time in life.
The hospital your OB/GYN is affiliated with is also pretty important. Some doctors have offices attached to a hospital, and some have freestanding offices. Either way, the doctors will see you for your appointments at their office, and will deliver your baby at their affiliated hospital. Be sure the hospital they are affiliated with is a good one, and is easy to reach for you in case of an emergency.
If you have a special situation or are worried about a condition that might affect your pregnancy, look for a doctor that specializes in your needs. Some doctors specialize in adolescent gynecology, others focus on advanced prenatal care, and the list goes on. Look for a doctor that meets your needs, so that you can avoid having to find a specialist later on.
Perhaps most importantly, you will want to be sure that your new OB/GYN's personality is compatible with your own. If you are someone who is laid back, you'll probably want someone who is similar to you. If you are someone who likes a bit more structure, find someone with that quality.
No matter what, you'll want someone who will make you feel comfortable and who will not pressure you. You will also want someone who will give you the information you need without withholding anything, and also without giving you more information than you can handle. If you feel uncomfortable with your doctor, or if you truly believe a diagnosis they make is incorrect, it never hurts to get a second opinion or switch doctors. This is especially important if you are planning on becoming pregnant, since you will be spending a lot of time with your doctor throughout your pregnancy. Always remember, doctors are trained professionals, but you know your body better than anyone else.
While it is important to find a doctor that is experienced in his/her field, you need to remember that most obstetricians/gynecologists work in a practice with other doctors. It is important for you to like your doctor, but it is also important for you to like the other doctors in the practice. When you are pregnant, you'll need to see all the doctors in the practice, not just your own, because you never know who will be on call when you go into labor. Schedule some time to meet all the doctors in a practice, before you make a final decision.
This is not an issue for most people nowadays, but still, give it a thought. There are many women who would be uncomfortable with a male doctor. You would have to get quite a few checkups done with little or no clothes on, and also with the doctor examining sensitive parts of your body. A pregnancy is not without stress, and you would not want this factor to add to the existing stress. You need to be as relaxed and happy as possible, throughout the course of the pregnancy.
Last but not least, choose a doctor that is not just good, but also available when you need him/her. The doctor should be able to attend to you on any required day, and more so, should be available in times of emergencies. The last thing you would want to happen is that your doctor is away or unreachable, and you have to go find another one at the last minute in case of an emergency.
Pregnancy and childbirth is something that needs the best possible care. So, make sure you take all these things into consideration before making a final choice on an OB/GYN for yourself.