Choosing a Doctor for Your Twins or Multiples

5 month old fraternal twins, Daniel and Eleanor Fairbairn.
5 month old fraternal twins, Daniel and Eleanor Fairbairn.. Photo reprinted with permission of Kay.

With multiples, you're likely to make more than your fair share of trips to the doctor's office during their lifetime. It's important, therefore, to choose the right doctor. If you are an experienced parent, you may already have an affiliation with a doctor or pediatrician. If you're a new parent, you may wonder how to find a caregiver that specializes in babies and children. Either way, consider these tips to ensure that you find the best medical care for your multiples.

What types of doctors are there?

A general practitioner (GP) is a traditional family doctor. If you have an established relationship with a doctor, you may wish to have him or her treat your babies. However, most parents choose a doctor that specializes in treating children, or a pediatrician. Pediatricians are the most familiar with childhood diseases and issues, and tend to provide a more child-friendly office environment and patient experience.

Depending on their special needs, your multiples may also be treated by a neonatologist or other specialist. If they are premature, they will be treated by a neonatologist. These are doctors who have extra training in the care of sick newborns. They will generally care for infants in a hospital setting. Some multiples require continuing care from other specialists, such as cardiologists, pulmonologists, orthopedists, neurologists or physical therapists.

How do I find a doctor?

You'll want to choose a doctor that best meets your family's needs. Your health insurance or medical coverage may dictate that you patronize a specific physician, or you may have the ability to choose a doctor based on your preference. In that case, ask your friends and neighbors for some recommendations.

If you are a member of a multiples club, ask around for some ideas. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatricians can give you a list of doctors in your area.

Once you have a list of names, you'll want to arrange an interview. The best time to do this is before your multiples are born, preferably early enough in the pregnancy that you won't be impeded in your efforts if you are bedridden or deliver early. Call the office of your potential doctors and explain your situation. Ask if the practice is taking new patients, and set up an appointment for an interview.

Interviewing Doctors

Just as in real estate, location is an important factor in choosing a doctor. You want to find an office location that is convenient and easily accessible. When you visit the facilities, check out the distance from your home or workplace, as well as the parking optins and ease of entry into the building. Remember, you'll likely be visiting this place with a double stroller or two toddlers in tow. Can you manuever through the doorways?

Is there an elevator if necessary?

Evaluate the reception and waiting areas. Is the staff welcoming, attentive and pleasant? Is the waiting area comfortable ? Are there playthings, books or movies to entertain children? Are there designated areas to segregate sick and well children?

When you meet the doctor, have a list of questions ready. Be sure to inquire about his or her background and education, as well as hospital affiliations. You'll also want to devle into the doctor's philosophies on aspects of parenting that are important to you, such as breastfeeding, immunizations, or co-sleeping.

Office policies are also important considerations. What happens after-hours or when the office is closed? Is there a nurse on call who can answer non-emergency questions? Does the doctor have a partner, or a group of partners, and what determines who will care for your family? What is the schedule for checkups and immunizations? How long does it take to be seen if your children are sick?

Issues Specific to Multiples

Although there is no medical speciality for treating multiples, some doctors have more experience with twins or more than others. That increased level of familiarity may be a benefit, but it doesn't necessarily make other doctors less qualifiied. If your twins or multiples were born early, you will want to be sure your doctor is familiar with developmental issues associated with prematurity.

Inquire about any potential discounts. For example, your doctor may be willing to charge a reduced rate if both babies are scheduled for well-baby checkups at the same time. It doesn't hurt to ask!

Some doctors are willing to make concessions in treating multiples, recognizing that they often share germs. For example, if one tests positive for strep throat, they may be willing to treat the other as a preventative measure. Or, they may consider giving you a "just in case" prescription so that you don't have to return for a second office visit if the other child becomes ill. However, you should feel confident that your doctor regards your children as individuals and treats them as such.

The Bottom Line

Don't discount your personal impressions when you're selecting a doctor. Personality compatibility is important. You want a physician that you trust and respect, but also someone who respects your role as a parent.

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