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What to Do When You’re Not Happy with Your Pregnancy Provider

Switching providers can make all the difference

by Quilted Health Team

A person holding a tissue is unhappy with their care provider.
When you start your care with one provider, you’re under no obligation to continue with them through your entire pregnancy. Why might you want to “break up” with your provider, and how can you find a new one?

Key Takeaways

  • You can switch providers during pregnancy to receive care that better serves your needs and desires.
  • Some midwives or OBs even accept transfers as late as 40 weeks! Every provider has their own policy.
  • Have your prenatal records sent to your new provider as soon as possible.

Perhaps you started your prenatal care with the first midwife or OB who showed up with availability in an online search. And, unfortunately, it turns out that they’re… not great. Maybe you defaulted to the same provider you’ve been seeing for  gynecological care for years, but you don’t see eye-to-eye for pregnancy care. Or, you initially decided on a practice you thought would be a good fit, but it turned out to be not your style. Are you stuck?

Absolutely not! You do not have to give birth with the same doctor or midwife who started your prenatal care. You can switch pregnancy care providers mid-pregnancy so that you can find the right one for you, your pregnancy, and your baby.

Why might you want to switch providers?

To put it simply, what works for others may not work for you! You may want specific attributes in a pregnancy care provider, such as someone who provides more culturally competent care or gender-affirming care. You might simply wish for a provider who better respects your needs and desires or who you have a stronger connection with. And of course, switching providers is inevitable if you’re moving to a new community, city, or state. Changes in insurance might also mean changing providers to stay in-network and keep costs down.

Sometimes unanticipated complications arise later in pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or even mental health issues. You also might start talking more seriously about what labor and birth will look like and what interventions you’re comfortable with. If you aren’t satisfied with how your provider is treating you when these types of situations arise, the B.R.A.I.N. framework can be very helpful. Ask your provider about the benefits, risks, and alternatives of their suggestions. Check in with your intuition, and see what the next steps would be, or what would happen if you did nothing. Gathering this information will not only guide you in the particular decision, but it will also inform you about how your provider is likely to guide you in future decisions. If you don’t feel supported or listened to, changing providers could make a big difference.

Even if you love your current provider, if they or their practice are unable to support your birth plan, you might consider switching. For example, some hospitals and birth centers don’t allow water births or don’t have the right equipment. If you really want a water birth, your choices are to switch providers or compromise on your birth plan.

For your information

There are other reasons you might need to transfer care. If your pregnancy becomes too high-risk for midwifery care, you’ll need to transfer to a different kind of provider. This can happen mid-pregnancy or mid-labor!

How late can you transfer care?

This question depends entirely on the provider or practice you wish to transfer to. Some providers have cutoff dates in the late second or third trimesters. Others will accept transfers very late (even forty weeks!), but conditionally. Most providers will need your prenatal records or prefer to meet with you in person before making a decision.

Usually transferring before or at twenty weeks doesn’t present much of a problem. Most major hospitals will accept transfers up to thirty-eight weeks. Smaller clinics and birth centers may have an earlier cutoff due to capacity limits.

Will it be awkward?

Doctors and midwives understand that everyone has different needs and desires. You don’t need to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings! After all, it’s your body and your pregnancy.

Your old provider may ask why you’re transferring care. If you’re comfortable sharing your reasoning, it can help them to improve their practice in the future. However, you don’t need to explain or justify your choice to anyone.

Transferring before or at twenty weeks doesn’t present much of a problem. Most major hospitals will accept transfers up to thirty-eight weeks. Smaller clinics and birth centers may have an earlier cutoff.

How do you choose a new provider?

First, ask yourself why you want to transfer care. This will give you a good idea of what to look for in a new provider. What did you like, and what did you dislike? What made you feel safe and supported, and what made you uncomfortable?

If you’re familiar with providers in your area, the answers to these questions may inform your search. If you’re feeling a little lost, many people in the birthing community may be able to point you in the right direction. A doula, pelvic floor physical therapist, prenatal yoga teacher, lactation consultant, or prenatal massage therapist may have a trusted network of practices or individual providers you can reach out to. Some doctors and midwives offer consultations so you can see if they’re a good match for your needs.

Another thing to be aware of is whether your insurance is accepted. If it’s not, look at your out-of-network costs or talk to the practice about other payment options.

A person sits at a table with a computer and writes notes.

What do you need to change providers?

After you decide who you’d like your new provider to be, ask your old provider to transfer your prenatal records to your new provider. You can initiate the transfer yourself, or your new provider might make the request on your behalf. You’ll also need to get your new provider your insurance information. 

If you have consultations with potential new providers before choosing one, ask what their protocol is for switching care. Each practice has its own requirements. Getting paperwork sorted earlier rather than later is always helpful!

Pregnancy care is a partnership

Ultimately, your pregnancy care is a partnership between you and your provider. Shared decision-making, mutual respect, and trust are all important to consider when choosing a doctor or midwife. If you aren’t getting what you need out of your current relationship, you have every right to find someone who fits your needs better.

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Quilted Health Team

Quilted Health leads the way in midwife-centered, whole-person pregnancy care.

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