Is a Young OB Better Than an Older One?


candy doctorEveryone has different comfort levels when it comes to choosing a doctor -- some prefer fancy credentials, some go on referrals alone, and some just want a soothing bedside manner. Your first pregnancy though is an emotional, exciting, nerve-racking time, filled with various tests, multiple appointments, and, inevitably, several "Is this normal?!" moments. And in the end, this man or woman will be the one bringing your child into the world, so you may be even more discerning about the OB that's right for you.

Without a doubt, age often comes into play. Many might want a doctor who's been-there, done-that and knows his way around an L&D room. Others might want a younger doc who's up on the latest technologies, still has that youthful exuberance, and may even be having a new baby themselves. As for me, I've always chosen doctors who are somewhere in the middle -- they still seem to get joy out of what they do, but they've done this many, many times before.

I picked my early-50s-age OB because he came highly recommended, delivers at one of the best hospitals in the country, has a ton of experience, and has been doing this for a while ... but not too long. He's easy-going, warm, puts me at ease, but also seems to really know his stuff. Then, a couple of days ago, I got a call from his office, explaining that his flight home after the long weekend had been cancelled, he wouldn't be back for a couple more days, and I would need to see another doctor for my weekly appointment. Another doctor?! I'm 35 weeks pregnant with twins -- they could come at any time! Who is this hack you're passing me off on?! Does the airline know he has patients about to give birth? A friend of mine who used the same OB once joked that when he went out of town during her pregnancy, she almost had a What About Bob moment and followed him on vacation. Good thing for the doctor that she wasn't cleared to fly.

Anyway, I wasn't sure how I felt about having a substitute doctor, so I did some research. She had really good credentials, but she was clearly just a few years older than me. Plus, she was gorgeous, and while I shouldn't hold that against her, she didn't seem to have that comforting dork authority that I've come to expect in my doctors. That's okay, I reassured myself, I just won't go into labor in the next 24 hours and all will be good.

Well, let me just say, Miss OB America was freakin' awesome! I'd gone in there all nervous, but she immediately put me at ease with her laid-back demeanor and her enthusiasm. She was kind of like a Grey's Anatomy doctor, and I was digging it. After looking at my chart, she had a, "Oh fun, twins!" response, which made me feel like this was as fun for her as it was for me. Next, she sat down and really talked to me about how I was feeling (which seemed genuine, and not just part of some obligatory routine). Then, she went, "Alright, let's get a look at those babies!" I almost wanted to shout back, "Woohoo! Yeah, let's do this!"

As soon as she put her hands on my tummy, she pointed out that I was having a "practice contraction" right then and there. I was shocked! I have been waiting weeks for these Braxton Hicks that everyone keeps talking about, and assumed that I just wasn't getting them. In that first hands-on-tummy minute though, she was able to show me what it felt like, explain what it was and why it was happening, and even guess as to why I might have been mistaking them for the synchronized stretching of twins. Anyway, I got so excited that I reached out and grabbed her hand, something I never would have done with my regular OB.

She was so eager to share all of this new information that I started hitting her up for more answers. It's not that I don't ask my regular OB questions, but this woman was just so into the science of baby-growing, and gave me really interesting, detailed responses to questions that I wouldn't even have thought to ask. In 10 minutes with her, I got more insight than I think I have in seven months, on everything from the complications with twin deliveries, why my babies are actually in the best position for vaginal delivery (but also why c-section might still be a better option for identical twins), and what I can expect when I go into labor. I even discussed the details of my birth plan with her, just to get her opinion, which she responded to with either a high-five or a thumbs-up! I felt so, so ... understood. And, thanks to her enthusiasm, I felt better informed too. As busy as she was, she clearly loved talking about this stuff.

But, I did have a couple of reminders that she was still a bit new at this. When I asked about this very rare pregnancy condition, she knew about it, but ended up having to Google it to find out more. Also, when we were talking about twin deliveries, she made reference to "This one patient I had who delivered twins ..." Now, I'm sure she probably has delivered more than one set of twins, but from the way she was retelling the story, it made it seem like a twin delivery was an anecdote to her, not par for the course. If she delivered my babies, would her next story go something like, "Then, the second time I delivered twins, they were identical and ..."

As I was walking out though, we acknowledged that while we both hoped that I didn't go into labor in the next 24 hours, it was great that we got to know each other in case I did. To be honest, I kind of wanted to exchange digits and invite her on a girl-date for coffee, but I restrained myself. Ultimately, I walked away feeling happy that I'd had the chance to talk with her, grateful that my original OB would be back in time to deliver my babies, and sure that, in five years, I'd want Miss OB America to be my doctor.

Do you prefer a younger OB, an older one, or someone in between?

Image via clevercupcakes/Flickr

labor & delivery, tests & procedures, obgyn


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Michelle Smith

I definitely want someone in between... the older docs that I have have seemed a little more burned out and the rookies that I had in the hospital always left me feeling like I knew more than them. To me it's very important that if the doctor is young that she HAS her own children and has had a birth experience of her own. I think that personal experience can make up for less years seeing patients. Also, with my first child I had to have an assisted delivery (forceps) and having a doctor with LOTS of experience was in my favor when it came down to it. Experience made a major difference in a very complicated medical situation.

DyerM... DyerMaker

I am 37 weeks pregnant with my second son. My OB happens to be a girl I have known since 7th grade... yep, you got it... a former classmate.With my first son, I had an OB that also taught med students and residents at one of the best teaching hospitals in my state. When it came time to deliver, I found out that MY doctor couldn't promise he would be there for a scheduled induction... THEN, I found out that I was going to be some sort of guinea pig for the residents.... NOT what I wanted, but i kinda knew it could happen, given that the hospital is a teaching one. The induction failed, but my water had been broken (n its own) for over 24 hours, so they determined they would do an emergency c section. The OB on my son's birth certificate had a familiar name... it WAS my friend from junior high/high school. She was finishing her last year of residency, and NEITHER of us planned on HER delivering my child. I didn't see her until the next day when she went to follow up, and she was as blown away from the fact that SHE delivered a child to someone she knew. It was kinda neat for both of us to share, so, when she opened up her own private practice and moved to a different hospital a few months later, I followed. I never expected to be "buddies" with a doc of mine, but really, when it comes to bringing babies into this world, I wouldn't do it any differently! 

nonmember avatar Melissa

My OB is somewhere in between. We chose him because he came highly recommended by several different people, and because we totally clicked with him at my first appointment (yes, the husband went to every appointment with me - he's an adorable freak of nature). I absolutely LOVE my OB.

However, I gave birth over the weekend and he wasn't even the OB on call! A different OB from the practice (it's attached to the hospital and it's a group) delivered my baby. But he was super nice and paid attention to my birth preferences and did a great job.

And my OB woke me up at 7 in the morning on Monday in my hospital room to congratulate me.

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

For me I like the in between. With my first baby, I started with one dr and she went to a diff clinic and instead of messing with insurance and following her I went to a diff dr in the same office. He was great! His pa was awesome too! Loved her! Then when I got pregnant the 2nd time I went back to my original ob and I still loved her when it was time to deliver. I'm glad I had great in between obs. Both weren't crazy old or young and both delivered lots of babies.

heave... heavenlybliss19

My midwife was in her 50's, I believe. I chose her because she is female, she is very personable and friendly, she was straight-forward, and she was more help to me than ever.  She felt more like a friend or close family member than a doctor, and flat out told me when I was 40 weeks "I'll be gone this weekend, don't you dare have this baby!  If you even THINK you feel labor pains, call me and I'll come back.  I want to be the one to deliver your baby."  I carried her to 41 weeks, giving birth just days after she came back.    I would never choose a young OB.  I think that experience is the way to go.

Allison Priest Leonard

I would choose a midwife, but if a condition prevented me from doing so, I would choose an older OB. The reason is that they have more experience. If I had to see an OB because of a breech baby, I would try to find a hospital that allowed vaginal breech birth, and generally, an older OB would have more experience with vaginal breech deliveries because they just don't happen very often anymore.

sweet... sweetashyb

I always thought I'd prefer younger OBs, but I've found that I really love my current OB who is in his early 70s...he's actually the doctor who delivered me & my siblings :)  My doc with my first was young, and while I loved his personality during visits, I did NOT like him during labor & delivery...DH and I are actually pretty sure he showed up drunk to deliver our son. Doc with my second child was in his mid30s and had 8 kids of his own, so he was definitely very easy going and great with my son (who came to every appt. with me)...but he was constantly late, a combination of being overbooked & having to constantly having to run out to deal with issues with his kids, plus he was very much into trying to schedule an induction from early on in the pregnancy, which I really did not want. My current doc is just awesome...he's very much a hands-off, let pregnacy be pregnancy and leave it alone kind of doctor, which I love. He's great with my kids, stays up to date on recommendations but never really got into the whole scheduling birth for convenience fad, and he's much more open to natural birth than any other doctor I've met.

mleil... mleilanim

NO OB/GYN is a good one...however when forced to see one I want the one w the whitest hair. I recently graduated RN school & when I saw the Drs @ th hospitals I about DIED. They look like they're 12! No ma'am. Gimme grandpa...don't gimme my son.

winte... winterrose82

I prefer more experienced doctors as OBs, but I like younger doctors as pediatricians, family care and psychologists.


angev... angevil53

i wanted a woman, but couldn't get in to see her for more than a month. which made me think i'd never see her period. the woman at the desk suggested my dr and he's awesome! i was nervous about man, bc what the heck does a man know about birth?! but so far he's been great, personally calls me, emails me, makes sure i am at ease, and doesn't have trouble trusting me.

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