When you're pregnant, the third semester is the time to begin searching for a pediatrician. Selecting your child's doctor needn't be stressful. Take the proper steps and ask the right questions to help you choose the physician who will best treat your child's aches, ailments, and growing healthy body.

Ask for Referrals

Talk to friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family members to gather recommendations. But don't take their word for it. A good doctor for one family might not be the best fit for you. Make a list of five to six offices to research.

Research Locations — But Don't Limit Options

When you're child's sick, getting to a doctor's appointment quickly is important. On the other hand, your favorite pediatrician might be farther away than just down the road. Consider offices located within close proximity to your home, child care center, or child's school.

Meet Doctors in Person

While the office website can answer many questions, face-to-face meetings with pediatricians will help you gauge your gut feeling. From your referrals and research, narrow your list to three doctor's offices. Call the offices and ask to schedule a prenatal visit.

Evaluate the Office

First impressions make lasting ones. How long is your hold time when you call to schedule a visit? Are you greeted warmly when you arrive? Is the office clean and bright? Are there kid-friendly decorations, toys and accessories, as well as parent resources?

Ask Questions

You're picking a doctor who may very well care for your child from birth to age 18. Don't be apprehensive about asking questions.

1. How Many Physicians Are in the Practice?

If multiple physicians are on staff, find out if patients can be scheduled with any doctor.

2. What Are Your Office Hours?

Some offices have extended evening hours and weekend hours. Find out office hours and policies for holidays.

3. Which Hospital Are You Affiliated With?

Pediatricians have privileges with certain hospitals. This is an important factor when the baby is born (Is the pediatrician affiliated with the hospital at which you're planning the birth?) and future hospital visits.

4. What Children's Ages Do You Treat?

Some pediatricians only treat children from birth through a certain age. Others treat high school-aged kids, too.

5. Can Parents Schedule Same Day Sick Appointments?

When your child's sick, the last thing you want to hear is that no appointments are available for the rest of the day.

6. Are Wellness Checkups Limited to Certain Days or Certain Times?

A pediatrician may reserve certain days of the week or times of days for wellness visits.

7. What Is Your Philosophy on Breastfeeding and Circumcision?

Breastfeeding and circumcision are personal decisions made by individual families. Find out the pediatrician's opinions on both subjects.

8. How Do You Feel About Vaccines?

Pediatricians following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines believe in the importance of childhood vaccinations. If you decide to withhold certain vaccines, will the pediatrician support your decision? What is their attitude toward homeopathic and holistic medicines?

9. What Is Your Opinion About Antibiotics?

As more bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics used to fight infections, some doctors aren't as quick as others to prescribe antibiotics for illnesses. What is your philosophy on antibiotic use and does the pediatrician agree with your viewpoint?

10. Are You a Parent?

Some parents want a pediatrician who understands their questions and concerns because they've been there. Credentials and training are important, but there's something to be said for personal experience.

After you complete your research and interviews, it's time to choose. Bottom line: You aren't selecting the world's best pediatrician. You're selecting the best pediatrician for your child. Review the information you've gathered, trust your instincts, and look forward to a great doctor-patient relationship on your baby's behalf.