Probably half the births in this country are still conducted by a general practitioner, though the proportion of deliveries he performs is gradually decreasing. In some geographic areas obstetric specialists are unavailable. However, it is a good rule that whenever possible the patient should place herself under the care of a competent, well-trained specialist. The selection of a doctor should not be guided by the fee he is reported to charge, for almost every doctor is humane and will adjust his price to the limited means of an honest patient Happily the cost of obstetrical services is not fixed, like that of a government bond.
The only criterion of a doctor should be his ability, in the broadest sense of the word. The following two questions are worth serious consideration. First, did he get his postgraduate training as a specialist in a first-class maternity hospital, preferably one associated with a teaching service, perhaps a university hospital; that is, has his training been broad and sound? Second, is he a member of the staff of the best hospital in your community; in other words, is he considered a first-class doctor by the better members of his profession?
If you move into a new community and need the services of any physician, either have the doctor at your original home refer you to a trusted colleague, or, if no such opportunity exists, call up the best hospital, not just any hospital, in the area and ask for a list of the staff in the particular field in which you need medical help. The competence of every physician on such a list is virtually guaranteed.
Once the patient has carefully selected her doctor, she should let him shoulder the full responsibility of her pregnancy and labor, with the comforting knowledge that, no matter what develops, he has had similar cases and her health will be safeguarded by this background of experience.