Visiting the doctor during pregnancy can make you feel like you’re in the hot seat — What have you been eating? How have you been feeling? Have you been exercising? With all the information that gets thrown at us, a simple prenatal check-up can leave you with more questions than answers. During every stage of pregnancy it is easy to forget that our doctors are there to answer our questions, too!
Your healthcare provider’s primary role is to ensure mom and baby are healthy, and to make you feel comfortable and confident. Once you find the right healthcare provider for your pregnancy, you can ease your mind and connect to your pregnancy by asking lots of questions. Healthcare experts welcome questions from expectant mothers, expect that you will have concerns, and agree that asking questions can help you feel more confident and connected throughout your pregnancy.
With everything that’s happening in and to your body, it can be difficult to remember everything you want to ask. So in addition to sharing your medical history and writing down any questions or concerns you have as you think of them during the day, use this list of 9 questions healthcare providers want you to ask to understand your pregnancy health.
1) My Weekly Measurement Results?
Knowing your weight changes, blood pressure, bump measurements (fundal height) and baby’s heart rate can help you gauge, in hard numbers, how your pregnancy is progressing. Asking your healthcare provider about average ranges and his or her expectations for you based on your current health can help ease your mind if you aren’t familiar with these diagnostic tools.
2) Do’s and Don’ts?
While these are usually guidelines, your healthcare provider will be able to provide you with an up to date list of safe and unsafe activities and foods during pregnancy. Additionally, your doctor will address any individual primary tests that show potential for complication; for example high blood pressure or placental issues, and what you should do or avoid to reduce your risk for complication.
3) Nutritional Guidance?
In addition to recommending you take a prenatal vitamin and increase your water intake, your healthcare provider can provide you with standard nutritional guidance and recommended servings, as well as personalized suggestions based on your specific health needs, for example, providing a list of iron-rich food if your blood work indicates low iron.
4) Are my Meds Safe?
Confirm with your doctor that all medications you’re currently taken are safe, or ask about safe alternatives. Recent studies have linked some anti-depressants taken during pregnancy to a variety of complications after birth. Contraindications between medication and pregnancy are not uncommon, so be sure to share with your healthcare provider any medication (including your vitamin) you take, and ask them to confirm they are safe for pregnancy. Don’t stop taking any regular, necessary medications without talking to your healthcare provider, and ask for substitution medications that are safe for pregnancy for conditions where medication is necessary.
5) What Testing is Recommended?
Many healthcare providers differ in what testing they regard as necessary versus voluntary, and testing can vary based on a woman’s age, health, and medical history. When choosing a healthcare provider be sure to ask their position on tests such as nuchal translucency ultrasounds, amniocentesis, CVS, quad screen, and Alpha-fetoprotein analysis– do some research as well as asking your doctor what each of these tests are for and how they are performed. Additionally you can ask when standard tests, such as gestational diabetes testing and routine ultrasounds, are performed.
6) Appointment Frequency?
Standard prenatal healthcare (without complications) will mean that your healthcare provider should see you once a month until 30 weeks, every other week until 36 weeks, then every week until delivery. Some doctors, especially when expectant moms experience complications, will require more visits. Additionally you should ask if they will be seeing you for the duration of the pregnancy, or if you will be required to switch doctors at any point in the pregnancy.
7) Is This Normal?
Questions about your symptoms may seem uninteresting and can often be embarrassing (gassy, anyone?), but rest assured your healthcare provider has heard it before and can often offer solutions, remedies, and peace of mind when those pregnancy symptoms are making you worry– or driving you crazy!
8) Who Do I Call for Emergencies?
If your doctor doesn’t provide after-hours care for emergencies or questions, it’s important to ask who your next contact is, for example which hospital they recommend or another doctor they work closely with. If complications arise, such as spotting or unusual pain be sure you understand whether your doctor will take calls or expects you to go directly to the hospital.
9) Who will Deliver Baby & Where?
Your healthcare provider is human, they may take vacation or leave, and in some places doctors are not on call for deliveries. Confirming with your doctor whether he or she will be delivering the baby or if it will be an on-call doctor when the time comes is an important step in preparing for delivery. You will also want to know ahead of time what hospital you will deliver at, so you can do a hospital tour. If you’ll be scheduling a c-section or induction, ask about birthing options and what doctors will be working with you.
Armed with these questions and some research, you’ll be able to confidently walk out of each doctors appointment during your pregnancy feeling reassured and confident.