I’ve been deluged with reader questions lately that all share one thing. They all ask: Can you tell me if I’m OK? I’ve gotten questions about breastfeeding, stomach pain, spotting, missed periods, cramps, discharge and many other subjects. Readers range from “not sure they’re pregnant” to somewhere near the end of their pregnancy. They’re all confused about a symptom, feeling or piece of information they’ve picked up somewhere and just want me to tell them: You’re OK.
The hard part of my job is that while I suspect every one of my readers really is “OK,” I’m not the one who should be officially telling them that. That’s a job for your doctor, midwife, mother or sister. What I can do, however, is provide a “how-to” for talking to your healthcare provider (or mom or sister) about sensitive subjects.
1) Unique to you/Routine to us
The fact is, when you work in women’s health for a while, like most doctors and midwives do, these subjects aren’t all that sensitive any more. We know they’re unique to you because most of you haven’t experienced this kind of pain, spotting, cramping, discharge or other symptom before. For us? It’s just part of the job.
Assume we’ve heard your question from 10 other women this week (we probably have) and pretend you’re asking about something as common as laundry detergent (it probably is). This will help you feel less awkward about it.
2) Be specific
It really helps us figure out what’s up if you describe your experience as clearly as possible. This helps: I’ve had a clear, non-smelly discharge for about a week now. It doesn’t itch. There’s no blood. I haven’t had sex lately.
This doesn’t help: Something’s coming out down there.
See the difference? The first statement gives me a lot of information. The second is going to take some time to figure out. “Something” could be anything from a baby’s head to a tampon. “Down there” could be pretty much anywhere below your mouth. Help us out, OK? Use the correct words and tell us everything. There’s no way you can shock or embarrass us. We will not judge you. We will treat you with respect and courtesy. That’s our job, honey.
3) Be prepared/do your homework
It helps women feel more comfortable with the changes they’re going through if they read up on common signs/symptoms of pregnancy. A lot of the weird things you’re experiencing won’t seem so weird anymore (OK, they’re still kind of weird) once you realize they’re just part of the deal. Wonder why your nipples are getting bigger? How about that stripe of hair trailing from your navel to your pubic area? Is this a leak or a discharge? What’s the difference between spotting and bleeding? It’s in the book.
That said, don’t mess around too long. It’s far better for you to call your doctor with questions and concerns than waste time being an online detective. Check out the pregnancy books before you get pregnant just so you know what to expect. Then, when problems crop up, you’ll be clued in.
Are you OK? Well, readers, the answer is almost always, “probably.” Every pregnancy is unique and only your healthcare provider can say for sure. Your mom might know too. Thanks all of you for your excellent questions. We’re all feeling a little shaky these days. I don’t know many people who aren’t wondering if, indeed, they’re really OK. My guess? They probably are. We all just want some reassurance.
Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.