Pregnancy is a time when you need advice and information from your doctor, and you’ll likely get it if you ask enough questions. But prenatal checkups can fly by so fast that you forget to ask. Or you may be too flustered to understand the answers.
“Many little things can get in the way of a woman communicating effectively with her obstetrician,” says Stephanie Teal, M.D., an OB-GYN at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. In fact, even the most self-confident expectant mom can use a few pointers on how to talk with her doc.
Know your doctor
To avoid disappointments, find out at your very first appointment if you and your doctor see eye to eye on important issues, such as pain control or the presence of a doula during labor. And ask your doctor to share his or her philosophy of labor and delivery, says Michael Genord, M.D., an OB-GYN at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. “This is a discussion that can build your trust in your doctor as you discover you share common goals and interests,” Genord says. Of course, it may reveal that your views clash. If so, you still have plenty of time to choose a different doctor.
Read pregnancy guides, sign up for expectant mother emails and attend childbirth-education classes. This way, during doctor’s appointments you won’t be confused by unfamiliar medical lingo or unprepared when your doctor asks you to make necessary decisions, such as consenting to a screening test for birth defects. “The more knowledge you have about what normally happens during pregnancy, the better equipped you’ll be to take in everything your doctor says and does,” Genord says.
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Write down your concerns before each appointment. “That’s the best way to remember all the questions you wanted to ask,” Teal says. If your “need to discuss” list is long, show courtesy by calling ahead to ask if you should book a double appointment.