Questions for your Doctor... How many doctors are in the practice – will I have a primary and what are the chances that doctor will deliver my baby? What is the hospital affiliation? What is the cesarean rate? Does the doctor or the group practice perform episiotimies as a matter of course? What is the doctor’s attitude about patients having a birth plan with personal preferences? How does the doctor feel about pain medication during birth? If I happen to be a high-risk pregnancy – what is the doctor’s experience? How many babies do you deliver each year?
The Doctor’s Outlook Find out the doctor’s attitude about issues that may be important to you, such as the routine use of interventions like IVs, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, and episiotomy. You can’t predict what your individual situation will require, but you can get an idea of the general approach your doctor has to your care…not to mention his or her practice patterns. You may also want to determine the doctor’s feelings about having a doula or other support person/people present at the birth besides (or in addition to) your partner. Is the doctor supportive of natural childbirth, if that is what you’re interested in? Is breastfeeding encouraged?
Compatibility Pregnancy and childbirth are exciting, but they can also be stressful. So the best healthcare partner is one you feel comfortable with and whom you can communicate easily.
The Anatomy of Prenatal Visits You will probably need to free up your schedule to allot ample time to clear your doubts and apprehensions during the initial stages of your pregnancy as well as what to expect over the next few months. If possible, it would also be advisable to invite your partner to the doctor’s consultation. During the first meeting, the doctor will be able to give you the expected delivery date of the baby. This estimation of the date is also important for careful evaluation of the monthly growth of the fetus. For
women with irregular menstrual cycles, doctors usually recommend ultrasound scans to get a clearer picture of your delivery due date. Mothers-to-be will be asked to record their height, weight, and blood pressure to have a reliable assessment of health. In some cases, PAP tests may be required to screen for cervical cancer. On prenatal visits, blood tests are also conducted to screen for certain diseases such as: • Mumps • HIV • Measles • Kidney Disorders • Rubella • Diabetes • Syphilis Apart from these tests, the doctor will ask you about your lifestyle and eating habits and may ask you to make the appropriate changes to accommodate your pregnancy.
What to Expect in Future Visits After your first prenatal visit, you may need to see your doctor every four weeks or so until the 28th week of pregnancy, after which you will need to see each other more often. In addition to these checkups, you may also want to take advantage of other screening methods to ensure normal development of the baby. The important key here is to discuss these options with your doctor – seek his advice and expertise. A sonogram or ultrasound will also be conducted. You will be advised to take multivitamins that contain iron and folate to ensure you are getting enough nutrients in your diet. If you have questions, be sure to list them so you can discuss with your doctor. You’ll both feel better when you understand each other – relax – it’s key.
Ask Yourself... How comfortable do you feel with your doctor? Do you find it easy to ask your doctor questions? Does the doctor explain things clearly and completely? Does the doctor seem like someone who will respect your wishes? Before you move on to someone else, you might want to talk to the doctor about your concerns. If the problem can’t be resolved, or your worries aren’t addressed, don’t hesitate to change obstetricians or consider whether a midwife might be a better fit for you.
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