Pregnancy changes everything — your body, your life, and your future. When you're experiencing pregnancy for the first time, you're bound to have a ton of questions; some of which seem totally inappropriate. However, I think the "inappropriate" questions pregnant women wish they could ask their midwife are (usually) super important. (And if they're not, the conversation is sure to be, at the very least, entertaining.)
Now that I'm pregnant for the third time, I seem to have no shame or filter when it comes to asking inappropriate questions. However, I can assure you that wasn't always the case. When I was pregnant for the first time there were a seemingly unending list of questions I didn't ask my midwives, mostly because I thought they were awkward and I was embarrassed or, honestly, I just didn't know to even begin to go about asking.
Weird symptoms can be harmless and normal, or they can be cause for serious concern. Every pregnant person deserves to feel supported by their health care provider, and to receive evidence-based medical care with unbiased answers to their questions. Even if those answers are, "I'm not sure, but I will find out as soon as humanly possible." There's a ridiculous a mount of seemingly inappropriate questions I wish I had asked my midwife the first and second time around. It may have made all the difference.
"Are You Pro-Choice?"
I totally didn't think to ask this, and I wish I had. I moved from a blue state to a red state between having my first two kids. My first certified nurse midwife (CNM) was a badass feminist who actually lobbied congress to allow CNMs to be able to perform abortions. I had no idea that my next midwife would not only be anti-choice, but would not support patients if they needed to terminate a pregnancy due to an incompatible-with-life fetal diagnosis.
I didn't find out until she asked me to schedule my anatomy ultrasound for 22 weeks, so it was "after the cut off for abortion" in my state. She also didn't offer first trimester screening (even though it's recommended that all pregnant women be offered screenings for chromosomal disorders) and wanted me to sign a statement saying that I wouldn't terminate my pregnancy prior to giving me an ultrasound. WTAF?
Bottom line: Providers need to support patients in pursuing evidence-based medical care. Make sure your midwife is on board.
"Are You A Mom? Have You Done This Before?"
I know that seems like a weird and personal question, but I prefer obstetrics providers who have been there and done that.
"Is This Normal?"
Pregnancy is full of weird symptoms, aches, pains, and fluids. Some are completely harmless or just annoying, but others are definitely important enough to ask your provider about. Trust me when I say your midwife has likely heard it all before, so you're not breaking any new ground here. On the off-chance they haven't, they can call a specialist for more answers.
"What’s Going On With My Vagina?"
Seriously. What's going on down there? Between discharge, pain, sexual changes, and even the occasional funky smell, burning or itching; some vaginal symptoms during pregnancy are completely normal and others require a prescription. So, you know, just ask. Your midwife has seen a ton of vaginas, so there's no reason to be shy.
"What Are My Options For Pain Management During Labor?"
It's a common misconception that midwives want their patients to do child birth sans medication. However, if you are interested in an epidural or narcotics, you should probably ask about your options before you go into labor. The last thing you want is a dirty look or offhand comment from a provider you trust to make you feel shame during child birth, or worse, for there to not be an anesthesiologist at the hospital when you ask for an epidural.
"Is There Anything I Can Take For Nausea?"
Pregnancy can cause nausea for a lot of women. Morning sickness sucks and hyperemesis gravidarum, or extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, can be serious. Because our culture and the media have successfully downplayed pregnancy nausea as no worse than a "bad hangover," many women feel bad or "weak" even mentioning it. Don't. Get help. With luck it will resolve on it's own, but you may need fluids or meds to see you through.
"Will You Judge Me During Labor?"
I was so concerned that my midwives would judge me during labor, whether it was judging me for not following my birth plan, asking for meds, or pooping on the table. I wanted to show them the most badass birth they'd ever seen.
The truth is, all births are badass. All pregnant people deserve a provider who will support their choices. When in doubt, ask.
"Help! What Can I Do To Poop?"
I wish I could have a normal poop. Between pregnancy hormones, a limited diet, and anti-nausea drugs, I seriously haven't had a normal poop in months. I am willing to try anything, but that requires asking for advice. Why is asking about poop so hard? (Pun intended.)
"What Are My Options For Birth Control After Delivery?"
Whether you are interested in a tubal ligation at the hospital after delivery or a prescription for birth control at your postpartum appointment, the time to discuss this is now. Not all midwives are able to or willing to prescribe birth control and not all hospitals are willing to perform tubal ligations. I found this out the hard way, when I had to call around town to find a birth control provider after I was told at my postpartum appointment that they couldn't help me. This was seriously no fun (especially with a newborn).
"Do I Have To Try Breastfeeding? Will You Help Me If I Want To?"
You don't have to breastfeed. In fact, you don't have to even try breastfeeding if you don't want to. Formula is awesome and #fedisbest. So, whatever your decide, make sure your provider knows your plans for feeding your baby before you deliver.
If you plan to breastfeed, ask them what kind of training and experience they have supporting breastfeeding moms and troubleshooting issues. Ask them who can help you breastfeed at the hospital and after you go home.
Also, be sure to ask what happens if things don't go as planned. How do you know if you need to supplement with formula, and will the hospital provide this or do you need to bring your own? Trust me, you don't want to have to take a cranky, days-old newborn to the store for formula, because you were afraid to ask your midwife.