Picking the right obstetrics provider to manage your medical care during pregnancy and childbirth can be challenging. I ended up with half a dozen providers over the course of my three pregnancies. It wasn't just that I was indecisive (although sometimes I can be). It's because I needed to have a provider I could trust to provide evidence-based medical care, listen to my needs, and help me safely carry tiny humans for 40 weeks (more or less). I discovered the hard way that if your OB-GYN doesn't know these nine things, it's time to make a switch. Like, immediately.
My quest for the right provider started early in my pregnancy. I had hyperemesis gravidarum and every provider at the practice told me it was just morning sickness and suggested that I try crackers or ginger ale, as if I hadn't already. One doctor even refused to give me medication or fluids when I hadn't eaten for days and was so dehydrated my pee looked like apple juice. Yep, that particular provider definitely wasn't the right doctor for me.
Then, there was the OB-GYN I saw early in my second trimester, who fat-shamed me at my appointment, saying that I was gaining weight too quickly and needed to eat healthier or I was going to get diabetes. Not only is that not how gestational diabetes works, but I really wish this particular doc had taken a look at my chart to see that I had gained weight after losing weight my entire first trimester. Ugh. Besides, fat-shaming patients is really uncool.
When I developed preeclampsia during my second pregnancy, the Maternal Fetal Specialist I saw had no bedside manner whatsoever. He talked directly to my husband instead of me, examined me roughly without telling me what he was doing and why, and didn't show up to the induction he scheduled, leaving me with the on-call midwife who thought inductions were unnecessary because "your baby will come when they are ready." It was a horrible, scary birth experience, complicated by the fact that it was at a Catholic hospital that treated my needs as secondary to that of my baby.
For my last pregnancy, I was eventually able to find a provider I trusted and who respected me and my choices, but I had quite the adventure finding her. So if you're on your own journey to finding the OB-GYN for you, keep in mind the following things:
The Importance Of Vaccinations
Did you know that if you get a Tdap vaccine (protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) and a flu shot during your third trimester of pregnancy that you will protect yourself and your baby will receive potentially life-saving immunity, too? Which can be so important because a newborn can't be vaccinated for their first few months of life.
During my second pregnancy, my provider actually said to me, "I don't advise moms to put anything extra in their bodies." Umm, and by "extra" you mean, like, immunity to horrible, preventable diseases? Yes, please.
That Your Body Belongs To You
Your right to bodily autonomy does not go away when you get pregnant. I expect my OB-GYN, especially to ask before they touch or examine me and to let me know what they are doing when they do. It's my body.
That Fat Shaming Is Not Helpful
If you patient is overweight, I promise they know it. You do not have to tell them. Yes, it's your responsibility to tell them if it increases their risk for health complications, but unless they actually test positive for those conditions, fat does not equal unhealthy.
That Prenatal Screening Is Important
When I was pregnant the second time, my provider scheduled my second trimester ultrasound for 23 weeks. I questioned the timing, because it seemed super late to me, and the nurse told me that they delay the ultrasound until then, because terminating a pregnancy for medical reasons is not legal after 20 weeks in our state. WTAF? If your provider delays important health screenings as a way to fulfill their personal agenda, they need to go.
That Symptoms Are Not In Your Head
Having hyperemesis gravidarum was a nightmare. For 22 weeks I vomited several times a day, but the doctors and nurses kept sending me home because it was "just morning sickness." Finally, and after repeated attempts, I got someone to listen to me and prescribe medication for my nausea, but not before I became dangerously dehydrated, lost 15 percent of my body weight, and my kidneys started shutting down. I guess it wasn't just morning sickness, after all.
If your doctor minimizes your real illness, it's time to find a new one.
That You Are Their Patient, Not Your Partner
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people address my husband and not me. When I was in the hospital during my last pregnancy, the on-call OB actually addressed my husband about whether or not I should get a C-section. Um, seriously? I'm right here, dude.
That Pain Management In Labor Is Up To You
A laboring person should not have to beg for pain management. Period. End of story.
It was super unkind for my provider to make me beg for an epidural. It was just as cruel to ask me whether or not I wanted to "give up." WTAF? Pain management during labor is not giving up. It exists for a reason, and the woman going through the actual pains of labor and delivery is entitled to use them whenever and however she sees fit.
That Fed Is Best
If your OB-GYN asks if you plan to breastfeed or formula feed once, that's great. But make no mistake: once should be it. Once they know your postpartum feeding plans, they should stop inquiring altogether.
Breastfeeding is awesome, and formula-feeding is awesome. No one deserves to be shamed by their health care provider about how they choose to feed their baby.
That Birth Control Is A Human Right
During my second pregnancy, I learned that my provider was unwilling to prescribe birth control, or even refer me to someone who would. WTAF? It seems unbelievable that a women's health provider won't provide birth control. I am so glad I switched to a different OB-GYN, especially after having four separate providers tell me that they wouldn't help me, either.
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