Going to a prenatal appointment can be intimidating—but shouldn’t be! When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was not a nurse. Seven years later when I was pregnant with my son, I was. But all of the anxiety I felt about going to my prenatal appointments was the same with each pregnancy. I always made sure I took a reallllly good bath before each appointment 🙂 I used the hottest water and tried to soap-up all kinds of weird places. I made sure to shave a handful of different areas of my body, places that had never seen the gleam of a razor before. It was much worse than preparing for a first date. And when finally in the examination room, I would nervously talk about anything other than my pregnancy. I didn’t want to ask any silly questions. I didn’t want to appear stupid or uneducated. I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to know, and what “normal” questions were. I wanted the appointment to be over as quickly as possible and above all, I didn’t want her to remember my stretch marks or any area I accidentally missed shaving.
So here are a few things to remember if you’re pregnant (or planning to be):
- Your provider will not remember you. I don’t mean this to sound harsh, but more than likely, your provider will not remember all the details of your health history. They may not even remember you. They will definitely not remember your stretch marks, your vagina, or any body part, shaved or unshaved. They will review your chart or medical record to jog their memory, so it’s important to tell them anything you think is important so that they can document it during your prenatal visits.
- Do not expect your provider to be experts in everything. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of this is anything to do with breastfeeding. All providers across the board can agree on one thing: they all recommend breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months, and should encourage you to continue breastfeeding for at least a year. But do not expect them to know more than that about breastfeeding. If they do, that’s a bonus! But if you ever hear the words “you can’t breastfeed” or “pump and dump” or have any questions at all about medications and breastfeeding, the best thing to do is to ask a board-certified lactation consultant.
- You need to discuss your birth options with your provider before you’re admitted to the hospital to have your baby. During your pregnancy—so during your prenatal appointments—you need to talk to your provider about anything and everything you can think of that you might want during the delivery your baby. Early on, you need to tell your provider how you would like to deliver your baby, and any other requests you know you’ll have. It’s important that you tell them this early in your pregnancy so that if they’re not on board with your wishes, you can find another provider.
- Remember that this is the birth of your baby. You have many options, and you get to choose which provider you allow to assist you with the birth of your baby. Don’t ever feel like you don’t have choices, or feel bullied into anything regarding your care or the care of your baby. That being said, understand that providers do not always disagree or suggest alternatives because they don’t want to be supportive. Sometimes it really comes down to what’s safest for you and your baby. It’s good to establish open, honest communication with your provider early in your pregnancy so you both form a trusting relationship. Do this early in your pregnancy so if you don’t think a connection is there (and don’t think one can be made) you can find another provider.
- Tour the hospital that you plan on delivering at. When you take your tour, say hello to the staff. You can also hang around after the tour (or go back) and ask to speak to the unit manager if you have any specific questions regarding any particular wishes or requests. If you don’t get the reception you think is warranted (and they’re not crazy-busy), ask your provider about other hospitals you can deliver at.
- If you’re aiming to have a vaginal delivery, consider what it would be like if you ended up with a cesarean delivery. What requests would be honored if you ended up delivering from above instead of below 🙂 This is something you should discuss with your provider, even if you expect to have a vaginal delivery.
Until my next delivery ❤