I donâ€™t remember my first OB visit very well. Maybe itâ€™s because there was a flood of information, or maybe I was too full of nerves and excitement to form coherent memories. But as the weeks and months have passed Iâ€™ve found that Iâ€™m getting more and more out of my visits to the obstetrician. I donâ€™t think the doctor is getting better at seeing me, I think Iâ€™m getting better at seeing the doctor. Here are some of the things I do to make sure I get the most value out of every visit.
Before the Visit
- Make a list of questions. Before my first visit there was so much I wanted to ask, but when the doctor finished examining me and asked if I had any questions I couldnâ€™t come up with anything. Nowadays I make a list of questions on my smartphone. Itâ€™s true that you can look up the answers to most questions online, but your OB knows you and your pregnancy better than any website. Donâ€™t forget to run your list by Daddy to see if he has anything to add.
- Keep track of how you feel. Your doctor will (hopefully) ask you how youâ€™ve been feeling, and itâ€™s good to have an answer. I try to keep track of how often I experience unusual symptoms like headaches, nausea, fatigue, etc. Itâ€™s pretty much always normal, but the OB canâ€™t give you advice or treatment for a problem they donâ€™t know you have. It gives me peace of mind to hear the words “thatâ€™s normal.”
- Drink a lot of water. Youâ€™re going to have to pee in a cup during every visit, so drink lots of water before your appointment.
- No Hot Chocolate Learn from my mistakes on this one. One time Jake and I stopped at a Starbucks for hot chocolate a full three hours before my visit, and the routine urine test revealed an elevated blood sugar. This set off alarms and they made me come back in after fasting carbs all morning and gave me a blood test (and a nasty drink that tasted like flat soda). Just avoid sugary stuff that might spike your blood glucose levels right before the visit.
During the Visit
- Ask questions. Remember those questions you wrote down? Now is the time so ask away.
- Take notes. Write down the answers to your questions, as well as any information or instructions your doctor gives you. If they told you what kind of vitamins to buy, wouldnâ€™t it be nice to feel confident youâ€™re getting the right one at the grocery store that afternoon. Iâ€™m lucky that Jake comes with me and writes things down while Iâ€™m talking, but if your stenographer canâ€™t attend, your OB wonâ€™t mind waiting a second while you jot things down yourself.
- Be honest. You donâ€™t gain anything by keeping secrets. The OB wonâ€™t punish you if you forgot to wear sunscreen or ate more sugar than you were supposed to. But she might have advice for you if she knows youâ€™re struggling with part of your pregnancy. You owe it to yourself and your baby to let go of your pride and get help, even if you feel embarrassed.
After the Visit
- Talk to your partner. Even if he acts like girly stuff bothers him, heâ€™s actually very interested in your health and your pregnancy. Let him know what you learned and tell him how he can help you take care of yourself.
- Follow the doctorâ€™s orders. This is the whole point, right? If your OB told you to eat more veggies then you probably ought to do it. And if you have trouble following your instructions, call them and ask for advice or make a note for your next visit.
- Reflect on your progress. Every visit feels like a milestone for me. Each time I go in and hear that my baby is healthy I spend some time before bed thinking about how grateful I am, and how much Iâ€™m looking foward to holding my daughter in my arms.
Maybe itâ€™s weird, but I look forward to seeing my Obstetrician. Hopefully you do too, but if not try doing all these things and see if it doesnâ€™t at least make the visit more productive.
Maternity Photography by Jake and Dannie Studio.