She's pregnant! Congratulations! Now what? Whether mom-to-be's first reaction was to cry or jump up and down with joy, chances are one of the first calls she makes is to her gyno to set up an initial prenatal appointment.
Bringing a list of questions to the first prenatal appointment is a great idea because an OB/GYN can offer a lot of helpful advice regarding a pregnancy. For example, she can recommend a high quality prenatal vitamin or any necessary supplements pertinent to mama's specific needs. Some women need extra iron while some need extra B vitamins, and only a qualified doctor can help with those topics. Doctors can also suggest helpful remedies for morning sickness or if needed, she can prescribe something to help get through the work day without yakking (too much).
Pregnancy is nothing short of a huge question-fest. Is this safe? Is that safe? Is this normal. Is that normal? Shoot any questions towards an OB and she'll tackle them all with ease.
But doctors may not tell their patients everything. There's some things that a doctor may want to tell her patient but just can't bring herself to say it out loud. Sometimes she keeps her mouth shut to avoid a pointless fight. Sometimes she keeps her mouth shut to help ease a patient's anxiety. Here are 15 things gynos can't get themselves to tell their pregnant patients.
15The Birth Plan Isn't A Contract
Imagine you are pregnant in 1900. When you are ready to have your baby, the midwife comes over to your home and supports you through your labor. You labor (without drugs) until it is time to push. You push, deliver the baby, and the midwife checks you for excessive bleeding. It's straight forward: you do what the midwife told you to do.
Fast forward to 2017: you arrive at the hospital with your birth plan; in a nutshell, you tell the doctor what to do. Of course, there are a few check boxes that you do have control over (like to breastfeed or not, to circumcise or not), but for the most part, birth plans have gone completely out of control. Some women create pages of orders for their doctors, orders that are actually verging on un-safe. Some moms even demand, "no interventions whatsoever." As someone who benefited from a life-saving intervention, I don't think it's fair to reject everything. Birth, like parenting, can be unpredictable - best to just go with the flow.
It's hard to tell a pregnant woman what to do (have you tried?), but gynos want to shout so badly: lay off the crazy birth plans!
14Weight Gain? Don't Blame The Baby!
What's more iconic than a pregnant mama chowing on pizza, chow mien, ice cream, and pickles? Well, it might be nice to think of pregnancy as a free pass to eat with reckless abandon, but your OB doesn't recommend eating like that.
So the old "eating for two" myth is out the window. Of course, you will gain weight, but just how much? It depends on your pre-pregnancy BMI of course. Underweight mamas are encouraged to gain between 28-40 pounds while average weight mamas should gain 25-35. If you're starting pregnancy overweight, aim for a 15-25 pound gain. Moms of multiples, obviously, should expect to gain more overall.
Although, to be honest, when all you crave is hamburgers and ice cream (me!) gaining this amount was hard. If you need help setting a diet for your pregnancy needs, ask your doc for a little guidance.
13No Couch Potatoes Allowed
I get it. I really get it. Making a baby is hard work. I remember those first trimester days when it took all of my bodily strength to keep my eyes open, and even then I was known to fall asleep in some pretty weird places. Then, second trimester hits and you think, "I better rest while I can." Then, the third trimester hits and rolling over in bed is an Olympic sport. A really difficult Olympic sport.
So yeah, I get that pregnancy isn't the time in your life when you want to be exercising all day. But that is not what you OB expects from you. She wants you to keep exercising. Not only does exercise help keep your weight gain in check, it also helps your body prepare for labor. Seriously. Light exercise can also help relieve constipation, backaches, and bloating.
*Safety first: Just be sure to clear all exercise plans with your doctor first.
12A Blood Bath
Anxious expectant moms, especially first time moms, often bring their worries to the doctor. They want to know just how badly it's going to hurt. Of course, a doctor isn't going to lie, but she also doesn't want to send you into a panic attack either. For instance, when I brought those concerns to my doctor during my first pregnancy, she very tactfully said, "Well, each woman experiences it a little differently, but don't worry, the hospital anesthesiologist is on staff 24/7 so you can get an epidural if you need one." It was tactful, it didn't avoid my question, but she very kindly made me focus on that the fact that pain relief was always an option.
Knowing what I know now, I can easily translate her tactful answer into more truer words: "It's going to hurt WAY worse than any period cramps. It will be messy. You will poop. And there is going to be a lot of blood. But that's all normal so don't worry too much." I get why she wasn't so blunt. I definitely would have freaked out in her office that day. So next time you ask your doctor if labor is going to hurt, listen to her words, but then listen to what she is really saying.
Because the truth is that childbirth is always messy and usually pretty bloody.
11To Shave Or Not To Shave?
Raise your hand if you've spent as much time getting ready for a prenatal checkup as your date night with your man. *Raises hand* Although I am super guilty, I know it is a pointless ritual. Although cleanliness is super important, your doctor doesn't care if you trim, wax, or shave it all: Stop spending obscene amounts of time grooming for each doctor appointment!
As a gynecologist, she went to school (lots and lots of school) to be able to do this job. All that preparation means she knew exactly what the job entailed and what exactly she'd be looking at each and every day. She'll never tell you to lay off the shaving if it's only done on her account. Although, she may tell you that waxing during pregnancy can lead to more swelling or irritation than normal.
But at the end of the day, you do you. If you want to shave, shave for you and you alone. Leave your doctor's preferences out of it.
10Don't Skip The H2O!
Any time I ever called my OB's nurse line with a problem or concern, the first question out of their mouth was, "Are you drinking enough water?" Water intake is critical to a healthy pregnancy. Adequate water intake helps ensure that your amniotic fluid levels remain at the appropriate level. Especially later in pregnancy, dehydration can cause contractions, which is one of the most important reasons why your doctor wants you to stay on top of your water intake.
However, another fun pregnancy symptom is constantly needing to pee. Particularly, as baby gets bigger and puts additional pressure on the bladder, the need to use the bathroom is unavoidable. Some women try to limit their water intake to help limit their trips to the bathroom but this is a big no-no. Your OB wants to tell you this is a horrific idea, but instead she'll just politely remind you to keep chugging your water.
9Lovin' Those Pearly Whites
Pregnancy is a 9 month long parade of doctor appointment after doctor appointment. Granted, those appointments exist all for good reason - to make sure you and your baby are progressing through the pregnancy with flying colors.
But your gyno doesn't want you just to make prenatal appointments. In particular, she wants you to stay current with your dental appointments too. Pregnancy is definitely not the time to skip your routine dental cleanings. Thanks to pregnancy hormones, gum issues, like swollen or bleeding gums, are common during pregnancy so it's important to check in with your dentist. In addition, many dental procedures (like fillings) can be done during pregnancy. (Just take a pass on those x-rays, though!)
It may seem crazy to add another appointment to your calendar, but dental care is an important part of your health. So do yourself a favor and listen to your gyno (and your dentist).
8No Need For Dramatics
For coffee addicts, learning you're pregnant can be quite a shocker to the system. Especially when you're used to drinking more than one cup of joe each day. Because caffeine is linked to miscarriage, the common thought was to ditch caffeine all together during pregnancy. The result? The mother of all headaches.
So it's not surprising that gynos see their fair share of dramatic, woe-is-me expectant mamas coming in with blinding headaches. Your gyno would like to tell you that there is no need for your dramatics because, in fact, you can drink coffee during pregnancy. The March of Dimes recommends ingesting no more than 200 mg of caffeine, which is about a 12 oz coffee. Though be warned, many Starbucks drinks contain more than 200 mg. A grande Pike Place brew, which is 16oz, has 360 mg.
So no need to act like a victim without your daily brew. Just play it safe and stay under the limit.
7Don't Be So Sure
One of the most common recommended tests during pregnancy is the gestational diabetes test. The test, which usually takes place around week 24- 28, involves drinking a sugary drink (more along the lines of the taste profile of a flat soda), and testing your blood sugar levels.
A rising trend among women is to decline the test because they are "healthy, eat right, and exercise." Although I get not loving the idea of drinking a sugary drink with artificial dyes, I do understand the important of the test. Tell your gyno that you want to skip this test and she'll want to roll her eyes and tell you don't be so sure. Just because you exercise, doesn’t mean you’re immune to gestational diabetes. After all, gestational diabetes still can occur in women who exercise.
Granted, she probably won't roll her eyes, but she will tell you to reconsider. Left unchecked, gestational diabetes can cause many problems, including large babies (like 9+ pounds!) and problems with blood sugar at birth.
When my sister-in-law was pregnant, her doctor told her that she would need a c-section for a variety of medical reasons. Although she wasn't overly pleased with the thought of a major surgery, she was not alone. In fact, the CDC stated that 32% of all babies are born via Cesarean. C-sections have been saving lives since Julius Cesar was born. I'm not belittling their life-saving power. At all.
However, stop asking to schedule a c-section based on your schedule or a convenient or lucky date. Your doctor wants to tell you how dumb that is, but instead she'll probably just remind you that C-sections are major surgery. They're not just something that should be performed only for the sake of your schedule or so you can share a birthday with your babe.
If your doctor says you need a Cesarean, let them advise you on the safest date. Your schedule is just going to have to adjust.
5Just Ask Already
Remember in first grade when your teacher said, "There's no such thing as a dumb question?" Then, remember in all those meetings at work, your boss reminded you that "the only dumb questions are the unasked ones?" Well, it turns out that they were telling the truth. Asking questions is not a sign of ignorance; in fact, it's the opposite. Asking questions is a sign that you are seeking more information, and we all know that education is one of the most influential aspects of life.
The power of asking a question doesn't stop once you walk into the gyno's office. Sure, the questions become intensely personal and maybe a bit gross, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't ask them anyway. And your gyno is going to agree with me. Stop hemming and hawing and just ask whatever questions you have.
Nobody cares that your question is TMI and gross. Believe me, your gyno has already heard every question in the book.
4What's Your Number?
Remember when I said that gynos want you to ask all your weird and awkward questions? Well, the reason you should feel safe doing so is because your doctor cannot and will not disclose that information. That's also the reason you should feel safe answering your doctor's questions, particularly all those pesky questions about sexual activity and number of partners.
When your OB asks about your sexual activity and you start to sweat and say awkward things like, "Uhh... uhhh.. um.. like 2 ish. Okay 3 ish," she wants to tell you that she doesn't really care (in a nice way, of course). She's not judging you, she just simply needs accurate information in order to make the best medical recommendations for you and your pregnancy.
Key example: if you don't know who the dad is, she'll need to take that into consideration when things like the rhogam shot come up.
The takeaway: she doesn't care what you've done, just tell her the truth.
I am not a gynecologist. I'm not a doctor of any sort unless you count my performance of Doc McStuffins during playtime with my boys. That being said, I bet I can tell you the number one question that gynos hate the most: "But when am I going to really have this baby?" Stop asking! Ever notice on your charts it says "EDD?" That means estimated due date, meaning your doctor can only estimate when your baby will be born.
A due date can only be an estimate for many reasons, one being that it is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment of conception. A mother's age, weight, overall health, and number of babies on board plays a big role in when baby arrives. Experts maintain that about 80% of women give birth between 37-42 weeks.
In the meantime, just join the rest of us who are making labor cookies, eating pineapple cores and spicy food, while walking around the block 23423 times. K, thanks.
2Don't Expect Contractions To End
Have you noticed how reassuring the delivery room nurses are? They make you feel like you can conquer anything. Looking back, they definitely put a positive spin on things. "Making good progress, you're at 7cm!" sounds so much better than, "Hey, only 3 hellish centimeters to go!" Of course, they are positive; you need that positivity to keep on keepin' on. That's also probably the reason no one really tells you that contractions don't actually stop once you have your baby.
Sure, you feel a million times better, but the contractions continue in order to deliver the placenta. Even after the placenta is out, the contractions continue. Will they ever stop?During breastfeeding especially, contractions continue to help shrink the uterus back to your pre-pregnancy size. It will take about 4-6 weeks for your uterus to return to normal, but don't worry, the contractions (after pains) last usually just a few days.
When you're inching closer and closer to your due date, it's comforting to think that your doctor will be there ready and waiting when it's time to birth your babe. But your doctor probably isn't telling you exactly how their schedule is going to play out on the big day.
Most likely, your doctor won't even be in the hospital while you labor. Many continue to see patients until the nurses give a call that the time is nearing for delivery. (Unless of course, your doctor was already at the hospital doing surgeries).
Speaking of schedules, your doctor probably isn't going to tell you how many patients they have scheduled for the day, which might explain any crazy wait times. That also explains the 2 minute chat with your doctor before they zoom out the door.
Sources: mayoclinic.org, Americanpregnancy.org, www.nichd.nih.gov, cdc.gov
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