Pregnancy changes the way mom's body works. Some of these changes are the temporary ways that our body adapts to grow a baby, others stick around longer than the 40-ish weeks it takes for baby to arrive.
While the family doctor likely has a detailed account of mom's family history, there are additional things her doctor will need to ask to help assess any potential risks during the pregnancy and to provide better care for the mama. Those moving onto a new doctor, specialist, or midwife are going to need to be able to bring the doc up to speed on important pieces of information from their medical file and use the question-answer period with them to get to know them better, ask their own questions, and determine if they are the best fit to provide prenatal care.
It’s best to come to these appointments prepared with as much information as possible, so the doctor can answer all the questions your doctor asks efficiently and make note of mom's own questions so she doesn't forget. These questions will help mom determine how often she needs to visit the doctor, and what testing she and baby will go through to help keep the two of them healthy. Here are 10 common questions that mom's doctor is going to ask her, and the reasoning behind why they’ve asked them.
20 How Old Will You Be On Your Delivery Date?
Vanity aside it’s important to tell the doctor the truth when it comes to your age. While this is something that is probably a part of your medical chart, it’s something that a doctor needs to know, particularly if you’ll be over the age of 35 at the time the baby arrives. We’ve all heard it before, each pregnancy is different, and the age of mom plays a factor in this. So, even if you’ve had one or more children before, it’s probably a good idea to remind your doctor of your age the first time they see you in your pregnancy.
19 The Real Meaning
Your age, whether it’s 25 or 45 is going to impact your pregnancy. As you age, you’re more likely to give birth to multiples, are at an increased risk for developing gestational diabetes, placenta previa, preeclampsia, placenta abruption and more. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or won’t have a healthy pregnancy, but what it does mean is that your doctor is going to likely want to see you more often, increase the number of tests they give you, and generally keep a closer eye on your pregnancy to ensure your and babies health. One benefit to being more mature when you conceive is that you likely have better exercise and eating habits that will serve you well in and beyond pregnancy.
18 Have You Recently Had A Loss?
This is something that many people find very hard to talk about, but just the same it’s important information for your doctor to have, particularly if they weren’t the one treating you during your last pregnancy. Most of the time losing a child is a one-time factor in a woman’s pregnancy history, and roughly only one percent of women will have this reoccur.
Doctors need to have this information so they may monitor risk factors for both you and baby. After a losing a child once, the risk of another remains at about 14 percent – if it’s beyond that a doctor will need to keep a closer eye on your pregnancy.
17 The Real Meaning
When someone experiences two or more miscarriages in a row it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider so they can administer some testing before you start trying again. These tests can identify any underlying health issues that may be causing difficulties with pregnancy and will help ensure a successful pregnancy. Blood tests will be conducted to assess hormone levels and confirm a strong immune system, and chromosomal tests may be taken to determine if your (or your partners) chromosomes are a cause for issues in pregnancy. If your doctor can’t find a cause, don’t worry, most women are able to eventually go on to have healthy pregnancies.
16 Have You Taken Anything Since Your Last Period?
Just like any time you have prescribed a new medication, it’s a good idea to discuss everything else you are taking with your doctor since other medications, herbs, and supplements can impact their effectiveness, and your pregnancy. Your doctor needs to know what your habits are when it comes to recreational drinking or other indulgences to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.
While it may be tempting to gloss over those drinks you had before you found out you were pregnant, or if you’re struggling to give up drinking in pregnancy, talk to your health care practitioner – they are there to help you, not to judge you.
15 The Real Meaning
Maintaining a baseline for your healthy habits is essential for a doctor providing care in pregnancy, but they will also need to make recommendations on covering any nutritional gaps as well as determining which medications or habits need to halt throughout pregnancy.
Most healthcare professionals will recommend taking a prenatal vitamin to help keep you healthy and account for any nutritional gaps in diets (or the loss of appetite during morning sickness). These vitamins will contain folic acid, iron, iodine, and calcium, which are paramount to a successful pregnancy.
14 Psychological Family History
Family history isn’t just about medical history, as there are so many other factors that can impact the health of mom and her child. By providing an accurate medical and psychological background to your medical practitioners they can both diagnose and provide preventative healthcare.
When you give this information during a medical intake session, they have it at their fingertips so down the road, when there is an emergency or you are too time-strapped to give more information, they already have it on file. Any information provided can increase awareness of early warning signs of potential health issues, making them easier to handle.
13 The Real Meaning
Genetics are not the be all and end all when it comes to risks of things like depression, or postpartum depression, but there are links. It’s helpful to talk to your mom, aunts, and sisters to see if any (or all) of them struggled with postpartum depression. This not only gives you valuable information to pass onto your doctor (who will monitor you more closely in the weeks and months following your baby’s arrival) but will also help you to build your support network.
Other factors that can impact postpartum depression include previous bouts with depression, difficulty breastfeeding, a baby born with health problems, financial strain and more. Don’t be afraid to speak up!
12 Family Pets
Pets are a huge part of your family, and they’re in for a big world of change when the baby arrives, but depending on the pet, the way you care for them may need to change when you’re pregnant.
Your doctor will help you develop strategies to mitigate risks in caring for your pets whether they’re dogs, cats, birds or reptiles. In addition to caring for a pet throughout pregnancy, a doctor may want to know about potential bad behavior going on during pregnancy in order to make suggestions to help you stop it before the baby arrives.
11 The Real Meaning
Dogs with bad habits of jumping up need to be taught not to jump on your belly or on baby, nipping, and biting must be stopped, and vaccinations for dogs and cats need to be up to date. People with cats need to make sure that someone who is not pregnant oversees changing the litter box every day, as cats can pass on the parasite toxoplasmosis in their poop.
Have a little one with a hamster, guinea pig or mouse? Be sure to have another family member clean the cage and wash your hands immediately after handling these critters. Your doctor will also want to know about any reptiles or exotic pets as they may carry salmonellosis. So, if you have a doctor mention this, find out the best options for pet care during pregnancy, and when your child is five and under, and is most susceptible to salmonella infection.
10 Dental History
It’s smart to make your dental health a priority prior to pregnancy and during (because who has time for a checkup with a small infant anyway?) Your doctor will want to know about any potential issues surrounding your oral health because pregnancy hormones can impact your oral health and even impact risks surrounding gum and bone disease.
Many dentists recommend scheduling a checkup in your first trimester to get a baseline for your overall mouth health. It should be noted that anyone with severe morning sickness exposes their teeth to stomach acids which will weaken the surface of teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
9 The Real Meaning
Any dental issues may impact the types of vitamins and supplements your doctor recommends throughout your pregnancy. Calcium is needed to help baby develop strong bones and teeth, and if you aren’t getting enough in your diet, your body will take it from your own blood and bones for your baby.
If you have poor dental health there are increased risks for having an early baby, having a baby with a lower than average birth weight, or developing pre-eclampsia, and these are all things your doctor will need to watch for. Don’t forget you should avoid dental (and other) x-rays if possible until after baby arrives.
8 Family Genetic Backgrounds
The more your doctor knows about your family background and any potential genetic issues, the better. Laura Riley, MD, ob-gyn and medical director of Labor and Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital says, “I ask about the patient’s mother’s pregnancies, if she had problems or if she had any babies with congenital malformations. Then, I move on to the other sides of the families.”
These questions open great conversations with your own family because most people know about heart disease and people who have had cancer in their families, but they’re less likely to know if their mom had all her children several weeks early, or whether there is a family link to gestational diabetes.
7 The Real Meaning
Knowing your family history as well as your family roots can help your doctor better treat you. For example, Thalassemia is more common in Italian, Greek, Mediterranean and Asian backgrounds than others, Tay-Sachs is most common in Ashkenazi Jewish, Cajun and French-Canadian backgrounds, while sickle cell disease is most common in those with African family backgrounds. Dr. Riley says, “It’s okay to mention everything you think of. Sometimes talking about one thing will bring up another that’s really important.” More detail is better than less, particularly when it comes to allowing your medical team to determine risks, so they can implement the tests and a care routine best for you and baby.
6 Your Partner's Past
While you may be in a committed relationship now, remember your appointment with your doctor is to review your health and history, it’s not a job interview where you need to impress them. Sure, it may be embarrassing to talk to them about previous partners and or health issues, but they need to know. Rest assured, you aren’t the only person they’ve seen with a colorful past, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
5 The Real Meaning
Quite simply, your doctor needs to know about any transmitted diseases you have because they can be passed on to the baby through the birth canal. According to a report from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “If a mother has a [health issue], it is possible for the fetus or newborn to become infected. Some [hereditary viruses] can be passed from mother to infant during delivery when the infant passes through an infected birth canal (...)" Be honest with your doctor and get tested; you may not even know you have as it will allow for your doctor to help ensure proper prenatal care in accordance with your needs.
4 About Your Work Environment
Certain jobs increase your risk levels when it comes to pregnancy, so your doctor needs to assess this risk. People who work in a school, hospital, or daycare center are regularly exposed to viruses like CMV (cytomegalovirus), chickenpox or Fifth's disease. Pregnant during the winter? Get a flu shot. Women who have contact in high-risk facilities, like prisons or hospitals need to let their doctor know, particularly if you meet anyone who has a disease that might impact you or your pregnancy.
3 The Real Meaning
In addition to screening for increased risk to diseases and other illnesses, your doctor needs to know if your job exposes you to any chemicals or stress levels that could negatively impact the baby. Anyone who is painting while pregnant, for example, needs to ensure they wear protective clothing, masks, and avoid eating or drinking while at work, and that the area is adequately ventilated. Those who work manual labor jobs while pregnant may need to modify their work to less stressful jobs, or require more breaks, particularly as their pregnancy progresses. Your doctor can help you determine whether you need modifications from your employers based on the information you provide.
2 Your Family Situation
Stress in your life will impact you and your baby. Pregnancy and birth on their own are emotional, life-altering events, but add in other problematic personal situations, whether it’s a sick relative, financial hardship, or partnership that isn’t working out and it can be a whirlwind. Some estimate that as many as 85 percents of new mothers feel at least some sadness after baby arrives, and other factors can influence this. Letting your doctor know about other stressful events can allow them to monitor this while considering your pregnancy.
1 The Real Meaning
Your doctor is looking after both you and your child, and this is a somewhat holistic process. Various aspects of a mother’s life are not independent of each other. For example, mom’s blood pressure may be up, but it might not be because of the baby, perhaps a parent has fallen ill, or there are other external factors impacting stress levels. Keep your doctor up to date with important life-changing information as it will impact your and baby’s health more than you might think. If a doctor knows your mother suffers from depression, they’ll be able to keep a better eye on you and symptoms of postpartum depression once the baby arrives.