Important Questions To Ask During Pregnancy
Pregnancy, especially your first one, is an amazing and mysterious time where your body experiences a multitude of changes as you grow a new little life inside of you. From worries about what you can and can’t eat, to what symptoms are normal versus worrisome, you’ll probably come up with many new questions with every passing day of your pregnancy journey. The Internet can be a great resource for finding quick answers to questions in between your prenatal doctor appointments - but beware of “Dr. Google” taking the place of real medical advice from your OBGYN. Doing Internet research can often make pregnant women more anxious and worried than they already are, so be aware that you can’t diagnose yourself with a serious condition by browsing the Internet.
Even though your prenatal appointments might be spread out over the pregnancy, with four to six weeks in between each visit, grab a notebook and write down any questions that pop into your mind between visits. This way, you can optimize your time during your doctor appointments by getting all your questions answered - and you won’t have to worry about “pregnancy brain” causing you to forget what your questions were in the first place. Your doctors and nurses are a great resource to help you through your pregnancy journey.
If you’re not really sure how to narrow down what questions to ask and when, here are some helpful starting points to consider:
1. Should I do prenatal genetic testing?
Whether or not your doctor recommends genetic testing during pregnancy depends on a number of factors. Family history, ethnic background, and maternal age can all be factors in deciding whether or not to do genetic testing. Of course, women can also opt to do genetic testing even if they don’t have any underlying risk factors. Genetic testing can show an elevated risk for genetic conditions such as Down syndrome. Most of the testing is done in the first or early second trimester.
2. What is the schedule for prenatal appointments?
Different medical practices have different schedules for how often a woman comes in for appointments during her pregnancy. It can be very helpful to know the general schedule ahead of time, so you can look ahead at your calendar and make sure you have time for time-sensitive prenatal appointments. Many doctors perform a first trimester ultrasound (around 6-8 weeks) to confirm a viable pregnancy and record an accurate due date. Doctors will want to see a woman at least once during the first trimester (up to week 13 of pregnancy), to check the growth of the fetus, discuss prenatal care with the mother, give the option for genetic counseling, and discuss other factors related to prenatal health. In the second trimester, appointments occur about every 4 weeks, unless the pregnancy is high risk. There is an anatomy scan ultrasound done around 18-20 weeks of pregnancy, which includes a thorough evaluation of the baby’s growth and development. In the third trimester, appointments may become closer together, especially in the last several months leading up to your due date. Other ultrasounds, testing, and checkups may occur at your doctor’s discretion.
3. Are all visits in the office, or are some via telehealth?
Telehealth has become more popular than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, as families and medical professionals are striving to keep their patients as safe as possible. Because of these circumstances, you might have the option of doing certain prenatal appointments by video visits or phone calls. Although many prenatal tests cannot be done via video visits, your medical practice might allow for some appointments to take place over the phone. Be sure to ask your medical provider if this is an option for you.
4. What supplements should I be taking?
All pregnant women need to take a prenatal vitamin on a daily basis, but some women need to take other supplements as well. Women struggling with extreme nausea and vomiting might be advised to take over-the-counter medications and supplements like Unisom and B6. Women who have a history of preeclampsia, diabetes, or are over age 35, might be advised to take a daily low dose of Aspirin. Women struggling with pregnancy-induced anemia might be advised to take an iron supplement. If you were taking vitamins and supplements before pregnancy, be sure to discuss with your doctor whether it’s safe to continue them during pregnancy.
5. What factors would warrant a C-section?
There are certain scenarios that would make a C-section necessary, and if you’re concerned, bring it up with your OBGYN. Some factors that would cause a C-section to be necessary are history of blood loss or blood clots, fetal distress, history of C-sections, prolonged labor, or your baby is in a breech position prior to labor.
6. What foods and medications are safe for pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant, it’s important to know what foods and medications are safe during pregnancy. Certain foods like raw fish, raw egg, deli meat, alcohol, and excessive caffeine should not be consumed during pregnancy. Many over the counter and prescription medications are not safe during pregnancy, and you should check with your OBGYN before continuing any medications or supplements during the course of your pregnancy.
7. What activities are safe for pregnancy?
Although many activities are safe to continue during pregnancy, it’s important to check with your doctor about what activities are safe or unsafe. In general, it is beneficial for pregnant mothers to continue the same level of physical activity that they maintained prior to becoming pregnant, making sure to rest or stop when an exercise becomes too difficult. Pregnant women should avoid heated yoga classes, contact sports, heavy lifting, and stretching while lying flat on their back.
8. What does postpartum care look like?
Prenatal care is important - but so is postpartum care! New mothers need as much attention as their newborns. Check with your OBGYN about the schedule for postpartum visits. You’ll want to be seen 6-8 weeks after delivery to make sure your body is healing properly, talk about birth control options, and discuss whether you can return to normal physical activity and exercise. You’ll also want to be checked for signs of postpartum mood issues such as depression and anxiety.
Before you prenatal visits, it’s important to take time to think about the questions you’d like to ask your doctor. Remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and it’s much better to go to your doctor than to the Internet for help.
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.