As I mentioned last week, over the course of your pregnancy, you can expect to meet with your provider(s) a few times for your prenatal appointments. Depending on the provider, you might meet with the same person or different people every time. Some people might find it difficult to get all of their questions answered, especially if the appointments don’t usually last very long. So, I wanted to take just a few minutes to share some tips on how to make the most of your prenatal visits.
1. Write your questions out ahead of time
Come prepared with a list of questions you want to ask your provider. There’s nothing worse than when at the end of the appointment, the provider asks if you have any questions and you say no…only to remember all of your questions as you’re driving back home! Don’t let that be you. Write the questions out ahead of time and have them out and ready when you get into the office so you don’t forget about them.
2. Take notes during the appointment
Even though the prenatal appointments go by fast, you cover a lot, especially if you brought a list of questions. If you struggle to remember what you and your provider talk about, it's perfectly fine to take your own notes. Sure, they’ll probably give you an appointment summary, but I often find they don’t include a lot of the finer details that you discussed. Bring a pen and notebook or write notes on your phone to look at later.
When I was pregnant, I had a special notebook that I used for all of my appointments. Now I use it for both my and my daughter’s appointments. I brought it and used it so much during my prenatal appointments, my doctor would usually ask, “what’s in the notebook today?” At first I was a bit self-conscious that I was being “a lot,” but the feeling of knowing all of my questions were answered when I left the office made it all worth it. It also didn’t hurt that my provider was very encouraging of my questions. Which leads me to my last tip:
3. *Try* not to be afraid of asking for what you need
This can be a tough one. For many of us, when you have a provider, especially one that operates in a hospital setting, it can be all too easy to just go into the default mode of deferring to the doctor, nodding your head even though you have no idea what they’re saying. Perhaps you’re worried about taking up too much of their time, or you’re made to feel like that by the provider or staff. Maybe you don’t want to look ignorant, or be seen as a “difficult” patient. But here’s the thing- you are a customer. You are paying your provider for a service. You are allowed to ask them to repeat something, explain something further, speak more slowly, etc. It can feel uncomfortable to ask, “can you explain what you mean by ___,” but you owe it to yourself to get what you need from your appointments.
Attending these prenatal appointments are some of the first responsibilities you’ll have as a parent. You are there to check on your wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of that little person you’re carrying. Use these appointments as an opportunity to practice for when you’re taking your baby or another loved one to the doctor for an ear infection or funny rash. You would want to be sure everything is being done for your loved one in those situations, right? You deserve the same level of care and attention. Go in with a purpose and set yourself up to get what you need from the appointment.
You got this!