25 must-ask questions for your health care provider at prenatal visits

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“Do you have any questions for me?”

Don’t you hate it when your doctor asks you that and your mind goes blank? So many new things are happening to your body, but at that moment, you can’t think of a single question to ask her. You sit and listen politely to what she has to tell you, and before you know it she’s heading for the door and all you can do is thank her.

Then, as you’re getting into your car, it hits you: “I forgot to ask about.…”

That’s why we suggest that you prepare ahead of time by writing down a list of questions and tucking it into your purse before you leave the house. Keep it handy throughout the weeks between visits and add to it when something comes up.

To help you get started, here is a list of some common questions that might arise. Most of them can be easily addressed by a professional, and some might even raise an important red flag about the state of your health. In any case, you’ll leave the office better informed—and probably more at peace about the big events to come.

Common questions to ask your obstetrician about pregnancy

  • What is a normal and safe blood pressure reading for me? Is mine OK?
  • How do I handle constipation?
  • What may I take safely if I have a cold or other common ailment?
  • How much weight should I gain during each successive trimester?
  • What foods should I avoid, and what foods are good for me and the baby?
  • How do I determine when to call you about something?
  • How do I get in touch with you during the hours when your office is closed?
  • How does your “doctor on call” schedule work?

 

Common questions about labor and delivery

  • What are preterm labor symptoms?
  • If I think I am experiencing an emergency, what should I do?
  • At what point during labor should I call you?
  • When should I go to the hospital?
  • Can I go straight to labor and delivery once I reach the hospital?
  • Who will be evaluating me when I do go to the labor and delivery department?
  • Are there residents or doctors available in an emergency?
  • Will you or a doctor from this practice help deliver my baby?
  • What hospitals are you affiliated with?
  • How many people will be allowed in the labor and delivery room with me?
  • What is your weekend coverage schedule?
  • Is an anesthesiologist available 24 hours a day?
  • What level neonatology (care for newborn babies) is available at the hospital where I will be delivering my baby?

 

Common questions after the delivery of a baby

  • Will I be able to breastfeed right after delivery?
  • Will there be a lactation specialist (a professional with breastfeeding training and experience) available to help me, should I need it?
  • What are the visiting hours for the hospital?
  • Will I be able to hold my baby right after delivery?
  • How long will my baby be allowed to stay with me in my room?
  • How long will I bleed after delivery?
  • How much blood loss is concerning?
  • What do I do if I’m bleeding too much?
  • When will I be able to resume my normal activities?
  • What are my birth control options after childbirth, and what do you think is ideal for me?
  • When is it safe to have sex?

 

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of questions to ask your obstetrician, but perhaps it will prompt you to come up with others of your own. We hope they help you get the most out of the precious face-to-face time you have with your healthcare provider.

Medical information can be hard to take in all at once—especially at this exciting, sometimes stressful time. For more on the topic, check out our book, Black, Pregnant & Loving It. It includes worksheets to help you collect and retain all of the valuable information your doctor will share with you on those important prenatal visits. No more smacking your forehead in the parking lot!

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