Pregnancy and you blog

Pregnancy questions: Ask until you understand

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. October 24, 2013

I have a lot of experience with health care providers — as a peer, a patient and the family member of a patient. My husband has had many serious health problems that culminated in his receiving a heart transplant. These experiences have taught me a few things, which I try to draw from in my care and treatment of pregnant families.

There's a quote that perfectly describes my philosophy as a provider and as a consumer: "Nothing about me without me." I interpret this to mean that there should be no information about my health I shouldn't have, no test results I shouldn't know and no decisions made without my consent.

As a pregnant patient, it's your right and responsibility to know exactly what is happening during your pregnancy and labor. If I recommend that you get a test and I don't explain why, ask me. If I recommend that you take a medication, ask why and how it might affect the baby. Don't hesitate or worry about whether it will hurt your provider's feelings or ego. Ask until you get the answers you need. If you go home from an appointment and remember an important question that you meant to ask (you know how your brain sometimes works during pregnancy), call your provider and get your answer. But don't stop there. Don't ever accept an answer to a question that leaves you with more questions.

During labor and birth, in particular, there are many things that can happen to you — instead of with you. When you are in active labor and concentrating on safely bringing your baby into the world, it might be hard to ask for explanations. But if a provider comes into your labor room and says you need a C-section, someone needs to ask why. Let your support person know that if you can't ask questions during labor, he or she will need to do it for you.

When my husband needed care, I learned to stop worrying about egos or if the providers had enough time. I questioned and pushed until my husband and I were satisfied. You might want your health providers to like you and not cringe because you are one of "those" patients or spouses. But speaking as one of "those" people, I've never regretted asking a question or being informed.

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Oct. 24, 2013