Oftentimes prenatal visits feel like a whirlwind. Pee in a cup. Blood pressure check. Fetal heart tones. Measure your belly. “Any questions? No? Great! See you next time.” Often after such visits, we leave the appointment feeling flustered, unheard and vaguely disoriented. I am completely certain that healthcare providers (who worked incredibly hard to obtain their education in obstetrics and midwifery) intending to support people and couples in pregnancy and birth do not intend to leave them feeling unsure and unsettled! And yet many excellent and very caring doctors and midwives get caught up in the system. It’s not the fault of these amazing humans! The system is set up this way. They are forced to see so many patients and do so much in an incredibly limited amount of time. Because, over time, it becomes so routine for them, healthcare providers may forget that this pregnancy is certainly among the most special experiences the expectant couple may ever have.
Here’s the thing: I believe that these professionals truly want to connect with their patients. I’ve seen them in the birthing rooms. They are present. They care. They slow down and talk to their patients. So how can we ask them to bring this presence of being into their prenatal appointments? There are a few ways we can let them know how important it is to us, as their patients that they slow down and connect – and, I believe, it’s important to them as well.
It’s fine to simply say, “I’m feeling like we need to connect. Will you take a moment to talk with me?” So, that’s a great approach if you’re a person who is comfortable with that. Now, for those of us (me included!) who aren’t comfortable with being quite so direct, just ask questions. All the questions. It doesn’t actually matter if you care what the answers are. You may find, though, that once you start asking questions you do in fact care an awful lot! Less Google, more conversation with these incredibly experienced, wise, caring professionals!
The more you chat with your healthcare providers, the more comfortable you will be seeking the information through them. Sit down before each appointment and take a moment to write down a couple of open-ended questions. Your doula can help guide you in which discussions can be most helpful throughout your pregnancy. As birth support professionals, we have found that, when given an opportunity to connect, most of our wonderful local doctors and midwives really jump on it! Charlottesville is so fortunate to have so many amazing doctors and midwives and we make our choice because we believe them to be the best fit for us. Shall we give them ample opportunity to live up to our (and perhaps their own) expectations?!