20 must ask questions

What you need to know when you are pregnant

What you need to know when you are pregnant

Do you have any questions?" As soon as the doctor prompts me for questions, I freeze up and forget what I wanted to ask. When you’re pregnant, you’re bound to have a million questions floating around in your head, it’s hard to remember them all! But don’t worry! We’ve compiled a list of the twenty most important questions every expecting mother should ask their doctor. 

1. Is my weight healthy? Obesity may increase your risk of miscarriage, premature birth, diabetes and high blood pressure. Ask your doctor for personalized advice on your weight

2. How can I stop smoking? Use of cigarettes doubles your risk of miscarriage. Your provider can recommend behavior change strategies or local support groups to help you quit.

3. Do I need new medications? Some prescription drugs increase the risk of birth defects, says internist Marie Savard, MD, author of Ask Dr. Marie: What Women Need to Know about Hormones, Libido, and the Medical Problems No One Talks About.

4. Am I at risk for gestational diabetes? Moms who suffer gestational diabetes are seven times more likely to develop type-2 diabetes post-pregnancy. If you have family risk factors, ask for a hemoglobin A1c blood test, says Savard. Hormonal changes in pregnancy can trigger hidden diabetes.

5. Should I get immunized?  Your physician may recommend shots for the flu, hepatitis B and tetanus, especially if you’re at risk. Live-virus vaccines and those for measles, mumps and varicella (chicken pox) may be harmful during pregnancy. Speak up to make sure your vaccinations are safe.

6. Should I continue to see my general practitioner? “Someone has to take the lead on medical care during pregnancy,” says Savard, “and it’s usually the OB/GYN.” But don’t ignore other providers. A team approach gives you more comprehensive care. Jed Turk, MD at Optum in Fishkill and Poughkeepsie, adds “Don’t forget to ask how often you should come in for follow up visits.”

7. Am I drinking enough? “Fluids transport nutrition to your baby, prevent preterm labor and minimize nausea, bloating and headaches,” says women's health nurse practitioner Camilla Bicknell, RNC, MSN, co-author of The Pregnancy Power Workbook. Pale yellow urine is a sign you’re drinking plenty.

8. Can I book longer appointments? The receptionist isn’t just a gatekeeper, she’s an ally. Let her know you have several concerns to discuss and would like more time with the doctor.

9. Should I change my workout routine? Kickboxing and ice skating are out, because of the risk of belly trauma, but using your common sense isn’t enough. Some pregnancy-related conditions may worsen with exercise. Ask your doctor for a fitness prescription.

10. What are the signs of miscarriage? Get smart and seek early medical care at your doctor’s office or the emergency room if you are having complications. Ask your doctor ahead of time so you’ll know the warning signs.

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11. Can you explain my test results? “Results can be confusing if your doctor doesn’t explain the tests properly,” says Turk. “Don’t be embarrassed to ask your doctor to explain the results again or in different terms.”

12. What are the signs of early, false and real labor? Contractions are common in the third trimester, when your uterus is training for the big event. Learn the difference between false labor and the real deal so you don’t stay up all night worrying about an early delivery.

13. When should I go to the hospital? Your caregiver may want you admitted right away if he’s concerned about preterm birth or labor and delivery complications. Otherwise, you may want to stay home during early labor, so you can eat, drink and do as you please. 

14. What are my pain control options? A good pain control plan takes your medical situation and preferences into account. If you want to skip all pain control options, make sure your doctor knows your wishes ahead of time.

15. When should I ask for anesthesia? Every hospital has its own guidelines, so speak to your doctor before the big day If you wait too long, the anesthesiologist may be busy in the operating room when you need relief. Get intel from your labor nurse. She knows the system.

16. Who will attend my birth? Find out who is on call when your primary healthcare provider is off duty. Delivery-day surprises add unnecessary stress.  

17. Could you recommend a lactation specialist? “Several moms who want to breastfeed their baby end up quitting in the first four weeks, because of sore nipples, concerns about milk supply or latching difficulties,” said Donna Bruschi, lactation consultant at New Baby New Paltz. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, be sure to ask your doctor for recommendations on lactation consultants in your area.

18. Should I restrict activities? The adrenalin rush of new motherhood may cause you to do too much too soon. Before you head home with your newborn, find out whether you should limit exercise and sex. Set healthy and reasonable expectations.

19. How do I care for my wounds? If you had tearing during delivery or have stitches from a C-section, infection prevention is top priority. Ask your doctor to teach you how to clean and soothe your wounds.

20. What are my contraception options? Ovulation is typically suspended for moms who breastfeed more than 6 times per day, but there are exceptions. “If you notice your period is abnormal, alert your doctor right away,” says Turk.

Heidi Smith Luedtke is a personality psychologist and mom of two. She writes about self-improvement, people skills and parenting.