I think every pregnant woman needs to know what to expect from her Obstetrician. A good OB is an absolute must. They’re your primary advisor for all things pregnancy and health. They’re the person you ask embarrassing medical questions to. They’re the person who’s going to be up in all of your parts on a regular basis. It’s important you have a good one and develop a good relationship.
But I think we tend to expect things to be a little bit different than they usually are.
What I Imagined My First OB Visit Would Be Like
I was miserable from being so sick. I wanted someone to make me feel better. I wanted someone to help me process the emotions of what I was going through. I wanted someone to be excited for me.
I imagined a softly-lit office, a warm room, music playing, hugs and general yay-for-babies atmosphere.
What My First OB Visit Was Actually Like
A doctor’s office. Yeah, as much as you want it to be touchy and feely, a doctor’s office is a doctor’s office. They’re all antiseptic and free from anything but the most basic decoration.
I stripped down and got into the robe. A PA did my exam. We found a heartbeat. (Yay!) And then I sat down to talk to my obstetrician.
He asked me how I was feeling. I told him it wasn’t so hot. He asked what I was doing. I told him about the gatorade, the cheerios, my routines to get through the day.
He said, “Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out!”
I know he was right, but I’d been hoping for some magic words of wisdom, some new suggestion, some special trick.
We talked for a while and then I was on my way.
What You Should Expect
The more you feel like you need visits, the less of them you’ll get. And the more you have to go in, the less you want to. It’s an unfortunate truth of pregnancy doctor visits. They start once every 4 weeks, then increase to every 2 weeks near the end of pregnancy, finishing off with weekly visits.
In early visits you’re nervous. You can’t feel your baby yet. You don’t know what’s happening in your body. For myself and most women I talk to, those early visits can feel disappointing. We want to sit down with our OB and talk. We want to be consoled. We want constant care and attention.
If you’re worried your OB is a little standoffish, it may just be they’re treating you like a patient instead of a needy pregnant woman. Give it a little time. If you’re still unsatisfied with your treatment after a few visits, ask around and get another one.
On the other hand, if you know you need extra TLC you should look into seeing a midwife or hiring a doula. My last OB had midwives in their practice and I started seeing them in my 3rd trimester. They were everything I’d hoped for. My visits were longer, we talked about how I was feeling, they answered all my questions, and they seemed very chipper and happy all the time. That was why I decided to have a midwife deliver my first baby.
Of course, in the end, my labor was uneventful and it turned out we didn’t need all that close attention and coaching we’d worried so much about, but it still made me feel more comfortable, and that was important to me.
Now that I’m in my second pregnancy I knew what to expect. This time I’m seeing a different doctor in a different office in a different city but it’s all basically the same. While I feel more confident, I still have those pregnancy jitters where I want them to tell me my baby is fine and that they’ll continue to be fine until I come back in another four weeks.
Still, the comfort of knowing I can call them any time is a big relief.