12 Questions to Ask Your Doctor If You're Pregnant (or Want to Be)
If you're like many pregnant woman — or women who plan to get pregnant — you probably have a cacophony of questions swarming inside your head about the whole process. From pre-conception dietary concerns to physical changes once you're pregnant, you certainly won't experience a shortage of questions to ask your physician. Take advantage of every doctor's visit by creating a list of questions and asking all of them. Use this list as a starting point and add or substitute your own.
1. What Vitamins Should I Be Taking?
Stroll down the vitamin aisle at your local health food store, and you might feel a little overwhelmed. But your OB/GYN will recommend vitamins depending on your health, family history and blood work, making this question a good one to ask. Still, some vitamins are prescribed across the board. "I encourage women to be on vitamin D," says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., an OB/GYN at the Yale School of Medicine. "All women need to take care of their bones." She also recommends that women trying to get pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day.
2. How Do I Know When I'm Most Fertile?
If you're trying to conceive, knowing when you're most fertile is imperative. But it can also feel like a calculus equation. "I encourage my patients to take advantage of at-home technologies," says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, who recommends over-the-counter fertility and digital ovulation tests to help determine the most fertile days of your cycle. There are also apps for your smartphone that can help give you a better idea of when you're most fertile based on information you supply, like the date and duration of your last period.
3. When Should I Be Concerned About My Fertility?
Many women postpone pregnancy until their late 20s or 30s. As a result, the question of fertility comes into play more often. And if you're trying to get pregnant, each time you get your period can be earth-shattering. "Women in their 30s should begin more actively considering their fertility," says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin. She says that women under 35 who've been trying to conceive for a year, and women over 35 who've been trying for six months, should consult a physician if they've been unsuccessful.
4. When Should I Quit Smoking?
Even if you're not trying to get pregnant, the answer to this question should be: NOW! But this question is especially common among women who aren't pregnant now, but plan to get pregnant in the future. According to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, many women ask if they should wait to quit smoking until they are closer to getting pregnant. She says that because smoking may hasten the onset of menopause by a year or two, it can affect your fertility in the long run.
5. Will Past Abortions Affect My Ability to Get Pregnant?
This very personal question is a difficult one to ask your physician. But it's important to discuss your entire medical history with your doctor when you're trying to get pregnant — and that includes any abortions. According to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, past abortions will not affect your future fertility, unless the procedure was performed incorrectly or there were complications. Still, every woman is different, so it's important to discuss the details of the procedure with your OB/GYN.
6. Should I Continue Taking My Medications?
As soon as you find out you're pregnant, it's a good idea to ask this question at your first pre-natal doctor's appointment. Your first visit to the doctor should include sharing a detailed account of your current and past medical history, including any medications you're taking. At this time, your physician can let you know whether any medications interfere with the healthy development of your child.
7. What Should My Diet Look Like?
Don't overthink this one. Recommended pregnancy and pre-pregnancy diets vary from person to person. As a rule, though, strive for a well-balanced and diverse diet. "Shy away from junk or fast food as best as you can," says Glade B. Curtis, M.D., OB/GYN and co-author of "Your Pregnancy Week by Week." "Healthful snacks five or six times a day with a mixture of fruits, vegetables, cereals and dairy will help you feel better, give baby the support for healthy development, and give you the confidence of knowing you are doing all you can."
8. How Much Weight Gain is Normal?
Whether you're dreading the pregnancy weight gain or see it as an opportunity to ditch the scale for a while, it's important to ask about what kind of weight gain is normal during your pregnancy. Contrary to popular belief, excessive weight gain isn't healthy for the baby, and gaining too little can also put your baby at risk. Your physician can counsel you on reasonable weight gain to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Additionally, you'll want to discuss your diet and exercise routine with your physician to help you stay on track.
9. Why Do I Feel So Nauseous During My Pregnancy?
The dreaded morning sickness! If you experience nausea during your pregnancy, know you aren't alone. "Sometimes called morning sickness, [nausea] can happen any time of the day," says Dr. Glade B. Curtis. "For most, it disappears toward the end of the first trimester, while for an unfortunate few it lasts longer into the pregnancy." Curtis says that many experts attribute morning sickness to increasing levels of hormones, which support the growth of the developing fetus. If you're concerned about your level on nausea, talk with your physician. There are often natural, over-the-counter treatments to help ease your symptoms without harming your baby.
10. Are My Symptoms Normal?
Mood swings, food sensitivities, bloating, frequent urination, fatigue, sore breasts, light bleeding, nausea, and the list goes on and on. As you move forward in your pregnancy, you may experience plenty of expected symptoms as well as symptoms you hadn't anticipated. Always relay your symptoms to your physician, who will help you determine whether your experiences are typical. Don't be shy in explaining exactly what's going on. Chances are, your doctor has heard them before, and you don't want to miss a warning sign if something is going wrong.
11. What Is the Likelihood of a C-Section?
The thought of needing a C-section can be scary. But while your doctor cannot provide a simple yes-or-no answer as to whether you'll need a C-section, you can ask about the percentage of performed C-sections at your caregiver's facility. The answer to this question is a good indicator of what may happen during your labor. If you prefer to deliver your baby vaginally, it may be wise to seek out a physician with a low percentage of surgical births.
12. Who Will Deliver My Baby?
As you approach your due date, this is an excellent question to ask your physician. Ideally, the doctor or midwife you've worked with is the person who will deliver your child, but that's not always the case due to the unpredictability of work schedules and pregnancies. Your physician likely has a back-up team of people to step in should she be unavailable. Once you know who that team consists of, you can get to know them.
What Do You Think?
Are there any questions you wish you'd asked your doctor before you got pregnant? What were some of the most important questions you asked and would recommend other women ask as well? On the flip side, did your doctor ask you any questions you were surprised about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!