Being pregnant is hard. It’s just hard.
Through a year of IVF, a loss, and now, 35.5 weeks pregnant I have one big piece of advice. I won’t tell you what to eat or how to live. I will tell you, however, and I cannot stress this enough:
Be your own advocate.
If something doesn’t feel right, go into the hospital and get checked out. If you have questions of your doctor, ask them.
If you don’t like the care you are receiving, you have options. If you want to stay with the practice you can speak to a patient advocate (or patient’s rights representative, or patient relations, whatever your medical system or doctor’s office calls it).
Or, you can do what I did, and you can transfer your care. I wasn’t being listened to. I wasn’t being heard. So I found a doctor who would listen.
I am not a medical expert (are you tired of me saying this?) but I am a researcher. I am trained in learning information. And I use it to inform myself, and ask questions. Because, while it sometimes fuels my anxiety, it also calms me to be as aware of the risks as possible, to understand what is happening with my body, and to be my child’s best advocate.
That meant switching doctors when the office I was at made a series of errors in my treatment (even prescribing me medication for a yeast infection that has a side effect of stillbirth! When I didn’t even have a yeast infection!) and for rude service from the front end staff when I had questions.
It also meant grilling the doctors before switching at 28-30 weeks pregnant.
And it meant continuing to be a pain in their rump when I had questions, asking them out, emailing them, getting in contact with them to manage the conditions that both I and my child had.
And yet, everyday on my various support groups online I hear stories of pregnant people who feel like they are being mistreated, who are being ignored, who are upset with the care that they are receiving.
Many of whom, are women of size or color, who feel they are being brushed aside.
And so, as a woman of size, and as a white passing woman of color, I advocate to them, to you, if you are reading this.
Ask for rejections to be noted in their chart. Ask to speak with a patient advocate. Do not stand for the treatment you are receiving if you feel it is subpar or substandard. It’s okay to be that pain in the butt, as long as you are not belligerent.
Ask all the questions you can. It’s how I found out that cloth diapers were better for my child, who is at risk of deadly UTIs which could quickly turn into sepsis for a child with Hydronephrosis (dilation of the kidney due to reflux or blockage), which my son has. Chemicals in disposable diapers can complicate kidney disease. I had no idea! (Link here).
I’m that pain in the butt patient. I know every number, I track all the nsts and ultrasounds, I ask all the questions, and I take note of everything. Because, to me, I’d rather be a thorn in the side and continually on them, then wish I knew more.
If that’s not you, that’s okay too, but if you want something looked at, if you are worried, for example, about the itching in your hands and feet, despite being brushed off, ask for that Cholestasis test. Ask for it because it could save your child’s life, and it could save your sanity. It’s okay to ask for what you want.
I tell myself that everyday. So let me repeat it. Again.
It’s okay to ask for what you want.
And it’s okay to demand the care that you feel you need. You should never worry about calling, or emailing, or going in to labor and delivery.
Trust yourself, and speak up.