A Guest Post by Diana Stone

PALS_MedicalCare

Having lost three sons in an 18-month span in 2012 and 2013, my anxiety skyrockets when I need medical care. My twin sons were born preterm at 20 weeks, living only a short time. The following year my son was born full term, only to be diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at 5 days old and pass away at three weeks. Now pregnant with our fifth baby, a surprise, I’ve had to learn how to cope with my feelings of fear, the unknown even after giving birth, and how it feels to be treated poorly during a second trimester loss.

With my therapist and the community of other moms who have walked some of my same experiences, I’ve learned so much more about how to handle my medical care during a pregnancy. Rights I had no idea about before having a baby, and even after having my first without any complications. I am becoming more comfortable advocating for myself while understanding that the majority of the time, my personal doctors have my best interests at heart in what they say and do. Sometimes there’s a compromise, sometimes one of us has to push a little more till the other understands why something is being asked of them.

Going back to the doctor to find out about a pregnancy after loss – a future or current one- can be overwhelming, especially if your treatment the first time around was less than stellar. Here’s both a list of good questions to ask at your initial appointments, along with what you should know about your rights as a pregnant or hoping to be pregnant woman:

Questions to ask your OB/midwife:

  1. Knowing my history, do you feel comfortable treating me during this pregnancy? (My last doctor saw me early on in this current pregnancy, and transferred me to the highest level of care in our city.)
  2. What thoughts do you have on what you would do differently or keep the same this time, and why?
  3. Is there additional testing I can have done?
  4. Do you know what caused the loss? (While it seems like you would be told this, many times these results aren’t given out unless asked)
  5. Where can I obtain a copy of my medical records from last time?
  6. Is there anything I should do differently?
  7. How do you help patients who experience anxiety/depression during a pregnancy after loss?
  8. Would you recommend a counselor that I could see during this pregnancy?
  9. Is there an alternative way to deal with another loss? (I would ask this especially if you had a traumatic experience – perhaps being able to wait at home or allowed to spend more time with a baby, etc.)

Your rights as a (to-be) pregnant woman:

  • You can bring a friend/doula/family member to the appointment.
  • You have the right to refuse different treatment and procedures. Talk with your doctor about this so they understand your concerns – sometimes they can be alleviated but no matter what they should be respected.
  • If you have a rare condition, or your child did, bring medical info with you (examples: from the pediatric journal or a specialist). A page or two explaining it is fine.
  • If you have had preterm labor, start your birth plan talk early. It matters what happens even if your child isn’t going to be viable, and while the talk is hard, it’s even harder in the middle of the stress and panic.
  • You have a right to find another doctor. Anytime. It may be harder later on in pregnancy, and you may have doctors who aren’t able to take your level of care. But still – ask.
  • If you’ve had a traumatic hospital experience, ask to revisit the place (with a trusted friend/family member/therapist) before you give birth. You want to become a little more desensitized to the place before you head there again.
  • Let your doctor know about your fears and worries. I’ve told mine I need to go back to the hospital I lost my twins in before I give birth to my daughter, and how I struggle with severe anxiety during pregnancy. If you don’t share, they won’t know.

This obviously isn’t an exhaustive list, and a lot of this will depend on your comfort level, what your experience with loss was, and the level of involvement you’d like in a current or future pregnancy. Hopefully, it leaves some of you that may not have known all of these, like I didn’t, a better understanding of how to navigate what can be a very hard time after already facing so much.

It’s so, so important to have a line of communication open with the medical staff, but much of that depends on our ability to start it respectfully and with an open mind. While I’ve had some very hard experiences, I’ve also had some very wonderful medical staff that stepped in to help and make sure the moments we thought we couldn’t bear to face were done with great respect and care to our feelings. That truly made all the difference then, and even years later.


DianaStoneBioDiana blogs at Diana Wrote about her daughter, three sons in heaven, and a surprise baby girl due in October. She’s a teacher turned homeschooler, army wife, and writes extensively on her faith in the midst of struggles. You can find her work on Babble, She Reads Truth, Still Standing Magazine, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, with smaller glimpses into her day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

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