A Pregnancy Story: Learn How to Be Your Own Health Advocate
After being married to her high-level corporate career for years, Michelle Ebanks had her first baby at age thirty-nine. “We tried for two years. So many people thought it would never happen for me,” she recalls. Then she had another baby seventeen months later.
This is her pregnancy story...
“I’m going to tell my story backward because the most important thing a pregnant woman should know is that you must be your own health advocate. I learned this through an eye-opening experience. I was ten days past my due date with my first child and my doctor continued to tell me not to worry. But I went on the Internet and saw some research that said there is a higher risk of a stillbirth when you are overdue. That freaked me out.
At my next appointment the doctor did a stress test, said we were both fine, and was about to send me home. But I happened to ask the technician what other tests were important at this stage and she mentioned one that measured your amniotic fluid level. My husband and I asked if we could have that test. It showed my fluid was dangerously low, which is what can cause stillbirths. They wouldn’t let me go home, I went to Labor & Delivery immediately.
Later at the hospital, my husband and I asked the nurse why the line disappeared on the baby’s heartbeat whenever I had a contraction. She panicked, ran for the doctor, who yelled at her for not noticing it sooner. The baby was in distress because of the low fluid. In ten seconds, the delivery room turned into an operating room. It was a bit traumatic.
I learned to never turn over ultimate responsibility of your and your baby’s life to the doctor. What if we never asked those questions? No matter how many degrees they have or how much you would like to trust them, you really can’t."
The lesson Michelle learned was powerful. Remember that nobody knows your body better than you. Trust your instincts about yourself and your baby. Learn how to be your own health advocate. Don’t be passive about your doctor visits or concerns. At the end of the day, you always have to be in the driver’s seat. Start a working relationship with your doctors. Your commitment to your healthy pregnancy can make a big difference. To get the most out of your treatment – speak up, be present, and be persistent. Experts also recommend the ABC method.
Ask questions. Before meeting with doctors, make a list of any questions you may have. Avoid any last-minute doosies just as he's reaching for the door.
Be prepared. Do your research. Learning everything will make you feel better, and also prepares you mentally for future appointments. Bring a notebook to appointments. Write down any information the doctor gives. This will help you remember any regimens or tips you should follow. It also acts as another piece to your medical history. What you write will be important , if you should ever need a second opinion or another explanation with your doctor on your next visit. Also, keep all of your own health records. It’s helpful to have but also your right as a patient.
Communicate concerns and desires. You deserve to know everything you possibly can about your health and sometimes this means seeing more than one doctor. Keep going until you are satisfied with your treatment.