Five Essential Questions Every Expectant Parent Should Ask
If you are expecting a child, it is normal to feel a strange mixture of joy, anticipation, and anxiety. What is the best way to stay healthy during pregnancy? What happens if there are complications? There are many questions you may have for your OB/GYN during your pregnancy. Most medical professionals encourage parents-to-be to ask them questions, but many expectant couples still feel a bit awkward about questioning their doctor. If you are expecting, be sure to ask your physician the following questions before labor.
- What Should I Expect During Childbirth?
Knowing what to expect during the birthing process can help you better prepare and cope. Discuss what will occur at each stage of labor with your doctor. Talk about your birthing plan so you and your medical professional understand what you would like to happen if the delivery proceeds normally. Also talk about what will happen if there are complications that arise during labor and delivery.
Doctors and hospitals routinely induce or augment labor and monitor the mother and baby on a medical device. You are welcome to ask questions about how these work.
- Labor induction drugs: Doctors and hospitals also routinely use medications to induce (start) or augment (strengthen) labor.
- Pitocin is a drug commonly used to induce labor by causing the mother’s uterus to contract. Pitocin is a very useful drug, but it can be dangerous if it is not used properly.
- Cytotec is a drug used “off-label” by doctors and hospitals to prepare the mother’s cervix for labor induction. While Cyctotec is commonly used, there are risks associated with Cytotec.
- Electronic fetal heart monitoring: Most hospitals routinely use an electronic fetal (fetal refers to the unborn baby) heart monitoring device during labor to monitor the baby’s heart rate and the mother’s contractions.
- How Long Can I Work?
Everyone needs a steady income, but if you are expecting, you will need to ask your doctor about your work schedule. This is especially important if your job is stressful or physically demanding.
- Is it Safe to Exercise?
Most physicians will recommend exercising during pregnancy. Light physical activity can help future mothers avoid issues such as water retention, and keep the baby healthy. However, before starting an exercise routine, you should be sure to check with your doctor first. Depending on the state of your pregnancy, you may or may not be healthy enough for exercise. If you are healthy, your physician still may want you to avoid certain types of cardiovascular or weight-training exercises.
- What Types of Medications Should I Avoid?
Most over-the-counter medications are safe for expectant mothers, but you should be sure to discuss the drugs you’re taking with your doctor. It is also acceptable to request a list of drugs that are not safe for you to take.
- Will I Need a C-Section?
Ask your doctor if you will need a cesarean section (C-section) delivery. A C-section is a surgical operation and has associated risks and recovery time. Sometimes, when there are complications during labor and delivery, a c-section may be necessary to protect the baby from injury. Talk to your doctor about what will happen if there are complications.
We all know that doctors and nurses are very busy medical professionals. However, delivering your baby may be the most important event of your life. Patients have the right to expect that their doctors and nurses will respect their need to understand what will happen and what steps should be taken to make sure the delivery is safe and the baby is born healthy. Most of the time, they are more than happy walk their patients through the process.
Birth Injury Safety is an advocacy group for the safety of mothers and babies during labor and delivery. If you would like to speak to an attorney to ask any questions, please call (214) 974-4121.