Wednesday, October 24, 2012

7 Ways to Get Good Medical Care in Pregnancy

NOTE: This is an additional post this week. If you haven’t read my Monday, October 22 post, go to that one first, below. 

            Since getting good medical care in pregnancy – especially if you’re experiencing a problem – is so critical, I decided to add an extra blog this week with the points (plus an additional, 7th one) I addressed at the end of my October 22 post under a different title. This extra post may help more people. Please pass it on to any women you know who are currently suffering, are newly pregnant or thinking about pregnancy.
            Severe morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum, is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that is often dismissed or downplayed by doctors. Pregnant women have died of it. It is thought that Charlotte Bronte may have died of it in 1855. One woman in the United Kingdom recently elected to have an abortion because of it. (Google “The all-day hell of extreme morning sickness” in The Guardian newspaper.)
            For my situation – and I was not able to keep ANY food or water down for days – Chris and I believe the care I received was irresponsible, reckless, and bordered on malpractice. We should not have tolerated the poor treatment I received from the medical director.
            Now that I’m older, wiser, and can evaluate these events with a critical, more realistic eye, I want to leave you with some tips.
            1. KNOW your insurance policy, especially what it has to say about pregnancy care. Some policies don’t pay for it or charge extra for it. Some offer extra benefits for it. If you are even thinking about getting pregnant, make sure you have a good policy that will provide all of the care you MIGHT need. Even if you're young, or have had other, successful pregnancies, please DON”T assume you won’t have problems this time around.
            2. Have a strong advocate go with you when you visit your doctor. I think you should take them with you EVERY visit. Pregnant women are in a vulnerable position, with hormones zooming all over the map. You don’t need the added stress of having to combat condescending medical staff, especially if you’re experiencing problems or accompanying sickness. Find a strong family member or friend who’s willing and able to ask pointed questions.
            3. Bury your fear and ask those questions – LOTS of them. And make sure you get answers! Be firm. Do your homework. (Some doctors won’t like informed patients; they want to have total control. Find another doctor if yours is like that and treats you in a condescending manner.) Demand and expect the best treatment you can get. You and your baby deserve it!
            4. If necessary, get a second opinion! I can’t stress this enough. If you have even the tiniest shred of doubt about how you are being treated, find another doctor or midwife and get their opinion.
            5. If you must, call your insurance company to complain. I actually learned from my insurance company – way after the “final” devastating event – that my medical group and the director had a habit of repeatedly denying treatment and payment. That was their typical operating procedure with patients. I learned that information from someone at my insurance company. If I had known this ahead of time, my demands and insistence upon proper care would have been much different. I would have switched doctors immediately. I assumed too much and deferred too often.
            6. Much later I learned from another obstetrician that the best way to locate a good obstetrician is by asking the OB nurses in the hospital. Find someone who knows these nurses and ask them whom they recommend. It could mean the difference between life and death – for you and your baby! (That is not an exaggeration.)

            7. Finally, do not feel guilty about going on disability, staying in bed, resting – A LOT! – and letting your husband and children see to the running of the house. It really is okay if they don’t keep house, cook or manage like you do. Let it go. REST! I give you permission.  

            Until next Monday!