When it comes to Doctor’s appointments, meetings with your Consultant and regular visits to the Midwife, these appointments can be rather cursory affairs with your Medical Professional asking you: “So, how are your feeling?”, and that’s about it.
I’m not here to judge these individuals with the service they provide obviously, but, with a little bit of education before you go in, I’m here to help you get the most out of your medical/health appointments, to ensure you come out feeling as though you’ve had your questions answered, and you leave with a boost of confidence.
There’s nothing worse than taking yourself off to the Midwife and realising afterwards you didn’t really get the right information, or enough of it.
Today, I’ve put together a bit of a checklist for you, to help you:
- Write a list – Before you go, write a list of your concerns and symptoms starting with the most important. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for your 12, 28 or 32-week check, don’t assume that the appointment will always be about you. Midwives may take measurements of your abdomen, ask you if baby is moving, book you in for scans and/or refer you to other specialists from time-to-time, so anything concerning ‘you’ may not take priority when time is limited.
- Chart when the problem started – If you have a problem you’d like to discuss, jot down when it started, how it developed and how it affects your daily life now eg are you concerned about the appearance of your varicose veins, do you feel discomfort ?
- Ask for an examination – don’t assume that all medical professionals will do this. You may need to ask them specifically for a physical, however embarrassing the issue is.
- Be honest and don’t hold back any details – practise what you want to say or ask in front of a mirror. I appreciate if it’s something of a sensitive matter, it’s not going to be easy to talk about, but you simply have to, if you want something like getting natural bladder or bowel function back again, or pain that you’re experiencing to go away, ok?
- Be clear about what you want – eg if you’d like a change of medication, ask for it outright – no mess, no fuss, just clear, concise language.
- Be assertive, but polite – you don’t want your GP to push the panic button under their desk to summon Security, but at the same time, you want answers, information and clarification, and you need to walk in with confidence.
- Ask your GP to clarify anything you’re not clear about – how many times do you walk away from an appointment or discuss the details with your partner/friend afterwards, and then realise you’re not really anymore clued up than before you walked in? It’s so frustrating, isn’t it?
- Take a friend or relative along for support – If you’re worried bring someone with you. Most Practices have a chaperone policy in place, so take advantage of it.
- Ask for a second opinion – If you’re not happy with the outcome, ask for an appointment with another GP. You’re quite within your rights to do this if you see it necessary. At the surgery I’m registered with, I can request an appointment with any Doctor and can book online, so I don’t even need to speak to a Receptionist. Similarly, you could make a phone appointment with a Midwife instead to get your questions answers or gain another perspective. Simples.
- Book a double appointment – If you feel your problems can’t be covered in 10 minutes ask for a longer appointment. I rarely see a Doctor myself, to be honest (might be something to do with that healthy lifestyle/occupation, eh?). But, I make myself go at least once a year to get myself checked over and request a double appointment and get everything out of the way in one go. The patients booked in after you will be thankful that you didn’t run over if you request a longer time to discuss things too.
And there you have it. My Top Tips for getting the most out appointments booked with any medical professional that crosses your path. Why not print this list out and keep it in your handbag? That way, you’ll have access to it (and something to read when you’re sitting in the waiting room too!).
Obviously, being a pregnant woman requires you to be superhuman sometimes, but when it comes to your health and wellbeing as an individual, it can be tough. It may be months and months before you feel normal again, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy. And, when pain strikes or baby is struggling for space in the third trimester, even more problems can arise.
To do what’s right for you and your unborn baby, click here to find out more about keeping fit during pregnancy. Because put simply, if you don’t do something NOW to stay active during pregnancy, it may be even longer before you’re your old self again postnatally.