Super-Speedy Prenatal Doctor Visit: Par for the Course?

Credit: Daquella manera
Credit: Daquella manera

I find that I’m often underwhelmed by the medical community. Sure, doctors are necessary, but of the probably 10 doctors I’ve seen for various reasons over the last decade (I’ve moved twice so I’ve had to switch around), I’ve only been impressed by a couple of them. I feel like doctors often “poo-poo” symptoms or don’t pay full attention when you’re talking. With one doctor, I would be in the middle of a list of symptoms, and he’d jump in with a diagnosis or dismiss the worry. I’d always want to yell, “Wait! I’m still talking! What if symptom No. 10 is the key to unlocking this medical mystery?!” One dermatologist I saw for an insanely itchy rash on my leg didn’t even look at my leg at a follow-up appointment. How do you just not look at the body part you just treated? I saw two different doctors while dealing with breastfeeding pain, yet neither diagnosed me—the internet finally did. (A common theme in my life, Dr. Google.)

So while I feel like most doctors don’t pay enough attention or often have a terrible bedside manner, the one time it really, truly bothers me is during pregnancy. I’ve seen my fair share of OBGYNs, having been to two different practices and now a third practice that rotates four physicians. And drawing toward the end of my second pregnancy, I’ve had a fair number of prenatal visits. I must say: I always leave a prenatal appointment feeling a bit of a letdown.

The appointments go like this: weigh in, pee in cup. Check blood pressure. Doctor arrives, measures belly, listens for the baby’s heartbeat and asks if you have any concerns. Total doctor time? Without any concerns, one, maybe two minutes. With concerns? Five minutes or so, and sometimes not even that.

I’ve never had a doctor at a prenatal appointment ask me about my nutrition. Or exercise habits. When I’ve mentioned pain and discomfort, it was more of a “that’s par for the pregnancy course” response. No digging deeper. I kind of understand. If all is well, why drag it out? But I sometimes feel like I’m an inconvenience, not a patient growing a little human. And I often feel like you’re just expected to read up on a pregnancy book and know what’s going on—particularly if it’s not the first time you’ve ridden the merry-go-round.

What do you think? Am I just a picky patient or do you feel like just another number when it comes to prenatal exams, too? —Erin 

Categories: From Erin, PregnancyTags: , ,

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  1. I feel the exact same way when I visit my OB/GYN. This is my first child – and I must admit I was really put off during my first visit when after 10 minutes of the routine you describe above, my doc asked me if I had any questions. I was kind of shocked – I wanted him to tell me things. I felt so uninformed about pregnancy in general – I didn’t even know what questions to ask. But, maybe I’m just picky too;)

  2. Everyone needs and expects different things from their doctor. I agree that they are quick and don’t tend to listen to you. I have read that making a list of questions before you go to an appointment is helpful. It is unfortunate that doctors are so quick that you have to “prepare” for an appointment in order to get your concerns addressed.

    I really like my OB. She is super fast and friendly and I love getting in and out in less than 20 minutes or so. But…I have had uncomplicated pregnancies so I feel like it is more of a well baby visit. I also read up a lot on pregnancy myself but I like it this way. I have heard from many people that they wish their OBS were more involved. It would be nice if they took the time to get to know their patient and took the time to meet their individual needs and preferences. Force your doctor to take good care of you:)

  3. My midwife took time and answered all my questions, asked about how things were going, nutrition, exercise, how my 4 yr old (at the time) was doing….she was awesome. I think youre normal & want to be treated like a human. There’s nothing wring with that!

  4. I have experienced the exact same thing with my OB throughout this pregnancy (my first). I felt that since I was not high-risk, and my pregnancy was progressing just fine with no complications, that the OB didn’t feel the need to spend a lot of time on me. They are trained to deal with abnormal pregnancies, and especially early on in a pregnancy, they don’t have a whole lot of medical interest. I would even take a list of questions in, to have them all be dismissed as “normal” or get the line “drink more water”. Since you can rotate through the practice, you may find that one of the other OBs spends more time answering questions, or see a midwife – they generally spend more time on you as a patient. However, I can say that since I am all of a sudden high-risk (after going into early labor last week at 34 weeks!) my OB has been wonderful and spent time seeing me in the hospital and at a subsequent visit last week, and I will be seeing her weekly from her on out. So I would chalk it up more to the fact that if you have a “normal and uncomplicated” pregnancy, OBs assume you don’t need too much attention!

  5. Yes, even really nice OB-GYNs tend to not have much time to talk. In, out. The second time around I went with a team of midwives and it was awesome! We talked so much, and each time they would help me gain a better understanding of how to manage things better, both physically and mentally. It was great! It’s funny because I was higher risk the first time and had lots of tests, etc., but the second time I felt like I got more support since the midwives were so warm and concerned.

  6. For my first two pregnancies, I had a midwife-like family practice doctor who booked prenatal exams for 2 slots (i think it was 30 minutes instead of the standard 15; maybe 20 instead of 10?). She would answer all questions – she was great! But there was no guarantee she would be able to attend the births, since it was an on-call system for multiple practices. And I know she was exceptional in terms of how she treated people. So for my 3rd, I went to a midwifery practice. Even though my FP doc was great – and she remained the primary care doc for our family until she left medicine a few years ago – the difference in attitude and how you get treated with most midwives is eye-opening.

  7. You’re definitely not alone on this one. I’m nearing the end of my first pregnancy and left my first prenatal visit in tears. When I mentioned to a friend that I thought I needed to switch practices I was essentially told that I was being hormonal and that I shouldn’t “doctor shop.” I’ve mentioned to a few of the doctors that I’ve met with that I didn’t feel connected with the pregnancy and they said and did nothing and haven’t asked about it since. I sought help from a psychologist on my own and have been in treatment for several months now.

  8. I am 37 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I chose to go with midwives for my prenatal care and eventually the delivery for just this reason. Midwives tend to focus on the emotional well-being of the mother and are extremely nice. Medically, they are certified to do everything doctors are except surgery. If a complication arises and I need a C-section, I’ll be operated on by the doctor on call. Since I’m low risk and an extreme worry-wart, the midwives are perfect for me. They answer all of my stupid questions fully and without patronizing me and insist that they aren’t stupid questions at all. The practice I go to has a rotating staff and of the six midwives who have seen me, there is only one whom I don’t particularly care for. Reason being, she always tells me I’m gaining too much weight and it annoys me. I know 40 pounds is a lot to gain, but I eat right and you can TELL it’s mostly fluid retention… not poor nutrition or exercise. But anyway, I love the midwives because they know so much about pregnancy and they really focus on giving me the attention, medical exams, and assurance I need as the hormonal wreck I’ve been these last 9 months!