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Get the Most From Your Prenatal Doctor Visits

Having a solid doctor-patient relationship is an important step in getting the medical care you need. During pregnancy, it's especially crucial to be partnered with a doctor you feel is competent and compassionate. "Trust is one of the most important factors in a good doctor-patient relationship," says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. "You should be able to trust your doctor, and your doctor should be able to trust you." If you feel uncomfortable in the doctor's office or find that he talks down to you and doesn't seem to respect you, it's time to consider finding a new doctor, midwife, or healthcare provider. Once you find someone you click with, you'll want to build a strong relationship. Unfortunately, because of current legal issues, a lot of doctors are retiring from obstetrics, limiting their practices to gynecology or moving to less restrictive states, explains Dr. Minkin. That means there are fewer OBs to go around and your time with your doctor is even more precious. To make the most of it, use the following advice.

Ask questions (within reason)

You're bound to have questions -- especially if this is your first pregnancy -- and you should feel free to ask them, says Dr. Minkin. Just try to be reasonable about the number of questions and amount of time you spend asking them. "Asking 45 minutes' worth of questions when you're two weeks pregnant can be a bit much," she says. Instead, prioritize so that you are sure to get your doctor's response to your most pressing queries.

Write down your questions--and the answers

It can be hard to remember what you wanted to ask your doctor, so jot down your questions in advance of your appointment. And if you're concerned you'll forget what the doctor said once you leave the office, be sure to jot down notes during you visit -- you don't want to have to ask them twice.

Tell your doctor at the start of your appointment that you have questions

Doctors have different preferences when it comes to the timing of questions. Some like to save all of the questions until the end of the visit whereas others, such as Dr. Minkin, like to hear them right off the bat. "If I know a patient's questions from the start, I may look for certain things during the exam," she says. Either way, giving your doctor a heads-up can help her organize the appointment and budget time for some Q&A.

Save late-night calls for emergencies

Doctors are only human and paging or calling them in the middle of the night to ask a nonurgent question can really alienate them. If it's not an emergency, save your questions for office visits or call the doctor's office during business hours.

Talk to the nurse

If you have a question between appointments, call the doctor's office and ask to speak with a nurse. She may be able to answer your questions immediately (as opposed to the doctor who will probably have to call you back) or, if she isn't able to answer your question, she can arrange for the doctor to call you.

Don't come spouting facts from the Internet

There is a lot of good information on the Internet, but also plenty of bad stuff in the mix. According to Dr. Minkin, it's totally fine to say, "Doctor, I read x,y,z on the Internet. Is that true?" However, avoid making statements like, "According to the Internet, I should have a c-section," which can put your doctor on the defensive.

Show that you're invested in your pregnancy

For example, if you're a smoker who kicks the habit when you learn you're pregnant, that shows your doctor that you really care about your pregnancy and your baby. She knows you're putting in 150 precent and is likely to do the same for you.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.