Should I see a gynaecologist if I'm trying for a baby?
Yes, it's a good idea to have a general check-up before you conceive. As well as managing pregnancies and delivering babies, most gynaecologists provide pre-conceptual care too. The aim is to ensure that you are as healthy as possible before you become pregnant. Your doctor will talk to you about your general lifestyle, including
She may suggest lifestyle changes, a healthy eating plan, an exercise regime, or advise you to supplement your diet with folic acid, vitamins or iron tablets. Your doctor will ask you your age and look at your medical history, and your husband's medical history too. She will make sure you are up to date with vaccinations for diseases such as chicken pox, measles, mumps and hepatitis. She will check your blood pressure and pulse rate and carry out routine blood tests. You will be asked about your menstrual history (whether your periods are regular, if they are heavy, how long they last, the length of your cycle, and so on). You will also need to tell your gynaecologist if you've been taking any medication on a regular basis. Some medications aren't safe to use when trying to conceive, so you may need different ones, and allow time for your body to adjust. Also, let your doctor know if your husband is taking medication or getting treated for an illness.
Let your gynaecologist know if you already have children, have tried conceiving in the recent past or have had any miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies or terminations. You may find it hard to go over painful experiences. Try to bear in mind that knowing about what's happened in the past will help your doctor to ensure you get the best care this time around.
If you have a long-running health problem, such as depression or asthma, your doctor will want to discuss how it may affect your pregnancy. If you have a condition such as epilepsy or diabetes, your gynaecologist may recommend that you have a consultation with a specialist. You may also need to see a specialist if you have a family history of an inherited disorder, such as sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia or cystic fibrosis.
Should I take anyone with me to my doctor appointments?
If you can, it's a good idea to take your husband with you to your first pre-conception consultation. Sit down together beforehand and make a list of all your questions and concerns. If you attend together, there are several advantages. Both of you will be told about the important lifestyle changes you need to make. Your husband will learn how important it is that the mum-to-be eats well, de-stresses and gets plenty of rest. This can bring you closer as a couple, and help your husband feel more involved in your pregnancy. Also, two brains are better than one! You can help each other to remember important points that you want to raise and, later, to recall your gynaecologist's replies.
How can I make the most of my check-up?
Gynaecologists see large numbers of patients each day. You'll probably get only 15 to 20 minutes' consultation time. So it's vital to make the most of each appointment. Here are a few tips.
Unless it's an emergency, always make an appointment to see your gynaecologist.
If you've got more than one problem that you need to discuss, write down an "agenda". Either give it to your gynaecologist at the start of the consultation or tell her what is on your list. This ensures that the most important items are discussed first. Never leave the most important item until the end, or you may run out of time to discuss it. And be realistic with your list!
Your doctor will probably give you her telephone number. She may be able to answer at least some of your queries over the telephone. Save the most important ones for your appointment.
If you are seeing a new gynaecologist or trying to get a second opinion, it's helpful to give a brief summary about yourself at the start of the consultation. Doctors rarely have time between appointments to read your medical notes in full.
What should I do if I am unhappy with my gynaecologist?
If you are not happy with your gynaecologist, you need to be clear about the reasons. Perhaps you feel she doesn't understand your problems, or that she doesn't solve them satisfactorily. You might just find there's simply something about her manner or personality that makes you uncomfortable. There's no harm in seeking a second opinion. When you are looking for another gynaecologist, it may be a good idea to see someone who has been recommended by a friend or family member. It's also true that many women prefer female gynaecologists but keep an open mind. You may find a male gynaecologist who is understanding and helpful. Make your decision after you have had a chance to speak with several doctors. Remember, it's crucial that you trust your doctor completely, and so you need to feel absolutely comfortable and confident about her capabilities.