Things You Want to Know About Pregnancy but Are Too Afraid to Ask
Pregnancy can be an exciting yet confusing time, made all the more overwhelming when you have questions you’re too afraid or embarrassed to ask.
Dr. Randy Fink, an OB/GYN in Miami, Fla., says he tries to have a close relationship with his patients and encourages them to talk with him about whatever they think is important. “I field questions about subjects that people are afraid or embarrassed to discuss every day, but for every question I answer, there are probably a hundred more that go unasked,” Dr. Fink says.
When people are uncomfortable asking questions of their doctor, this leads them to ask a friend or relative and possibly be exposed to an incorrect answer. “Patients who feel this embarrassed should really talk to their [doctor],” says Dr. Jennifer Ashton of Columbia Medical University in New York, N.Y. “[This fear] acts as a significant barrier to the doctor-patient relationship.”
To eliminate some of the anxiety, here are some questions from real moms and moms-to-be with answers from the experts:
Q. “Probably due to hormones, I had more and thicker hair than usual ‘down there’ and couldn’t see it without a mirror. I wanted to do something to tame it a little, but I was afraid of waxing, irritating my more-sensitive-than-normal skin, and worried about itching after the fact, when the hair started growing back in. What does the doctor prefer – a wax, au naturale, etc.?”
A. “What do I prefer?” asks Dr. Ashton. “I think most OB/GYNs prefer some sort of waxing or shaving either complete or partial because it makes delivery a bit less messy and there is no hair to trap fluids/bacteria, etc. However, it really is irrelevant what the doctor prefers – the patient should do whatever she feels comfortable with. There is no medical advantage or disadvantage either way. It is safe to wax during pregnancy. The same health/cleanliness precautions apply to the non-pregnant in terms of picking the right salon/spa, etc.”
Q. “What should I expect of blood during labor, and how long will I bleed after delivery?”
A. “The average blood loss during a vaginal delivery is actually between 500 to 700 ml (which is half a liter or more),” says Dr. Ashton. “Most pregnant women can easily tolerate blood loss of 1 liter or more during delivery, although blood loss in this volume qualifies as a postpartum hemorrhage. Most women bleed in decreasing amounts for up to two to four weeks after delivering. This is normal and referred to as lochia.”
Q. “I’m severely constipated. Is there anything I can do to relieve the pain? Is there any medication I can take?”
A. “Constipation is a very common hormonal response to pregnancy,” says Dr. Ashton. “Over-the-counter Colace is safe in pregnancy, and more natural remedies include prune juice, extra water, fruits and vegetables. For hemorrhoids, Tucks pads are excellent, as is a new prescription medication called Anamantle HC cream.”
Q. “Is it true that many women poop while pushing during delivery?”
A. “Yes, many women poop during pushing, also known as the second stage of labor,” says Dr. Ashton. “This is one sign that the woman is pushing properly. Obstetricians are accustomed to this, are only focused on the baby’s head at that point and just wipe it away from the vagina. An enema given in early labor can prevent this and is an option to be discussed between the patient and her clinician.”
Q. “When does the body begin to self-lubricate vaginally?”
A. “Some women in pregnancy have a dramatic increase in the amount of lubrication,” says Dr. Fink. “Postpartum, most women experience a decrease in lubrication, which may be especially prominent in women who breastfeed or those using progestin-only contraceptives (i.e., ‘the mini-pill’) … The decrease in lubrication may be present for as long as Mom breastfeeds. If not breastfeeding, vaginal lubrication returns to normal by six to eight weeks.”
Q. “Are squats safe? I’ve seen contradicting answers to this question online.”
A. “Yes they are, as long as the exercise is tolerated and keeping in mind some precautions: Keep well hydrated and be aware of a change in your center of gravity,” says Dr. Fink. “Pregnant women are more likely to suffer falls, and doing squats is a good way to end up falling down!”
Q. “Are microwave ovens safe?”
A. “People are concerned about microwave ovens because they cook with radiation,” says Dr. Fink. “As microwave ovens are generally safe to the non-pregnant public, a pregnant woman should be at no higher risk of exposure. There is no good scientific data on this, though, so it makes sense not to stand directly in front of your microwave when cooking. Eating food cooked in a microwave oven poses no added risk of radiation.”
Now, if you have any other questions, first remember there are no stupid ones. Then take a deep breath and ask your doctor. After all, an OB/GYN or midwife has heard it all before, says Dr. Fink.
In women’s health particularly, your health care provider is the one person to whom you can share anything. “You already share the most intimate aspects of your body,” says Dr. Fink. “Sharing what’s on your mind should be the easy part!”