Before, during, and after pregnancy, there are many changes that can be experienced in a multitude of areas—physically, emotionally, relationally, and even spiritually. If you are noticing concerns, it can be helpful to talk to someone but…knowing where to start and what to say is not always easy.
You may not know who to turn to or what specific information will be the most helpful. Anyone who is part of your prenatal or post-pregnancy support team can be a good starting point. They can help direct you to a specialist if needed who can diagnose, treat, and rule out any underlying medical or mental health conditions that are exacerbating concerns. If seeking help seems scary, try reaching out to a trusted friend or family member or community supports such as mentors, advocates, religious or spiritual leaders, and cultural leaders in the community.
As a mental health specialist, some of the most important information includes the presenting concern and the basic facts of the situation. For example, if you had a baby six weeks ago, that is an important fact. In what area(s) do you have concerns (e.g., mood, thoughts, behavior, relationship, living situation, access to resources)? What current symptoms are you experiencing? A history of the presenting concerns is also very important, as well as information on any underlying medical or mental health conditions, and current medications. How long has this been going on? What does this look like for you and how does it impact your day-to-day living? What current resources are in place and who is part of your support circle?
When starting a conversation with a healthcare provider, it may be difficult to start conversations or stay focused on the main points that you want to communicate. The great news is that there are some helpful online resources, including an awesome guide by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that provides a guideline on how to have these conversations for pregnant or postpartum people.
Here is a Guide to Help You Start the Conversation
- Thank you for seeing me. I am/I was recently pregnant. The date of my last period/delivery was ________ and I’m having serious concerns about my health that I’d like to talk to you about.
- I have been having __________ (insert symptoms) that feel like __________ (describe in detail) and have been lasting _________ (number of hours/days).
Review the urgent maternal warning signs and how to describe them.
- I know my body and this doesn’t feel normal.
Sample questions to ask:
- What could these symptoms mean?
- Is there a test I can have to rule out a serious problem?
- At what point should I consider going to the emergency room or calling 911?
- Bring this conversation starter and any additional questions you want to ask to your provider.
- Be sure to tell them that you are pregnant or have been pregnant within a year.
- Tell the doctor or nurse what medication you are currently taking or have recently taken.
- Take notes and ask follow-up questions. Clarify anything you didn’t understand.
Be sure your provider schedules you for postpartum checkups after delivery. Although there’s no sure way to avoid postpartum complications, staying in touch with your doctor and completing follow-up appointments can help protect your health.
“Guideline to Help Start the Conversation” provided by: https://www.cdc.gov/hearher/pregnant-postpartum-women/index.html
Blog Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
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