Four ways to get the best pregnancy care

This content was written by Trashawn Thornton-Davis, M.D., a Kaiser Permanente obstetrician-gynecologist who practices in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Pregnancy is an exciting and transformative journey, filled with anticipation and joy. However, it also comes with its share of challenges. Ensuring you receive the best care is essential for a healthy pregnancy and a smooth delivery.

Here are four things you can do to help you get the best pregnancy care:

Advocate for yourself

Your voice is powerful, and advocating for yourself is crucial in getting the care you deserve.

Here are some tips to help you take charge of your pregnancy care:

  • Know your needs: Reflect on what you need from your obstetrician or midwife and healthcare team. If you’re generally healthy, you might prioritize convenience. If you have medical conditions, look for a doctor who can easily share electronic medical records and work together with specialists.
  • Communicate clearly and often: Make a list of your concerns and preferences before each appointment. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about any aspect of your care. My patients at Kaiser Permanente enjoy the convenience of connecting with their care team through various channels, such as 24/7 virtual care, video visits, phone appointments, E-visits, and email.
  • Understand your options: Learn about different care options, such as midwifery and hospital deliveries. Discuss the benefits and risks of each with your doctor.
  • Stay informed: Educate yourself about pregnancy and childbirth. Reliable sources include books, reputable websites, and childbirth education classes. For example, Kaiser Permanente offers educational classes and guides to all pregnant patients and their partners.

Leverage technology

Leveraging technology, specifically electronic medical records (EMR), can significantly enhance your care. EMR systems store all your health information in one place, making it easier for your healthcare team to access and share relevant data. This streamlined communication reduces errors, ensures efficiency, and can lead to better health outcomes, especially in complex pregnancies.

Grace, a Kaiser Permanente patient, shares her positive experience with choosing Kaiser Permanente for her pregnancy journey. “Before switching to a doctor who used EMRs, managing my health was frustrating. I had severe pain and had to coordinate all my appointments and tests by myself. After switching to Kaiser Permanente’s integrated care model, my new care team quickly diagnosed my condition and coordinated my treatment. The level of care I received was something I didn’t think was possible.”

Look for physicians who offer remote monitoring and virtual care options to make your maternity care journey simpler and ensure you never miss a visit. At Kaiser Permanente for example, patients at a low risk for complications can participate in the Connected Pregnancy Care program, offering a hybrid prenatal care, with some visits taking place virtually from the comfort of the patient’s home or workplace, and other visits occurring in the doctor’s office. Patients in this program leverage remote monitoring devices, including a Bluetooth-connected scale, blood pressure monitor, fetal doppler, and mobile app, allowing caregivers to view the readings. These options ensure everyone has access to excellent maternity care by reducing the burden of travel, time away from work, and childcare to attend appointments.

Find a doctor who makes you comfortable

Feeling comfortable with your doctor is vital for a healthy pregnancy experience. Look for signs that your doctor listens to you, makes eye contact, and respects your concerns.

Here are some tips to find the right doctor for you:

  • First impressions matter: Pay attention to how you feel during your initial consultation. A good doctor will make you feel at ease and take the time to answer your questions.
  • Cultural competence: Research has found that patients often feel more comfortable and enjoy better outcomes when they receive care from a doctor with a shared background. This is easy to do at Kaiser Permanente where more than half of our physician team identifies as persons of color and a majority of physician leaders are female. I’m proud to say I am one of the ob-gyns who identifies as a woman of color.
  • Patient reviews: Read reviews and seek recommendations from friends or family. Hearing about others’ experiences can help you make a more informed choice.

Prioritize your health during pregnancy

Taking an active role in your health is especially crucial during pregnancy. This involves following medical advice, attending your prenatal appointments, and adopting healthy lifestyle choices.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Healthy diet: Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to support your baby’s development and maintain your energy levels.
  • Regular exercise: Staying active can improve your mood, reduce pregnancy discomfort, and prepare your body for labor. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
  • Adequate rest: Make sure to get plenty of rest for your health and your baby’s development.
  • Stress management: Find ways to relax such as prenatal yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.

Programs like Kaiser Permanente’s Centering Pregnancy offer group prenatal care, where you can learn about nutrition, stress management, labor and breastfeeding. These programs provide extra education and emotional support, helping you feel more prepared for childbirth and parenthood.

You are your best advocate. By being proactive, informed, and vocal about your needs, you can shape your pregnancy journey to be a positive and empowering experience. Trust your instincts, surround yourself with a supportive care team, and embrace this incredible time in your life. Every pregnancy is unique, and with the right approach, you can ensure the best possible care for yourself and your baby.

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