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Doctor Suggests 3 Questions to Ask Your Ob-Gyn When You Feel Unheard

In a new viral video, Dr. Noa Sterling explains why moms-to-be should feel empowered to ask these three follow-up questions when their concerns are being dismissed.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published January 24, 2024
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Image: Ground Picture | Shutterstock

Amid the myriad of changes happening in your body during pregnancy, you are bound to have some questions. Whether they are questions of what you can or can’t eat or what is normal to feel and what’s not, prenatal appointments with your doctor should be a time when you can feel comfortable airing your concerns and asking questions.

Unfortunately, these conversations aren’t always easy, and moms-to-be sometimes struggle to have their concerns taken seriously. But there is light at the end of the tunnel for the hundreds of women who feel unseen or unheard by their doctors.

In a recent viral video, Noa Sterling, a board-certified ob-gyn and mom of three, addressed three simple questions that you can ask next time you “bring a symptom or a complaint to your OB provider and you’re just told that’s normal.”

The first question to consider: I know that normal pregnancy symptoms can sometimes be an indication that something more serious is going on. What about my situation tells you that this is not something serious and not something that I need to be concerned about? Not all concerns lead to something more serious, but if your doctor believes your symptoms are truly nothing to worry about, they have an explanation as to why.

The second question to ask: What should I be looking for that might indicate that this is a more serious symptom? This question not only addresses what you believe may be wrong right now but can also provide you insight into what to look out for in the future.

The third question: I am glad that you think that this isn’t something serious. However, I would like to do something about this symptom. What do you suggest? Whether your doctor feels your symptoms are serious or not, they should help you along the path to becoming more comfortable. That doesn’t mean that pregnancy will be a breeze or that you won’t come across some rough patches, but there are solutions and therapies to make life doable while pregnant.

Along with these three questions, Sterling notes that the dismissal of women’s concerns is a broader systematic problem with big consequences. “This dismissal of people’s concerns and complaints 100 percent contributes to maternal mortality, and I think that’s one of the reasons why black maternal mortality is so much higher than you see with white women because oftentimes black women are not listened to.”

Instagram users added their perspectives in the comments. “I like to say, I know it can be normal but it’s affecting my day-to day can you please note it in my chart even if there’s nothing I can do about it, often times I get more testing, medication or a longer more detailed response,” noted one mom. “I’d argue this is good language for if ANY doctor is dismissive of symptoms,” added another user.

If you dread your prenatal appointments or struggle to speak up and ask questions, a little preparation can make a world of difference. Follow along with The Bump’s pregnancy week-by-week to learn more about what’s going on with baby each week and what kind of questions you should be asking your doctor.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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