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19May/150

Changing obstetricians

When we found out I was pregnant, we pretty much had no idea what to do next. Then I noticed that on the pregnancy test (2 for 5 Euro, Kruidvat!) it said: if you are pregnant, make an appointment with your GP. So I did.

While in the waiting room, the assistant told me that something had gone wrong with my appointment, and instead of the female doctor, I would get the male doctor, if that was ok? I said: "That depends, what kinds of tests are you going to do?" And she said: "Did you do one yourself?" I said: "Yes, I did two." (Why waste the extra one, eh?) And she said: "Oh, no, then we're not going to test anything. You can just ask the doctor any questions you might have."

After a few more minutes of sitting dumbfounded in the waiting room (what? No bloodwork? Bloodpressure test? Iron, nothing?), I realized I had no idea what questions I might ask the doctor, so I decided to leave. The assistant said: "You can make an appointment with an obstetrician." And I thought: "Oh, ok."

It turns out that during pregnancy, the obstetrician is your doctor. The GP has nothing to do with it. The first appointment is after around 9-10 weeks, then about once every month, gearing up to once a week close to delivery. In the Netherlands, coverage depends on whether or not your insurance has a contract with a practice, so check with them first, before deciding on one.

First experience
I picked an OB close to home. We waited a few weeks for the appointed day and time. The first meeting was... ok. Nothing more than that. It wasn't that she was unfriendly, it wasn't anything I could put my finger on. But it was very businesslike, and she was more focused on the medical questions than anything else.

The second meeting was with a different person, at the same practice. It seemed standard, the handful of practices I'd investigated were all group practices: you get whomever you happen to get. This woman dove right in, again, very businesslike. Again, not unfriendly as such, but also not very interested.

We almost got into an argument, over something my mother had warned me about (she did not go into labour, even when the baby was ready to come out). She said: "We don't do anything with that information." After a brief discussion, she explained that every birth is different and that these kinds of things are not hereditary. That's all well and good, but I would prefer it if you would simply make a note of it somewhere, and kept it in the back of your mind, instead of dismissing me out of hand, thank you. I just... Didn't have any feeling of connection with these women.

Another experience
My ultrasounds were done at another practice, as the one I was going to didn't offer that. What a world of difference. I think I met about six different obstetricians there (some in training), they were without fail very kind and went out of their way to help me. One of them asked me what I weighed, and I had no idea. She said: "Didn't your obstetrician weigh you?" and I looked at her blankly: "...No....?"

I talked to a friend of mine (also pregnant, suddenly everyone is pregnant, I swear), and she said: "If there's no 'click', then you should switch! Try mine!" I thought about it, and realized: would I want one of these women to stand at my bedside during the most terrifying and least-looked-forward-to experience of my life? The answer was no. So yes, a break-up was in the future.

The switch
A week or so later, it was a done deal. I broke up with the old practice over the phone, and picked up my (thin) file.

The first appointment with the new obstetrician (the one recommended by my friend) was lovely. She explained a lot about what was happening to me, and what was normal to feel and experience during this time. She measured my blood pressure, weight, felt up my womb, and listened to the baby's heartbeat.

At this practice, you get a regular obstetrician during your whole pregnancy. At GO time, there's a chance you get one of her colleagues, but she said: "I know how all of my colleagues work, and can vouch for them as I would for myself." Even after having just met her, that was already good enough for me. It feels right.

All in all, it was surprisingly easy to switch, and I am much much happier for it. So that's my advice: not happy with your obstetrician? SWITCH!

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