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In my 24 week update, I hinted at the trouble I ran into when dealing with a doctor other than my regular care provider at a recent appointment. I’ve already written an extensive post on Gestational Diabetes Test Alternatives, so I’m not going to repeat most of that information here (although it is the basis of why this entire encounter happened, so I suggest reading it). Instead, this post is about being your own well-informed advocate because sometimes that is all you’ve got. Let’s start from the beginning…
You Don’t Have to Take the Glucose Screening Test
You actually don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Would I recommend taking your health care into your own hands and ignoring all of your practitioner’s advice? No. They have much more education and experience than we do. I’m lucky to have found a group of midwives and doctors whom I respect and trust, but who also make me feel respected and cared for.
During a recent prenatal appointment, the midwife I was supposed to see was out for a family emergency so they put me with a new-to-the-practice doctor who I hadn’t yet met. I love everybody else in the practice, so I was happy to meet with her, as well…until she walked in the room.
During my first pregnancy I opted out of the glucose screening and instead took my own blood sugar four times a day for two weeks. Yes, it was a lot of extra work on my part, but I felt it would give me much more accurate results and I didn’t have to suffer through that awful test. My midwife was actually the one who gave me this suggested alternative after I voiced my concerns about taking the test. At my first prenatal appointment during this pregnancy, I asked my midwife if I could do the same thing when the time came and she was totally fine with it. We barely even discussed it.
Because of this, I was quite surprised when this new doctor informed me that at my next appointment I would have to schedule my glucose screening. I let her know that I hadn’t taken the test with my last pregnancy and my midwife had already okayed me taking my own blood sugar in lieu of taking the test this time, as well.
She immediately went on the defensive and told me that “medically” she couldn’t recommend that. She said it could be dangerous for my baby and I should just take the test and it isn’t that bad. Like I said, I have a deep respect for the level of education and training healthcare providers have gone through, but if you are going to start throwing the word “medically” around, you better be able to back up your words with a good explanation.
When I asked her what procedure I would have to follow if I failed the 1-hour glucose screening, she said they would have me test my own blood sugar four times a day for two weeks…the exact thing I was already planning to do. I then asked why it wouldn’t be okay for me to just skip the test and go straight to testing myself, and she continued to tell me she couldn’t recommend it from a medical standpoint. That is not an answer. I’m sorry, but it isn’t. Kevin even brought up the people we know and have read about who possibly failed the test because they weren’t used to such a surge of carbs (50 grams) at one time. Again, no real answer.
You Have to Be Your Own Advocate
At this point, I felt that the appointment was going nowhere and we obviously weren’t going to agree with each other. Kevin was there with me and I think we both just wanted to get out of there because she wasn’t listening to us at all. It was the worst appointment, I didn’t even get to enjoy hearing the heartbeat. What is sad to me is that if I hadn’t already done a ton of research on this topic and felt 100% comfortable with my decision, I probably would have rolled over and done whatever she told me to do. The good news is that, in most cases, you do have the option to say no (it is your baby, after all) and do your own research before making decisions regarding your pregnancy, birth and baby, too.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Sometimes, you just have to follow your mama instinct. You will be faced with hundreds of decisions regarding your body and your baby during your lifetime and you always have the right to your own opinion and to do what you feel is right. Like Spiderman’s Uncle Ben says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This applies to situations like this in a couple of ways. First of all, you need to consider whether you or your baby are in immediate danger. Ask yourself, is this a decision that needs to be made immediately? Are there any alternatives? Do I have time to talk to my partner and/or do some research and/or get a second opinion? If the answer to these questions is “No” then you need to trust the medical expert and take their advice. I knew that my baby wasn’t in immediate danger; I wasn’t even scheduled to take the test for another four weeks.
Secondly, you have the responsibility to do your research and make a well-informed decision. I am in NO WAY suggesting you throw your practitioner’s recommendations out the window and just do whatever you want. You have the responsibility to do your own research and make an informed decision on any topic that could affect your health or the health of your baby – that includes anything from ultrasounds to vaccinations to Tylenol. And Facebook articles don’t count as “research”. You need to find reputable sources and hopefully some peer-reviewed articles.
So What Happened?
A random assortment of foods I might eat on any given day.
The appointment basically ended with her telling me that she couldn’t tell me what to do, just what she recommends. So I went home and waited until about 28 weeks and took my blood sugar four times a day until my next appointment. I never once had a number outside of the normal range. But, if I had, I would have happily followed the gestational diabetes diet recommendations and taken any extra screenings they wanted to give me. I take gestational diabetes very seriously because I know of the complications that can come along with it. It wasn’t about not taking it seriously, it was about doing what I felt was right and standing up for that decision.
I have a feeling this doctor and I may clash in other areas as well, so I am hoping not to see her in the labor and delivery room. I’m definitely going to talk to my regular midwife about it to make sure they are aware that I don’t really want her to be a part of my birth experience. But, if she happens to be on call, I’ve already filled out my birth requests (not a birth plan, your baby is the only one who controls your birth plan) 🙂 and I’ll have Kevin there to advocate for me, too.
If you’ve had similar experiences, whether related to gestational diabetes or anything else pregnancy or baby related, I’d love it if you could share it in the comments. I think the more women who discuss these things, the more empowering it is for everyone else.