By Katie Moosbrugger
“Scootch down. A little bit more. C’mon. Scootch, scootch. Ok, just a wee bit further…I need you closer to end of the table. Almost there. One more scootch. Alright, if you could just come down a little closer now.”
Does this sound familiar?
If you’re a woman, chances are good you’re accustomed to this “scootch chant.” Recently, some friends and I were in tears laughing at how – as 40-something females – we still feel obligated to start off our annual OB-GYN visit as the very top of the examining table. You would think by now we know the routine and would avoid the need to go through this embarrassing ritual. Plus, we’ve all been through childbirth. Aren’t we over modesty at this point?
Apparently not, and to me, these visits never get easier. But as I’ve gotten older – I’ve learned that the littlest things make the biggest difference in my comfort level. It all comes down to bedside manners. What mattered to me before is not so important now.
I wonder if you can relate.
For instance, I used to refuse to ever see a male doctor. But since having kids, I learned to get over this hang up quickly – especially during OB rounds in the third trimester. Lots of times we have no choice who we see, and at that point in our pregnancy, we really don’t care.
I used to always prefer a more “clinical” doctor, versus someone who wants to sit and chit-chat with me once I put my pants back on. I wanted someone who would just cut to the chase about my health, and skip the banter about my love life or plans for the weekend.
When I was in my 20s, I even had the pleasure of fainting on the examination table. Oh yes, you heard that right. One minute I was in the room with just my doctor and an assistant. The next minute I was waking up surrounded by a room full of doctors and assistants buzzing around me – all while my feet were spread-eagled in stirrups. It was a lovely occasion. As you can imagine, all I wanted to do was get out of the office as quickly as possible. “Yes, I’m OK…No, we don’t need to talk about this…I am fine to get up and leave…Yes, I am OK to drive myself home NOW…”
Then once I was married and ready to start a family, my outlook about my OB-GYN visits totally changed.
More than ever, bedside manners are a must for me. I’m no longer OK cutting to the chase. I’m never ready to run out of the examination room right away. I want to have a human discussion – one that might involve emotions on my part – but that should be par for the course for this field of medicine, right? “Yes doctor, I may be sitting here completely naked under this too-small-of-a-gown that never quite closes correctly – but don’t run off to your other appointment. Hang with me and let me pepper you with a million more questions. Become my new BFF. You already know me so well, we might as well take our relationship to the next level!”
Yet, I’ll never forget the practice I used to visit where none of the doctors seemed to have a human side at all. It was like they were more focused on the clock than the patient. One of the doctors told me not to get too excited about getting pregnant right away (despite a very easy first pregnancy). Call me crazy, but isn’t in their best interest to encourage you to get pregnant?
And then there was the time when I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. It wasn’t clear at first that it was a nonviable pregnancy. In fact, the thought of losing the baby never crossed my mind. I figured it was just a strange symptom that was probably more common than I thought. At least that’s what the nurse reassured to me, anyway. So when the doctor walked in and announced very curtly, “Yea, you’re probably about to miscarry if you haven’t already,” I about fell off the table. (Side note: While the ectopic pregnancy I experienced was devastating to my husband and I, there were no complications and we were able to conceive my healthy son one year later!)
Talk about cutting to the chase. Where was the human connection? The bedside manners? The box of tissues? The hug? Or even the brief beating-around-the-bush small talk before the knock-out punch?
As you can imagine, I switched practices and, fortunately today, I have a doctor who is not only super smart and clinical, but also has wonderful bedside manners – the best possible combination for me.
Now it’s your turn to chime in. What’s important to you in selecting an OB/GYN? What characteristics make a good doctor to you? Do you prefer someone you can talk to wholeheartedly? Or do you try and get out of the office as quickly as possible?
For more discussion on OB/GYNs, click HERE to read a past post about befriending your OB/GYN. Let us know what you think about that topic too!