Communication is the key to a having a good relationship with your doctor or midwife.

Communication is the key to a having a good relationship with your doctor or midwife.

Your midwife or doctor plays a pivotal role during your pregnancy and early postnatal period, and the quality of care they provide may vary. Midwife Jane Palmer gives some advice on how to gain the most from your antenatal visits in order to improve the quality of service you receive.  

Understand that time is money
Almost all practices have an appointment system. If your midwife or doctor is expecting you, your caregiver has an opportunity to look at your notes beforehand. While most midwives or doctors allocate a certain length of time for appointments, another woman with a complicated problem can throw the whole system into chaos. Sometimes waiting for you appointment is unavoidable. But try to be on time, even if your promptness means you sometimes have to wait.

Be sure you get enough information to make informed decisions about all aspects of your care 

Remember, knowledge is everything
Your midwife or doctor needs to know your history as accurately as possible to provide you with the best care. And just as your midwife or doctor requires information about you, you need information about your care. As a health-care consumer, you have the right to informed consent, so be sure you get enough information to make informed decisions about all aspects of your care.

Use communication as a key
Communication is the key to learning from, relating to and influencing your midwife or doctor. Some simple points on improving communication include maintaining eye-to-eye contact, making your needs known in an assertive manner, or sitting at the midwife or doctor’s desk when asking your questions. If you’re not confident, bring along your partner for support.

Ask lots of questions
Ask your midwife or doctor what tests and procedures she usually recommends. Try to find out information about each individual test, such as what it's going to tell you that you don’t already know, how reliable the test is, whether side effects are a possibility, and how much it will cost.

Keep in contact
Find out how you can best contact your midwife or doctor. Write down the phone number and keep it safe, both saved in your mobile and elsewhere. Identify what times are better to call than others, and ask how you can get in contact with her out of hours.

Regard honesty as the best policy
To have trust in your relationship with your midwife or doctor, you need honesty. There are lots of reasons why a woman might not be honest, but it can have an impact on whether you receive appropriate care. Being honest with someone can be difficult, particularly if you’re unsure about an issue or you’re unhappy about your care. But in the long run, if you let your midwife or doctor know about any concerns, you can work towards resolving issues.

Do your own research
Asking your midwife or doctor questions is a great way to learn, but you can be even more informed and have quality information by seeking information from other reliable sources too.

Convey your appreciation
We know your midwife or doctor gets paid to provide your care, and you probably feel you’re contributing sufficiently in this way. But midwives or doctors can feel overworked and under-appreciated at times - sending a simple thank-you card can help convey that you value their care.

If in doubt, get a second opinion
Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion, especially if your midwife or doctor recommends procedures that are expensive, risky or troublesome. It may be a little awkward to ask but your midwife or doctor may know the ideal person for you to see. If the midwife or doctor isn’t forthcoming, you may have to seek out another caregiver on your own.

If all else fails …
Not all women are happy with their care all the time. If you’ve got a complaint about the midwife or doctor or the care you’re receiving, let your caregiver know personally or in writing. Most midwives and doctors have a complaint procedure, and hopefully the problem can be sorted out quickly and easily. If needs be, you can lodge a formal complaint with a health complaints commission.

Taken, with permission, from Pregnancy For Dummies (3rd Australian and New Zealand edition) by Jane Palmer.

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