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Questions You Should Be Asking Your Doctor (For COVID and Beyond)

If you are anything like me, you have your doctor’s appointments and your children’s doctor’s appointments highlighted on your calendar: In a different color and font, often bolded, and with a reminder on your phone.

Does anyone else notice anxiety that circulates around these appointments? Whether it be to see your family doctor, your gynecologist, or your child’s pediatrician, there is often a feeling of uneasiness.
If this sounds like you: know that you are not alone, but just one of the many parents who fret about what will happen at their next appointment.

Below is a list of questions that may be useful the next time you visit your health care professional.

Pediatrics

Remember, when you are going to see your child’s pediatrician, regardless of whether this is child number 1 or child number 5, things do change. As parents, we are often trying to juggle activities, hygiene, feeding, and everything in between.

What milestones should my child be meeting at this time?

Often parents feel that by asking physicians this question, they may be judged. “Will the doctor think that I haven’t been doing this with them, or will they think that I did not view this as important?” It is important to understand that your child’s physician is the expert in child development and has a list of certain milestones based on your child’s age. In addition, they can provide recommendations on how to work up to these goals.

Should my child get the COVID vaccine?

Preliminary studies are indicating that the Pfizer vaccine is 100% effective, with the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines not far behind (upwards of 90%). At this time, the vaccines are being administered in adults and teens 16 years of age and older. Clinical trials need to be completed on children to determine the safety and efficacy of the vaccines for them. Your pediatrician will have the latest information and asking will give you the most up-to-date recommendations.

What baby foods would you reccomend?

Recently, there has been a significant amount of news on heavy metals in baby food. Metals are found naturally in the Earth, and therefore low levels of metals are normal. They can also enter food through packaging and manufacturing. Do not hesitate to ask your pediatrician about specific brands they would recommend, or specific questions related to your child’s diet.

Family Practice and Gynecologists

Are there preventative tests I need to get done?

Nowadays many people prefer a one-stop-shop model at their yearly checkups. It is important to speak with your physician about preventative health measures and tests you should be taking. Based on your family history, current health state, and age, there are tests that may be necessary for you.

For parents that are getting ready to have a baby

What are my hospital’s visitors policies? Who can be with me in labor?
What should I pack in my hospital bag? How long will I need to stay after the baby?

Especially now, I have noticed a lot of anxiety by patients and their families with regards to delivering in the hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic. Rest assured, that the hospital is still the safest place for you to deliver. Remember, there are specific changes that have occurred at your hospital as a result. The duration of hospital stays has been shortened, and the availability of visitors to leave and re-enter the building has changed. It is important to be aware of these changes, so it can be one less thing you have to worry about come time for the delivery.

A few things that I encourage patients to do is to keep a notebook or a log of questions on their phones. This prevents people from feeling overwhelmed and acts as a reminder of questions they need to be answered at their visit.

I hope these little nuggets help and put you a little bit more at ease when ‘preparing’ for your next trip to your health care professional.

Dr. Radhika Sharma is a Board-Certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist currently practicing in Wisconsin. On top of working full time, she is a mom of two. In addition to her commitment to her family, she is passionate about Women’s health. She enjoys speaking on the matter, working on her podcast The BusyOBees, and using TikTok videos to inform and debunk common Women’s health issues. Be sure to follow along with the BusyOBMama on Instagram and TikTok.

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