It’s not always easy navigating the medical system after miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. Today’s episode will show you how to show up for yourself and your baby in the best possible way so you can trust your doctor and yourself to get the care you need both physically and emotionally.
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Hey friends. I can’t believe it’s already December. It’s been a crazy couple weeks for me. I don’t know about you, but my kids are actually in school, but a couple of them have been contact traced, which means they have to get quarantined until they test negative.
And of course everyone was negative, but we’ve had a, a kind of. A lot of unknowns and different things going on, but overall, we’re healthy, we’re happy, and I hope that you are too. I really wish that for you. And if you’re not, um, I’m sending you tons of love. I gotta tell you about something really exciting.
I am doing a free class on Zoom. It is. Wednesday, December 9th, and it’s all about how to stop dreading the holidays and start celebrating them again. And I’m gonna give you lots of ideas on how to incorporate your baby into the holidays, how to just. Really, I know it can be a really emotional time during whatever holiday you celebrate, um, but with a lot of kind of Christmas cheer around, it can just be a lot of pressure and really bring up a lot of feelings of missing your baby when they just aren’t there to enjoy all of it.
And so I want to help you with that and. It is free. I am gonna put a link to register in the show notes and or you can go to my Instagram, which is Amy Smooth Stones Coaching. I have a link there too. And, Just come, you’re not gonna be on camera. Um, I’m the only one on camera. And just see if you can get some ideas on how to stop dreading the holidays, if that’s what you’re feeling.
If you’re feeling like it might be emotionally overwhelming with everything going on this year. Plus missing your baby, plus not being able to see your family and just all of it. I wanna help you with that, so definitely do that right now. Even if you wanna pause this, go to the show notes, register, you just quick gotta put in like your name and email so it can send you a reminder and you are set.
If you can’t make it Wednesday at 11. Mountain time, then sign up anyways, because I’m gonna send you the replay. So you’ll get that. And I have a special offer I’m doing for the holidays, and you’ll wanna be in on that. So get over there and do that. I’m really excited for this class. Um, I’ve already given it a couple of times and it just gets better every time.
So you gotta come. All right. Here’s what we’re talking about today. Advocating for yourself in the medical system. And this could be for pregnancy after loss, um, but really any medical care you get after your loss. A lot of times we have to advocate for ourselves, and I have to tell you that normally I am much more methodical and organized, but.
This time I’m just gonna throw out a whole bunch of tips, and I want you to take the ones that really resonate with you and use them. We’re gonna talk a lot about just our mindset around navigating our care. I. After loss. The first thing I want to tell you about is what is an advocate? So when we talk about advocating for ourselves, the role of an advocate is to offer independent support to those who feel they’re not being heard and to ensure they’re taken seriously and that their rights are respected.
An advocate does not represent their own views, but amplifies that of the person they are supporting. Now, in our case, a lot of times we have to be that for ourselves, right? And that’s really, really important. I. Especially during Corona, if you’re pregnant again during Corona, you might not have anybody else there who can help you.
So you really have to stand up for yourself, and I actually think that’s the most empowering way to do it, is to understand that you are your own best advocate because you know your story best, you know your body best, you know what you need the most, so you are the best one to do it. I think where a lot of us feel really disempowered and out of control is when we want other people to do it for us.
So we want our doctor to just know what we need. We want them to look at our chart and just see that we’ve had a loss and be extra sensitive, or give us extra time, or be more caring and concerned about our concerns instead of what we might call being more dismissive when we have questions. And you have no power when you give all that and put it on your doctor or your midwife or you want someone else to be there for you.
It just, it doesn’t work as well as when you can do it for yourself. And I know it can be hard ’cause I know that it can be really tender. You can be really nervous at these appointments, but you have to do it. And I’m just gonna say that. Straight up. You gotta be your own best advocate. Okay, now the reality of modern medicine for most of us now I am going to speak to the way it is kind of in an American medical system.
I was born and raised in Canada. I have a lot of friends who are dealing with that system, which is a little more universal. Um, I know there’s a lot of my listeners who are in the UK who also have a little more universal, and so just. Adjust these to, you know, what you’re dealing with. I think there’s a lot of pros and cons with the different systems, but for most of us, what happens when you go to the doctor is you really, you don’t have a ton of time.
The doctors are seeing a lot of patients, and even though you feel like you should be a special case, a lot of times they really. Don’t have the time to address all your concerns. In some of these more, um, universal healthcare situations, you might not have a lot of choice on who you see. And so you just have to go with the protocols that are in place and what they tell you to do, and that can be really difficult.
And so because of that, I think. Just the system that we’re in. A lot of times we do not speak up for ourselves, and there’s a couple reasons why. First is politeness, right? We, we don’t wanna. Be a bother. We don’t want people to think we’re a hypochondriac. We don’t wanna take extra time away from other patients.
We don’t trust ourselves. A lot of times we’ll have concerns or things we wanna bring up, but we’re not sure if it’s really that important or if we’re just imagining things and so we don’t trust ourselves. And then, Also, we can just be emotionally exhausted. Like I said, when you are going into the doctor for pregnancy after loss, you can already be on edge and so nervous and your brain is foggy.
I know that happens to me a lot. It’s like you wanna ask all these questions or you wanna speak up and you’re just, it’s too much for you. And then another one is, A lot of times we tell ourselves, or the people around us will tell us that we’re overreacting, right? That we’re being a hypochondriac. That you know, there’s really nothing wrong.
And so again, it goes back to doubting and not trusting ourselves. Another one I see a lot is we don’t wanna repeat our story. Because that ties into the emotional exhaustion where we don’t wanna repeat our whole story to maybe a new doctor or over again to when the doctor doesn’t remember. And so we don’t speak up.
I want you to recognize why maybe you’re not being a good advocate for yourself and. Then think of a why that you want to be a good advocate for yourself. Why do you want to speak up? What is important? And I think for most of us, what’s most important is the health of our baby. We want to make sure that our baby is healthy.
We wanna make sure that we are healthy and we wanna make sure that we get the best care that we possibly can, whatever our situation is. That’s a great reason why. That’s very motivating, right? As mothers, we wanna let that mama bear come out a little bit during pregnancy after loss, or if you’re in that in-between, you know, just journey of finding answers or fertility issues or whatever you’re doing.
But during pregnancy, after loss, You wanna let that mama bear come out? And another question I want you to ask yourself is, why do I want to speak up? So a lot of times when we have questions or we want the doctor to act a certain way, or we wanna be treated a certain way, it’s coming from a lot of fear.
Number one, that’s okay, but we just wanna check ourselves. So like I said before, a lot of times we will be a little bit in a victim place where we’re just expecting everyone around us to allay all our fears and reassure us. But we’re not doing that for ourselves. So we are coming from a place of fear and have this whole list of expectations of how we need people to treat us.
Also, we. We have a lot of concerns that may be completely coming from fear, and you wanna be really, really careful with that. Okay? Like for example, do you want extra scans during your pregnancy? If that’s an option, if it’s an option to maybe request extra ultrasounds or an early ultrasound just to make sure everything’s okay.
You have to understand, are you doing that? Just because. You think that the ultrasound is the only thing that can reassure you, but here’s the thing and how many ultrasounds you have. That is a circumstance, but circumstances do not create our feelings. So we think that if we had more ultrasounds that we would feel more reassured and less anxious, but that anxiety is a hundred percent coming from your thoughts and your past experience with.
Loss. And so what you need to do is understand that if that’s important to you and you feel like that extra ultrasound for your mental health and for the health of your baby is very, very important, then go ahead and ask for that from a place of. Love because lots of times having those reassurances can make it easier to manage our mind and our thoughts around the health of the pregnancy.
But you also have to know that if that’s not available, if you cannot get an extra ultrasound or you can’t get in as early as you want to, you can decide on purpose that that’s gonna be okay too. So sometimes advocating for yourself just means taking care of your mental health when you can’t have everything you want, don’t expect that the ultrasound will take away your fears.
The ultrasound is neutral. How many ultrasounds you have is a hundred percent neutral during your pregnancy after loss. And you get to decide how you think and how you feel about the ultrasound and how you show up. Another question a lot of people have is, how do I find a doctor that I like? Should I get a new doctor?
Should I stick with the doctor I had during my loss? Um, there’s a whole bunch of variables here, but I just wanna give you a couple of tips about finding a doctor that you like. So, first, What is important to you? Write this down. Even for a lot of people, they will do anything for the right doctor, right?
I had a friend that drove like two hours to get to the right doctor. I went to a doctor who was highly recommended and he was constantly, Way, way behind, but it was worth it because he was such a good doctor. What is really important to you? Do you care about bedside manner? Do you care about the way they talk to you?
Do you want to see one doctor instead of a group of doctors? What are those deal breaker things in a doctor that are important to you? And understand that sometimes we’re not gonna get exactly what we want. But do the best that you can. I personally wanted to stay with the same doctor who had been through the loss of Lauren because I knew how much he cared.
He was devastated when she died, and I know that he went over and over and over what he could have done differently. And so I knew how committed he was to having our rainbow baby. Make it and live. And so that was really important to me, right? And it, I could’ve made a decision out of fear and anxiety and said, you know what?
I’m not gonna go back to him. I’m gonna pick somebody else because it’s too emotional to go back to the same doctor. And you need to decide that for yourself. It can go either way, but I would just highly recommend that you don’t make a decision as a way to avoid. Some emotions. Okay. Because. Again, that’s trying to change your circumstances so that you feel a certain way, but you just get to decide how you feel.
A lot of times we are, we have insurance issues, um, location issues. Maybe you’ve moved. You just have to get really intentional with what you wanna create during this pregnancy and what relationship do you want with your doctor. Can you create that relationship? With a doctor, even if they don’t check off every box on your list.
But if you have those top important things, then you get to decide the rest of it. Trust is a choice, and I know it’s so important to trust your doctor, but trust is an emotion, and so that means we create it with our thoughts. So the reason I trusted my doctor is because I believed he was as committed to my baby’s health as I was right.
And I knew he would do everything in his power to make this a successful pregnancy. And so that’s where my trust came from, not from his skills or the way he talked to me or the degrees on his wall. It was a hu just what I believed about him. You get to believe this is the right doctor for me. Even if you’re in a situation where you don’t have a lot of choice, I think this is gonna be very empowering for you.
Instead of second guessing every time or worrying, you can just decide on purpose that. This is the right doctor for me. Whatever has happened that has led you to this doctor at this time during this pregnancy, that’s the right doctor. Even if it’s a doctor who kind of rubs you the wrong way, maybe that’s a chance for you to learn how to speak up for yourself and how to be really clear and how to just.
Learn and grow through that experience. That can be really, really powerful to just let go of those doubts and those fears about your doctor and decide they’re the exact right doctor for you, and you are the best advocate for yourself, and together as a team, you are gonna make this work no matter what happens.
All right. Another thing we do as an advocate for ourself in this day and age is, The Googling and the crowdsourcing for answers about your pregnancy after loss. And I see this a lot. Um, I’m in a lot of Facebook groups and on Instagram I see people just asking questions, is this normal? What if I have a little bit of bleeding?
What if I have a pain in my side? What does this mean? What does this mean? And we’re asking for. I want you to really dig deep into your own intuition, your own knowledge, and really try to stay away from Dr. Google and kind of the crowdsourcing answers, because that it’s not gonna reassure you unless you believe the people or you trust the people or you trust the internet, which we know is just.
A landmine. And the thing about crowdsourcing or Googling is you’re gonna find the answer you want, right? It’s this confirmation bias. So if you think that this little pain you’re having in your side is appendicitis, like you’re gonna find somebody who is going to tell you that, or it’s an ectopic or like total worst case scenario.
You will a hundred percent find that answer, but if you want to believe that it’s nothing and you kind of go to the internet for them to reassure you that it’s nothing, they’re probably gonna do that for you. But why not just do it for yourself? I think it’s really, really important to know that you have options.
You can, number one, always call labor and delivery if. You’re a little bit farther along, you have any questions, you can always call. You can always go in no matter what time of the day or night. ’cause labor and delivery is always open and usually you can get ahold of a nurse or a doctor or you can wait till the next day, right?
These fears often come in the middle of the night, and so if you feel like it’s really serious, Go ahead and take care of it, but if not, really be careful with the Googling and the crowdsourcing in groups. What’s most important is what you think and what you feel, and building that relationship with yourself and your own body and your own baby, and your own medical care team, because they’re gonna be the best ones to answer your questions, and then you gotta work on believing them when they say, you know what?
This is totally normal and it’s okay. You gotta let yourself believe it. Unless, like I said, you really feel like something is off, then you gotta keep going and you gotta trust yourself and trust that you’re not overreacting, but you are advocating. But how do you know if you’re overreacting? It’s, it’s such a hard question and it’s something that’s gonna be trial and error.
I want you to know that it’s okay. It’s totally okay to. Freak out and go into the hospital and find out that everything is totally fine. It’s okay to ask for what you need and. Find out that everything’s fine. Going back to that, being polite. A lot of times we like don’t wanna bother the people at the hospital.
Um, and sometimes they don’t wanna be bothered and we gotta push it. We’ll do that phone call to labor and delivery and they’re like, oh, well drink some juice and lay down. But if you feel like, Hey, something’s going on, I need to be checked out. You know what? You get there. And if it was all a false alarm, it’s fine.
You don’t need to worry about what they think of you. ’cause what I think of you is you’re being a great mom, okay? And just remember that you are a great mom. And I know that it’s hard to trust your body and it’s hard to trust yourself amid all the fears that pregnancy after loss brings up. But you are smart, you have gifts, you.
You have an amazing connection with this child and with your body, and you gotta just believe that and tell yourself over and over that that’s true. I think most medical teams are gonna way rather have a false alarm than have you stay at home and not say anything because you didn’t wanna bother them.
So just, just go for it. And then on the other side too, we really have to learn how to manage that anxiety. And that’s something that I do in my pregnancy after loss program, which is amazing. And if you are pregnant after loss, guys, just get in the show notes, get on a consult call with me. I talk my clients through this.
All the time, right? That scan anxiety, the doctor’s appointment anxiety. I totally get it. ’cause I’ve been there like, you do not have to explain this to me. I have been there. I understand and I know how to help you. If this is really something you’re struggling with, how do I manage the anxiety? How do I know what’s.
Total freak out. And what’s legitimate concern. Let me help you. You don’t have to do this by yourself. You don’t have to figure it out by yourself. I totally have your back and I’m gonna teach you how to have your own back. So reach out to me. I will take care of you. Another couple practical tips as we finish up here.
Sometimes when we go into the doctor, we have concerns like our blood pressure will spike because we’re scared and then we’re scared because our blood pressure’s spiking, and then they’re like, oh, you need to calm down and. What happens when you tell a pregnant woman to calm down? I mean, it does not work.
So there are little things you can do like, Hey, can we check the baby’s heartbeat first and then take my blood pressure at the end? Little things like that that are gonna make it more comfortable for you, absolutely do what you need to do to manage that yourself. That is being your own best advocate.
Another tip I have is, Write down the questions you have and be really specific. I found that I would have questions, but once I got there, because I was so nervous and because like I said, I’d always be like, I don’t wanna waste his time. You forget the questions or you don’t bring them up, and I think it’s really important to just write them down, put ’em on your phone.
What are some things you wanna know about and ask your doctor when you are there, instead of going to that Google. Really, really try to notice when you’re trying to change a circumstance to feel better versus allowing for some anxiety. Pregnancy after loss does have some anxiety and we have to learn how to.
Deal with that, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying and just like you’re white knuckling it the whole time. During C O V I D, we have some. Different challenges. A lot of the times we’re gonna be alone in these situations and there are some unknowns. So I just, I found some amazing tips about Covid on Instagram and it’s written by someone, her Instagram name is d s m Doula.
She has some questions to ask your provider while pregnant during C Ovid 19, and I asked her if I could read these, ’cause I think they’re so good. First one, where is the best place to stay informed about possible changes to my birth plans and recommendations? For example, the website, a Facebook, a phone number, who is able to support me at the hospital?
What does that look like? And are there any plans to change that policy in the near future? I think I would save these kind of questions. We know that Covid protocols change constantly, and so I know it’s really easy to get way far ahead and worrying about like labor and delivery when you. They’re at your first appointment, but I would really recommend that you just take a deep breath and wait till it gets closer because you’re gonna have a much better picture, um, of what that’s gonna look like.
You know, nine months from now, what parts of the hospital will I have access to? For example, nourishment room, hallway for walking, cafeteria or outside food delivery. So important, right? We gotta. I love to walk during my labor, so that’s really important if you cannot be in the halls. Um, and also getting some good food in there.
What can I do while at the hospital to avoid exposure? What will the staff do to reduce exposure? Will I be discharged early? If so, do I need supplies at home? Will I have access to lactation support after birth? And what will that look like? What is your guidance on having visitors at home after we are discharged?
If I have C Ovid 19 at the time I give birth, how might this change my birth and postpartum plans? So I think those are some great questions. Like I said, it’s D s m Doula had those on her Instagram. Her name is Kelly Bruce. She’s amazing. But yeah, just understand that. During this time, there is that extra layer of dealing with the pandemic and pregnancy after loss.
Um, if you’re listening to this, when the pandemic is over, hooray, I hope everything is so much better. But you just have to learn to. Roll with things, but also stand up for yourself. You have every right to stand up for yourself, and you have to believe in yourself and learn to trust yourself. And I know that’s so hard after you’ve suffered a loss, but I promise you are your own best advocate.
You are a great mom to your babies, and you can. Do this. That’s my message I want you guys to understand is you can do this, you can navigate this pregnancy after loss, and you can do a great job at it. You just have to believe in yourself. Do not make your decisions from fear, but make them from love.
Love for you, love for your baby. You deserve great care during your pregnancy after loss. But understand that you can take really good care of yourself and let the medical team do their thing, and together it’s gonna be amazing. All right. Don’t forget, I have that class coming up on December 9th, how to stop dreading the holidays and even start celebrating them.
How to incorporate your baby into the holidays this year. You gotta get there. If you can’t come on Wednesday, sign up anyways and I will get you the replay and I wanna wish you guys all the best this holiday season and I will time.