Trust Me, the Internet Can’t Deliver Your Baby
Hi, my name is Charlotte, I work in healthcare marketing and … brace yourself, I’m a recovering millennial. There was a time when I thought — thanks to good ol’ Mr.Interwebs — I knew absolutely everything about everything. Now don’t get me wrong, I still think I know everything about most things. But when it comes to my pregnancy, I recently learned an important lesson on trusting my provider instead of my cracker-jack search engine skills.
So, there I was: Nine weeks pregnant, sitting awkwardly with my husband in a tiny exam room, while fielding the usual questions from my nurse practitioner. “When was your last period?” April 6. “Is this your first child?” Yes. “Have you stopped drinking?” Unfortunately.
The questions start to get a little tougher from there, but I’m not worried. As a tech-obsessed millennial, I researched all this stuff long before we ever got pregnant. Trust me, there is not a pregnancy blog, message board or WebMD article I haven’t committed to memory.
So, when my nurse practitioner asks, “Do you understand your options in terms of early screening te-?” I don’t even let her finish the sentence. “Yes,” I say haughtily, “and we think we’ll be fine without it.” She agrees and moves on to the next question.
Are you waiting to find out when the egg will hit my face? Well, get your spatulas ready. My nurse practitioner was referring to the first trimester screen for fetal abnormalities. In addition to blood tests, an in-depth ultrasound can be performed between 11 and 13 weeks to measure the thickness of the fluid in the baby’s nuchal fold, which is a little temporary patch of tissue on the back of the neck. Babies with chromosomal abnormalities — like Down syndrome or spina bifida — tend to accumulate more fluid there.
The scan doesn’t tell you for sure if your baby has a chromosomal disorder, but it can tell providers whether you’re at risk and in need of further testing down the road — like an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. And there is the egg: in all my Googling, I somehow got the wonky, wildly incorrect idea that all pregnant women have an amniocentesis. Don’t ask why I thought this, I just did. And why would I want a test that didn’t offer conclusive results when I was going to have a more definitive procedure later?
Obviously, I have since learned that amnios are invasive procedures reserved for women with certain risk factors, like age or family history. Unless future testing — like (also optional) quad screening in the second trimester — reveals abnormal results, I have no reason to have an amnio. Which means I hastily declined a test that a) I didn’t have enough information about to really form an opinion on, and b) could have provided my husband and I with important information about the health of our child. And yeah, what about my husband? Did I turn to him and ask, “Honey, do you know the test she’s referring to?” No, I just steam-rolled him with my crazy pregnant ego.
In the course of my work day, I often warn people against Googling healthcare information. Yes, there are some great resources out there – and you should absolutely be your own healthcare advocate — but there is some truly terrible information out there too. And I always counsel my friends and family that the best resource for medical information is an experienced and trusted healthcare provider, like … I don’t know … my amazing nurse practitioner who would have happily (and thoroughly) explained things to me if I had gotten down off my high-horse long off to ask.
What’s that old saying about practicing what you preach …?
Charlotte Wiemerslage is the marketing coordinator at West Valley Medical Center, an HCA Healthcare facility in Caldwell, Idaho, and author of Ready or Not: A Pregnancy Blog. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter: @CharlotteinBOI
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