When an OB Visit Goes Wrong

woman with her ob

Long before I ever thought about having a baby, my annual gynecological exams were performed by one of the kindest and most popular OBGYNs in the Florida Panhandle.  When you entered his office, there was a fork in the lobby.  One door for regular gynecology patients.  The other for obstetrics. 

All my appointments took place on the gynecology side, obviously, until one day, a scheduling error accidentally placed me in a room on the OB side.

It was an entirely new world.  The white walls of the GYN side were replaced by pale shades of sunshine.  The exam tables were like plush sofas.  The nurses spewed cheer.  And I was even offered bottled water.  The fancy kind.

I was fascinated. 

So imagine my surprise when years later, I found myself pregnant in New York City and forced to learn not all OB offices mirrored my magical experience in Florida.

As I’ve done many times before, I selected a physician at random from the list provided by my insurance company.  How much research did I need to do?  The woman I selected chose a career in assisting women having babies, so she had to be a saint!  Obviously!

My first visit couldn’t come soon enough.  I dressed well.  Wore cute panties.  And prepped my list of questions in advance.

When I arrived, I waited for over an hour in a stuffy waiting room with what seemed like every other pregnant woman in the New York City.  The receptionists were rude, the nurses unkempt, and the files disheveled.  But when I finally met the OB, I realized those minor details were the LEAST of my problems.

She sprinted in the room, making the eye contact of a two year old, and spouting “like” every other word. Our first encounter was chilly at best, but I resolved to stick it out with her because I’m loyal and… like pain, I guess? 

I experienced bleeding early in the pregnancy, and desperate for help, I went back to her office for another slap in the face. She was dismissive, scattered, wishy washy, and kept saying, “Like short of skydiving, like, you can’t do anything to like, prevent a miscarriage.”

I knew my pregnancy was too immature for much medical intervention; however, it took every bit of restraint not to shake her senseless.  She referenced skydiving about twenty times in our visit, looked at me like I was lost cause, and did nothing to educate, reassure, or assist me. 

I asked about bed rest.  She shrugged.  I asked about progesterone supplements.  She shrugged.  I asked for any shred of advice she could possibly give.  And she shrugged.  I left harnessing blind fury and vowing to never step foot in her office again.  I knew she saw pregnant women every day, but this was my first time, and I wanted to be treated like I mattered.  I wanted my pregnancy to have value with her, and not be handled like it was over before it even began.  

I miscarried three weeks later. 

And amidst my heartbreak, I irrationally cursed the skydiving doctor as if her lack of concern caused it.   I knew it didn’t, but I hated her anyway. When I found myself pregnant this time, I performed deep research.  I made my selection, held my breath, and attended my first appointment.  I dressed well.  Wore cute panties.  And prepped my list of questions in advance.

And this time, even though I wasn’t’ offered fancy bottled water, it clicked.

I felt valued from the start.  I wasn’t rushed.  My questions were valid.  I was educated.  I was reassured.  I found an entire office full of advocates for me and my baby.  And the best part?  Not one person ever spoke of skydiving.  

{ MORE: Real Moms: Did You Deliver on Your Due Date? }

When selecting your OB, it is important to remember the following:

1.  You aren’t limited.  If your first visit doesn’t feel right, try again.  And try again and again until it clicks.  After all, you’ve got nearly 10 months to make a love connection.

2.  Do your homework.  Ask your friends about their experiences.  Call reputable pediatricians and/or fertility clinics and ask for referrals.  Don’t settle for the first name on your insurance provider list.

3.  Interview the OB.  Do you have expectations about your birthing experience.  Does the provider’s care plan coincide with your beliefs?

4.  Examine your medical history.  Chances are, if you struggled to conceive, or if you’ve struggled to sustain a pregnancy, you may have difficulty relaxing during your pregnancy.  Make sure the attitude of the OB suits your emotional needs as well as your physical ones.

5.  Ask questions.  If your OB is dismissive or vague, move on.  Pregnancy can be a scary time, and even with all the online resources for pregnant women, it’s best to get the final word from your healthcare provider.

 

{ MORE: The Newborn Stage: Expectation Vs. Reality }

Trust your gut, and remember, you should save skydiving for after the baby is born.

Have you had a similar experience with an OB? What did you learn from that? 

 

What do you think?

When an OB Visit Goes Wrong

Jennifer Bruno is a credentialed trainer by day and a freelance writer and aspiring photographer by night. Raised in rural Kansas, Jen moved to sunny Florida after college where she met her husband, who married her despite hearing her sing Dixie Chicks karaoke. Shortly after saying “I do”, they moved to New York City to fulfill their dream of living amongst the bright lights and skyscrapers. They currently share their cramped apartment with two modelesque miniature dachshunds named Millie an ... More

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23 comments

  1. Profile photo of Sidra Sidra says:

    It happened to me. I miscarried twice before having my daughter. With my first pregnancy, the OB I went to wasn’t friendly and concerned. She was recommended to me by my MD. I was supposed to be infertile but with my first pregnancy my MD had me do blood test, urine test and ultrasound couple times because she didn’t believe that I was pregnant. So the OB she referred to me was her friend. I asked at my first visit what should I do? How should I take care of myself? And questions like that. I was told to resume my daily life. I did a little research before going to see OB that’s why I asked her such questions because I shouldn’t have resumed my regular daily life. I weighed at that time 82lbs and I was lifting 50+lbs easily many times a day. I started bleeding at 11weeks and called my OB’s office and they told me there is nothing to worry about, it happens. I didn’t listen to them and went to ER. I was told that I was miscarrying. I was pissed. I never went back to that OB or my ex MD. With my second pregnancy I saw a different OB with a different group. He was really nice and concerned. I lost that pregnancy at 12 weeks but I knew I would because OB told me that I wasn’t healthy enough to carry a child. I went through a lot right after that miscarriage; got blood poisoning from blood transfusion and was in ICU for 8 days, wasn’t suppose to live more than 3 hours but am still alive and got pregnant with my daughter 2 months later. I was on bed rest my entire pregnancy, was monitored closely, wasn’t allowed to lift more than 5lbs of weight, and was suppose to gain 56lbs. I only gained 26 lbs and gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl naturally with no complications and cherry on top, the most fastest and easiest delivary in the hospital (where I gave birth) history. I like this OB and will go back to him if and when I get pregnant again.

  2. Profile photo of nichole nichole says:

    i happened to have my ob/gyn be super awesome, when i didnt do anything in the begining to insure that. i just happened to go to him because he accepted my insurance, and was just down the street from me. i went for a normal gyn app, and found out i was preggy. i followed him to his office the he worked out of normally, and found after the first visit, that i loved him. he was great. didnt rush me, helped me be informed but didnt do things to make me go over board with worry or something. he is cautious, but at the same time, not stupid idiotic about it…. and im seeinging him for my second pregnancy, and have my sil going to him for her second. she thought she had a good one, until it actually came time for the baby to be born, and she had aweful issues with her and the hosp staff, so she was looking for a switch. it would be nice if no woman had to worry about if the ob was a good one or not, if you just walked into the one that was right for you, unfortunately, it doesnt work that way 🙁 its aweful you had to find that out the hard way, and so many other woman who did too. i think more woman need to read this and realize they dont have to, and shouldnt, settle just because of insurance or location or because someone they knew liked that person.

  3. Profile photo of Kim Kim says:

    my OB is the same one i went to for my first son. I started going to the clinic because they were the closest. But my OB knew my son’s fathers family, even went to school with his mother. so she treated me great, which really surprised me because i had heard of alot of people not liking that clinic. I discovered it was the pediatrics and adults tht were so horrible. It made me feel glad that at least the OBGYN was great. i only go there for the OB because there is another clinic but they dont have an OBGYN, its mainly just pediatrics.

  4. Profile photo of Kim Kim says:

    im so sorry you lost so many young souls but im glad you were able to find out the cause of your problem and have it fixed 🙂

  5. Profile photo of Vanessa Vanessa says:

    With my last miscarriage (I’ve had 10 in the process of producing 2 living children so I know when something is wrong) my OB, who was fantastic with my first successful pregnancy because there were no major issues, kept telling me when I called saying something was wrong and could she please just do a quick ultrasound, that I was being neurotic and nothing was wrong and the ultrasound I had the previous week was fine so stop calling. I hadn’t had an ultrasound! It turned out in the end that they had misfiled someone else’s ultrasound in my file and never bothered to look at the name even when I told them it wasn’t mine. When I lost the baby a month later, having never been able to get appointment with the OB, the doc in the emergency room said the baby had been dead for a month and I should have gone to my OB when I first thought something was wrong. She couldn’t have saved the baby, but she could have saved me a month of torture knowing something was wrong and not being able to do anything about it. When I got pregnant again a few weeks later I went to a different OB. He wasn’t much better but we are very limited for choice where I live. I ended up going to my GP who was fantastic and giving her a list of blood tests I wanted run based on my own research and it turned out I had a pregnancy induced blood clotting disorder which was killing my babies and all I needed was blood thinners! Armed with those results I went back to my new OB and gave him instructions, and fortunately he did as he was told. The result was a beautiful baby boy. Sometimes you have to be your own advocate. You know your body and your baby much better than anyone else possibly could, no matter how many years of school they did or how many babies they have delivered.

  6. Profile photo of neisha neisha says:

    I have a really good doctor that takes time to ask me how I’m feeling not just pregnacy wise but emotionaly too.

  7. Profile photo of Kate Kate says:

    I had a doctor that couldn’t get out of the room fast enough and was very dismissive of my questions. I was in and out of the office in minutes it felt like, but was left frustrated every time.

    Then I went to another doctor and waited for almost an hour at each appointment. It was really annoying, but once I got back in the room, he never rushed me and spent as much time as needed answering questions and explaining things. I’d rather spend 2 hours at the doctor and feel like I got all the attention I needed, than a 10 minute visit feeling neglected.

  8. Profile photo of Jennifer Jennifer says:

    I know what you mean by having two completely different obgyn’s. I love mine, she’s great but she’s in a practice with 3 other doctors.

    When I was pregnant with my second baby, I had to see one of her co-workers for a visit and he was really pushing for me to have a vbac, when I wanted a repeated c section. I was too worried about my uterus tearing and he kept saying that’s rare. But when I asked him if he ever had complications during a vbac he said yes and that shut him up! Don’t push me to do something I don’t wanna do, especially when you will NEVER understand what kind of position I was in!

  9. I am also pregnant & live in East TN. I am almost thru my second trimester . I’m just curious which Dr. That would be b/c I’m thinking about finding a different Dr. For my next pregnancy. Thanks

  10. Profile photo of Colleen Colleen says:

    I love my OB/GYN. I found him shortly after I graduated high school when my mom had to get a hysterectomy after she developed cysts in her uterus. He was so wonderful through out the whole process with her that I decided to start seeing him for my annual visits. After I had been dating my now husband for about a year when he gave me the option to stop doing the STD tests every year since I was at very low risk. When I was having painful periods, he put me on a generic birth control but told me to take the active pills for 3 months at a time to reduce my number of periods instead of putting me on the more expensive sesonique. He even put me on a low dose because he remembered my history of dpression. Then, when I got pregnant, he was very supportive. He answered all my questions to the best of his ability and even did his own research when he wasn’t 100% certain. When it came to the birth, it took a while for him to get to the hospital but he was there when I needed him and followed my birth plan completely. The best part was that he’s a father so he knew exactly what my husband was going through and coached him through everything as much as me. I look forward to another pregnancy with him as my doctor.

  11. Profile photo of Aga Aga says:

    What an experience! It’s amazing how many of us have to deal with mediocre OB care at least some of the time. I had to change OBs in the middle of first trimester because of the move. I didn’t mind it too much- my first OB was just OK. My ne OB seemed much better. Note to mommy2jude: I told them before my first visit I am overweight and I know it, so I don’t want them to bug me about my weight all pregnancy. All doctors in the practice were very respectful of my wishes and just checked in with me about my weight gain periodically. I thought all was great until my waters started leaking at 38.5 week. I called OB, they told be to check in at L&D. My husband was about 30 minutes behind me when I was admitted. My favorite OB was on call and I was OK… until he came to perform pelvic and just got in abd broke my waters, without a word, warning or anything. I was shocked and furious- both at him and at nurse who is supposed to be patient’s advocate. Then he left and ordered me IV fluids and Pitocin. When I saw what the nurses hooked up to IV, I stopped infusion myself and called for the doctor. They all knew I was an experienced ICU nurse and decided to mess with me??? After some fuss everything calmed down, my husband was with me and labor progressed. I thought we were good. Then when I was pushing, the OB performed episiotomy (It was clearly agains all my wishes I discussed with him in those 4 months proir). My husband almost passed out, I was upset, and I still has to push this baby out. After delivery I did not want to see the OB anymore and didn’t let him back in my room. I was talking with the lawyer about the lawsuit but the look at my daughter’s face somehow made me feel less abused and disrespected. I ultimately decided to just leave it alone and not drag our name out. It was a good decission but I don’t know how I can trust any other OB again.

  12. I’m so glad I haven’t had to deal with this. I’m in my first pregnancy and the moment it was confirmed by a doctor that I was pregnant my fiancé actually was the one who started investigating OB/GYN’s. I was just going to go to the one down the road but because my fiancé is amazing and didn’t want some one with a second rate education responsible for our baby and myself, he found out through his researching that this particular doctor had a high rate in his patients having miscarriages, he had a high C-sec rate, and he seemed not to care about his patients. My fiancé is also responsible for finding the amazing women’s clinic/ Ob/Gyn I am now going to. They have never given me any trouble, they treat me great, they care, they work around our schedules, and the hospital itself is one of the nicest I’ve ever been to. It’s also suppose to have one of the best birthing centers in East TN. They haven’t tried to talk me into anything I don’t want like C-section or inducing early and they are just all together great. The only issue is it’s 45-50 minutes from where I live and I just hope that when I have the baby I can make it there on time.

  13. Profile photo of Lisa Lisa says:

    I’m kind of offended by the skydiving cracks. I’m an experienced skydiver, and I jumped with all 3 of my pregnancies. My kids are just fine. I wouldn’t suggest it if you’ve never done it before, but really, need it be mentioned by a doctor so many times in such a negative light? I know women who still go skiing, snowboarding, etc. during pregnancy. That being said, I’m very happy that I found the OB/GYN that I did…through my mom. He is a fantastic doctor, listened to every question, and even did his own research when I inquired about jumping while pregnant and he gave me a cutoff date to keep us all safe.

  14. Profile photo of mommy2jude mommy2jude says:

    Well said! My OB during my 1st pregnancy was uncaring. The first time she met me, she pretty much told me that since I was overweight, I should expect a c-section at 39 weeks. I was horrified, and very scared. Then she went out on maternity leave, and I ended up seeing the midwife for most of the pregnancy, who reassured me I would not "have to" have one. I was induced at 39 weeks and was forced to schedule it around the OB’s schedule, yet she put in an appearance once throughout the entire 26 hours I was there, and didn’t even end up delivering my baby! I’m much happier this time around. My OB now is patient, professional, and has a caring attitude. Cheers to Dr. Smith!

  15. Profile photo of Zippy Zippy says:

    I had a GYN that I loved, I had seen her for 7 or 8 years. So I just assumed that she would make a great OB, and stayed with her for my first pregnancy. The first couple of visits were fine, then at 12 weeks came the day that we were supposed to hear the heartbeat, and it was every expectant mother’s worst nightmare-complete silence. She moved me nextdoor to get an ultrasound, and the ultrasound technician was very rude and cold. She said to me, "Well you’re only measuring 9 weeks, and I don’t see a heartbeat. I don’t think this is going to be a good pregnancy for you." My husband almost went over the table at her. She left the room, and my OB came back in and apologized, but didn’t act like it was a big deal. "You can always try again in a few months." Since I had a missed miscarriage, my OB wanted to perform a D&C as soon as possible to prevent infection. We scheduled it for early Monday morning, and I prepaid for the procedure. Well, Friday night at about 5:30 I started bleeding and passing tissue. I called the exchange, and no one called me back ALL WEEKEND! I had to call the hospital Monday morning and they contacted my doctor’s office to let them know. I had to go back to my OB’s office every couple of days to have my blood drawn to check my HCG levels, and every time was like they were twisting the knife in my chest. After 3 weeks of being pricked, my levels were negative again. But I had to ask for my money back for the procedure. Never once did they offer to refund me. Needless to say, even if you like the Dr., you’re not going to be dealing with them the whole time. Make sure you are comfortable with everyone, the NP’s, the other Dr’s in the practice, the office staff, the sonographers. I am with a new OB, and prior to trying to get pregnant again, I had a consult with her. She had my thyroid levels tested to make sure they were good, which they were. I just suffered my second miscarriage, but this time, it was not nearly as traumatic. I called them and told them I was spotting, they got me in immediately. Even though we were not able to save the pregnancy, I was ok with it. After my HCG levels get back to normal (they’re only making me come in once a week, not 3 times!) she is going to test me for blood clotting disorders and vitamin deficiencies, etc. They are taking a much more proactive approach. And she said when I do get pregnant again, she will see me as often as I need, even if it’s every week, because she wants me to be completely comfortable and doesn’t want me stressing out. She’s definately a keeper, I’ll never go to another OB. Good luck to everyone out there trying, and don’t give up hope. I’m not.

  16. Profile photo of Amanda Amanda says:

    My first experience with an OB was a bad one. The OB was an older man who had little bedside manner. But that didn’t bother me that much, I figured it was just his personality. What really upset me was this: This was my first child, so I did a lot of reading and research. A lot of people and websites suggested a birth plan….so I made one. When I presented it to my OB, he laughed at me. He didn’t even *look* at it! He laughed and told me that when it comes to giving birth things don’t go the way you "plan" it. He embarrassed me so much that after we left I burst into tears. The worst part was that because there is such a shortage of doctors where I live, I couldn’t even switch OB’s. Thankfully, by the time I was pregnant with my next child, he had retired and the OB I got that time around was *a-maz-ing*!

  17. Profile photo of Holly Holly says:

    I am very lucky that my gynecologist was also a wonderful OB. When my husband and I moved back to the city I grew up in, and I needed a gynecologist, after my previous had retired, I was very fortunate that my sister had one she loved and knew I would too. He was always patient during my OB visits with my lists of questions each time, and he’s as attentive to questions during my annuals. He told me our baby was happy and healthy the whole pregnancy, when I had worries arise. He’d suggest things to my husband to take my mind off whatever was stressing me out, and even when I had to go on partial/ then complete bed rest the last 6 days of my pregnancy, due to low amniotic, he made sure I knew there was no reason to worry. My water broke the day before I was supposed to be induced, and they tried every inducement drug they had without progress, but with plenty of painful contractions. Almost 48 hours after arriving at the hospital, I received a c-section. My OB was available to explain and then do the c-section, and I never felt scared. And I healed amazingly quick.

  18. Profile photo of Glp Glp says:

    I had a nightmare doctor visit when I was only 17 years old. So I found out I was pregnant and my now sister in law recommended me to her Dr. She would always tell me how she was great and she loved her so much, she delivered her kids. So I went to this Dr. and first thing she does is a pelvic ultrasound. Her exact words "I can see something and a heartbeat, but I don’t know if you’re pregnant. You have to go upstairs to the lab to get bloodwork." So I went up to the lab in the hospital, checked in, and sat down in the full waiting area. While I was waiting, I went to the washroom and noticed there was blood all over my underwear. I freaked out and went back down to her office. I told the receptionist what happened and she talked to the Dr. Well the Dr. tells her to tell me, "it’s probably just my period." So I’m sitting there bleeding since I had to wait for someone to pick me up. I even asked them for a feminine pad and they told me they didn’t have any!! I was horrified, had no idea what to do or what I had to do. I get home and couldn’t bear the pain and still was bleeding tremendously! So my now-husband took me to the E.R. in another hospital, and they told me how I was experiencing a miscarriage and put me on an I.V. since I had lost so much blood. They were shocked that I didn’t get any form of treatment coming from a Dr.s office inside a hospital! That had to have been the worst day of my life! I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Now I have my beautiful 7 year old daughter, and expecting another in Sept. 🙂

  19. Profile photo of Jill Jill says:

    Wow, I am so sorry. I had a bad first experience, which lead to my daughter at three weeks being hospitalized. I for one don’t like female OBs, but chose this one because my sis was using her. After my experience with her and the hospital, I vowed never to go in uneducated about any part of my pregnancy again. Every other pregnancy I have done very detailed research about the doctor and the hospital and haven had a bad experience since. So one bad and 1 great and two exceptional! Haha

  20. Profile photo of holly holly says:

    This is so true, you have to find the right dr. I had my nightmare when I found out I was pregnant at 48. The first high risk dr was very rude and didn’t listen to what I wanted. Even told me she was sorry for my predicament and wouldn’t want to be in my shoes. I was also told I would probably stroke and die in labor! I told my regular Ob and we found another place that like a breath of fresh air!

  21. Profile photo of Alxahay Alxahay says:

    As my pregnancy progressed I found more and more problems with my OB and by the time I realized I needed to switch I was 38 wks pregnant and didn’t have much of a choice. Low and behold, I didn’t see a single doctor while I was in the hospital for 5 days, and I feel so uncomfortable about my labor experience I have been looking into a lawsuit because I believe a lot went wrong. Learned my lesson. I look back at my experience and it has made me never want another child, when I originally wanted more. It’s extremely upsetting.

  22. Profile photo of Theresa Theresa says:

    Jennifer, every time your name pops up on an article I feel like I’ve met you at some point, and especially now that you’ve mentioned the FL panhandle. I’m from the Niceville/Valparaiso area but I feel like if we’ve met it would be in the Fort Walton or Destin area. Who knows, maybe you banked with me or something. I’m notorious for remembering customers years later and not having a clue where I know them from. 🙂 Congrats on the little one nonetheless! My first is turning 1 on Wednesday! The first year flies by!

  23. I’ve had the same OBGYN since I was 15. I’m now 22 and pregnant with my first child. So far I haven’t had a single problem. If closer to the delivery I find anything that she and I happen to disagree about, I’ll probably change.

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