You are in the doctor’s waiting area and your partner is back in the exam room. You feel kind of weird because you are the only guy there. After all this is a gynecologist office and there aren’t many stray guys hanging out. Mercifully, the nurse calls you back to the exam room. You’re happy to be moving but to the exam room?
Your partner and the doctor greet you as you enter the room. Unsure what is going on, you look to your partner for a clue. She is smiling and has a certain strange glow. The doctor introduces himself (or often, herself, though almost 65% of OB/GYNs are men), and your partner makes a similar introduction. Feel free to give the doc a nice hello and a handshake. You might as well get to be friendly with him or her. You are going to be relying upon him for the next nine months.
Most doctors have a special seat or spot that is their place. Your place is next to your wife or politely standing by the wall, not peering over the doctor’s shoulder while he does the exam. Listen politely as the doctor goes through the standard introduction.
Often times the doctor or a technician will perform an ultrasound. While watching the image of your new baby, you will suddenly be sucked into fatherhood. Yikes! There is a heartbeat and little appendages wiggling on the black and white screen. Life insurance, 529 college saving plans and a minivan flash in front of your eyes and the dreams of ever driving a two-seater convertible go up in a puff of smoke – you need a four door car!
As for questions, let your partner go first and then it is your turn. Most doctors appreciate your involvement and interest. Here are a few questions you can and should ask, if they haven’t already been addressed:
1. Are there any warning signs at all we should be aware of?
2. Are we on schedule for the planned pregnancy date?
3. Does the baby look to be the right size for this date?
4. When would we be able to tell if it’s a boy or a girl?
5. Should we get an amnio (short for amniocentsis)?
6. What happens if your OB/GYN is away when your wife goes into labor?
Dr. Bissinger, a highly respected, board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, is author of Pickles and Ice Cream: A Father’s Guide to Pregnancy.