Being the patient

by Christina on May 8, 2014

I have done a lot of prenatal care and learned how to manage labor and deliver babies during residency, but… it’s totally different when I’m the patient. (!)

Ever since finding out the amazing news that we are having a baby this fall, I’ve been reading everything I can find and my list of questions keeps growing.

It’s a mind-boggling experience to have another being growing inside of you. It’s beautiful at times, overwhelming most of the time, and a heavy responsibility.

Here are some things of the big things I’ve been thinking about:

  • Why wouldn’t my body let me be healthy in the first trimester? Doesn’t the baby need good nutrition? I was terribly sick, vomiting multiple times a day, and could basically only eat bagels and juice for the first 14 weeks. I always thought I would be healthy during pregnancy (getting better now), but I am still not clear on why my body did that to me.
  • What really works for morning sickness? None of the treatments I have always recommended for patients worked even the slightest bit for me: ginger, B6, wrist pressure points bracelets, more protein, eating before bed, eating first thing in the morning. Nada. Only a bagel and cream cheese could somewhat quell the nausea.
  • Which supplements should I take? I always recommend prenatal vitamins to my patients, but are they really necessary if I am eating healthily? And what about other supplements like Vitamin D and Omega 3’s?
  • Unfortunately night shifts are unavoidable as a resident and it is a huge stress to my body – so how can these be done in the healthiest way possible? What effect does this high stress and sleep-deprived environment have on the baby?
  • I could not practice yoga the first trimester without being sick. Now that I feel more normal, what poses should I avoid, what is good for me? Is it ok to do inversions and backbends?
  • Is a homebirth a safe option?
  • Should I continue running? I get more out of breath, occasionally crampy, and my ligaments hurt when I do it… but I like the endorphins.
  • Coffee. I couldn’t stand the smell the first trimester but now I love it again and I can’t imagine working my night shifts without it. We tell patients 1-2 cups a day is ok, but what effects might this have?
  • Do I really have to take the glucose tolerance test — swallow 75 grams of sugar on an empty stomach? I never eat that much straight sugar and I do not think it will be good or be good for me or our baby. There must be other options to test for gestational diabetes?
  • What do I need to know about raising boys?!

I’ll write more on these topics in the coming weeks/months, and would love any thoughts you all have!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Palmer May 9, 2014 at 3:18 am

I hate those stressful night shifts you and the baby have to endure.


Gail May 9, 2014 at 3:40 am

Some comments on this excellent blog:

–First, it alarms me to read that you were crampy after running. Crampy does NOT sound good. Please be careful. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage (early on … about 8 weeks I think). You should talk with your doctor about this I think.

–SO SORRY to see in print how sick you were for the first 3 months. You poor thing.

–Your comment about what doctors advise is so true … and then nothing works. I don’t know why doctors can’t just say: nothing works! 

–I was told never to have a drop of coffee. How times have changed!

–I have strong views about home birth. I think this creates an unnecessary risk for baby (and mother), when good hospitals have Birthing Room options that are relatively cozy with the advantage of being close to where other options are available.

–I think it is a shame that you have to do all these night shifts now. Try to take a deep breath every now and then! And try to stay rested and nourished. Sing to your baby when you can! Play music?


Elise May 15, 2014 at 3:02 am

i read this post last week and have been too busy to comment but i wanted to make sure to say CONGRATS! thrilled for you! seriously, my little man is the hugest blessing in my life and it’s just been a crazy wild ride. my only piece of “wisdom”: ignore all the advice you are about to get! do what YOU want. you know what’s right for you and your little one and everyone will want to give you opinions, like, all day long. just listen to your mama instincts 🙂


Christina May 17, 2014 at 11:12 pm

thank you, Elise!! I am so excited, and have been loving following your journey with your little guy!


nadia May 29, 2014 at 6:41 am

congratulations on your pregnancy.

Like you too, the first trimester was horrible for me in terms of eating well. I was a vegetarian before and during the first trimester could not even look at greens. I tried keeping healthy but mostly gave in to whatever I could eat at that time. Now Im at 35 weeks, and slowly improving my diet.

I stopped running and doing ashtanga in the first trimester and only started doing ashtanga again steadily at 16 weeks. I stopped running and cycling though. Yoga is the only way for me to keep fit these days. Although, at the third trimester, I am significantly tired than I’ve ever been in my life!

I didn’t take the glucose test either. My doctor never really suggested it to me, and I never asked. I don’t know if we HAVE to take it, but I’m fine not taking it 🙂


Leslie August 9, 2014 at 11:49 am

Hi Christina! I just ran into your blog again and am so happy to hear you are expecting! I had horrible morning sickness the first trimester too. I can’t imagine having to work during that time (for me it was during the summer so no teaching and I could barely leave my bed). So sorry you had to go through that. None of the usual things helped me either. Smelling lemon essential oil sometimes helped a little bit. Towards the end, through exhaustive googling, I found one weird thing that did help: apple cider vinegar (a good kind like Braggs). I would add some to hot or cold water. For a while it was the ONLY thing that appealed to me. I worried that I was taking too much of it even.

Morning sickness causes: I really wondered about this too. There may be some survival advantage to a MODERATE amount of morning sickness. But, there has to be a bell curve and you and I were just on the tail end. Here’s an evolutionary explanation:
and worth reading about the interesting woman who discovered it first:

Also, a physician friend told me once that it is the baby’s genes from the father that determine whether a woman will get morning sickness. That explains why it can vary so much from one pregnancy to the next for the same woman. But I haven’t heard this elsewhere and, since severe morning sickness seems to run in my family, I’m suspicious. I also heard that a predictor of how likely you are to get morning sickness is how easily you get carsick, and nauseous in other situations.

Anyway, I wish I could have offered at least some emotional support when you were going through this. I know it was a dark time for me. Glad it sounds like all is well with you now!


Christina September 3, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Leslie! wow so amazing to hear from you – thank you for your note and links! It’s really interesting about the possible reasons for morning sickness, but interesting that it doesn’t seem that other mammals get it.

I hope you are great!!! Keep in touch and hope to hear fro you again soon.


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