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This OB/GYN Advises Pregnant Women To Ask These 3 Questions If They Feel Unheard At The Doctor

If you're tired of feeling dismissed by, "Yup - that's normal!'

Originally Published: 
One OB/GYN on TikTok wants to encourage pregnant people to stick up for themselves more when feeling...
Noa Sterling, M.D., FACOG / TikTok

When I was pregnant, my anxiety was at a full-blown ten out of ten. Any little ache or pain or intrusive thought that crept into my mind was quickly jotted down in my Notes app. I’d head to my next OB/GYN appointment where I would read off every single concern and question I had for my doctor. Usually, he would tell me that everything happening to my body was “normal.” This can be a very frustrating answer, especially for women who feel like their concerns are being dismissed.

One OB/GYN on TikTok wants to encourage pregnant people to stick up for themselves more when feeling dismissed by a doctor, prompting three questions to follow up with when they’re told everything happening to them is “normal.”

After a pregnant woman vented about how her doctor always responds to each of her concerns with total non-concern, Dr. Noa Sterling chimed in with a TikTok video of her own.

“This is how you're going to respond the next time you bring a symptom or a complaint to your OB provider and you're just told that's normal,” she began before making a small caveat.

“By the way, I'm not joking. This dismissal of people's concerns and complaints 100% contributes to maternal mortality, and I think that's one of the reasons why black maternal mortality is so much higher than you see with white women because oftentimes black women are not listened to.”

She’s not wrong. In 2021, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, more than twice the rate for non-Hispanic White women, according to the CDC.

She continues, advising pregnant people to be sure to ask these three questions after their doctor tells them that their concerns are nothing to worry about:

  • I know that normal pregnancy symptoms can sometimes be an indication that something more serious is going on. What about my situation tells you that this is not something serious and not something that I need to be concerned about?
  • What should I be looking for that might indicate that this is a more serious symptom?
  • I am glad that you think that this isn't something serious. However, I would like to do something about this symptom. What do you suggest?

Another big tip several TikTok users recommended in Sterling’s comment section was to make sure that, if a doctor does not order certain tests or labs, make sure they document that in your medical records.

“Also, ‘please make a note in my chart that you decided not to run any tests for this symptom’ is a game changer. Also ask for a copy,” one user wrote.

Pregnancy can be a period in a person's life when anxiety can become elevated. It can be hard to hear a doctor just nod and say that anything weird happening is “normal” just because the person is pregnant. Women, pregnant or not, are often the victims of medical negligence.

Dr. Sterling encourages women to speak up, and when they are not listened to, to speak louder and, if all else fails, go to another doctor. Concerns during pregnancy are nothing to take lightly, and it seems that pregnant people know that more than doctors sometimes. Advocating for yourself can be a matter of life and death. Don’t be afraid to push back if you think something could be really wrong.

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