The Mommy MD Guides
Tips that doctors who are also mothers use for their own families
By Jennifer Bright Reich
When that little stick turns blue, your whole life changes. I know mine did, both times. Pregnancy is exciting and wonderful, but it can also be concerning and downright scary. Ob visits sometimes feel few and far between.
Over the years as a writer, I’ve interviewed hundreds of doctors. Every now and again, one would say, “When my kids were small, I used to…” That always got my attention because doctors don’t have the time to mess around with stupid stuff. If a tip worked for a doctor who’s also a mother, I figure it’ll probably work for me too.
That’s why I decided to join forces with a terrific doctor who’s also a mother (we call them Mommy MD Guides) named Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH. We decided to gather together all of those trusted, reassuring Mommy MD Guides’ tips. We launched http://www.MommyMDGuides.com last year, and the first book in our Mommy MD Guides series, The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, More than 900 tips that 60 doctors who are also mothers use during their own pregnancies and births, just released. Here are a few of my favorite tips!
Taking prenatal vitamins: Vitamins are no good to you if you throw them up. One trick if you have morning sickness and can’t choke down your prenatal vitamins is to chew a children’s Flintstones Vitamin instead. Flintstones Complete vitamins, for instance, contain 400 micrograms of folic acid, which is what most experts recommend pregnant women get each day.
—Ashley Roman, MD, MPH
Telling your partner the good news: I took my pregnancy test at the hospital, and my med school classmates knew that I was pregnant before my husband did. When I took the little stick home with the positive sign, I just rang the bell and stood there with it in front of my face. My husband’s jaw dropped, and then he just smiled!
—JJ Levenstein, MD
Coping with morning sickness: At some point in the pregnancy, I stopped being able to tolerate flat liquids of any kind—even water. Seltzer water always came to my rescue. It worked best during those times when I was at a restaurant and I felt the nausea wave coming. If you don’t like plain seltzer, try one with fruit flavoring.
—Tyeese Gaines Reid, DO
Fighting fatigue: I was in my last year of residency during my third pregnancy. Standing on my feet was simply too exhausting, so I made great use of the rolling stools in our practice. I sat on one every chance I got. I’d even roll it in the hall between exam rooms instead of walking. Sometimes I’d ask other people to push me! When you’re tired, don’t walk if you can stand, don’t stand if you can sit, don’t sit if you can lie down, and sleep whenever you can.
—Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH
Easing the (heart)burn: When I was pregnant with triplets, I had terrible, unrelenting heartburn. I discovered that eating ice cream and sipping a little milk helped. So I coated that heartburn with some ice cream! The ice cream (plus medication my doctor prescribed) eased the heartburn enough that it wasn’t waking me up anymore. Of course, by then I was waking up for a zillion other reasons.
—Sadaf T. Bhutta, MBBS
Coping with cravings: I think it’s important to listen to your body. Cravings are a normal part of pregnancy. They’re not a sign that anything is wrong. If you’re craving something unhealthy, try to eat something healthier, such as yogurt instead of ice cream. But if you really must have that ice cream, eat it.
—Erika Schwartz, MD
Soothing itchy skin: During my pregnancy, I had itching on my belly. I put a lot of vitamin E and cocoa butter lotion on the area. If the itching was very intense, I put an ice pack on it, which really helped.
—Diane Truong, MD
Preparing your pets for the baby: Our cat was our baby before our babies were born. My husband and I bought a tent for our baby’s crib to keep the cat out of it. We were concerned how the cat would react to the baby because she was already five years old when our daughter was born. We were right. When the baby came home, the cat was not very happy!
—Mary Mason, MD
Resting up before delivery: I snuck in a pedicure the afternoon before my water broke. That was my
last pedicure in a very long time, and I was so glad that I got it in just under the wire.
—Ashley Roman, MD, MPH
Going into labor: When I went into labor, my husband and I both panicked a bit. He’s a cardiologist, and he started telling me to breathe.
“How do you know I need to breathe?” I asked.
“It’s what they do in all of the movies,” my husband said.
So we mimicked what we had seen on TV and in the movies, and it was fine. I don’t remember early labor being very uncomfortable at all because it happened so quickly.
—Diane Truong, MD
Controlling pain during labor: I wanted to have an epidural, but I really wanted to feel what contractions
felt like first. I was induced. My mom kept saying that she thought I had been having contractions prior to going in, but I didn’t feel a thing. She insisted I was having them and just didn’t know!
“I’ve never had a contraction before,” I said. “But I think I’d know it if I felt one.”
Then the contractions got started.
“Nope, I didn’t feel that before,” I said. “I’ll take that epidural now.”
—Kerri A. Daniels, MD