Although women have been giving birth for thousands of years, many people are still ill informed about pregnancy and childbirth. Some of the pregnancy information currently available is misleading or contradictory, and women may be embarrassed to ask their family physicians or obstetricians about things like having sex or drinking alcohol during pregnancy. If you work with pregnant women in your practice, be prepared to dispel some of the common myths about pregnancy.
One of the reasons some women are uninformed about pregnancy is because they rely on books and websites instead of attending prenatal classes. Researchers from British Columbia surveyed more than 1,300 pregnant women without any known health problems. Although all of the women were pregnant for the first time, 30 percent of them did not attend prenatal education classes. The problem with getting pregnancy information from books and websites is that readers cannot always tell if the information is accurate. To combat this problem, give your patients a list of reputable websites to refer to during their pregnancies. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, for example, has several helpful articles about pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Some inaccurate pregnancy information is passed from one generation to the next, making it a cultural issue as much as it is a healthcare issue. Some women believe you can predict the sex of a baby based on the way the mother is carrying. Others believe you will give birth to a baby with a lot of hair if you have frequent heartburn during pregnancy. Dr. Ian MacAgy of USCF Fresno says it is "scientifically improbable" that a baby's hair could tickle the mother's digestive tract during pregnancy, but this belief persists. As a medical professional, you must provide accurate pregnancy information without disrespecting your patients' beliefs.
Many women also lack understanding of how what they do during pregnancy affects the development of their babies. Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine surveyed 1,000 women regarding their knowledge and attitudes about conception and fertility. The survey showed that 50 percent of the women didn't know that taking folic acid and other prenatal vitamins can prevent birth defects. Many women are also misinformed about the pros and cons of Caesarean sections, epidurals, and episiotomies. Let patients know you are willing to answer any questions they may have about these issues. If women get their pregnancy information from a medical professional, they will be better equipped to make good medical decisions.
Women have to make many decisions during their pregnancies, but they cannot make good decisions without the right information. Because so many misconceptions about pregnancy exist, medical professionals have to work extra hard to be sure their patients understand some of the most common pregnancy issues. Help dispel some of these myths by providing accurate pregnancy information to every woman you treat.
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