I have a theory. You are the expert when it comes to your own body.
I’m not saying doctors (or midwives, nurses, etc.) are unimportant- in reality, the knowledge they wield is incredible. But their specialty is THE body, not YOUR body. And what they learn and study is great because there are things that every body has in common. Biology has made us each unique and yet the same. (It’s pretty incredible when you think about it.)
People who study THE body understand that normal is not exact- it’s a range. And sometimes even the range of normal can vary by individual. For example, blood pressure is considered normal generally when the systolic pressure (the first number- when the heart contracts) is between 140-90 and the diastolic pressure (when heart is relaxed) is between 90-60. So average normal readings would fall between 130/85 to 90/60. The upper ranges of each number are generally considered borderline for hypertension.
I’ve always had a generally lower average. I’ve had healthy readings as low as 70/35 with no signs of illness, dizziness, etc. Is it outside of normal? Yes, absolutely. Did my doctor want to review some other factors to make sure I was ok? Yes. But at the end of the day, she said it didn’t appear to be a problem and we left it alone. My readings are always at the low end of normal or just below. And this is why watching the other signs my body provides, and talking with my care provider about them is so important.
I’m the only one who knows if I feel dizzy (assuming I didn’t just fall down on the floor). I’m the only one who knows if I’ve suffered blurry vision, weakness, sleepiness- all signs of blood not getting to where it needs to go. So if I am paying attention, I can relay the additional information needed to fully understand the significance of test results. Without my input, my doctor might have unnecessarily prescribed medication.
On the other hand, people may experience the symptoms of hypotension and be within the low normal range. Knowing what feels right in your body is a big part of partnering with your care provider to receive the best care.
When you’re pregnant, there are some changes to your body you can’t miss. Who could NOT notice the belly that makes it impossible to button your favorite jeans? Paying attention to other aspects is just as important.
You are the expert of your specific body. Your midwife or doctor knows what is normal for the average body, and your individual input can have a significant impact on the care you receive. Be sure that you choose a care provider who is open to hearing what you have to say about any symptoms you are experiencing. (S)he should also ask you questions that might lead to this type of conversation to give you an opportunity to discuss anything unusual.
One last thing: Many first-timers might be thinking “How do I know what’s unusual? I’ve never been pregnant before.” And because this is true, you may find you have even more to talk about. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what you’re experiencing. The books written about pregnancy are not meant to substitute for the personal care of your midwife or doctor.
If the book says it’s normal, but you feel abnormal, bring it up. This is what you’re paying for!