From the moment a woman becomes pregnant, it's likely a flood of questions will come to mind. Whether it's curiosity about pregnancy symptoms or concern about a procedure or practice during delivery, women have plenty of reason to seek advice. Today, answers can be found with just a few keystrokes online or through apps. But there's nothing like the advice of a trusted physician. Edmond obstetrician Robert Schiermeyer was kind enough to answer some questions from our readers. Read his answers below and scroll to the bottom of the page to learn more about Dr. Schiermeyer.
What are the best things a woman can do physically to prepare for pregnancy?
Both women and men should be in good health while trying to achieve pregnancy. I would encourage cardio/aerobic exercises at least 30 minutes/day, three to four days per week at a minimum. Studies show women who have a regular exercise routine before pregnancy or begin one during pregnancy have generally fewer problems during their pregnancy. Developing healthy eating habits such as increasing intake of fruits, vegetable, whole grains and protein, will not only help the mother replenish nutrients consumed during pregnancy but can decrease risk of developing gestational diabetes, anemia and promote healthy fetal weight.
The couple should have good understanding of their health history as well as family health history, specifically as it relates to genetics.
I have a friend who is experiencing clinical depression but had to get off meds for an unexpected pregnancy. What's your advice for her?
If a patient has long-standing depression and has been on medications to treat depression such as SSRI’s these may need to be continued. Ideally, depression is treated with a multidisciplinary approach. Depending on the severity of depression it might be appropriate to include the use of a psychiatrist, therapist and antidepressants. The decision to use antidepressants during pregnancy should be a joint decision between the patient and doctor and risk versus benefits need to be taken under consideration. If a patient has been off antidepressants during pregnancy but both physician and patient are concerned about postpartum depression, resuming medications late in the third trimester might be appropriate. Limiting exposure to medications during pregnancy is beneficial if able to do so. I encourage patients to exercise, stay connected to their friends, family, church and social organizations.
How do I manage the relationship between my doula and my doctor? I don’t want to make either one upset but I want them both in the delivery room.
If a patient chooses to have a doula throughout pregnancy and delivery, this is an important part of her pregnancy experience. The patient should never feel she has to manage the physician/doula relationship. Both are professionals and both have the same goal for the patient. They should complement each other to provide the patient with the best possible experience. I recommend that the doula come to appointments with the patient and ask questions along with the patient. The physician and patient should discuss labor and delivery expectations long before the patient is in labor. The doula can be very helpful to a physician at this time to help explain the more clinical aspects of the labor process. If a patient wants a doula, I would expect she would research the doula’s credentials, education, certification and background just as she would her obstetrician.
What’s the most frustrating thing your patients do? Self-diagnosing? Googling symptoms? Coming to the doctor too much? Not enough? What do you wish they would stop doing?
Often pregnant women will state they don’t want to be one of those “annoying” patients who are always calling or asking questions. My response is that it’s always good to ask questions. It doesn’t matter if it’s her first or fourth pregnancy, there are always questions and each pregnancy is different. There are many old wives tales, books, phone apps, websites, blogs, etc., that patients have to muddle through often with conflicting, confusing or wrong information. So I encourage questions! Every woman’s pregnancy experience is different. There is no one complete source of information. I encourage women to read and participate in their own pregnancy in whatever way they are most comfortable. I don’t tell them not to Google because they are going to anyway. I explain that if they come across something that contradicts what we have discussed then they certainly should ask. I feel it’s important to make myself available to answer questions; my nurse also is available and is good resource. I believe pregnant women should remember that although pregnancy does seem like a long condition, it is very brief compared to raising their child, and they will always be their child’s advocate starting in utero.
How should women prepare for delivery?
Pregnant women can do a lot to prepare for delivery. They do most of the work. It starts with being healthy, eating well, exercising and participating in their own experience. It involves educating themselves and asking questions of their doctor. They should discuss any birth plans with their physician including practices and procedures like epidurals, vacuum, forceps, and episiotomy. They should ask about induction of labor versus waiting for labor to start. I generally recommend some type of class or education material. This often provokes questions they may not have considered.
Robert Schiermeyer, D.O., obstetrics and gynecology, sees patients at INTEGRIS Family Care Edmond East and INTEGRIS Family Care Edmond Renaissance. He's an Edmond native who received his medical degree from Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.
He left Oklahoma to complete his residency in Ohio but he and his wife, Caroline Merritt, D.O., returned to Edmond to establish medical practices in the city they call home. The name may sound familiar to some Edmond residents as Robert's dad, Bob Schiermeyer, is the Edmond City Planner. Robert is happy to be raising his kids in the area where he grew up and serving Edmond community members as they grow their own families. He is humbled to be a part of the gift of bringing new lives into the world and enjoys helping families focus on the experience surrounding childbirth while he handles the clinical aspect.