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Magda Pecsenye

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Magda Pecsenye has been writing AskMoxie, the parenting advice column, since 2005, and is still stumped by questions about potty training. She also writes, with her ex-husband, about her experiences co-parenting after divorce at She was a Babble Voices contributor to her blog, Moxieville. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her two sons.

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Not Helpful! 7 Things Our Docs Didn’t Need to Tell Us During Pregnancy

By Magda Pecsenye |

While most of us got excellent care during pregnancy and birth, some of us have heard bizarre things, alarmist misdiagnoses, or just plain weirdness from our care providers.

Slide show of weirdness after the jump:

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Sh*t OBs Say

Lack-of-evidence-based scare

"I thought I'd miscarried at 6 weeks, so I went in to get an ultrasound. My doctor was gone, and the backup doctor found that there was a heartbeat, but it was a tad slow. She told me that "there's no research behind this, but your baby probably has Trisomy 18." I carried that with me until he was born, completely healthy, 34 weeks later."


Numbers 1 and 7 were said to me. The rest were said to friends. Did a provider say anything weird to you?



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About Magda Pecsenye


Magda Pecsenye

Magda Pecsenye has been writing AskMoxie, the parenting advice column, since 2005, and is still stumped by questions about potty training. She also writes, with her ex-husband, about her experiences co-parenting after divorce at She was a Babble Voices contributor to her blog, Moxieville. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her two sons. Read bio and latest posts → Read Magda's latest posts →

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25 thoughts on “Not Helpful! 7 Things Our Docs Didn’t Need to Tell Us During Pregnancy

  1. Lisa F. says:

    We were with midwives at a teaching hospital. A student nurse mid-wife came in to one of my later appts and chastised me for not timing the tightness of my belly (which was that way pretty much 24/7) and then proceeded to get the midwife all freaky where they wouldn’t listen to me about the baby’s position (normal) and were freaking about him being breech. So they wheeled in an ultrasound machine, and proceeded to freak out about not being able to find the baby’s head! After my husband recovers from a mini-panic attack about the mutant headless baby (!) he calmly talks to the baby, gets him to turn towards his voice and showed the midwives where the baby was, in a normal head down position, just as I’d been trying to tell them. I wrote to the head mid-wife after and did receive an apology. Baby born normally, and still has his head.

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  3. Miss Chris says:

    After trying for 5 years my friend finally got pregnant, after an early blood test the doctors told her that her pregnancy hormone levels were “borderline” and then gave her an appointment 5 DAYS later to have them rechecked. Usually they can check those levels every other day but they were going to make her wait, terrified that she was about to miscarry this dearly wanted baby, for almost a week. I was enraged for her and insisted she get a new appointment. She did and when they retested they said her levels were totally healthy and fine and they can’t imagine what was going on the first time. Jerks.

  4. Carolyn M says:

    My then fiance and I (both in our 30s at the time) were in the hospital while I waited to be induced. A nurse casually mentioned that if I “decided to keep the baby,” they could arrange a home visit from a nurse after we were discharged. There had never been any discussion of us not keeping the baby–it was a planned pregnancy!

  5. 2isenuf says:

    On the operating table as I was having a scheduled section my very qualified and trusted OB confessed that the only “rule” they give pregnant women that she buys into it the mercury rule. So all the rules about sleeping on your back, lunch meat and soft cheeses are silly.

  6. Dsmommy says:

    While my OB was stitching me up (after my son was delivered via C-section) I felt a tug and he said clear as day “oops! good thing she cant feel anything”. I was so drugged up I couldn’t respond but it sure scared the crap out of me.

  7. Shandra says:

    Hey Moxie,

    I usually love your stuff. And I freely admit that as someone who lost a daughter to medical error during labour, my humour button on this issue has been permanently removed.

    But I don’t think this kind of slideshow serves either the patient or the medical professional. While some of these are plainly just funny or out there, people who have had stillbirths, for example, might not think the idea that nature always knows best about the induction issue is so strange or ridiculous (not that a conversation about risk shouldn’t have taken place). As someone who has promoted good and respectful dialogue between parents with different approaches and perspectives, and promoted developmental science like the wonder weeks, I would have looked to you for something a little better than this.

    The multiples ultrasound comment was funny though and my favourite.

  8. Magda Pecsenye says:

    Shandra, I’m sorry this hurt you.

    I’m trying to keep the research-based stuff over at AskMoxie and write at Moxieville about more personal stuff or stuff I think is ridiculous or funny (like the piece about the Beyonce/Jay-Z birth, for example), not as a source of information. And the stuff in this slideshow (just a small subset of the responses I got when I asked friends) was the mild stuff. Yes, some people do need to be induced, but there is no medical research whatsoever validating making that decision based solely on due date with no other risk factors, so what the woman in slide 8 was shown was not only not helpful, it could have led to a host of other complications including dangers for the baby and mother.

    I’ll make my next slideshow entirely ridiculous so no one can think it’s a recommendation.

  9. heidi says:

    I enjoyed this. One comment…sorry to be one of those people…I think it’s a little insensitive (? that may not be the exact word I’m going for here) to use “no you di’int” on the slide about the racist doctor.
    It conjures up a specific stereotype, obviously, and…well, it’s problematic.

    (I think might agree)

  10. Magda Pecsenye says:

    Wait, really? I think of “No you di’in’t” as being one of those Carrie from Sex and the City things. Very party girl circa 1998. Is that not what everyone else sees it as? I used it specifically because it was so dated.

  11. Magda Pecsenye says:

    Heidi, thanks for pointing this out. I really just thought of “No you di’in’t” as being an old and dorky phrase, with no racial overtones at all, but I will change it.

  12. Lorraine says:

    Long time reader, first time poster. Love your site. Thanks for the laugh, I need all I can get right now. At 36 weeks pregnant I stepped off the curb and felt my foot twist in a weird way and felt immediate pain. When I saw an ortho the next day, the X-ray showed I had broken my foot. The doc studied it for what seemed like 5 minutes then he said that I might have an extremely rare fracture/dislocation that requires surgery but, “I don’t think so, you’ll be fine, you can’t have surgery now anyway”  I was going to get a second opinion but 9 days later, I had an emergency c-section. 

    Turns out I do have that rare type of fracture (1 in 55,000) and now, FML, I’ll  always have pain when I walk and will never be able to run again.  I’ll probably need surgery (with a long difficult recovery, including 3 weeks of keeping my foot up above the level of my heart then 3-6 weeks completely non weight bearing then 6 to 10 weeks in a cam walker. 

    How the hell do I do that when I’m a SAHM with a 4 year old and a 4 month old? It does me no good now but I have since learned that I could have had surgery (or at least been casted and ordered non weight bearing until the baby was born then had surgery) and had a full recovery. Instead, partly because my baby got sick at 7 weeks and partly because I was recovering from a section and hey I had a newborn and a 4 year old starting preschool, I didn’t get a second opinion until almost 4 months after the initial injury and now it seems I’m screwed. I’ve been clomping around in my Frankenstein’s monster boot for 4 months and it looks like I’ll continue for awhile. I do have a beautiful, healthy baby girl (after 5 scary nights in the hospital she recovered from her illness).

  13. Amanda says:

    When I was 7 months pregnant with my second child, I noticed light spotting and called my midwife. At her prompting, we went into the emergency room and was admitted to L&D because I was in my 3rd trimester. A Dr. serving his internship was assigned to me after the OB became very upset when she found out I was planning a homebirth. The intern took a look at the fetal monitor, left the room, then came back and told me my baby had a heart defect, and I would need to remain hospitalized. My husband had stepped out to use the restroom and came back to find me in hysterics. I called my parents, who came to the hospital immediately. We waited to hear more from the Doctors, and after about 4 hours, my father went out to demand details. That was when another Doctor came in and apologized, saying the intern had been wrong. He based his diagnoses on the length of time between heartbeats, not taking into account the difference in heart tones between babies of different gestational age.
    “Oh, OK. Thanks.” (?!?!?!?)

  14. Nicole says:

    My husband and I went to Labor and Delivery after my water broke. There was no one else waiting and the floor didn’t seem busy at all. So after waiting 45 minutes my husband went up to the desk to find out how much longer we could expect. They sent a nurse over 5 minutes later and she tells us (with a lot of attitude and a really mean tone) that “a woman in triage just lost her baby.” Really?! So many things wrong with telling us that. 1. confidentiality 2. how were we supposed to know 3. so the floor stops doing anything else? everyone needs to be over there/ all the nurses talking behind the desk about it 4. I’M ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY! ALREADY SCARED ENOUGH, THANKS.

  15. KateA says:

    As a DVM, I have a ton of exposure to animals, parasites, and germs. However, vets are uniquely equipped to understand these diseases because we are not only taught about the diseases we need to treat in animals, we are taught which diseases we can get and how these diseases are passed to humans. I even present lectures to groups of MDs on the subjects.

    Anyway, there are a ton of pieces of misinformation that doctors and nurses give to OB patients that own animals. I think that the most common one I hear is that the woman has to get rid of any cats so she won’t pick up toxo and pass it to the fetus. In reality, a woman is more likely to get toxo from gardening, not washing veggies, or eating undercooked meat.

    However, one that I was told by an OB that was in with her parvo stricken puppy was very concerning and very wrong. I was going over the pathogenesis of the disease and the treatment plan to address the disease. And then she pops out with “Did you know that you can get parvo from your patients…and it is really bad if you are pregnant?” I told her no, that I had never heard that, but that was an interesting thought.

    There was a very good reason I had never heard that: it is not true. People do have their *own* parvo virus, but it is not caught from our pets. I checked a public health site and then also asked a veterinary epidemiologist and there is no evidence that this disease passes between dogs and humans (or cats and humans for that matter).

    Another good one to know for parents is that dogs and cats do not get pinworms. Your child cannot catch pinworms from your pets.

  16. Kristine says:

    I enjoy reading your posts and I know this was meant to be light hearted but I did want to mention that my reaction was the same as Shandra’s. It stung a little bit. If you are one of the unlucky ones that everything does not turn out all right for, you really see and appreciate the value of what sometimes appears as providers overdoing it. Remember, they see the worst of the worst. They have to carry that knowledge and images in their hearts. What drives them is the need to make sure it does not happen to their next patient.

    The comment about African births is very concerning because there are a horrifying number of women dying there during birth.

  17. HH says:

    I rode my horse prego…both times! Nothing to exciting just trail rides mostly. I know accidents can happen but that didn’t stop you from riding in a car while pregnant did it?

  18. Mandy says:

    when I was prego with my first baby , during and after my 2nd sonogram the tech doing it said everything was great looking and he had no concerns…weeks later I went for my monthly checkup my midwife was out of town that week and a doctor was there , ( I never saw her before or after this ) so she looks at my ultrasound says did you find out the sex I say yes a boy !! I was so proud and happy , She smiles and says ok looks like he has no lips…huh ?? I said , yeah they cant see any lips …so im like what kind of lips ?? She says on his face . I was freaking out inside I dont know what she was saying after when she stopped talking I started crying and asked whats this mean she was like oh nothing your gonna have a good delivery !!!!!!!!!!!! I was devastated crying all the way home , I could not stop hearing her words in my head so the next day I called back to the office and told them what she said still crying , the nurse was like omg your sonogram looks great she should have never said that…glad to say he was born months later with a mouth full of lips..

  19. Caitie says:

    While pregnant with my first. My OB told me at 20 weeks i should opt for a c section because i had no idea how long and painful labor would be and he was leaving for Christmas vacation on my due date.
    We switched to a midwife.

  20. Kirsten says:

    I wish I didnt take the pre screaning test just a big scare, and I risked my babys life.

  21. Suzanne Nelson says:

    I was in labor with my first baby, when an OB came in to break my water (my normal doctor is a gen practicioner and didn’t feel comfortable doing it.), and as he was feeling my stomach, he said,”Yup,you should just be big enough to get this baby out. Gonna be a big one!” REALLY!?!?! You tell me this now!!! And he was right. Twenty hours later,I delivered a healthy nine pound baby!

  22. skelly says:

    I had a real gem during labor. I delivered at a teaching hospital, and at the time I was only 19 so no one was taking me even remotely seriously. When I told them I’d only been contracting for an hour or two, but that they were 2-3 minutes apart and agonizing, they just sort of rolled their eyes and left me to labor in a chair in triage for two more hours (turns out that must have been around 5 cms…jerks). Finally they sent a student in (visibly shaken, I was probably his first patient) who turned to me and very calmly said “So, what makes you think you might be pregnant?”. What a great way to send a new mother off to a homicide trial instead of home with a baby :) Not a great staff all around. I got told essentially ‘I know you’re young, but you need to toughen up’ when I burst into tears during my two hours of pushing followed by stitching of my second degree tears with no numbing, only to hear a nurse turn to the OB after ‘removing’ my epidural and saying ‘Her pillow is drenched and the epidural was completely out of her spine. It must have slipped out a few hours ago.’. On top of all of that, they placed me in a room with another young mom who had just delivered at 22 weeks and had a baby in the nicu who was not expected to live. When my baby would cry at night, she would wake up bawling, begging the nurses to give her a private room. They told her if she didn’t have the extra money she’d have to stay with me and my baby. Needless to say we’ll be looking at a different hospital or midwife when baby number two comes along.

  23. Jenni P says:

    I have had some shady doctors. My first OB/GYN with my second child told me to “not worry, because I’m good with a scalpel in my hand” in reference to his hand shaking during a vaginal ultrasound (don’t know the technical name).
    At this point, I don’t get offended because it goes with the territory. Would I like to receive perfect care? Heck yes. Will I, probably not, because all these doctors are influenced by their opinions, and that’s fine. :)

  24. arockafield says:

    My doctor was out of the office when I was having some heavy second trimester spotting. Another doctor in the practice told me that there was no way to know if I would miscarry or not, but that if the bleeding was too much that they’d “have to take the baby out”. When I then asked that they check my red blood cell count, she said that was “unnecessary and would be too much lab work”.

  25. Eva says:

    At my second trimester ultrasound, the attending doctor (not my usual provider) thought one of the ventricles of my son’s brain looked a little large. He told us that it was nothing to worry about, but that he’d like us to come back for another ultrasound a month later. And then he wouldn’t discuss it further because he didn’t want me to worry. [...] Then he sent a nurse around to sign a piece of paper saying we’d declined an amnio.

    I spent 4 weeks trying not to read very much about ventriculomegaly and the best and worst case scenarios. I worried just about constantly. A month later the ventricles looked fine and it turned out that the original measurements were a little large but clinically TOTALLY NORMAL. (Thanks, doc.)

    I suppose I’m glad he followed up, but it was 30 days of fretting I could have done without.

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