Ramata Niang, MD, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and is a member of the Inova Medical Group Obstetrics and Gynecology team. She has a special interest in managing high-risk pregnancies, uterine fibroids, menopause and minimally invasive surgery.
When I was expecting my second child earlier this year, I knew exactly where I wanted to deliver: Inova Fairfax Hospital. Since I happen to be an OBGYN there, some of my friends worried it might be weird for me to give birth among my coworkers. But I never questioned my choice. I know firsthand how excellent Inova’s doctors and nurses are, and how much I trust them. It was a no-brainer.
The quality of that care definitely lived up to my high expectations. But there were some surprises along the way – and the lessons I learned as a patient have given me a new perspective on caring for my patients.
Taking Time to Listen
My first baby was born 5 years ago. This time around I was over age 40. I was anxious about my pregnancy as an older mom, and concerned about the potential risks. Even though I care for pregnant women every day, I had a lot of questions for my own doctor.
I’ve always encouraged my patients to ask questions. Now, even more, I try to take the time to listen to their concerns and help them find solutions. It’s so personal when it’s your baby, and it can be an anxious time. I tell my patients there is no such thing as a silly question, so ask away.
I’m also more aware of how valuable my patients’ time is. All of those prenatal checkups are important, but they cut into the time women have available to work, care for themselves and be with their families. With my own recent experience in mind, I try harder to strike a balance between taking time to listen and staying on schedule so my patients can get back to their busy lives.
Learning to Be Patient
Unfortunately, one of my fears came true. I experienced some complications and spent the last 3 months of my pregnancy on bed rest. I’m normally very active: seeing patients, doing surgery, cooking, caring for my family. I had to learn to be very patient. It was a humbling experience, and gave me a new understanding of just how difficult it can be to follow doctor’s orders.
In July, after a long 3 months of learning to be still, I gave birth to a healthy son. For that, I have the nurses and doctors at Inova to thank.
As women, we often have a lot of expectations about how a pregnancy should go. Some women are worried about the possibility of needing a cesarean section. Others are anxious to avoid an epidural. As a doctor and as a former delivering mother, I am empathetic to those concerns. Yet I also remind patients that what matters most is protecting the health of mom and baby. My role as an OBGYN and a mother is to understand what you’re going through, and help you and your baby get where you need to go.