Vickroy: Doctor becomes patient, gains new insight
BY DONNA VICKROY email@example.com Twitter: @dvickroy July 28, 2014 5:30PM
Dr. Brady Reis is shown in her Burbank office. | Donna Vickroy/Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 30, 2014 6:13AM
Of course doctors know a lot more than the rest of us when it comes to medical care — all that schooling and training.
But there’s a unique insight that can’t come from any medical books: having been the patient.
An obstetrician/gynecologist for the past decade, Dr. Brady Reis has been on staff at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park for six years. She also treats patients at Women’s Health Center in Burbank.
She has a stepdaughter, Olivia, but until last fall had not given birth. All that changed with the arrival of daughter Quinn, who now is 9 months old.
In addition to being on the “older” end of the childbearing spectrum, the 35-year-old doctor wrestled with some of the very ailments and issues many of her patients do, including morning sickness, fears about genetic testing and the battle to keep her scrubs from falling down during her last trimester.
“I have a whole new appreciation for my patients,” Reis said. “I think I understand them on a whole new level. Now I can put a personal spin on things. I think patients appreciate that.”
She also has important insight into what life is like post-pregnancy.
“Motherhood is beyond what I anticipated,” Reis said. “I am really enjoying it. I’m truly blessed to have Quinn in our family and for Olivia to have a sister.”
Here are some additional insights culled from Reis’ birthing experience.
Q: What were you like as a patient?
A: Horrible. I totally admit it. Part of the problem is that you know too much. Any little thing that came up, I was like, “Oh, no.” I wanted everything explained to me, even though I knew what was going on. I wanted to be treated like a regular patient. It was hard on the nurses. Fortunately, my residency trainer and mentor, Dr. Xavier Pombar, delivered me. And he took my craziness with a grain of salt.
Q: You had a male obstetrician, but don’t most women today prefer a female?
A: Yes. When I was a young girl, almost all OB/GYNs were male. When I graduated med school, there was only one guy out of 24 residents in my class. Younger patients, especially, seem to want a female. Sometimes new patients think I am a man because of my name. They are often surprised on their first visit. I believe my name affects my ability to get patients sometimes.
Q: Do patients opt for testing that can determine birth abnormalities or gender before the baby is born?
A: Genetic testing is a lot more available today. The Harmony Prenatal Screening assesses the risk of chromosome conditions, such as Down syndrome. It can also determine the sex of the baby in the first trimester.
It’s a simple blood test. But among my patient population here on the South Side, it is not as popular or well-received as it is, say, among my friends. I think some patients don’t want to deal with the outcome. I did have it done.
Finding out the sex of the unborn baby is very popular. About 75 percent of patients want to know if they’re having a boy or a girl before the baby is born. I totally understand. I wanted to know.
Still, from a doctor’s point of view, it is such a thrill to tell them for the first time after the baby is delivered, to see that look on their faces.
Q: Any tips for helping pregnant women stay healthy?
A: Get a flu shot. And, of course, avoid smoking and alcohol. Patients ask about caffeine and I tell them, “If you need a cup of coffee a day, that’s totally fine. Just don’t overdo it.”
Many also needlessly worry about alcohol they might have consumed before they knew they were pregnant. They shouldn’t. We do, however, worry about patients who are binge drinkers or alcoholics.
Also, many women are worried that they’re too old or that they won’t be able to have children. Because the majority are having babies later in life, they worry about implications of having been on birth control for a number of years.
Q: What about obesity; is that a concern among obstetricians?
A: Yes, it is definitely an issue. It can increase a woman’s risk for gestational diabetes and other complications that can come from having a large baby. It is a challenge to deliver a baby from a woman who weighs 350 to 400 or more pounds.
I tell my patients that gaining 25 to 35 pounds is a good goal. When you gain 60 or 70 pounds and only push out a 6-pound baby, you’re going to go home with a lot of that extra weight.
I encourage them to make good food choices because it’s not easy to lose 40 to 50 pounds afterward.
Q: What about cravings. Did you have any?
A: Gummy candy, especially gummy Cokes.
Q: What about ailments. What was the hardest part?
A: Morning sickness in the beginning. It got better at the end of the first trimester. The anti-nausea medicine, Zofran, was my best friend for the first 12 weeks.
In the last trimester, my back hurt, and my scrubs kept falling down my belly during operations.
Q: How far into the pregnancy can most women work?
A: I usually tell them to work as long as they can because your leave starts the minute you take off work. I worked up until the day before I delivered but that was because I had an ultrasound and the baby measured a pound bigger than she actually was — 8 pounds, 6 ounces. I’m a small person so my doctor scheduled a Cesarean for the next morning.
Q: Is there anything moms-to-be worry about needlessly?
A: Delivery is always on people’s minds. The pain, whether or not they’ll need an epidural. Many have anxiety about that.
Also, whether or not they’ll need a Cesarean section. I had one at 39 weeks. It was not horrible. I recovered just fine.
I tell them they can’t control the situation. My motto is “healthy mom, healthy baby.” The goal at the end of the day is the same: Everybody wants to go home with a healthy baby.
When it comes to delivery, I encourage them to be open-minded. You don’t know how you’ll feel while you’re in labor. If it’s horrible, get an epidural. If you need a Cesarean, deal with it then. But don’t fixate on it throughout your pregnancy.
Dr. Brady Reis’ primary office is at 4901 W. 79th St., Suite 10, Burbank; (708) 422-0600; www.lcmh.org