Dr. Meredith S. Thomas is an OB/GYN practicing at The Cambridge Hospital, a community hospital in Cambridge, MA. The hospital has a patient-centered approach to obstetrics — they offer several different delivery providers and settings so they have something for everyone’s needs.
Dr. Thomas says she chose obstetrics and gynecology as her specialty because she loves caring for women across the lifespan. "I feel that it is a privilege to get to know my patients intimately and experience pregnancy, birth, and postpartum with them," she says. "It’s so rewarding!" Learn more about her life and experiences as an OB/GYN in our interview below!
As an OB/GYN, do you support life stages outside of pregnancy?
I work with all types of women from adolescence to postmenopause. I especially love it when women come in for a visit before they are starting to try to conceive because there is so much education and planning that we can help with. It is the perfect time to adjust medications, improve your diet, join a gym, get up to date on vaccines, and start prenatal vitamins. We can also assess for any medical conditions that might affect your pregnancy.
What's the most common question your patients ask?
"Will I be able to get pregnant when I want to?" It’s a great question, but it's also a hard one without an easy answer. There isn’t one test that confirms you can get pregnant next month or predicts your fertility next year. We use menstrual cycles to assess hormonal status — in comes tracking apps!
Do you recommend that your patients use a tracking app?
I do recommend that women use period and pregnancy tracking apps, especially when planning for conception or if they are struggling with irregular periods. I think women learn so much about their bodies and feel so empowered by this knowledge. For example, a woman comes into my office and goes from describing her periods as occurring “once a month, usually at the beginning” to “my cycles are 28-29 days, I can time it to the day!” It’s really cool to watch them gain this knowledge.
Do period and pregnancy apps affect the kind of care you are able to provide patients?
Outside of pregnancy, period tracking apps help guide discussion about when periods are occurring and if there are irregularities seen. Long-term recollection of when you had your period ends up being really poor, surprisingly! Furthermore, I treat many patients for whom English is not their primary language, and having a visual aid really connects us.
For planning pregnancy, we can use the period tracker as a visual aid to help individualize care and improve chances of pregnancy.
During pregnancy, again, women feel very empowered knowing how big their baby is, what new signs and symptoms they are experiencing, and learning to track their pregnancy down to the week/day, instead of thinking in terms of months. Any pregnant woman can tell you, months can be deceiving!
What would you say is most helpful to track during pregnancy?
I think diet and exercise are really important during pregnancy, and popular knowledge about this subject is really evolving. Gone are the days of “eating for two.” Now the mantra is about eating healthy and continuing pre-pregnancy exercise routines when possible.
Do you have any children yourself? How does that inform how you work with moms and moms-to-be?
Yes, I have a two-year-old son, Leo. It has changed how I talk to and manage my postpartum patients. We are doing a good job supporting women before and during pregnancy, but postpartum is the newest frontier of opportunity!
What surprised you the most about your pregnancy experience?
Being a mom is not intuitive and you can’t just “will it” to be seamless. It takes a village to support women becoming mothers and I love seeing how technology can help support this transition!
Is there anything you wish your patients were more proactive in telling you?
Yes! Their history of mental health issues, any fears or concerns they might be having, and any prior experiences that might impact pregnancy.
If there was one piece of advice you could give women who've just found out they're pregnant, what would it be?
Listen to your body, if something doesn’t feel right, rest and let your doctor know. Otherwise, try to continue being the healthiest version of yourself for the next 40 weeks!