Female gynecologist telling a happy pregnant woman about the good health of her baby while lying on the examination chair at the doctor's office

How to bring a toddler to an ob gyn exam

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Being pregnant with your second (or third) child is an interesting experience. Those weekly doctor’s appointments that seemed so magical during your first pregnancy turn into torture when you have a toddler to entertain. Truthfully, there are so many things that I’d rather do than lift my feet into stirrups while my doctor fiddles with a speculum near my nether regions and my kids run around touching everything while asking inappropriate questions. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t avoid bringing your kids with you to an ob gyn exam. Our first child is adopted, so I never had pregnancy appointments with no kids. But, through the process of doing fertility treatments, having twins, and then doing it all over again for our last son, I’ve attended a lot of ob gyn appointments with kids in tow. Whether it’s for a pregnancy checkup, or your regular exam, there are things that can make your next appointment with kids run smoothly.

Schedule your ob gyn exam for early in the day

Nearly every doctor’s office I’ve spent time in starts to run slow by the end of the day. Which can turn a 15-minute wait into a 2-hour endeavor. While I was pregnant with my 4th baby, I had the realization that doctor’s appointments later in the day meant more time entertaining my three young kids. Now when I need to go to the doctor, I always try to schedule appointments for first thing in the morning, or first thing after lunch. If you have the choice, morning is usually better because your kids will be well rested.

Potty together during your ob gyn exam

I know it’s a circus. But if they ask you to leave a urine sample at your ob gyn exam, take the whole crew with you to the bathroom (if they are young kids). Sure, they’ll touch everything, and you will have to wash hands all around. But you can also have them use the bathroom while you are all in there together. Which means no emergency trips to the bathroom in the middle of your appointment.

Bring Fun stuff

Not every parent loves to use technology to entertain their kids while out and about. I get that. But, for my kids, it’s a special treat to watch a movie on my phone. I do a simple Netflix download before we leave home. The movie is usually my last resort, but it’s nice to know that I have a trick up my sleeve if my toddlers aren’t doing well during the wait. You could also bring a special toy or game that your kids don’t normally get to use.

Snacks, snacks, snacks

Snacks are a great way to entertain and keep kids from having a meltdown at the doctor’s office. I learned the hard way that some snacks are better than others. Don’t bring drinks you don’t want to clean up off the floor later. Cleaning up chocolate milk from the floor of my ob gyn’s waiting room while 6 months pregnant with twins was not awesome. After that I nixed the drinks. Most doctor’s offices have small paper cups for a quick drink of water if your kids are desperate. I try to over pack snacks, so I won’t run out by the time the doctor shows up. My kids love small suckers, cheese sticks, or pretzels. If you can, designate a “special” treat that you only pull out for a doctors visit.

Play a game together

The days of sitting down and playing on your phone or leisurely reading a magazine in the waiting room are gone. At least until your kids are older. When I give my kids my mental energy in the waiting room, they do so much better. That means a lot of games of “Eye Spy” and “Would you rather?” But my kids love that time where I engage them. They have my full attention and the appointment goes well. When the doctor finally comes to visit with me, they sit quietly because I’ve given them my attention throughout the rest of the visit.

Bring help

Having help is not always possible. But, if you ever have the option, bring help with you. My husband couldn’t always make it to my prenatal appointments. He did try to make it to every ultrasound. Which was perfect because ultrasounds can run long, and kids get bored. He would simply meet the kids and I at the doctor’s office for the appointment and return to work when we were finished.

Explain the process

My oldest son was six when our 4th child was born. He was older than the standard toddler or preschooler, but still not old enough to be home on his own. It helped when I explained the process to him. I’d tell him what to expect from each appointment and what fun things we’d do afterwards. He was a lot more willing to act appropriately when he knew what was going to happen.

Offer rewards

Undergoing fertility treatments to get pregnant with our last child was difficult. We had twins who were two, and a five-year-old. Just getting to the doctor’s office was a chore. The building that our fertility specialist worked in had an elevator and vending machines. Our boys loved the elevator. I offered extra elevator rides for kids who sat nicely through procedures. We even hit up the vending machines for a snack after treatments ended and we could graduate to an ob gyn. I am not ashamed to admit that I bribed my kids so that our fertility appointments would go smoothly. You shouldn’t be ashamed to offer positive rewards either.

Try a stroller

Do you have a toddler who runs? I did. We were purchasing a new mattress when he was about two. We were laying on the mattresses to test them out and as soon as my husband and I laid down, he ran out of the store and into the parking lot. Sometimes it only takes a second for busy toddlers to get into mischief. I wish I would have thought of using a stroller for doctors’ appointments when my son was little, and I was doing regular ob gyn exams for my twin pregnancy. It would have been nice to strap him into a small stroller and have him contained for our visits.

Expect chaos

Sometimes, no matter how well prepared you are, your kids will be crazy in the waiting room. You’ll encounter days when doctor’s run late, toddlers are tired, or your child has a meltdown. You might even have days when you want to have a meltdown. Recognize that you can’t control everything. There will be chaos sometimes. Expect the chaos and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when things run smoothly. Taking your kids with you to a doctor’s appointment is a brave, but often necessary thing.

Need tips for dealing with a meltdown? Read: Five things to do when kids say, “I hate you!”

Appreciate helpful nurses

Most nurses understand when you must bring your kids with you to an ob gyn exam. I’ve had nurses and receptionists help shepherd my kids to exam rooms, keep curious little boys away from my vaginal exam area, and offer books, crayons and even treats to my rambunctious kids. I am so grateful for those wonderful professionals. Give them a kind word of thanks when they help. You might find that they are more than willing to keep helping when appreciated.

Getting through an ob gyn exam when you have kids with you is a challenge. But you can do it! It might be a little stressful, but if you set expectations for your kids and are well-prepared, you’ll survive. Your kids might even surprise you with how well they behave.

What do you do to keep your little one’s occupied during a doctor’s exam? I’d love to hear your tips and ideas.

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