One of the common threads across the conversations we’ve had with our podcast guests and community members is how their intuition led them to a significant health breakthrough.
J’Vanay Santos-Fabian (Founder, MyLUA Health) listened to her sister’s concerns throughout her birthing process and uncovered gaps in the care planning process for pregnant people. (Subscibe to the podcast to catch the upcoming interview)
Listening to your gut–and following it– sounds simple; however sometimes what turns out to be a major health concern starts as a seemingly innocuous observation that is easy to ignore. And the healthcare system isn’t exactly the easiest environment to navigate. Learning to honor and present your health experience to your doctor can take a bit of preparation and practice.
Here are 3 tips to help you listen to what your body is telling you and advocate for your needs:
- Be honest with yourself. In the absence of extreme pain, it’s tempting to rationalize small health changes or discomforts. But we all know when our body feels off. Acknowledging when something feels different is the first step to uncovering the underlying cause for the shift. There’s no need to catastrophize what the slightest change might mean (step away from WedMD), but it is important to take notes on what you’re experiencing.
- Collect information to support your position. The more data you can provide your doctor with, the better. For example, being able to share a snapshot of your PMS symptoms and dates from a period tracking app is more helpful than just telling them your cycle is irregular. Whether you opt to use a health tracking app or start with the simple notes app in your cell phone, documenting your experience is a powerful way to support your observations.
- Advocate for yourself – Lastly, get comfortable advocating for your needs in the unfortunate event that you face pushback when you share your concerns. Women, and especially women of color, often encounter bias in the healthcare system. If standing up for yourself feels daunting, check out our guide for addressing dismissive behavior in a healthcare setting.
Fighting for your health needs is one of the highest forms of self-care. Honor what your body is telling you, regardless of how small it may seem. Your health matters, and you deserve to have your concerns heard.