This is the fourth post in our blog series, Meet our OBs. We hope you can get to know our physicians on a more personal level so that you can choose the best fit for you and your family.
Dr. O’Toole attended medical school at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth and then completed her internship and residency at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, New York. She has done extensive research on Fragile X and the effects on female reproduction, particularly being a Fragile X carrier and having premature ovarian failure and thyroid disease.
She has been married for five years and has a 22-month-old child and a 13-year-old black pug.
Dr. O’Toole – why did you get into medicine, and in particular, obstetrics?
I grew up surrounded by medicine. My father was a small town internal medicine physician, and I grew up watching him take care of our community. People always admired him so much, and he seemed to make such a difference in their lives. I decided I wanted to have that kind of impact on people when I grew up.
I truly enjoy taking care of women and helping them through the different stages of life. From adolescent changes and puberty, to pregnancy and childbirth, and finally through menopause, I want to help my patients make it through these times of transition with ease. I like being able to answer all their questions and treat any conditions that are necessary.
What is one thing you wish every expecting mom would do/know?
Pregnancy is not easy! Your body goes through so many changes throughout the entire process, sometimes you might feel like a totally different person.
What kind of reassurance can you provide to first-time moms-to-be?
It is normal to feel overwhelmed at times. You are experiencing something completely new and foreign. Most of the strange things you are experiencing are normal to pregnancy, but I like to be there and explain anything that my patients feel is strange. Reassurance can go a long way for a first time mom!
What’s your best advice for someone who’s thinking about becoming pregnant?
Go for a preconception visit with your OB. There are things that can be discussed and testing that can be done before you get pregnant that cannot be addressed once you are already pregnant. Things like vaccinations and genetic testing can be taken care of ahead of time. Plus, you can get started on the correct prenatal vitamin for you.
What is your best encouragement for someone who is having trouble conceiving?
Don’t give up. There are so many different options out there to help women with issues conceiving. It is a very rare case these days that isn’t able to eventually become pregnant. And even for those rare few individuals who are unable to conceive despite intervention, the option of surrogacy is available
How has having children influenced the way you practice medicine or interact with your patients?
Experiencing being pregnant – having the morning sickness, having preterm contractions, going through childbirth – has made me have so much more empathy for my patients. When they call me with problems or questions, I have actually experienced a lot of the things they have questions about so I can help them from both a medical perspective and a personal perspective.
My daughter is the most important person in my life, but I also have a very demanding job. I have learned how difficult it is to be a full-time working mother and still have quality family time. I think this also has helped me relate to my patients on a personal level because so many mothers do work full-time now.
What new advancements in technology or medication are you most excited about?
All the genetic testing that is now available is so exciting to me. We are able to prescreen so many patients now for diseases that before seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Being able to counsel my patients appropriately prior to them being pregnant, and being able to offer them options regarding conception, has changed how I practice medicine.
When you’re not delivering babies, what do you do in your free time?
I LOVE to travel and my bucket list of places I want to go is extensive. I lean toward places with warm climates and beaches. My husband and I have a phenomenal group of friends and family in the area. We like to get together with them on the weekends and cook out and have game nights. And after living in New York for four years, I have a big interest in musicals. I try and catch as many of the traveling shows that pass through here as I can.