Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Birth, glorious birth

This post is not actually about birth per se.
It’s about crazy things I’ve heard, firsthand, in my experience as a doula.

Heard this from a male ob-gyn at a young woman’s first birth: “Have you ever done this before? NO? Well I’ve done it thousands of times!”
Really Dr. K? You’ve given birth before? Thousands of times? I would have loved to be your doula…

To a woman moaning in transition, a male ob-gyn said: “why don’t you lie back and relax and let me do all the work.”
Excuse me Dr. S.? Have you experienced transition? It’s not called labor for nothing. What is ‘all the work’ that you are so eager to do? This mom would be much safer if you 'lie back and relax' and let her do what her body is telling her to do.

This same Dr. S. to a woman he pronounced as ‘fully’ but she didn’t feel the urge to push yet: “if you don’t want me in here, 7 is pushing and 9 needs stitches, Nurse, call me if she decides she wants the baby out”. 7 & 9 are room numbers. Not names of people. Not that he should mention women by name to each other; that would be unprofessional... but to call them by their numbers? 'If she decides she wants the baby out' - what exactly does this mean?

Let me tell you what that meant in this situation. Mom breathed through the next few contractions and suddenly bearing down, grabbed my arm and said, "baby is coming, please don't tell the doctor". I did tell the nurse to get the Doctor. By the time he arrived there was a nice round head in my hands... Like a good doctor, he told her how lucky she was that she called him in time because he was about to call an emergency section for 4.

To be honest, I always share these quotes for the irony-impact and get some good laughs. Today I shared something crazy that I heard* and a young, pregnant woman said “that’s SCARY”. And I realized she’s right. It is scary when doctors or midwives don’t recognize that the labor of childbirth is done by the mother. We are in a sorry state when our medical professionals share a poor depiction of their understanding of the birth process. Or is it that they actually have a poor understanding of the birth process? I would like to believe that they are toying with women when they say these things and don’t really believe it themselves.

Doctors don’t deliver babies, mothers do. A doctor or midwife is needed to simply catch a baby. Of course they should be available in the event their help is needed. Which is not very often. For the most part women do not need medical help giving birth.
But that’s for another time, for now, amuse or scare yourself with the crazy things that people say.

For more on this,
There’s a great website http://www.myobsaidwhat.com/ that mentions lots of crazy stuff overheard at (or about) births.

* Bet you're wondering what it was that I heard and shared. Bring on the Chux - don't say I didn't warn you.
Female ob/gyn says to pushing mom: “don't breathe too deeply during pushing or you'll suck the baby back up!”
Do you think she has an in-depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology?

Credits for this one to my friend Julie who actually told it with a straight face.

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