***I want to start this post by saying that I am truly grateful for Obstetricians and the life-saving surgeries that they perform. They have much knowledge and their skilled hands have undoubtedly helped many women and babies survive in dire circumstances.***
I remain unconvinced, however, that OBs are the best caregivers for women with normal, low-risk pregnancies.
I worked with an OB for my first pregnancy (delivered in a hospital without drugs) and I worked with a midwife for my second pregnancy (delivered in a birth center with no drugs)…and the two experiences were night-and-day. The latter experience was truly a thousand times better.
Here are four things that doctors do that generally drive my crazy (if you want to hear my more eloquent – and less snarky – thoughts on this topic, read: Birth Centers Versus Hospitals):
MAKE THE “PATIENT” UNDRESS FOR OFFICE VISITS. On most visits with my OB, I was asked to remove my clothes and put on the obligatory, flimsy hospital gown. She’d walk in, look at the charts, give me advice, check for dilation (see next point), and that-was-that. Not only is removing clothes inconvenient, I also don’t like the message that having a hospital gown sends…which is “I am the doctor. You are the patient. You should do as I say.” Rather than – “You are a perfectly healthy woman experiencing a perfectly normal stage of life and I am so happy to be a partner with you in this process.”
Guess how many times I was asked to remove my clothes during my entire pregnancy when I had a midwife? Only once…and it was actually necessary.
CHECK FOR DILATION OBSESSIVELY. Towards the end of my pregnancy, my doctor checked for dilation at every.single.appointment. This process is entirely unnecessary and can lead to all kinds of undue stress for the mother-to-be. If your due date was yesterday and you’re still not dilated, you’ll feel worried that the baby might not arrive for another week (in actuality, you could go into labor tomorrow). If your due date was yesterday and you’re dilated to four, you’ll be on cloud nine, thinking that the baby will be here any minute (when that isn’t necessarily the case either).
Guess how many times my midwife checked for dilation for the duration of my prenatal visits? Zero. Nada. Zilch. Even during labor & delivery, the midwife checked only twice (compared to about every 30-60 minutes in the hospital).
GUESS HOW BIG THE BABY IS GOING TO BE AT BIRTH. It drives me bonkers when doctors make estimates without providing a very large disclaimer that they have no idea and could very likely be wrong. Again, a weight estimate typically serves no helpful purpose and tends to only frighten the expectant mama. What can she do about it anyway, even if her baby will be a big one?
Besides, their guesses are – often – wrong. My sister’s doctor recently “guessed” that her baby would be over 7 pounds. Real birth weight? Under six.
SUGGEST INDUCTION UNNECESSARILY. Why is it that so many doctors are induction-happy these days? It’s always this or that or the other. I certainly am not implying that inducing is always a bad thing. Sometimes it can be medically necessary to ensure the health of mom and baby. BUT that is the rare exception…or at least is should be.
Guess how many times my midwife suggested or implied that perhaps we should induce? Um – never. Surprise, surprise, right?
Note: Obviously, these statements do not apply to all obstetricians…but they do reflect the current “way” of doing things in the medical industry in the US.
Note 2: Pregnancy and birth experiences are not the same for everyone. Expectant mothers and caregivers need to work together to determine what is best in their unique situation.
YOUR TURN: What other things would you add to this list?