Over the course of my 6+ years as a Doula, I've encountered many different Care Providers. As with any profession, some are good, some not so good. The following direct quotes are things I heard and witnessed from the more questionable OBGYNs. *Note: I believe the majority of OBGYNs are overworked and tasked with TOO MUCH (appointments, clinic time, surgeries, on call- all within very specific time limits). Think about it- No other specialty is asked to cover such a broad range while also being on call. The system is working against them and, consequently, against patient care.
Ok, buckle up! Most of these happened while a mama was in active, normal progressing labor, in a hospital setting... let that set the scene as you read through these quotes.
"You're being a bad mother."
"Your pelvis is too small." (said to client while in labor at 9cm dilated)
"My shift is over at 6pm so if you don't have this baby soon, who knows who will be here to help you!"
"Have you shaved down there?" (asked with razor in hand)
"I told you at your last appointment you were having twins and one is likely to die."
(said to me over the phone, while pregnant with a single baby and hemorrhaging)
"Your baby won't fit through there."
"Honey, just get the epidural. There is no reward at the end of this."
"This baby is too big for your body!"
"Baby is likely over 8 pounds. You should consider a C Section." (baby was delivered vaginally at 6lbs 2 oz not to mention a "large" baby does not medically indicate a Cesarean)
"You're scaring me!"
"Don't push yet, we need to do an ultrasound to be sure baby is head down!"
"Just sign here." (psssst... DON'T)
What can you learn from this?
Words matter! AND who you choose to be part of your Birth Team matters!
Pay close attention during your prenatal visits. What is your gut telling you? Is your provider saying anything that is a "red flag?" Do you feel heard? Do you feel 100% safe with this person? Do you completely trust this person? Are they listening to understand or listening to respond? Are they completely present with you or are they distracted? Are they pushing for unwanted tests or unwarranted interventions (or not fully explaining prior to doing)? And again, because it is THAT important- what is your gut telling you? (Consider this when meeting with ALL your care providers- yes, Doulas too!)
It's never too late to change Care Providers (or your birthing location). For any reason or no explanation at all, you can change care providers (OBGYN, Midwife, whoever). Maybe that OBGYN you've been doing yearly exams with for 10 years was great, but doesn't feel right now that you're pregnant- that is OK! Listen to and follow your gut- this is your body, your journey, your pregnancy, your birth, and your baby. Don't you deserve a care provider that is right for you?! Also, keep in mind, legally a hospital cannot deny care to a woman in labor. Or, if you're having a normal pregnancy, consider a Birth Center or Home Birth.
When a Dr/Care Provider says something alarming or untrue or pushes an intervention, ask yourself, are they coming from a place of fear, a place of hospital policy ($ minded), due to convenience/schedule, or a place of true concern and care? Like it or not, many Providers (not all, but many), especially Doctors, are indoctrinated into a system that really isn't meant to provide you with the best possible care. It is a business, it is run as a business, and, consequently, it exists to make money. Some hospital decisions are based on financials, some on avoiding litigation, some simply for convenience/scheduling purposes. Don't get me wrong, most Doctors/OBGYNs enter into Med school with the best of intentions, but they get indoctrinated into the system very quickly. And the good ones who are fed up with it and possibly go against policy are often burnt out, silenced, punished, or pushed out. It's important to recognize this and be able to make your own healthcare decisions. Don't believe me? Just look at recent reports from The CDC or Cesarean Birth Stats or any number of statistics about birthing in the US in the current mainstream medical industrial complex. Long story short: Birthing Mothers in Hospitals today are LESS SAFE than they were in the past. For black women, the stats are even more alarming. I say this not to scare you, but to arm you with information that could help you. Yes, medical advances are fantastic and have the ability to save lives, but when blanket decisions are being made by hospital executives, women and babies suffer. Drs are also trained to find problems or ones that aren't really there. For the majority of women, birth is a normal, naturally-occurring event, not a medical one. Consider this when choosing your birthing location and main care Provider. Ok, this one is getting long and the scary thing is, I could go on.... this in itself is sure to be a post for another day or perhaps a video rant..... Yeah, probably a ragy-rant b/c this gets me really heated. It doesn't have to be this way. We MUST demand & do better!
Know that you can request a different Doctor and/or a different nurse during labor. If you feel unheard, unsafe, pressured, or devalued, you should request another Dr or nurse. I often tell clients who want to have a natural, unmedicated birth in a hospital setting to request a nurse who has seen and supports natural birth (bc a nurse who constantly offers an epidural will not be helpful in these birthing spaces). Side Note: There's also a TON of pre-work & education you will need to commit to prior to having a natural, unmedicated hospital birth (another post for another day!). If you aren't asked for true consent before cervical checks (or any check/exam), if you feel bullied into things you don't want, REQUEST ANOTHER PROVIDER. This is well within YOUR RIGHTS. A Partner or Doula can be incredibly helpful in these types of situations, especially when mama is in labor land (or trying to stay in labor land). I just heard from a mom who did just that and she is an incredible example to us all! The doctor walked loudly into her birthing space, turned on all the lights, was aggressive and rude. She immediately saw those red flags, said "No!" and asked for another doctor. I hope she will share her birth story with you all on my future Podcast.... I'm just so proud of her for ADVOCATING for herself, for her birth, and for her baby.
Consider hiring a Trained/Certified Birth Doula. Birth Doulas can be incredibly valuable during your prenatal, birth, & postpartum time. Doulas can assist you prenatally to ensure you don't end up in a situation as described above; they do a TON of educating & preparing leading up to your birthing time; they can help you to advocate for yourself or even advocate for you when needed; they can protect your birthing space by setting the tone and energy in the room (subtly guiding nurses and Care Providers to do the same); they can help your partner to better advocate and support you. According to Evidence Based Birth, "Doulas should be viewed as a valuable, evidence-based member of the birth care team." People who receive continuous labor support are more likely to have a normal vaginal birth, have shorter labors, are less likely to receive pain medications, have lower rates of Cesarean surgeries, and are less likely to have negative feelings about birth. This was found among 26 randomized trials that tested the effects of continuous labor support on more than 15,000 people giving birth. Moreover, the best results occurred when the continuous labor support was provided by a Trained Doula- someone who was NOT a part of hospital staff and not a part of the birthing person's social network. Research shows that labor support from trained Doulas is both risk-free and highly effective. Data nerd like me? Be sure to check out Evidence Based Birth's Evidence on Doulas. I particularly like the discussion on "harsh environment theory." The environment in which you birth 100% matters (and affects your labor progress)! My dream is that ALL birthing people in the hospital system have an independent doula to support them during this incredibly vulnerable, transformative time.
There you have it! Are you shocked by any of these quotes? Disgusted? Heard some of them before? Have your own bizarre OBGYN quotes to share? Spill the tea! Don't hold back. I wanna know!