Perhaps I was blessed with my first doc, or maybe just lucky - but I had a wonderful experience with my FP and thought that all FP's/OB's were as wonderful. He would often ask how I was doing, not just baby and I, he recommended many alternative health-care professionals in the area for classes, chiropractic care, nausea, etc..., our visits typically lasted 30 minutes of talking with him while he also did his normal work with me. He would often turn my chart around to show me my results, show me what was 'normal', talk about any concerns he had with anything he was seeing, and offered many different courses of action along my pregnancy journey.
It wasn't until I was pregnant with my second baby that I noticed something was wrong with the Obstetrical world. When I returned to my wonderful FP with news of my pregnancy, he regretfully had to let me know that they had cut back on the number of doctors in the office who had MP insurance/were able to continue to do births. He then 'mechanically' said 'I am to refer you to the FP on staff who continues to attend deliveries". Something in his demeanor told me he had to, didn't want to, say this. I oked setting up the appointment and he encouraged me to bring my birth plan to my first appointment with this FP.
When I got there, I waited 30 minutes in the room dressed in nothing but that silly paper t-top and napkin to cover my thighs. When my 'new' doc came in, she stood next to the bed and asked me to lie down. She then proceeded to talk over the top of my file to me about my lab works all the while staring at my file. "congratulationsyouarepregnant. Ihaveconcernsaboutyourironlevels. Youwillbeprescribingyouironseupplements. Iexpectyoutotakethemtwicedailyalongwithyourprenatals."
I interrupted her litany to ask what my iron level was. 'Why'? was her reply, as she raised her eyebrow and closed my file with a snap. I replied that I was just curious since my iron levels were always low. While I explained, she tossed my file on the counter, snapped on a glove and greased two fingers.
Without even acknowledging that she heard me, she went to my knees, pushed them apart, and said 'wearegoingtodoaquickexamrelax', and, without warning, shoved her fingers into my vagina. She was not gentle, she didn't ask, she simply did.
I gasped in pain and surprise and instinctively began to close my knees. She pushed one roughly apart while nodding to the nurse (who came and pulled my other knee apart) and remarked "I said relax... (exasperated sigh) - you obviously know how to open your legs this should be a piece of cake".
I was dumbfounded, appalled, sickened. As she finished up, since I had no presence of mind to do anything else I stammered that I brought a birth plan that I wanted to talk with her about. While the nurse handed me a few paper towels to clean myself up with, the FP from hell turned her head to the birth plan sitting next to my file, gave it a cursory glance and proceeded to rip it up and drop it in the trash, saying "you can forget that. You can 'want' anything, it doesn't mean it is going to happen. Birth plans are a waste of time".
At that point, I was so stricken and sickened by what I had just happened that I had no doubt this woman would not be at my child's birth.
She said something to the nurse and turned and walked out, casting over her shoulder, "seeyouinamonth".
Only when hell freezes over.
My nurse asked if I had any questions and I politely said "[snort] not for your practice". I threw on my clothes, grabbed my stuff, left that practice, and never went back. I called my wonderful FP and left a VM for him at the office.
It must have sounded something like this:
"I'm sorry Dr. K, (sniff sob), I can't let that woman deliver my baby. I can't do it. I don't know what to do. I need to (sniff - blow) find a new doctor. Can you (hiccup) help me? Please? I don't want your professional recommendation - screw that. I want your personal recommendation. Please call me back Dr. K. Please".
He called me at 8pm that evening, apologizing it took him so long to get back to me - he worked the late office shift that evening. He was glad to hear that I wasn't staying with their practice and he could understand my misgivings ("believe me, between you and I, they are warranted"). He said he already had that other recommendation ready.
I ended up going with his recommendation, an OB who happened to be his roommate in college. He was another great experience, excited to learn about my birth method of choice, very accommodating and allowing me to call 'all the shots' regarding my health care, tests, and birthing preferences. He said it was nice to see someone so active in their health care choices.
The whole point of woman-centered birth is the knowledge that a woman is the birth power source. She may need, and deserve, help, but in essence, she always had, currently has, and will have the power. - Heather McCueThe more I have experience with expectant moms, the more I realize that what I went through in my second pregnancy is not uncommon. In fact, it is more common than naught. And the problem? Women think it is normal and acceptable to be treated that way.
Our culture, and many women, have a god-mentality when it comes to doctors. That, since they have studied obstetrics and labor and birth, that they have a right to make decisions regarding our health and bodies. We give them the right to dominate our bodies with tests, practices, interventions, and medications because it is 'the way they do things'.
Often, women come away from prenatals feeling belittled - being reduced to a child having a child. They feel that they really don't have a right to decline tests or procedures, let alone ask questions about their files, get second opinions, or ask for alternatives. If they dare to do that, they are met with reprimands, vague answers, or hostility. If they dare to decline, they are fear-mongered or coerced into giving their 'informed consent' to procedures that they really don't want and don't approve of.
Our culture says 'my doctor knows best'. What ever happened to 'I know my beliefs and my body'? It is interesting that women across the US demand equal rights, and yet we are happy to give up those rights to our doctor's expertise. And, even if we don't feel it is 'right', seldom do we do anything about it. Sorry, but that is sad.
Pregnancy should be revered as a coming of age, a time when women were strong, bestowed with power and mystery. Women should be confident in their bodies abilities and women should care for other women, believing the same.
Instead, our culture perceives pregnancy as a sign of weakness, a time when women are fragile and incompetent to make their own choices. The obstetrical model shows woman as someone who doesn't know what is best or right for her and she should, whether it is said or not, be subjected and obedient. She is reduced to a child and is treated like she is ignorant to her bodies abilities.
Have we come so far that we have forgotten that we hire our doctor! They work for us! No other time in our lives would we put up with this type of treatment!
Can you imagine going to a gutter professional and asking them to help us with our gutters? Then, when they come to our house, they simply tell us what will be done, without question to the true necessity of it, and then expect us to compliantly sit back and let them tear out all of the old gutters and eaves, run numerous, many unnecessary, or even ridiculous, tests, then put in their brand of gutters and eaves with no question?
And, if we were silly enough to question the necessity or wisdom of it, they would snap at us, act offended, and demand or coerce us into the new equipment, tests, and procedures anyways.. do you think we would stand for that? Heck no! We would fire their butts on the spot and find someone who treated our property and our pocketbooks with respect.
And yet, when it comes to our BODIES and our whole WELL BEING, we treat ourselves with less respect, and expect less, than what we do for our property.
"what is it about women's brains where they just aren't interested in this. They are interested in Prada bags, they are interested in Sex in the City...." - Dr. Christine NorthrupIf our professionals expect women to simply obey, they ARE reducing women to child-like mentalities - how can we expect them to make the leap from pregnancy to motherhood, to competently take care of their childrens' well beings as adults when professionals don't even trust them to make competent health care choices about their own well being before birth?
"Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength." - Barbara Katz-RothmanI firmly believe that we need to take a lesson from Ina May and many other pioneers (or should I say Old-School Sages) in the childbirth field when they say that they...
... think it's terribly important to put the mother at the center. When you do that, everything follows.Not the hospital or doctor...Right now, as it stands, we make birth all about the doctor and the hospital. Now, before you disagree with me, think: how many have heard someone say, or have said themselves, one of the following:
- My doctor told me to come in...
- They wouldn't allow me to eat anything once...
- The hospital said I had to get in the wheel chair...
- I was told they wouldn't allow me to go past...
- They told me "we will give you 24 hours"...
- The hospital needs to have a 20 minute...
I think we have a long way to go before we are where we need to be in maternal health care issues.