Sunday, 8 February 2015

Just 'cos he looked at your cookie...

'Just 'cos he looked at your cookie doesn't mean he's the one!'

I wish I had actually said that out loud. 

A pregnant mom was telling me about how she was considering a midwife-assisted birth but was leaning towards staying with her gynae, even though she knew his shocking C-section stats, because, you know, he had done her pap smears for the last 7 years. 

What is it with us that we don't want to disappoint people? We don't want our gynaes to feel rejected? Is that it? Because really, I don't think it's mutual. 

That a woman will stick with a gynae she is unsure of, because he has poked around 'down there' a bit, because he wrote a script for some Clomid, because he did the job that she paid him to do, even though she knows his C-Section rate is over 80%, I can't understand.

Like every abused woman contemplating whether or not she should leave, she believes him when he says, 'Natural birth is Plan A,' (even though the numbers say otherwise) and she believes that this time it will be different. 'I'm not like those other girls,' she says. 

I love gynaes, I really do. I especially love it when they do what they are good at - and it's not a stretch of the imagination to think they also enjoy doing what they are good at. What they are good at is dealing with situations when something is not quite as it should be, where there is a problem, or an emergency, or a real risk. To be honest, they are not trained to deal with plain old physiology. It is unfair to expect them to recognise it.

Like the teller at the bank who can recognise a counterfeit because of years of experience with authentic bank notes, so a provider with experience in physiology can recognise a problem before it becomes a problem.

Everything looks like a nail if you have a hammer in your hand
Everything looks like a nail...

If you want surgery, you hire a surgeon. 

Otherwise, find someone who understands the difference between dealing with disease or trauma and supporting a physiological function.

Everything looks like a nail if you have a hammer in your hand.

But this is not the point I want to make. Where should your loyalty lie? With your care provider? I'm not so sure. Like I said, I'm not convinced the feeling is always mutual. You are one of many. In short:

The axe forgets, the trees remembers.

Should it lie with your family, your community, society at large? Again, I'm not so sure. Will they have to deal with the fallout of any problems? Probably not as acutely as you would have to. As the parent/s, you alone are held accountable in the end. If you leave the decisions up to others without knowing the facts for yourself, you are not making a free choice, but you will have to deal with the consequences of that choice.

This may come as a shock to many, but primarily you need to be loyal to your baby, and yourself. You, plural, are the priority here. A doctor's busy schedule or fear of litigation, or your mother-in-law's fear issues, the friend who referred you to that doctor to start with, the fact that the gynae saw your vagina already so what the hell - these do not deserve your loyalty. 

What is best for you, the motherbaby unit? Are you being treated as an individual or a number? A person or a potential litigator? An rational being or an irritation? Are you a participant or a patient?

Do whatever it takes to find someone who will treat you as a person, an autonomous individual capable of making good decisions. Someone who will give you all the relevant information - the pros and cons of every procedure, who takes your concerns seriously and is not threatened when you volunteer information that may be contrary to the current suggestion. Are your fears treated flippantly and your desires with disdain?  It is never too late to change providers.

If you need a second opinion, get one. Don't stall for fear of offending.

Do what it takes to get the options and opportunities that you and your family deserve. 

Whatever you do, remember that just because he looked at your cookie, it doesn't mean he's the one!

(In case you thought I was totally anti-gynae, I have some thoughts to share in an upcoming post. In short, I sometimes think our gynaes and obstetric nurses are the most disempowered of all...)

But until then, How did you find your care provider for your birth? Were you happy? Would you rather have changed? What advice would you give to moms who are having doubts about the person they've chosen to assist in the birth of their baby? Let us know below...


  1. This is exactly why I stayed with my first gynae! He helped me get pregnant. Thought I should stick with him. I knew he ALWAYS did episiotomies and wasn't happy about it, but I liked him so I stuck with him. But after a checkup and asking him his views on a vbac, it was so much easier to 'break up' with him. I went to him for my progesterone script at 8 weeks and then told him I wasn't coming back, and I was planning a midwife assisted vbac at Genesis. He tried to make me feel stupid... I left feeling empowered!

  2. So important to take responsibility and inform ourselves! The midwife for my first home birth said she has only attended 3 births that she has not intervened in any way. Next time around I would like a much more hands off midwife attending my birth, I would like to take as much time as I need to birth my baby and not feel rushed, I would like no internals (unless I request it), no pitocin, coached pushing or episiotomy. I am not bitter about it (they were just doing what they do) but i do consider myself more informed and am excited to see how any future births unfold taking full responsibility for my choices. Ask the hard questions of your care providers and know what you want and if you have a doula, KNOW her, feel comfortable and supported around her, try build some kind of relationship with her because there is nothing more annoying than having more strangers than necessary attending your birth.

    1. I think that is the hard part - asking the hard questions. It feels a bit too much like confrontation. But it sounds like you are in a good place to do that. I think maybe I need to do a post on what are some good questions to ask!

  3. Wish I knew more when I had my kids... stuck around and succumbed to 3 C-section from simple lack of knowing better.

    1. Ah Namreen, I hear your disappointment. We all do our best with what we know at the time! But it is all the more reason to share the information we wish we had at the time!