There was a time when doctors were considered gods who knew everything. Not anymore! Physicians and medical practices have never been under so much scrutiny as they are now. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Any misinformation, lying, or hiding of information, even if it's just by one doctor, makes people see every doctor in the same light. There are many doctors who act in the best interest of the patient and help the patient make informed decisions. However, corporate hospitals and Pharma giants have changed the face of the healthcare industry, not always in the best interest of the patient.
Moreover, the increasing number of lawsuits against doctors has eroded the trust that people once had in doctors. Another interesting development in the last couple of decades is the wealth of information suddenly available at our fingertips. Bingo! Internet and social media has detailed - though not always accurate - answers for every anatomical question that a person wants to know. Sharing of unpleasant experiences with doctors has made people very cautious about selecting their own doctor. And while it's important to be cautious in selecting the right doctor, it's also true that the internet can't take the place of a real doctor.
Everybody has the right to know what's going on with their bodies and make an informed decision. However, some doctors don't have something called ‘explanation’ in their dictionary and they want their patients to just follow their advice without asking any questions. However, in such cases, the patient loses confidence in the doctor and there are high chances that the patient will never return. Mothers expect their doctors to explain everything to them in detail, as it is not just about her but about the baby, too. When doctors are vague and dismissive, the expectant mother is completely justified in believing that she is being lied to or neglected.
Lets see what some of these lies could be.
Many doctors are increasingly ordering unnecessary and extra tests in their daily practice. This happens mostly in hospital settings. Surprisingly, any test report from another source can be easily disregarded by the doctors and they will rely on their own lab for the same number of tests. This makes the motto of the hospital and its doctors very clear.
There are numerous cases where women underwent 4 to 5 scans when they had no complications in their pregnancy. In fact, Seminars in Perinatology published that an average number of 4.55 ultrasounds were being done in ‘low risk’ pregnancies. In a normal pregnancy, one or two ultrasounds are a part of standard or routine care.
Phillip J. Bendick, an ultrasound scientist says that the public needs to be made aware that if you’re pregnant and you don’t drink alcohol or smoke, then you don’t need to have an ultrasound at every doctor’s visit.
Some doctors do try to convince pregnant women for induction a few days before the due date. This seems to be common, especially around the holidays or as per the doctor’s convenience.
A mother shared her experience in Babycenter community that her doctor told her that her stomach size near term seemed to be small. It was her third pregnancy and she knew that it happens because the baby drops. But the doctor said that the baby might have stopped growing and scared her. She ended up getting induced 5 days prior to her due date. The baby was perfectly fine, but the mother couldn’t argue beforehand with the doctor because she consulted him during her first two pregnancies, too.
In some hospitals, induction has become common and sometimes, doctors even forget that it's the prerogative of the mother to opt for induction. Small hospitals consider induction as a necessary or given part of delivery.
It's not unheard of that many doctors prefer to perform a c-section as it carries some incentives. In uncomplicated pregnancies, moms are shocked when their doctors tell them to schedule a c-section without enough communication and explanation. In these cases, if the mom doesn’t get any convincing reasons, along with no feeling or sign of any distress, then it's natural to conclude that she may have been deceived by the medical staff.
This story is a bit shocking: Laura stopped seeing her obstetrician after 5 months of her pregnancy because, during a regular prenatal visit, she discussed opting for a natural birth with the doctor. She later overheard the doctor telling his nurse to book Laura for a c-section.
Another mom, Jessica, was shocked when the midwife did her pelvic exam for less than 2 seconds and declared that she had a flat pelvis and needed a c-section without letting the mother try a natural birth.
Sometimes a healthy mother with twins is told that she will have to deliver by c-section. In an uncomplicated twin pregnancy, it's a shock that doctors convince mothers in her first trimester that she will need a c-section. No doubt that 50% of twins are born prematurely and 60% are born through c-section, but it doesn't mean that a mother can't try a vaginal delivery if mom and the babies are healthy.
There are only a few good doctors who make the decision about a c-section only once they've assessed that position of the babies in the womb is dangerous or unfavorable. Until then, it is the responsibility of every doctor to give accurate information to the mother. They can't generalize all their cases and tell mothers to brace themselves for a c-section at the beginning of her journey of nine months. Moms who are carrying twins have a right to be aware of their chances of delivering naturally.
Internal examination is usually done in a normal pregnancy, only in early pregnancy, and at term. Although an internal exam is a choice, some mothers are told that they're necessary. Some obstetricians do an internal exam even before a mother reaches term. There could be many reasons for the doctor to do a pelvic or vaginal exam before term if there are any signs of complications. However, in the absence of complications there is no need for the doctor to do a vaginal examination.
Mothers should know that they all have the right to deny any internal examination. At term, the care provider may want to know the progress of the cervix. However, even at term, if the mother feels uncomfortable she can say 'no.' It’s all about the mother’s comfort unless there is risk to herself or the baby. During the exam, if there is other medical staff present the mother can politely ask the doctor to tell them to leave.
Many mothers take ultrasounds at face value until they see a different due date on the next ultrasound report. It's considered to be a dependable and accurate way to find out the baby’s status in the womb. Things that can be ascertained are the number of pregnancies, size of the baby, signs of abnormality in the uterus or the baby, and expected due date. However, there is a possibility of error in an ultrasound examination.
The quality of the machine and the skill of the professional conducting the exam are extremely important for reliability of the result. As far as the size of the baby is concerned, there is always +/-5 margin of error. Even the due date calculation can be inaccurate with a margin of about 1.5 weeks. Most often, the due date predicted in the ultrasound performed in the initial stages of pregnancy is considered to be most accurate.
There are scores of mothers who breastfed their toddlers while pregnant. It's completely safe to breastfeed while pregnant unless the mother has a history of preterm birth or a complicated pregnancy. Some mothers were told by their doctors to wean the older child without any explanation or understandable reason. Mothers should feel free to question the doctor if they feel something’s doesn’t make sense.
In certain cases they may give this advice if the mother is losing weight during early pregnancy and not eating properly due to nausea. Breastfeeding releases hormones that can make the uterus contract, but the hormones that are released are very low and can't cause any preterm labor or miscarriage if it's a healthy pregnancy without any such history. If the doctor doesn’t give any sufficient reason to wean, then it's better to check with a lactation consultant as doctors receive no more than 2 hours of training on lactation. So if you receive this recommendation, you shouldn't be afraid to ask why.
Artificially breaking the water is also known as amniotomy. This procedure can be done by the doctor to speed up the labor and strengthen the contractions, which is often unnecessary. In rare circumstances it may be necessary if the baby needs monitoring with the help of a fetal monitor attached to the head. In other cases, the doctor may want to check if there are any traces of meconium (stool) in the water.
Unless it's medically required in case of complications, amniotomy is completely unnecessary. Moreover, it has been concluded by research that amniotomy increases the chances of a c-section. In the absence of an amniotic sac, it becomes difficult for the baby to bear contractions, and there is no shield for the baby’s head. It may lead to other complications such as infection and compression of the umbilical cord which may also result in cutting off the baby's oxygen supply. The mother may also start to feel like she has no control during her labor.
Sometimes when a mother complains about her nausea to her doctor and how it may be affecting her work life, the doctor may prescribe medication. However, the doctor may not always tell that these medications are not completely safe during pregnancy and it may have an adverse affect on the baby. There are many such situations where the doctor may let the mother use certain drugs that could have negative implications such as anxiety, pain and panic disorders.
In rare cases, these medications may be necessary if the mother has a disease or severe disorder. But in many cases, it's the responsibility of the doctor to advise safe treatments or therapies that the mother can benefit from. Mothers should look up the information on the drug before taking them. Drugs such as Valium, Xanax, Morphine, Demerol and Ritalin can be harmful to the baby. Making lifestyle changes or using safe therapies such as yoga and acupressure can treat many problems in pregnancy without the need to take a pill.
Many mothers may be smiling as this sounds familiar. When a mother is thinking of a second opinion it means that the obstetrician wasn’t able to establish the trust factor. The doctor may then try to stop a patient with comments such as "two opinions will confuse you," or "consulting two doctors is not good for you." However, it's not difficult to understand that the doctor is just trying to keep the patient.
They may also go to the extent to say that the mother doesn’t trust him. Isn’t that obvious, though? Any doctor who is confident of his diagnosis will never stop the patient from getting a second opinion. In fact, a good doctor will recommend another good doctor if he is unable to get to the core of a problem. This kind of transparency can re-establish the trust and respect for the practitioner. A doctor must know that a mother would do anything to protect her baby.
Doctors know how to gain the mother's much needed confidence when they need to make a point. Twenty years is the most common number that they quote about their experience. When it comes to boasting about credentials when there is no need to present any proof, anyone can easily give false information. Doctors also do this.
However, the irony is, even if the doctor really holds 20 years of experience, it still does no good to the patient. A Harvard Medical School research found that doctors who got their degrees more than 20 years ago are highly unlikely to have updated information on the latest medical findings than those who graduated recently.
Therefore, what counts most is the doctor who keeps himself abreast of all the latest developments and not necessarily the experience. Experience would count when precision comes into the picture for doing complicated surgeries. So moms should keep this in mind in case they hear this from their doctor.
This is biggest lie that mothers have to face when they have to make a decision. VBACs (Vaginal Birth After C-Section) were not safe when c-sections were performed with a vertical incision. Nowadays, only under rare circumstances, surgeons make a vertical incision. Unless the doctor has a convincing reason and the mother has any other complications, then the mother shouldn’t listen to the doctor. It's better to do some research, as certain doctors and hospitals may have a very high c-section rate.
A mother who chooses VBAC needs a supportive care provider who is not against VBAC. Doctors can easily manipulate a woman who is in labor by creating fear. The doctors may even come to a point where they may declare that the baby is in distress and parents have no ability to find out if that's true. Lots of research should be conducted on VBACs and c-sections, as well as the doctor, if a mother is considering this option.
There are some doctors who go by the 40-week rule for induction. However, the accuracy of a due date is questionable as many due dates have a margin of error of 1.5 weeks. Dr. Michelle Collins, director at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, says that research shows how the majority of women will go into labor at 41+1 week if they are not induced. According to Dr. Collins, 40 weeks is just an estimated due date.
Surprisingly, even though many hospitals suggest that they have a policy of not inducing before 39 weeks unless medically important, many doctors still try to manipulate women into opting for induction before that time. According to a study (Smith 2001), 50% of women gave birth at 40+5 weeks after the last menstrual period, 75% by 41+2 weeks, and 90% by 44 weeks. On the other hand, only 10% of women gave birth at 38+5 weeks and 25% by 39+5 weeks.
Another reason that doctors cite to induce women is that they are low on amniotic fluid. According to research, low fluids may cause low Agpar (appearance, grimace, pulse, activity, respiration) scores for the baby. First of all, they are very slim chances that the measurement of amniotic fluid is accurate. The AFV calculation via ultrasound has been questioned by many experts. Secondly, in a study published in Pubmed, researchers found that amniotic fluid volume is not a good screening test to predict low Apgar scores. Researchers further noted that low fluid does not indicate that the pregnancy will have any adverse outcomes.
Also, it is normal for the amniotic fluid to reduce a little when a mother nears her due date. In case the doctor tries to induce the mother for low amniotic fluid then the mother should be aware that this will not improve the Apgar score of the baby. If the doctor gives any other adverse outcome as a reason, then please take a second opinion.
The state of Oklahoma once famously allowed doctors to lie to women about an abnormality of the baby in the womb. This was to prevent the mother making the decision in favor of abortion. The old legislation protected the doctor for lying to a mother whose child was going to be born with abnormalities. In October 2016 this legislation was struck down by the Supreme Court in favor of women's rights.
There is an ongoing controversy in cases of wrongful birth cases. Some doctors knowingly do not inform parents to protect the baby from being aborted and to keep the number of abortions low. This medical malpractice has resulted in numerous lawsuits against such doctors. However, disability activists protest against the wrongful birth lawsuits. They say that these lawsuits show that society has a low acceptance for disabled individuals and that they have every right to live.