One of the hardest parts about being a doctor is knowing that a certain percentage of your patients are going to run into some serious complications. OB GYNs are no exception. While a pregnant couple is fairly confident that they won't be in the five percent of pregnancies which develop pre-eclampsia, your doctor knows that at least one of her patients this year is going to develop it - she just doesn't know who. This different perspective sometimes gets doctors a lot of flack from frustrated patients. Doctors have to prepare for the worst case scenarios and have to tell you the hard truths that go along with that. They're not over-reacting, lying, or (with the exception of small minority) acting in their own self interest over yours.
But we hear about bad doctor stories all the time, because pregnant women and their partners are, rightfully, appalled when they come across the rude and ignorant few. They tell everyone they know about these stories, because they don't want anyone else to suffer. While there is plenty of good that comes from sharing these stories, we just have to remember that most people have perfectly pleasant interactions with their nurses and doctors, while others have their life or their child's life saved by these professionals. In the heat of the moment, especially during such an intense event as labor, its hard to remember that doctors and nurses deal with a hundred people a day and can't always predict how you'll take their news.
Besides, when a doctor or nurse starts to tell us something that we don't want to believe, we tend to over-react a little bit. However, there are some situations where, as long as the doctor isn't being rude about the issue, we really need to swallow our pride and listen. It can be hard, it can be painful, but if your doctor talks to you about any of these 15 things, you might need to remind yourself that the doctor is on your side.
15 Trouble Conceiving
You hear the stories about women who laugh about it: "The doctor told me we would never conceive, two months later he was telling me that I was pregnant!". Some part of you holds onto the hope that you're that exception, even when the doctor is detailing the reasons you probably won't be successful. From the doctor's perspective, its dangerous to give you false hope about how likely conception is for you. If they know you're most likely to struggle getting pregnant then they'll want to get you on fertility treatments as soon as possible. Not because that makes them money (there's more than enough couples looking for fertility treatments!) its because the treatment will be more successful the younger you are. When the doctor is telling you that you'll have trouble making a baby, they're just trying to give you the best chances of having a child, as odd as that sounds.
14 Pregnancy Carries More Risk When Overweight
Not many people are able to talk about their weight without getting upset or nervous. This puts doctors in a tough spot, because weight is intricately tied to health outcomes, especially during a pregnancy. If you're over weight while pregnant you have a higher risk of: gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, over due pregnancy, labour complications, C-Section, and more. If you started at a healthy weight before pregnancy, but are gaining weight too quickly, your doctor will also have cause to worry.
Higher weight babies are at risk for a number of complications as well, never mind a tougher labor for you. Your doctor is obligated to give you the straight-talk about what kind of risks you might face, but they don't want to insult you. If you are overweight the doctor might also find it frustrating that you're taking offense when they're just trying tell you how you can make your pregnancy as healthy as possible. Even the best of bed-side manners can't work on every patient they see.
13 Baby Has A Chance Of Never Walking Or Talking
This is another area, just like with infertility, that the exceptions are very vocal. You've probably heard a story about someone's baby who was supposed to be born with some kind of birth defect or serious disease, but the doctors were all wrong and they turned out fine, or much healthier than expected. The weird thing is that sometimes these families are mad at the doctors for telling them the likely scenario!
You have to understand that these cases are really rare and that false hope can be devastating to expecting parents. No doctor wants to break this bad news to you, because it has to be one of the most emotionally gruelling things on the planet. They would love to soften the blow and tell you about that one case where some odd circumstance messed up the test and the baby was perfectly fine. But that would be acting against your best interests. You need to be prepared for the truth.
12 You Need To Get On This Medication
We all understand the dangers of being pregnant and being on medications. So few medications are even tested for pregnant women, never mind green-lit, that we need to assume that almost all of them carry some level of risk. However, if your doctor is telling you that you should be on a medication, its because there's a greater risk to your baby that they're trying to combat. A great example is anti-depressive medications. If you can avoid it, you shouldn't be on most them while you're pregnant. But if you might feel suicidal without them, that's a bigger risk to your baby's health than the medication!
The same kind of logic goes into many suggested medications for pregnant women. Remember this when you're worried about what medications your friend is on while she's pregnant-- as long as her doctor is aware the risks have been balanced accordingly.
11 Herbal Remedy Won't Help
It's not just parents who get angry about this one, but when it is new parents fuming about their doctor's perspective on their herbal remedies, its usually about inducing labor. You should always be an involved patient, who asks about medications and tells the doctor honestly what decisions you're thinking of making. But your doctor has an obligation to let you know if the methods you're planning on using aren't scientifically proven.
As long as they aren't actively harmful they're not going to tell you that you can't do all kinds of odd things to try and induce labor, but sometimes old wives tales are harmful for you and/or baby. So if your doctor is warning you not to try to induce through herbal/other remedies, go ahead and ask them what you can do instead. After all, scientific methods of inducing labor can be pretty enjoyable themselves, including "seduction induction".
10 Home Labors Are Riskier
Look, I love home labors, I'm planning for one, but my doctor would be remiss if she didn't mention that me and my baby are more likely to succumb to complications during a home birth. It's her job to make sure that all of her patients know the consequences of the medical decisions that they're making. She shouldn't be trying to forbid me from a home birth, but maybe we can have a conversation about how to make a home birth safer.
Studies show that several factors contribute to the safety of a home birth. Will I have a qualified midwife attending? How quickly can I get emergency transportation? How far away is the hospital? Is this my first labor? Do I have other complicating factors that we can prepare for? You can't control every variable, but it is your doctor's job to discuss them with you and see if they can minimize your risk.
9 Not In Labor Yet/Not That Far Along
Yes, sometimes doctors, nurses, or midwives (usually the inexperienced ones) think that a woman isn't in labor when she most certainly is. But, that's pretty rare. Chances are, if the nurse is telling you that you're likely experiencing Braxton Hicks, or indigestion, he's right. If he thinks that you're in false labor, well, that's a little bit harder to pin down, but he's probably still right. Ask him to let you know how dilated and effaced your cervix is, which can help you gauge for yourself whether you're in labor or not.
If you're a calm person who deals with pain quietly you're much more likely to fool the nurses into thinking you're not in labor, or not very far along yet, so keep that in mind. Plus, remember that while you hear horror stories about how a nurse didn't respect a mother's feelings are was grumpy when it turned out he was wrong after all, most nurses are actually pretty gracious about this situation. They can't know whats going on in your body for sure, they know that, and they're more likely to be excited and supportive of you when it turns out that you're more dilated than they thought!
8 Should Do This Part At Home
Hospitals are full, nurses are busy, and if they don't need to monitor you yet then they don't want you in the hospital. It's not because they're lazy, its because they are dealing with limited resources. Trust me, when you're eight centimeters dilated and want to give up you'll be glad that the nurse is attending to you instead of checking on the mother whose has moved from two centimeters dilated to three and needs a nurse to confirm that for her. Besides, it is more comfortable for you to deal with the early stage of labor at home. You can sit on your own couch and conserve your energy, shower, and eat. Speaking of which:
7 Can't Eat Right Now
I can't go for more than four hours without eating, so I feel your pain. Besides, it sucks to not be able to eat while you're already in immense pain and completely exhausted. Doctors aren't trying to make your life harder with this policy though, they're trying to keep you safe. If you do have to be rushed to an emergency C-Section, there's a chance that you'll vomit the food back up. Problem is, doctors can't turn you on your side during a C-Section to remove the vomit. If you breathe some in there's nothing that they can do. This can also cause a lung infection, which some people have died from. The meal doesn't sound worth is anymore, right?
Eating is also the problem for your anesthesiologist who needs to know what you've eaten in order to calculate your correct dosage/correct kind of anesthesia, they can be more accurate if they know you haven't eaten anything (so if you do break the rules and eat let someone know!). You're probably thinking that its pretty unlikely for you to need a C-Section, and maybe you're right, but a hospital has to make a policy for every patient. From a doctor's perspective, some of her patients are going to need the surgery and she has no idea which. So, it makes sense that she prevents everyone from eating.
6 C-Section Is The Best Option
Its true that there are many cases in the United States where patients are pressured into unnecessary C-Sections for the ease of medical staff. Then again, if your doctor is pushing for a C-Section it could very well be medically the best decision. The key thing to ask your doctor about here is: why? If they give you some kind of general line about the baby's safety (especially if you're not in labor yet!), just reinforce that you're against a C-Section unless necessary. On the other hand, if you ask why they're advocating for this surgery and they're giving you specifics like: "your baby is showing signs of distress and we need to prevent that from escalating" or "you're running a serious risk of eclampsia which could prove to be fatal for your baby" then you can be sure this is a necessary C-Section (as they usually are).
5 Should Get An Epidural Now
If you enter into the delivery room and remain undecided about an epidural, or have the sneaking suspicion that you will opt for one but want to tough it out as long as you can, you should listen if the nurse alerts you that you should get an epidural soon. If you ask why they're suggesting it, its often because their anesthesiologist is going to be busy in an hour or so and won't be able to get back to the maternity ward for a few hours after that. Sure, labor is manageable right now, but neither you nor the nurse know how much pain you'll be in after a few hours have passed.
If you're weighing the probabilities and think its likely you'll opt for the epidural, then get one now. If you know you're dead set against an epidural, just ask the nurse to please not mention it again. You have to remember that nurses frequently deal with laboring women who change their mind about an epidural. When this happens the nurse feels guilty if that suffering woman can't get an epidural because the anesthesiologist hasn't returned.
4 Screaming Isn't Helping
Labor involves incredible pain, so in the first two stages of it no one should be complaining about any noises you're making to try to deal with that pain. Hell, in your position everyone knows that they would be moaning and whining at every spare moment. But once you hit that third stage of labor, when things get super intense, a doctor may tell you to stop screaming. I've only heard of this happening when the mother wasn't effectively pushing and was essentially making her labor harder for herself (and more dangerous for her little one).
While it might seem heartless at the time you're hearing it, remember that the doctor is just trying to redirect your focus from the pain to pushing. It's not that she is insensitive to your pain, its actually that she knows you're causing yourself more pain! Besides, your vocalizations aren't really her problem, its about where your focus is and screaming is just an indication to her that you're not dealing with the pain through pushing.
3 Can't See The Baby Yet
Nothing causes new parents more stress than being denied their newborn. It's completely understandable to be insanely anxious if this happens, but you have to know that the staff are probably just trying to make sure your baby is healthy. The medical staff should be able to tell you what they're doing, but if they're reluctant to do so, its just because they don't want to cause you undue worry.
Imagine that there is a problem with your baby: let's say that she isn't breathing yet, probably due to mucous in her airways. You're the nurse who knows this, but is charged with the mother's care while other people are rushing to clear out the baby's lungs. Do you tell that mother immediately that her baby's life is in danger? Or do you feel like if you just wait a few more seconds to answer the mother's question then you'll be able to say, "oh everything is fine now" to this distraught woman? It's easy to see why a nurse would rather wait a few seconds, or soften your worry by saying that the doctor is "making sure everything is okay" rather than give you the terrifying details. That's not to say they shouldn't tell you the truth, just that we shouldn't blame them if they're waiting a few seconds to answer.
2 Should Opt For The Bottle Now
It's true that most babies won't eat much in their first twenty-four hours and it's also true that most women will have some form of struggle to get their infant latched and nursing well. You probably also know that bottle feedings too early can lower your chances of successfully breastfeeding. However, there comes a point that its more important to get your baby fed than to keep the option open to breast feed. If a doctor or nurse (and especially a lactation expert) are mentioning that it might be time for the bottle, don't assume that they're not on the breast-is-best wagon.
They know the benefits of breast feeding and they want your baby to be healthy, but the truth is fed-is-best. Newborns do not have any fat stores to fall back on, so going without food for too long becomes an emergency very quickly. If the medical staff are suggesting you need the bottle, many women take this to mean that they failed. But you haven't! Not only can you still attempt to breast feed, but needing formula for your child doesn't make you a lesser parent!
1 It's All About Balance
If you realize early on that you and your OB have strong differences of opinion it makes sense to consider second opinions, or consider switching to a different OB altogether. On the other hand, you don't want to just keep looking for a doctor who will tell you what you want to hear, especially not about something as important as your baby's health. Sometimes there are tough truths you need to hear and a doctor who will hide those from you isn't doing their job (and your health will suffer as a result!).
That being said, you do want a doctor who has your preferences in mind and does their best to follow those preferences whenever its medically safe to do so. You also shouldn't stand for a doctor who berates or belittles your choices or questions. They are obligated to talk to you about your concerns, and to work with you to reduce your risks even if they feel strongly about hospital births, or induction, or epidurals. Just remember that they hold strong opinions because they want the best for you and your little one!