Most doctors have worked hard for several years to establish their position as experts in the field of medicine. With their extensive knowledge and training, they are able to guide their patients through illness and bodily processes without any doubt or questioning on the part of the patient. While it is true that doctors undergo rigorous training, over the years doctors have been elevated to a specific position of power—what is recommended is often taken for granted-whether it is based on research or not. Patients have been taught over generations to accept what the doctor tells them without questioning the reasons or the outcomes.
This isn't to say that all doctors enforce arbitrary rules when it comes to healthcare, but certainly many doctors are not completely honest when it comes to discussing processes and procedures with their patients. Many expectant mothers go through their pregnancy guided and advised by their doctor, only to find out later that she could have made other choices or wasn't given enough information that might have led to a different outcome. While many argue that the most important thing is that mother and baby end up healthy, the fact is that many women feel lingering guilt for blindly following advice instead of asking for alternative birthing strategies.
Here are 20 times doctors may not be totally honest with their pregnant patient!
20 The Length Of The Pregnancy
Many of us humans like things to be set and predictable—it makes us feel like fewer things can go wrong. The average length of a pregnancy is around 40 weeks, but there is a high amount of variability that doctors don't always explain to expectant mothers, according to Mama Natural.
In fact, most babies come within a four- to five-week span surrounding the due date. Nine months isn't an accurate description, either. Nine months is about 270 days, and the average length of a pregnancy is around 282 days. Many doctors aren't comfortable with offering their patients uncertainty, but an estimation is far more truthful than a firm deadline.
19 The Real Effects Of The Epidural
When pregnant women do discuss the epidural with their doctor, the doctor may talk about side effects the epidural may have on the mother yet will frequently discount them as exceedingly rare, as per Spine Health. Often there's no mention made by doctors or on websites of the potential side effects of the epidural on labor or the baby.
A growing movement of midwives and some doctors are arguing for a clearer picture of what an epidural truly entails to be presented to pregnant women by their doctor, according to Birth International, so she can make an informed decision after weighing all the risks and benefits.
18 The Safety Of The C-Section
Many doctors will tell expectant mothers that a C-section is as safe or even safer than a V-birth because it adds convenience and predictability to the birth experience. With national C-section rates in the US climbing over 33%, it's clear that the message of C-section safety is being embraced, yet there are very clear risks with C-sections that are often overlooked, according to the University Of Utah Health.
For instance, the mother who undergoes a C-section is at higher risk for hemorrhaging and potentially serious infection and complications. Problems with the placenta are more common, and the baby is at risk for birth complications as well, including being born too soon.
17 Fetal Heart Monitoring And Baby's “Distress”
More than nine out of ten women in labor are subjected to electronic fetal monitoring (EFM), which is what doctors use to monitor baby's heartbeat and any irregularities, as per Evidence Based Birth. At the same time that the use of EFM increased dramatically in hospitals, so did C-sections.
Irregularities indicated by EFM is the second most common reason doctors order a C-section. There is growing evidence that accelerations and decelerations in baby's heartbeat are a normal part of the process rather than evidence of baby's distress, yet doctors and nurses often strongly insist that a mother wear the EFM strapped to her belly throughout the entire labor.
16 Exercise And Baby's Birth Weight
Pregnant women are often told by their doctors that their weight directly impacts how small or big their baby will be at birth, but the truth is far more complex. A higher genetic predisposition to a higher body mass index (BMI) can cause a baby to be slightly larger, but high blood pressure—often associated with a high BMI—is linked to a lower birth weight, according to FitPregnancy.
Moderate exercise has also been linked to a slight reduction in birth weight, although still within a healthy range. Mom’s level of exercise has that effect regardless of her weight and overall health at the beginning of pregnancy, as per WebMD.
15 All Prenatal Vitamins Work The Same
Many experts don't differentiate between the synthetic folic acid and the naturally-occurring folate when they recommend prenatal vitamins, as per Today's Parent. However, more and more research indicates that the two are not interchangeable for a large portion of the population with an MTHFR gene mutation and that consuming folic acid instead of folate can increase the risk of specific birth defects, according to The Conversation.
A significant portion of the medical community isn't even aware of the association between MTHFR and the type of folate—high doses of folic acid in women with the MTHFR gene have been associated with problems in early brain development in the baby.
14 VBACs Are Too Risky
Doctors are often quick to explain to expectant moms who previously had a C-section that subsequent birth experiences are just safer if they're also C-sections. Doctors may tell pregnant women that a V-Birth After C-section (VBAC) risks uterine rupture or hemorrhage, as per Self.
What doctors don't explain is how rare those risks are, because most hospitals and birth centers can intervene and assemble the team needed for a C-section within 30 minutes, according to VBAC.com. Many hospitals and doctors are motivated by a fear of a malpractice lawsuit and don't allow VBACs at all, choosing to err on the side of caution.
13 Who Will Actually Deliver The Baby
No doctor can be 100% certain they'll be there to deliver a pregnant mother's baby, but many will reassure their patients of this anyway. For many laboring moms, this can cause a lot of worry or fear if they're waiting for their doctor, as per Parents.
Patients often come to rely on the doctor they have built trust with, but it's very routine for an on-call doctor or even the labor and delivery nurses to deliver the baby—not mom's usual obstetrician. Labor can last a long time, and doctors often have multiple patients—or might not even be able to get to the hospital at all.
12 The Data Supporting Home Birth
The vast majority of doctors no longer make house calls in the US and most births occur in hospitals, but growing evidence suggests that for low-risk pregnancies, a home birth is as safe or even safer than a hospital birth, according to MANA. When expectant mamas discuss birth options with their doctors, however, home birth is rarely presented as a viable option.
Doctors often imply home birth is unsafe because the mother must be brought to a hospital in case medical intervention is needed and there might not be time. Increasingly, studies are indicating that this isn't the case: home birthing mothers are still able to access emergency intervention when necessary.
11 Who Can Call A Midwife
To understand why midwives are the exception in the US, we have to examine the policies of physicians' associations like the AMA at the beginning of the 20th century and their rise to power as they promoted prejudice against the (mostly) women of color who practiced midwifery at that time, as per Midwifery Today. Even today, many pregnant women in the US do not realize that they can ask for a midwife and receive quality care from a well-trained and licensed professional that is covered by their insurance. While many women are comfortable and happy with their obstetrician, it's important that women be able to make an informed choice.
10 Risky Induction Business
There are a number of reasons why doctors recommend induction to artificially begin the process of labor, but what expectant women often don't understand are the real risks that induction carries and how those risks balance with the potential benefits.
While a mother who is developing preeclampsia—a complication that can be dangerous for both mother and baby—might benefit from giving birth before the situation is allowed to progress, a woman who is scheduled to be induced simply because the timing works best for the doctor could be risking additional medical interventions like a C-section or fetal shoulder dystocia, according to Verywell Family.
9 Pitocin And PPD
Pitocin is a form of synthetic oxytocin that is given to pregnant women to induce their labor. If doctors discuss potential side effects—they don't always—they usually only discuss how Pitocin may result in slightly stronger contractions. Recent research also indicates a link between synthetic oxytocin and the development of postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety, as per Psychiatry Online.
In fact, a 32% increase over women who weren't exposed to Pitocin was noted in postpartum depression and anxiety. PPD can have serious consequences on the well-being of both mom and baby, but many women are not being informed of this potential unintended consequence of synthetic oxytocin administration during labor.
8 What A Doula Can Do
We all feel safer when things are predictable, and doctors are no exception to this. The downside is that many doctors have mixed feelings or an active dislike of birth plans or the presence of a doula during labor and delivery because they see these as deviating from the perceived safety of the sameness of care, as per Doulaing The Doula.
Many doctors never inform their patients that a doula can easily be made available to them, despite the well-documented benefits a doula can provide not just during labor, but in the first few postpartum days. Often, doctors cite philosophical differences when declining to inform patients of this potential resource.
7 This Glucose Test Is Necessary
No one is disputing the dangers of undiagnosed or untreated gestational diabetes, but women often report being informed that it's mandatory they take a glucose test, usually administered by consuming a 'glucola' drink, as per Aviva Romm. If pregnant women screen positive for this first test, a second test is administered using the same drink—despite the high risk of an inaccurate outcome.
Doctors often place inordinate emphasis on this test regardless of a pregnant woman's medical history or her diet and nutrition. The safety of the glucola drink is also being questioned by researchers, although doctors continue to base the mother's course of treatment on the test's outcome.
6 A Childbirth Class Isn't Necessary
When childbirth moved from the home to the hospital, women were less likely to learn the body's process of labor and delivery from watching and assisting other women as they did a century or two ago.
Childbirth classes can help women to learn what they need to know about their own bodies, as per Mother Rising Birth. Doctors will often reassure women that the whole process is natural and that the doctor and nurses will help her through it, but a childbirth class can help the mother move past fear and anxiety in ways a nurse or doctor can't—or won't.
5 Tearing Can't Be Prevented
Perineal tearing is so common in delivering women that most doctors assume it will happen and often will suggest an episiotomy—intentionally cutting the perineum—to forestall tearing, according to Belly Belly. Because up to 90% of women experience some tearing, doctors treat it as an inevitable aspect of delivering a baby and don't bother discussing preventive tips.
Growing research suggests that tearing doesn't have to be common at all, stating that there are techniques expectant mothers can do at home to reduce or even prevent tearing. Very often, pregnant women don't hear about these techniques from their doctors, but rather from childbirth classes, a midwife or a doula.
4 To Push Or Not To Push
Women weren't being encouraged to push until around the 1920s, when doctors decided that the second stage of labor was dangerous for the baby—yet it's now the norm for a doctor or nurses to chant “push, push” once they've determined it's time for baby to come out, as per Unassisted Childbirth.
This concept of needing to push is further established in the pregnant woman's brain through TV, movies and even books, with no scientific basis. Despite clear research that pushing can do more harm than good, including depriving baby of needed oxygen and causing the perineum to tear, doctors and birth coaches still actively encourage mom to push.
3 Getting Into Birthing Position
Every time a woman gives birth on TV in the US, she seems to be lying on her back, and with all the monitors that doctors strongly recommend during labor, it's hard to be in any other position. What doctors don't always tell their expectant patients is that there are several positions that are not only more comfortable for the laboring mother than on her back but can actually facilitate a quicker and safer birth, according to Giving Birth Naturally. The positions that doctors often recommend can cause significantly more pain and even injury to mom and baby, but they are preferred because they are more convenient for the doctor.
2 The Hospital Culture Affects The Outcome
Pregnant mothers often think that their likelihood of a C-section is based on their medical need, but studies show that the number one factor that determines whether a woman undergoes a C-section is the hospital's C-section rate, as per Consumer Reports.
Doctors don't often discuss this correlation when helping the mother to determine where she'll give birth—and the doctor might encourage her to go to a hospital that routinely provides C-sections even to low-risk patients, citing the issue of safety. How impatient the doctors and hospital staff are can also routinely affect the likelihood of medical interventions far more often than actual medical emergencies.
1 No Need To Delay The Clamp
It took years for delivering mothers to get doctors to be willing to hold off on clamping and cutting the umbilical cord, although the cord is still cut immediately in many hospitals despite the well-known benefits of delayed cord clamping (DCC). However, doctors are approaching this process with efficiency in mind, and now many will milk the cord by repeatedly squeezing the cord like a toothpaste tube, according to Mother Rising Birth.
Impatient doctors and nurses will recommend this because it's so much faster. Many experts argue that cord milking can cause an overabundance of red blood cells that don't happen with DCC, which only takes a few moments anyway.