labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Things Not To Say

Today I was disgusted with some of the things that were coming out of this doctor's mouth. I was caring for a woman who came in to the unit at 9 centimeters; she was huffing and puffing, screaming on occasion that this wasn't supposed to be so fast because she needed an epidural, and generally having a hard time with the fury in which her labor was taking. But after the whirlwind of her admission, and letting the dust settle, she calmed down and was impressively focused.

The doctor gowned up and started sticking his hand in her vagina, stretching her perineum like it was silly putty (I hate that). The woman started pushing but was having a hard time getting into the groove. So she wasn't really making much progress in the first 20 minutes or so. She was getting discouraged, and started outwardly doubting herself.

As I was trying to encourage her, the doctor said, "Well, this baby is much bigger than your last; she may not fit." Now, I am sure this was not the first time such words were uttered from providers. But what disgusted me so much was how it was said. It was flippant and condescending. It was so demoralizing to this woman she just crumbled into pieces, asking, "Well what do we do? Oh my god! What do we do?"

"Ah, don't worry about," he answered, "just keep pushing but do it better and stronger."

I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut, so I just turned to her and said, "There is no reason why this baby can't be born safely the way you want. I know you can do this."

And then the doctor said another phrase that I hate: "Ya, just get mad and push!" Someone needed to tape his mouth shut.

Of course, within the next ten minutes the baby was born safely vaginally, and was crying even before her feet were out. She was 8 pounds, only several ounces over her big sister.


mommymichael said...

i hate the "get mad and push" comments too. i've heard it on occasion, and then you get a mom who gets kind of out of control, mad, and just the other side of violent... instead of the calm, mentally controlled person that i've seen.

Hilary said...

Yuck. Believe it or not, I trained with a midwife who used to say "Get mad and push!" I hated that, too!

I really loved your response.

Sheridan said...

Why don't care providers realize the effect words can have on a woman? This really breaks my heart. I am glad you were there to offer encouraging words.

may said...

unrelated to this post, but i want you to know i responded to your second comment on my previous post.

thanks again.

Anonymous said...

If you would like to hear more things an OBGYN should not say, read a recent post at

Paula said...

All the more reason for you to continue on your path. Docs seem so clueless about the vulnerability of a woman in that moment and the power they have to impart strenth and energy and confidence.

Get mad and push. Its like telling someone to laugh and have fun on demand. Most of the time, you can only fake it and it is for the external response instead of the internal feeling.

Thank goodness you were there to counter that nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to comment on your previous post about separating mothers and babies-- I had a hospital birth- and wasn't ever separated from him-- they did all exams on me, and then when they bathed him, they let me watch-- inside the nursery-- that took about 15-20 m inutes-- it was three hours after he was born-- I was right next to him the whole time-- and they did phototherapy in our room-- he never left us-- next time- i'm going to bathe him myself--

Alyson said...

Oh, my favorite comment was when a client told a doc that she didn't want an episiotomy and he said "yes you do" and the nurse said "I love mine, it looks so much prettier" Ack!