An Open Letter to All OBGYNs and Maternity Wards

pregnant woman with catOne of my friends mentioned that a hospital in her area has a fantastic low c-section rate (12 percent!) and they are really committed to paying attention to what the mothers want, and making it a fantastic experience for everyone involved. It got me thinking about what the maternity system really needs to turn back around, so I decided to write a general letter, on behalf of all mothers, to all OB/GYNs and labor and delivery nurses out there.

It's the letter I wish I would have written before I had my kids, but it's the letter that any pregnant mom could give to her doctor. Maybe we should just all print this out and sent anonymously to ever OB and and L&D nurse out there.

Dear American Maternity Ward Staff...


I know that to you, I am your job. I am one woman whose face you likely won't remember in a month, especially since many a time, you're focused on the monitors or my vagina and cervix, and not me as a person. I'm one bloody crotch among ten or more you may see in one day, one baby's birth among the many you'll attend. Some doctors might remember me down the road, and that's amazing. But if you aren't on call the day I go into labor, I'm afraid of the lack of relationship with the stranger who may be there for me.

I know you'll have done this many a time, but for me, this is a very unique day. This is as important, if not much more important, than my wedding. This is a day, an experience, I will remember for the rest of my entire life. Your actions, the things you say to me and how you treat me are things I will likely remember until the day I die, for better or worse. I'd never hire a wedding planner who told me that a wedding was just a means to an end, that my wishes didn't matter, or that since it might rain, we should forgo the beautiful lakeside setting. My opinion does matter.

Both my life and my baby's, our well-being, both physically and mentally, are in your hands. I know you have a family of your own to get to, but imagine if I were your wife on the table, birthing your child. Or your sister? Or what if it was you? You wouldn't rush that, would you? Would you tell me to stop being whiny? Or tell me I'm being childish or too loud? Or would you hold my hand and try to help me find the best way I can to manage? Would your movie tickets matter to you tonight if I were your wife? How would you want to be treated?

Machines are machines, and my body is my body. Machines aren't always right, and you know that. Trust your instincts, too. I can feel my contractions, even if your machine can't find them, and if you'd use your hand instead of the machines, you could feel them, too. Remember that sometimes labor can take days, and stress can stall labor, or it can stall at intervals to allow rest -- this doesn't mean my body is failing, or needs a push. Inductions can take days, or even fail to work, too. This doesn't mean I need a higher dose or to be cut open, unless my life or my baby's is really in danger.

So please, remember -- I am not just another job. I am woman, a person, a soon-to-be mother, going through one of the most important experiences of my entire life, and your choices can help shape my and my child's entire future.


Expectant Mothers


Image via Michele Zipp

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