First I have to say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY AWESOME MOM, I LOVE YOU & LOOK FORWARD TO CELEBRATING WITH YOU SOON!!! Sorry you had to work all day :(
Sorry this is such a long post, but I have a LOT to say on this one... Let me preface this by saying that I am not a doctor writing this and it is not meant as advice in any fashion or form, these are simply the rantings of a pregnant woman, hormonal, surprised and freakin out that any day now I will be welcoming the arrival of a precious human who will be dependent on me 24/7... And- this precious human has to make the journey out of ME, and I do not even have my entire birth kit ready or the plastic for my bed or... AHHH! So amidst all of this, this week, my precious husband and I have our first appointment with an OB/GYN. Some of you who may not know me or my paradigm are surely freakin out at this point, "What?! Only a few days left of your pregnancy and you have never seen a doctor?" I know, what a freak I am! But, before you get too carried away about what a crazy mother I am, I will say that I have seen a chiropractic doctor (who actually takes more hours of schooling than the regular MD) twice a week at least, and I have been seen by a licensed birth provider throughout my entire pregnancy. Yes, we chose to use a midwife to care for us throughout our pregnancy. And, I know I got a lot more care from her than I would have the average doctor. Considering that I saw her following a regular pregnancy schedule (just like an OB would have scheduled visits, but starting earlier in my pregnancy) and my shortest visit with her was an hour. Compare that with my friends and patients who see OBs- they usually report seeing a different provider each visit (often a nurse or different doctor than the one who will attend their birth) and that each of their visits only lasts a few minutes. I could go on and on, but this post is about my report of my doctor's visits. Everything I am ranting about is backed up by research, and not just my opinion, so feel free to request a copy of it if you so desire.
So why did we choose to visit an OB at all? Well, if you know my A-type personality, except for when it comes to cleaning/organizing my house :), you understand that should the need to transfer/transport during my pregnancy/birth arise, I do not want to meet the doctor then for the 1st time. Therefore, we chose to go in for a consult this week. Now I know first hand how my patients and friends feel when they have to stand up for their beliefs and justify themselves. It is especially not fun when you are pregnant and hormonal. As we walked to the office, I commented to JB about how much I dreaded explaining why I did not want an ultrasound or a vaginal check. We also laughed at how the doctor's face would look when he asked me why I was seeing him... See we know that normally he meets patients at this point who have problems like low iron counts, babies with positional issues, high blood pressure and so forth. Me on the other hand as his new patient: I have only gained 20 pounds, my iron levels have been rather high, my blood pressure has been 120/70 at its highest, and I have done prenatal yoga and weight class 1x/week at least. I am in better shape pregnant than when I am not; but, can you blame me- it is what I preach and do for a living! I have lots of people watching me, I better behave!!
The office was really nice, and the staff and doctor were great! However, let me tell you my problem: I am so saddened by the fact that what I saw yesterday is a better than normal version of maternity care in our nation. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the doctor we saw yesterday. He has blessed my business and my patients with his care and support. But, he is still a medical doctor in a severely erroneous paradigm! And, had you been there you would have probably seen nothing wrong with the picture I am about to paint, unless you have had maternity care by someone other than a typical OB or have done your research thoroughly.
After the usual paperwork, the visit began with a question from the nurse before taking my blood pressure, "Have you ever had an abnormal "x" test?" To which I replied, "No." She answered, "Great!", and ran off to her desk. JB looked at me and laughed, see my "x" tests have never come back abnormal because I have never had one. Again, this is a whole other discussion for another day... Next came by blood pressure reading- done while I was talking with a digital cuff. Both of these can make the test inaccurate. My reading that day? 130/90! My complete medical records sit in my chart showing how abnormally high this is for me, but nothing is made of this. The one thing that should have been an issue was not! Oh well, taken later with a normal cuff and me relaxing, it was back to normal. Next comes our wait for the doctor. If we complained about this part, our patients would laugh at us because this is a common occurrence in my own office, one I can NOT fault this doctor for. So, we waited patiently without complaint.
Finally, in comes the doctor. The first thing he asks us is about how we got into running our birth center and how that is going. After some chit chat he comments on why I am in to see him and that hopefully I will not need him after this one visit, but that our track record has not been that great as of late as far as the birth center is concerned. Again, JB and I had a good laugh about this later... What he was referring to is that he has received a lot of referrals from us. I would not laugh about this as a bad track record. After all, midwives are supposed to care for NORMAL pregnant women. If they deviate from normal, it is our responsibility to catch this and send them out for doctor evaluation. I think the fact that we have done this routinely is a great track record! I would not want to go to another midwife who does not practice within their limits and not do this. Plus, can you even consider it a track record if we are referring out for things we have no control over? Anyhow... Then comes the doctor addressing the fact that we desire to have a homebirth. Again, take your time to freak out about how I am endangering myself and my child if you do not know me or have not done your research... He then says that if asked his opinion (which he was not because I already knew it- remember this is what he does for a living) he would tell me that hospitals are where everyone should give birth. Hospitals, after all, are the safest place to be because there are always emergencies. Well thank God He invented hospital and created medical doctors before giving us the right to procreate because after all, IT IS SOOOO FREAKIN DANGEROUS TO DO WHAT MILLIONS OF WOMEN HAVE DONE SAFELY OVER THE YEARS UP UNTIL RECENTLY!!! Again, if you want the research, just ask me, but only recently did women start seeking out hospitals/doctors for pregnancy care and birth. So we shook our heads yes that we understood. He asked if I had any questions, and when I did not, he told me he felt like he should be saying more but since there was really nothing else to cover after going over hospital procedures with us, he would listen to my baby and measure me and let me go. As he laid me down and approached my tummy, he asked me when my last ultrasound had been. I told him at 6 weeks of pregnancy. He asked me why, and I told him I had had a lot of bleeding then and the only reason we chose to do that one was to make sure the baby was okay and I had not miscarried. Then, when everything was normal, we agreed not to have anymore unless an issue came up in which we felt we needed it. The baby's heartbeat and movement, my measurements and weight have all been normal up to this point so we have not needed another one. He gave me a weird look and asked if I was still opposed to having one. I told him I was because everything was normal. Again, the research on ultrasounds is something that we rarely look at- they are not, contrary to popular belief, proven without a shadow of a doubt to be totally safe. And, like I tell my patients, it is just like our x-ray machines- I am so glad we have the technology when it's needed, but it's not something that I want to use to take fun pictures with everyday just to see. I'll be brief and just say that many inaccurate reports come back and stress moms out from ultrasounds, some research says that they cause hearing issues for the baby, cause cells to divide very rapidly (potentially increasing cancer risk) and the radiation they produce is equivalent to having 250 chest x-rays. So we were not being dumb when we chose to only have one, we had good reason! When he checked the heartbeat, it was normal. Next came the uterine measurement. This was totally different than with my midwife. She will first feel my bare belly and then take quite a bit of time measuring. This is a crucial part of maternity care! Feeling a mom's belly tells you a lot about her fluid amount, baby's position, and her growth. Doctors do not feel bellies a lot because it's not something they are routinely taught, believe it or not, and they do not put a lot of weight on this because they have ultrasound technology. Now you tell me, which is more accurate when it comes to weight and volume evaluation- feeling and holding someone or looking at a picture of them? So I moved my shirt out of the way, and I was going to let him move my pregnancy band on my pants so he could measure accurately. He quickly measured over my pants, and the tape measure was loose. Then he asked, "How big is this kid?" I replied, "Last week they estimated with palpation (feeling my belly) that the baby is at least 5.5 lbs." He looked at me with doubt and shock and said, "Really?!" I did not tell him 3 midwives had been at that particular prenatal visit and all 3 felt my belly and guessed in their heads before all saying their measurements out loud and getting the same guess. I'd say that's pretty accurate! But, with the look on his face, I said, "Why, are you measuring me smaller or thinking the baby is smaller?" He said, "What did they measure you at?" I laughed at this reply, it reminded me of someone saying, "No, I'm not telling you what I got, you go first!" So I said, they got 35.5 centimeters for 36 weeks (2 centimeters either above or below your week of pregnancy is considered normal). He then said, "Well, I got 34!" So I politely replied, "Well I am seeing my midwife this week, and if I have lost weight or measure smaller I will have an ultrasound done to make sure all is well. We then thanked him for everything and left.
All of this ranting to say, I thoroughly appreciate wonderful doctors who will even consider seeing patients who are choosing a different route of care, especially seeing them this late into the pregnancy. But, it is just SO sad that this is considered normal! Oh, we were also reminded to do kick counts all throughout the day to make sure the baby is ok. Question: Why can't moms be congratulated on having a wonderful pregnancy and taking care of themselves?! Why do we have to make them dwell in fear, waiting for something to go wrong. After all, pregnancy is NOT an illness like it is routinely treated. Thank God it is a blessing and a wonderfully normal event because were it not one of us may not be here!! Why can't we use medical doctors like firemen? If there is an emergency, I want them there, but if I used them on a routine basis for regular situations, I have a feeling there would be many more problems created out of what would have been normal. Do your research!!