Posted by: sayamika, the killer bunny | 2006 August 10

Happy Mom or Control Freak?

I was, I admit, looking for seomething else when I ran across this.

Okay, I sympathise with her. Everyone wants a happy, healthy birth experience. Can I tell you how it feels from the other side?

I spent two months assisting at deliveries at a fab hospital. Great delivery rooms, great nurses, variable but largely fantastic docs. The role of the student changed as we got more experience. We started by doing initial assessments, cervical exams, fetal heart monitoring; we spent a great deal of time with mums and really developed trust. During the second month, we were often the ones who did the actual delivery, with the doc standing by to ensure that we did not make mistakes and there for us and for the mum in case of emergency.

The mums with the eight-page birthing plans were generally considered to be the bane of the labour ward’s existence. The nurses often took such plans as an affront to their professionalism, and a sign that the patient had unrealistic expectations of the birth. Such plans set up an adversarial relationship right from the start, and when your nurse is going to be your main caregiver and coach for this most important of events (and don’t kid yourselves, in my experience male partners are great but rarely are they a load of help in the delivery room, mostly they just piss off the woman having the baby at some point; nurses REALLY get it), it’s kind of a good idea to have the nurse on your side.

Obviously nobody wants the birth of their child to be medicalised, treated like a sickness. But most people want the security of a hospital just in case. Surely, anyone who cares enough to make a birthing plan like this also cares enough to discuss the reasons behind an episiotomy, a forceps delivery, or a caesarean with their doctor so they understand when and why each decision is made and can come to an agreement, rather than writing it down in a manner that suggests without such a plan the trusted obstetrician would just be out of control.

In a modern labour ward, most of this birthing plan is standard practise anyhow.

The point of all this is that a mum who comes to the labour ward with a list of demands has come in with the wrong attitude. She has set herself up to get upset about the little things rather than to appreciate the experience and to appreciate the people she needs there with her.


On a related note:

While I was delivering those babies, nearing the end of my two months, a lady came in expecting twins. In active labour, yada yada…

I was soooo excited. I could relate to this lady; I come from a family with huge numbers of multiple births, twins and triplets. I’m kind of convinced that if I ever get pregnant, it’s likely to be twins (I know that’s ridiculous, but…).

I was thrilled, and I asked to participate in the birth. And out came the birthing plan. I was “excess personnel” it seemed. No medical students allowed. Oh cheerio. I suppose it didn’t matter in the end, I certainly would never have been able to develop a therapeutic relationship with this woman who spent all of her time in labour shouting at her nurses, swearing at her husband, and being rude to the doctor. She even tried to throw out the resuscitation teams who were present for her babies’ sake! She got upset about everything.

I was sad for her way more than for me in the end; her experience was miserable.



  1. My vote : CONTROL FREAK! Sometimes you just have to “sit back” and let it happen. You can’t control every little aspect, especially during birth. Poor mom and poor staff! I feel for them both.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: