Thursday, November 27, 2008

Doctor Knows Best?

I was having a visit with a pregnant mom recently. Typical "high-risk", she was in her early forties, previous c-section, and severe vaginal varicose veins. She spoke over coffee, and I listened. She was frustrated and confused. Her general practitioner had warned her not to have a vaginal birth, that if she tore she could easily bleed to death. She had seen a new specialist in the city as well, and he had given the go ahead for a safe vaginal birth. She was afraid to go against her doctor's wishes, and although she wanted to avoid the surgery for all the usual reasons (difficult recovery, trouble breastfeeding, trouble bonding, pain, not being able to care for her baby and family, needing to get back to school immediately...), she scheduled the cesarean anyway. I urged her to get a 3rd opinion from an OB, but our conversation ended with, "Well, my family doctor knows my body better than anyone anyway."

That pretty much sums up the mindset I deal with everyday. How does giving a yearly pap smear and quick 15 minute appointments make a person an expert in your body? Doesn't living in your own body for 20-30-40 years make you the person who knows your body best?

Some of us have bodies who are malformed because of injury or disease. That's true. In this case, it's wise to seek counsel from our midwives and doctors. And that is the message I wanted to convey to this mom - ask! If your gut is telling you one thing, and you're getting mixed messages from the professionals, then keep asking. The peace of mind is worth the work.

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