Thursday, April 25, 2013
Early in the pregnancy I had to come to terms with how much I trusted my doctor and the decisions that she made regarding my body and my baby. Don't get me wrong, I thought my doctor was fantastic: very competent, experienced, trustworthy, and with a great reputation, but I am used to being completely informed and allowed to take part in medical decisions. In Canada, I was allowed to choose which tests were preformed during my pregnancy and I could have even opted out of having ultrasounds if I really wanted to. However, from women here that I have spoken with and from what I have read, taking an active role in medical decisions and questioning the doctor's choice is not very common.
My first encounter with this was the extremely quick ultrasounds that I received at the beginning of every appointment. Also, about half way through the pregnancy I went to the clinic to get antibiotics for an infection. My doctor was not in the clinic at the time, so I saw another doctor who spoke a bit of English. She wrote out a prescription for me and I was given a pack of medication as I left the clinic (you don't usually go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription here, they give you the medication at the clinic). When I got home and could actually look at what I was given, I was surprised to find that there were three different types of pills in the package. Purely out of curiosity I decided to google the names, which were all in Japanese, to see what sort of antibiotics she gave me. I was shocked to find that the antibiotic I was given is actually not advised for pregnant women because it has been known to cause birth defects and miscarriages. She also prescribed a medication for gastric ulcers which has never been tested on pregnant women, and a medication to prevent uterine contractions that had been taken off the market in the U.S. during the 1990s because it has been known to cause fetal heart failure. I never complained about any stomach pain, have never had a gastric ulcer, and had been having no contractions whatsoever so I was absolutely uncomfortable with the thought of taking these medications. I decided to go back to the clinic when I could see my actual doctor and ask for a second opinion.
When I saw my doctor, she gave me a lecture about how every doctor in her clinic is an experienced OB/GYN and that I should just trust them next time. She didn't address my fears about the medications at all, but simply said "they are absolutely safe. We would never prescribe something unsafe for you". She maybe had a reason for prescribing what she did, but this reason was never explained to me and I was once again left in a situation where I felt like I needed to follow her blindly against my better judgement.
And you know, she was right. She is a doctor and does know what she is doing, presumably, since women keep having babies at her clinic and most of them seem happy about it. It was then that I decided, as much as I hated it, and no matter how much it went against every fiber of my being, that I would just accept whatever counsel my doctor gave me without too much questioning. It was that or go crazy worrying about every little difference in the advice or care that I was given. Trying to be informed and involved in the doctor's decisions just resulted in stress and frustration on my part so I just gave it up and became flexible.
Submission has never been one of my strong points, but it turned out that adopting this attitude helped me tremendously during labour and delivery where Dustin and I had no idea what was going on pretty much the whole time and had no input whatsoever. I will most definitely be writing about the birth in greater detail in the future.