Obstetrics, or the management of pregnant women, comes from the Latin word ‘obstare’, meaning ‘to stand by’ and in a normal pregnancy that is all that is required – the midwife is there to support the woman in doing all the hard work. It is no small task, pushing a rather large object out of a considerably smaller orifice. The doctor only steps in when things go wrong…
There can be any number of complicating factors in a pregnancy, but I noticed a reoccurring theme of obesity during my time in clinic. I met a young lady aged 25, who was very overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 32, compared to the normal range of 18.5-24.9. She seemed oblivious of the potential problems her weight might pose to her pregnancy and I was shocked when the consultant casually dismissed her weight with a wave of the hand because he had seen much larger ladies. If doctors are making it acceptable to be overweight, then it’s no wonder we have an obesity epidemic on our hands. Obesity is a massive health problem, in more ways than one and is devouring the funds of the NHS.
It was during the end of the attachment that I had my week on the labour ward. All my previous knowledge of childbirth was based on an irrational and desperate Rachel from Friends. It wasn’t far wrong, except the whole process was much longer and significantly messier; I saw one baby born on what I can only describe as a tidal wave of amniotic fluid. I needn’t have bothered with the gloves and apron really as they were as useful as a bikini at the North Pole. After witnessing a number of births, I finally delivered my first baby near the end of the week. As I sent messages round to family and friends, I felt almost like a new mother myself, beaming with pride and joy.
Whilst delivering a baby was undoubtedly a very special and intimate experience, I remained disappointed at the end of my labour week – my secret hope was to have a child named after me. Despite trying desperately and shamelessly and after dropping several subtle hints to a number of families and relatives, I was unsuccessful. I would even have been satisfied with a middle name, but alas, no luck. I had to settle for a picture with the family and new baby. However, 12 deliveries, 13 babies, and copious amounts of bodily fluids…what a week!
Bethany Moos, Impact Science Columnist