~ R E S P E C T ~

Why do we let someone continue to treat us poorly – or, at the very least, not treat us as good as we deserve? We put up with a lot of crap in life and I truly do wonder why that is. Is it because of our own low self-worth? It is some overblown sense of loyalty? Is it laziness?

I hear people all the time seeing an OB or midwife throughout their pregnancy that they are apathetic about at best, and can’t stand at worst. They run through the system like a product in a factory…..walk in, sign in, wait 30 minutes by yourself in a waiting room, get called back by someone you have no idea what their name is, step on this scale, follow me into this room, sit here, take your blood pressure, wait here and the doctor will be right in (if you’re lucky it’s the doctor, sometimes it’s a PA), wait another 20 minutes sitting on an exam table by yourself, provider comes in and quickly measures your belly, listens to the baby, and tells you that you should stop by the front desk on your way out to make your next appointment and heads out the door.

You have no idea who was behind the counter when you entered or left, don’t even know the name of the person who brought you back to the exam room, saw the care provider for less than 5 minutes….but somehow you develop a loyalty towards them. They may be awesome people – but you don’t know that because you know nothing about them whatsoever. They may also be self-centered jerks who have no emotional investment in you at all and are only going to look after themselves – again, you don’t know that because you know nothing about them other than the fact that your neighbor’s best friend used this practice and mom and baby are both still alive.

It’s not just in obstetrics, it’s in all aspects of our lives. I walked out of a dentist office once because they wouldn’t see my children until I LEFT them with the dentist (youngest was under 2 years old!) and wait for them in the front waiting room. I told him that I was uncomfortable with leaving my children and therefore I would just stay with them. He informed me that their policy was that parents were to wait in the waiting room because he felt that made it easier on the children – I told him that I was uncomfortable with that policy and therefore thanked him for his time and held my hand out for my children’s paperwork to be returned to me. You should have seen the shock on his face!! Not only did I question his authority, but was unwilling to obey his instructions when it came to my children – AMAZING!! He handed me back the charts and I left. (as a side note: he also charged my insurance company, even though no services were rendered – we fixed that, too!)

Women continue to date men who treat us poorly and make us cry, we feel guilty about changing hair salons or nail techs, we maintain friendships even though we don’t get a lot of value and benefit from the relationship. Is it laziness? Do we not want to put forth the effort into establishing a new relationship with a new person? Is it fear? Fear that the next person won’t even be as good as THIS piece of crap? Is it loyalty? We don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings? (I’ve known people hesitant to get records forwarded to me because that would mean admitting they were changing practices..??) Is it that we put our own self worth that low? We think it’s okay to be treated that way?

One of the things that I love about watching old-time television about small town life is that everyone knew each other. Who in Little House didn’t know who Doc Baker was? When walking down the street in Mayberry with Andy Griffith, you’d better be prepared to wave at every store front as you know the names (and the families) of everyone in there. Can you imagine such a thing? And the level of customer service that level of personal involvement and intimacy would elicit?

Think about that word for a moment: Customer Service. How would you feel if your waitress came up to you and said, “To eat in this restaurant, you need to drink a full glass of ice tea. No, you may not have Coke because that’s not as good for you as ice tea. You need to stay in your booth, it makes the environment better for everyone. Once you drink all of your ice tea then I will take your order. You can try to have a steak, I can check and see if there are any left…but most people end up with a hamburger anyways so why don’t you just order a hamburger? No, you don’t want chicken – the hamburger is so much better. I know you think you like chicken better than hamburger and that chicken is listed on the menu, but I’m your waitress so you need to trust me that you should order the hamburger. Look, the chicken could have salmonella and could come burnt…I want you to have the best meal possible so I’ll just order you the hamburger…it will be waiting for you whenever you ask for it…”

Would you put up with that level of customer service in a restaurant? Of course not…you are the customer and you should get what you want! People try and make obstetrics out to be different because it’s dealing with HEALTH…and we want a healthy mom and baby! The problem with that thinking is that (unless you have some outstanding medical issues) you are ALREADY HEALTHY!! We aren’t there to make you healthy, you’re already healthy! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you!

Pregnancy is the only time in our entire lives when we will willingly admit ourselves into the hospital while we are perfectly healthy – since we are healthy, then everything surrounding this experience should be preference, optional, up to our own philosophies and desires.

We live in an entirely different world than existed even 20 years ago. I was diagnosed with a medical condition 25 years ago and I remember going to the public library and the library at the nearby university and sitting in the reference section looking it up, making photocopies of pages, having STACKS of books surrounding me, looking up the microfiche because there was a magazine article written about it.  It struck me as ironic that after all of my hours of looking up the condition, researching the medicine they recommended I begin taking, and all that I could find on it….that with my next appointment I knew more than my doctor about that one particular condition and medication.  At 17, I knew more than he did about this one area…and consistently had to re-educate each further physician that I saw about what I’d learned and the latest research.  I truly think that began my realization that they (doctors) don’t know more than I could know – it’s just that they’ve been told and I have not yet.  They don’t know anything I can’t know, they aren’t smarter than me, they aren’t magical…they simply have learned about this one area of life more than I had yet.

And if a woman was pregnant and told that she should do X test or X procedure, she HAD to trust her care provider’s opinion 20 years ago because she simply did not have access to the same level of information he had access to and had acquired. I will admit that it was a big pain in my butt to educate myself about my own condition to the level that I did.  Nowadays we have no such excuse….and the care providers need to realize that we consumers have access to the same research, studies, and information that they do with a quick google search.

I really think that we, as a group, should demand a higher level of customer service in my profession. I think that it’s time that we hold EACH OTHER to a higher standard than we do….we should demand to be treated with respect, and in return we should do everything in our power to treat others with the love, kindness, and respect that we deserve ourselves. The beautiful, amazing birth experiences with a care provider that held our hand and went “above and beyond” for us….shouldn’t be remarkable, it should be the NORM!!! We can’t always fix or change problems that come up….but we sure as hell can fix and change how we treat each other through this journey.


  1. Tangie wrote:

    Very true..it’s a time to be pro-active!

    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink
  2. Rosie wrote:

    Brava!!!! Are your ears ringing from all the applause?

    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink
  3. Kolleen wrote:

    AWESOME!! I have been the one to accept poor treatment from family members, HCP’s, friends, boyfriends and etc…usually due to an over-developed sense of loyalty or a misguided sense in how to deal with it any differently. Any way you look at it, life is a journey and I am learning as I go! I try to treat others as I would like to be treated and I have stopped accepting lesser treatment than I deserve! Awesome post…sharing!!

    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  4. Kelli wrote:

    I know you’ve heard of “Fight or Flight” but have you heard of “Tend and Befriend”? That explains why such sub-par treatment is so often accepted especially by women during the childbearing year, I think being aware of it helps to keep “tending or befriending” in check and makes it easier to demand a high level of respect consistantly.

    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink
  5. Rose wrote:

    Could not agree more! Great post Steph!

    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink
  6. Tonya wrote:

    This is a great article. With my first pregnancy I did see an OB for a while but when I found out I could not have a water birth anywhere except at home I changed to a midwife. I am so glad that I did. That was in 1999. I am doing my best to spread the word on how great home births are by posting articles on Facebook & hoping anyone who is pregnant or knows someone who is pregnant will read it & give it a chance because once you have your baby at home with a midwife you’ll never willingly have a baby in a hospital with an OB.

    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink
  7. Erika Obert wrote:

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Sadly, when you are a patient, and especially if you are a pregnant patient, you get the level of care you are willing to accept. It is our responsibility as consumers to raise the bar. Doctors are paid medical providers.

    By the way, a great waitress can make your dining experience unforgettable. Maybe we should start paying doctors less and making them ‘work’ for their tip?? I bet the level of customer service go up. Who’s with me?

    Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink
  8. Kelli wrote:

    Erika, I love it! If they’re motivated by money lets make it work for us!

    Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 2:50 am | Permalink
  9. Catherine wrote:

    I too have walked out of a dentist office for my child because they didn’t want me back there. I’ve been pro active on my health care for years. So much so some Dr’s have been rather upset that i ask questions and refuse to take/do what they ask. (left that office too) my current Ob/Gyn I picked after going to 5 different Dr and Midwife when I was PG with my now 6yr old. She’s more like a midwife but still a Dr.Whe I delivered my 5yr old she was with me for the 2 hrs during labor and 2 after, then she came the next day and sat with me for 2 hrs. (I had 2 other children with other male Dr and they just cauht the baby and ran.) She’s had her children natural and has a homepathic Dr in her office. She believe’s a lot like I do. but because she doesn’t/can’t do a water delivery I will be switching to a Midwife when I get PG again. Yeah make Dr’s earn their money!
    Great info!

    Monday, August 30, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink
  10. Trena wrote:

    And in today’s news: Two doctors in Italy get into a fistfight during a woman’s labor, over whether or not she should have a c-section, thus delaying her c-section and seriously harming both mom and child. Of course the clinic officially says it wasn’t any fault of the doctors that her labor was complicated! Italy’s rate of c-section: 38%, some 52% in Sicily where this occurred. Yes it happened in Italy, but it could easily have occurred here in the US. And people look at me as if I’m crazy when I say I’ve chosen to have a home birth with a person whom I trust and whom I have mutual respect because…..???

    Monday, August 30, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Permalink
  11. Rachel C wrote:

    I completely agree with this post; however, circumstances don’t always allow for this level of freedom of choice. I am 34, single, and pregnant. I’m well educated, but circumstances (both of my own making and the general economic climate) led me to become bankrupt shortly before I found myself pregnant (unplanned, but I’m so happy to finally have my chance to be a mom despite far less than ideal circumstances) and then I lost my home.

    I now live with my parents. They have generously paid for a private Kaiser plan for me, for which I AM very thankful. However, I do not have the $5k necessary for homebirth in Northern California. I HAVE to deliver at Kaiser and I have to do my prenatal appts with them. It actually isn’t that bad overall, because they are in-house, they keep costs down and are very pro-natural birth. Their C-section rate for first time moms is only 16%, which is pretty amazing.

    However, I have really not liked the CNM (I call her a medwife, she’s totally co-opted) I’ve seen for a majority of my appts. She has pulled the dead baby card (genetic testing, going past EDD, etc.) several times and threatened possible c-section if I gain too much weight and make to big a baby (I’m a sturdy 5’9″ and the father is 6’2″ and thick, this baby is probably gonna be big, but I can totally handle it).

    I, for the first time, saw the other CNM at my location (there are 2 there and any of 19 could be there for the birth) today, I’m 37.5 weeks pregnant. She was SUPER positive, told me that I and the baby seemed very healthy and that I didn’t need to come back for 2 weeks if I didn’t want to. Wow, she was such a relief. Wish I’d found a way to meet her sooner. Needless to say, I made my next appt for two weeks from now, on a Friday, so I can see her again : )

    Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 4:24 am | Permalink

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