So just what do docs learn in medical school?

23 March 2009 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

I just returned from a wedding of a physician friend. I discussed the midwifery bill with one of his medical school friends, now a GI in Manhattan. I never talk childbirth with my physician friends to keep things peaceful, and I never really talk childbirth with doctors during appointments, so my experience with talking about childbirth with physicians is none.

I described the Massachusetts midwifery bill’s goals in relation to nurse-midwives alone, as I didn’t feel bringing CPMs into the conversation was prudent without knowing his experiences more. This physician continued to spew one fallacy after another about midwives, their training, maternal and neonatal mortality rates in the US, the rate of c-sections, and elective c-sections, the benefits of vaginal birth to mom and baby, the risk of c-sections and their rates of infections.

As he started boasting the ease and low risks of c-sections with “a really good doctor” I moved the conversation to his own GI field and of the disadvantage c-sectioned babies have from bypassing the vaginal canal and missing out on their first intended exposure of the mother’s bacterial flora to the infant’s system. Surely a GI would like to see infants start out with the best gut health at the beginning of their lives.

To my astonishment, he was even misinformed on this topic and kept trying to claim that vaginal birth provided no additional benefit to a baby’s gut flora. Then he started lying. He claimed he was very familiar with a study that showed that if you placed a vaginally birthed baby in a sterile environment immediately after birth that the baby develops no bacterial flora over an extended period of time.

Since this was a social event, and I wanted to appear polite,  I merely said, “I am very interested to see that study.” He then claimed he had worked with this study in other presentations of his. An hour later I realized how gullible I was, wanting to assume the best in people. Let’s all realize that no study exists that starves a newborn baby to prove it won’t develop flora. In fact, there are studies that show that the gut of a vaginally birthed infant immediately shows similar bacterial flora in its fecal matter to the mother’s.

I hear stereotypes of how uneducated physicians really are in so many areas that interest those following natural parenting, like breastfeeding, nutrition, vaccine efficacy, or the training and abilities of midwives. I had always hoped these were exaggerations. This encounter only made me sad to see how much education will be necessary to implement the scale of change we need to turn our maternity system around.

For those like myself who prefer to follow evidenced based medicine, it is a shame how fringe and uneducated we are made to feel by many allopathic doctors when we often have had the time and energy to cover topics with much more thorough research than they have. They should be asking parents for more information about the published studies that we have read rather than fabricating studies that don’t exist to attempt to belittle our knowledge.

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