Finally started our postings in the hospital!! For my first day I was posted in the gynecology outpatient department. I spent the first half of the day in the waiting room, which also doubles as the nurses area as well as the location where the women have their primary check up (blood pressure, heart rate, and a series of questions in Marathi). The one thing that I found interesting about being in the waiting room was that it was the first time I saw any men accompany their wives to anything related to antenatal care. Even in this instance the men sat as far away from the ANC room as they could get, simply waiting for their wives to come back so they could leave. This is so strange to me, because I feel like it is so different in the US, but I guess men/ family members in general are much less involved when it comes to pregnancy and child birth here.
On the second day I was told to go to the gynecology ward, so I followed the yellow signs that said it was in room 1103. While standing in the lobby between all the rooms on the first floor I was at a complete loss. As I spun around in circles I saw 1101 maternity, 1102 special rooms, 1104 pediatrics. After a thorough search of the floor above as well as a second run through of the first floor to make sure I wasn't crazy, I headed into the maternity ward, which was exactly where I wanted to be since the day I arrived in India.
Before I even had the chance to sit down a nurse was accompanying a woman into the delivery room and they waved for me to join them. In the delivery room there are two tables, one on either side of the room, where the women deliver their babies. It is not uncommon for there to be one woman laying on one table recovering from her recent delivery while there is another walking into the room for hers.
During this first delivery, what I saw was horrifying. As the woman was having a contraction the doctor began to pull on her birth canal with the purpose of stretching it wider. Between contractions he used an orange tubing to release her bladder, following this up with a local anesthetic shot before cutting an episiotomy. At this point she was about a minute away from the birth of her baby girl. During this time each contraction was met with one nurse pushing on the woman's belly, one doctor pulling on one side of her birth canal and another pulling on the opposite side, and all of this was done while the doctors were also screaming at the woman. Now, I was obviously not the expert in this situation but it was nothing like the birth of my cousin's baby girl, when she was only surrounded by people who loved her and were there to offer kind words of encouragement.
After the baby was born they held her upside down, by her feet, while they cut the umbilical cord. The baby was quickly taken to the 'newborn resuscitation room' while the mother was delivering the afterbirth. As soon as the baby was properly checked they took her out of the maternity ward without the mother getting so much as a glance of her new baby. Later, I asked the pediatrician why the mothers were never allowed to hold their baby and he told me it was because "the women who come to this hospital are uneducated, so they don't care whether they see their baby. They think the baby is safer/ better off if the doctors take the baby away to take care of it." I am still so shocked and sad that they don't even show these women their babies. I don't care how uneducated they are, I am sure they want to at least have a look at their son or daughter before they are carted out of the room.
For now I am going to end here with a few thoughts that I plan to expand on in my next post:
· It is standard procedure here for every woman to have an episiotomy (surgical procedure to widen the birth canal) during her delivery. It has happened in 9 out of the 10 vaginal births I have seen thus far, with the 10th one being a breach birth that happened super fast.
· The doctors are taught to yell at the women
· If a woman is crying out in pain too much (without even moving) while the doctor is sewing up her episiotomy, they often get frustrated amd slap their stomach or their leg, while yell at them to stop
· There are no family members allowed in the delivery room
· The labor ward has 6 beds with absolutely no privacy. They are usually all full.
· While the women are in active labor in the labor ward, they are constantly moved from one bed to another, depending on where they are at in their labor or if they require a fetal heart monitor
· There is a pretty big false sense of sanitation
· So far I have seen 10 vaginal births, one of which was breach, and a caesarean section
There will be more on this later, as I am pretty excited about it.