Despite living in Michigan for over 30 years, my cold hands disclose my Southern California origin. As a physician, these cold hands have touched many lives. For my pregnant patients, they usually sigh with relief as I touch their bellies, the coolness of my hands offering them respite from the inferno growing inside them. They smile when I tell them I can feel their baby squirming and how it is ...

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The stretcher was wheeled into the operating room.  I had been in this room on three prior occasions, under very different circumstances. But today, as I lay flat on the table, listening to the small talk around me, I tried to breathe against the weight of the baby and the pressure of the procedure.  My husband will later tell me it happened so quickly, but for me, time stood still ...

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When Barbara (name changed) recently underwent her fourth Cesarean section, she was appalled by the care she received during her recovery.  Her catheter overflowed, and a CNA asked her to check her own incision.  When the CNA asked if she was breastfeeding her baby, Barbara replied tearfully that she couldn’t lift her out the bassinette.  Rooming-in is a great idea. Unless you’ve had a 36-hour labor or major abdominal surgery. Pregnant ...

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As a gynecologist, I not only witness new love but have to regularly ask about it because it can impact my patient’s health. They may need birth control, STI screening and counseling, or pre-conceptual counseling. Then there is one of my favorite group of patients: those that are “older” and entering into new relationships either for the first time or following a divorce or loss of a spouse. The balance ...

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After eight years of practicing obstetrics and researching childbirth in the United States, I know as well as anyone that the American maternal health system could be better. Our way of childbirth is the costliest in the world. Our health outcomes, from mortality rates to birth weights, are far, far from the best. The Conversation The reasons we fall short are not ...

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The women’s health has a history of being a volatile sector, especially of late. It is an area of medicine where politicians think they can have access to intimate and confidential patient-physician relationships. This is unacceptable and an invasion of privacy. Voluntary termination of pregnancy. Voluntary interruption of pregnancy. These are the medical terms for what the layperson thinks of as an abortion. Missed abortion. Threatened abortion. Incomplete abortion. Spontaneous abortion. Septic ...

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I stared at the ceiling, my hands twisting the drawstring of my scrubs. It was midnight, and I was occupying one of the on-call rooms of the delivery ward. I was going to be observing my first infant delivery, a milestone in my education that had terrified me since beginning medical school. I had been advised to get some sleep, but I was too anxious. I closed my eyes reviewing ...

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Leaving your career in medicine is like breaking up in a long term relationship. It may have all started out with lofty expectations, excitement about the future, and becoming your best self. However, somewhere along the way, things got messy and twisted and not what you signed up for. There were hiccups along the way, signs that maybe it wasn’t good for you. There was the time you fell asleep at ...

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If I have to hear, "There is always a third victim in these situations, don't forget to take care of yourself," one more time, I may go crazy. I wish people would be cognizant of the language they use. According to the dictionary, a victim is, "a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency." Don't call me a victim. I go home afterwards, completely broken by what just ...

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Eight months into a healthy pregnancy, my belly suddenly hung lower. I noticed that the baby’s movements slowed, decreased in frequency, and seemed sluggish compared to just a few days before. Concerned that something might be wrong, I called my obstetrician’s office and described what I’d noticed. The nurse I spoke with gave rote and reassuring advice: “Babies often get crowded near the end of pregnancy,” she said briskly. “Drink some ...

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