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Those Dreaded Labour Room Memories That Still Give Me Nightmares

The labour room is where women are their most vulnerable, and a kind word, a friendly face, is what they need. Not rude, inconsiderate staff.

The labour room has always been a nightmare for ladies because of the language and the tone used there. If given a choice I think women would definitely prefer to give birth in the comfort, tranquility and peacefulness of their homes.

My mother gave birth to me after an excruciating twenty hours in a hospital run by Christian missionaries, in Bangalore. She told me how a nurse who is a nun told her that labour pain was not at all painful and to just bear with it, quite rudely.

Rude, inconsiderate doctor and nurse

Two and a half decades later, I too gave birth in another renowned hospital in Bangalore. My water had broke and I was rushed to hospital. A nurse came into the ward and without even telling me what she was going to do inserted her fingers into my vagina and tried doing a per-vaginal examination. I almost screamed in pain and she shouted at me. Then, standing beside me she called my doctor and told me that I was uncooperative.

As I was having my contractions, a male gynaecologist asked me to lift my back only from the bed so that he could slide in a belt and fasten it to my belly to monitor the foetal movements. He kept making me do this every ten minutes which was very difficult and I sort of became tired and irritated. He shouted at me and left the room. At that instance, I didn’t know whether to retort at him or start crying. All I wanted was to just flee from there.

For my next delivery, matters seemed slightly better, but I had a huge audience as I had a massive belly owing to gestational diabetes that I was suffering from. Every nurse that came had some remark to say not realising how uncomfortable I was becoming under their stares. The most disturbing remark was after taking the delivery the doctor declared that my son was well above 4 kgs and why hadn’t I mentioned this. Well, I was wonder-struck because how could I know this!

Misogyny that flares up when women are their most vulnerable

I have heard a lot of friends and acquaintances make misogynistic and at times, lewd remarks, about what women have to bear in the labor rooms. Women are thought to be beings who can withstand immense pain which might not be the case.

Even today, I shudder at the thought of having to undergo a per-vaginal examination or scan as it is not just the pain or discomfort, but also the roughness with which it is done.

I have heard women cry out, scream and curse in pain and the nurses supposed to comfort them telling them shamelessly that their excruciating pain might be due to their fat especially in the midriff and buttocks, and not because of their lower pain threshold (which is not their fault!).

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Nobody realises how helpless and vulnerable a person is inside a hospital especially inside the operation theatre and labour room. This is where we expect a word of comfort, a touch of empathy and a lot more understanding. Each of us might just be another patient, but we all require that comfort in these times of trial. Therefore, I strongly believe that those rare faces and voices that comforted us will forever remain in our hearts as beacons of hope.

Editor’s note: Women regularly face #MedicalMisogyny from health care professionals. For the WHO World Health Day 2023 theme of ‘Health for All’, identifying this misogyny and ensuring #Equity in healthcare is essential. All of April, we will be sharing stories with you on this these, either personal stories or fiction. Find them all here.

Image source: a still from the film Darlings

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About the Author

Mary Binoy

Presently working as an English tutor, a dentist by profession, but a writer forever. Love penning down everything I strongly feel about and create a change in mindset, especially among the youth. read more...

10 Posts | 12,865 Views

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