Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I counted the people in the delivery room. There were the laboring woman, her sister, and her mother; the obstetrician and OB resident; the OB nurse; two medical students; one or two nursing students; and myself and the NICU nurse, all for a term baby with mild heart rate decelerations who turned out to be fine.

There was a time, not that long ago, when even fathers of the baby were not allowed into the delivery rooms. About 30 to 40 years ago hospitals gradually and begrudgingly began to allow dads in. I know one hospital that only allowed fathers into the delivery room if they were married to the mother. I don't know whether this resulted from a puritanical mindset or a desire to make the dad do right by mother. There was a time, too, when dads could only be in the delivery room if they had gone to prenatal classes. Hospitals seemed to use any excuse they could to keep family members out.

Now, though, the pendulum has swung the other way. Our hospital lets just about any one in the delivery room that the mother wants, as long as it doesn't get crowded. It's not unusual to have 3 or 4 family members in the delivery room. Personally, I don't mind this. They are usually well behaved, and it's certainly much preferable to keeping people out at all costs.

I think, though, that maybe it's time to take things to the next step: we should allow family pets in the delivery room. We wouldn't have to do it all at once. We could begin with dogs - if people are uncomfortable with the idea, perhaps we could require a puppy prenatal class initially - and proceed to cats. Eventually, if things work out, we could allow ferrets and so on in the delivery room. It may sound strange, but think what a comfort a beloved family dog or cat could be to an anxious, laboring mother.

They could be useful in another way, too. In this day and age where anyone can cut the umbilical cord - not only fathers but grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles, first cousins once removed, anyone but the obstetrician - why not let the dog do it? You wouldn't even need a scissors. The dog could bite the cord, like they do in nature. (Just don't let him get too close to the placenta or it might be gone!) Hey, a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's.

P.S. I'm going on vacation the next five days. Look for my next post on about February 26.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

neo doc ,you are a mess,a puredee mess,as we say here in the south.enjoy your time off.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh and by the way,i really wish we could have just a few more friends or family memebers in the delivery comfy and cozy when you are attemting to delee or bag a kid to have them breathing down your neck or just plain stand in the way or my personal favorite"how much does it weigh?
'and the poor little one is blue as the sky,AND i'm trying to hear the heartbeat.obstetrics as a spectator sport,maybe a new classification at the next olympics.wait,wait,wait,my rant's not quite all-time pet peeves at deliveries is,EVERYONE IN THE HALL TRYING TO GET IN BEFORE THE MOTHER"S PRIVATE PARTS ARE COVERED.that drives me out of my mind.well,i feel much better now,thanks neo doc.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous schenectady said...


I gave birth once in the presence of my husband, mother, nurse, 2 obstetricians, NICU team, and department desk clerk. The next time there was just me, OB, and nurse in the room. Liked the second one a whole lot better.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waaahhhhaaaa. I can't imagine all that family in there. I would go nuts. Good grief. Keep up the great posts doc.

mom to 3 preemies- the joys of my life

12:34 PM  
Blogger WendyLou said...

HAHA you are bad.

Personally, I really want my cat Tigger at my next c/s. I think the cat hair will go over so well in my incision.

Actually, when it looked like I was going to be hospitalized for intensive monitoring, I asked my OB if DH could sneak my cats into me. That was one of the hardest parts of thinking of being hospitalized for weeks on end, missing my cats. She said no, but that she would order that I was allowed to go outside to have visitation with them.

Dogs would also clean the floor up so no moping would be required. Heck, they could even eat the placenta....

Why not rats and mice? The hospital prolly already provides these, we would just be acknowledging and welcoming them.

I cannot IMAGINE having my mother or MIL there while in labor. My mom would prolly lecture me for swearing. It was bad enough having my mom there before the surgery and after. MIL showed up during my surgery and got in a snit with my mom. Truly, I wish none of them had come, and I really did not invite them, I just made the mistake of telling them when my surgery was scheduled and they showed up. Not next time. Next time I'm just going to forget to tell them about major surgery. My BFF will watch DD and bring her up when we are ready for her. Hopefully we will avoid the NICU next time, and I'll actually have a baby to attempt to breast feed. DH and I figure we will call them about 2 in the afternoon and tell them, Oops, we had a baby, wanna come see it?

Thanks for the laugh.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Ex Utero said...

I can just seem my white shepherd begging for it and then running off with the placenta to bury it in the corner of the the delivery room.

Have a good vacation ND.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Anne K. said...

I think both my husband and I would prefer our cat Abigail to be with us at moments like this, as opposed to many of the "real" people we know!

I didn't even want anyone to visit me in the hospital after I gave birth, let alone be there for the big event. All eyes on my girly areas? Sheesh, glad I passed on that one!

Thanks for the chuckle, Doc, and have a GREAT vacation!!!

3:14 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Well, you know placenta stew is supposed to be really good for preventing Post Natal Depression... Maybe that's one way of keeping Fido happy and avoiding Doggy Blues when the (new) baby comes home ;)

Have a nice holiday!


3:49 PM  
Anonymous Shamhat said...

But in the example you give, only 3 of the people in the room were specifically invited by the mother: her mother, sister, and OB. The others were total strangers to her. Why make fun of her, as if she brought her dog?

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just me, DH, and midwife present when I gave birth. Just the way I like it.

All the residents and nurses and various 'teams' seem excessive to me.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one was making fun of her, shamhat.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

I'm not sure it was a bad thing, having nobody in the delivery room with me except doctors and nurses. I think my husband would have fainted anyway. I am still hoping, though, that some granddaughter will let me be present at a birth. I really want to see a human baby born, just once in my life. My daughter wasn't comfortable with the idea, and my daughter-in-law was too far away.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had OB, husband, nurses, and student nurses. No residents, even though I was expecting them. Don't mind the medical personnel. Family is a different matter entirely :). If you have a problem with students or residents, stay away from a teaching hospital.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Dianne said...

To tell the truth, I'm not exactly sure who was there when my daughter was born. I know my partner, midwife, the OB the midwife called in to do the c-section, an OB resident, the anesthesiologist, and various support people were there. Not sure who, if anyone, else was. Dick Cheney could have been there videotaping the event in the name of national security for all I knew or cared at that point. I'm pretty sure that the only non-humans around were vaious people's normal flora, though.

Have a good vacation.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh! I had my babies in the early 70s. Where I live NOONE in the family could be in the delivery room. My husband had to sit in the "Fathers Waiting Room"..I can't imagine having a baby with him in the room with me. But,now days, our son goes right into the OR with his wife when she has c-sections..

One thing I really didn't agree with back then, is that once you had delivered they kept your baby in the nursery except for feedings.

Most of the rooms were semi-private and no one except Dad's were allowed in your room when the baby was in there. Which meant my own mother and Dad would get thrown out but the husband (who I had never seen in my life)to the woman in the next bed could be all over my baby and that was all ok.

I think now is better but I agree there are just to many people in the delivery rooms.

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a L&D nurse for 15 never ceases to amaze me how many family members push themselves into the room for the delivery (notice I say in the pt usually is too nice to ask everyone to leave) It has become a spectator sport...they don't support the pt...they lay around the room sleeping until the "Big Show"...then LEAVE right after the birth.
Personally I think that if you were there for the conception... you can be there for the delivery (realizing that with some of my pt.'s this may not bring down the numbers ;0 !!!!!)
My favorite: the delivery of a baby born with a tight nuchal cord , who needed bagging, and the crew of family/friends who had managed to get down the hall undetected came running in the room screaming that the baby was dying, etc...making a huge scene, freaking out the parents...screaming for me to do something (yeah, the bag pushing oxygen in the lungs usually works pretty well when I don't have the Jerry Springer show audience screaming in my ears!)
I could go on and on...can you tell I've just gotten home from a 17 hr shift?...I'm pretty cynical at this point.

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the Rugrats movie my nephew loves. When Dee Dee gave birth she went to a hospital with themed birthing rooms. One had an old country feel where you'd deliver the baby in a potato field. One was actually underwater. Perhaps hospitals could incorporate pets and themes!

5:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah,anon 149,i just love the 'springeristic' atmosphere too,but pushing into the room while mom's private parts are uncovered always sends me ballistic.and just a few days ago i couldn't find my equipment as it was buried under the rude visitors pocketbooks.thought i had forgotten my scopes and thermometer.and not to mention all the family members who are pushing their way into the room before mom is covered rude woman had the nerve to keep pushing her way in saying'but i'm melissa's grandmother' well,'melissa' wasn't even IN that room,and the patient was horrified.but i must reiterate,the one that is so irritating is 'how much does it weigh?' do they think the weight is tattoed on the baby's tummy? sheesh

6:54 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

I can understand what you are saying about families filling up the delivery room. But you need to give a better example! There were 12 people in that room, and only 3 of them were not medical personnel. Your point is totally lost with this story. However, if I turn it around, I could maybe start talking about teaching dogs to do obstetrics, maybe having a cat for a nurse? Sheesh! That was a huge amount of staff for a fairly non-emergent event, don't you think?

10:50 AM  
Blogger Surgeon in my dreams said...

SNORT-SNORT!! See, you're being sarcastic and I was sitting here thinking about how neat it would have been to have my wonderful dog with me....anywho...

My experience in 1976 and 1982 was dad could only go in if we did the Lamaze classes. With our first, we didn't have the $40 to do the class, so at barely 16 years old, I was in there alone. Scared to death and totally alone.

My daughter has given birth to three beautiful girls and I was with her for every one! The last, they chose to have at home (I know...I know - wasn't my decision).

Our pastor had one of those 3d ultrasounds he put up on the "big screen" at church last Sunday morning to introduce us to his son who is 30 weeks. I had never seen one and was amazed at how clear the pics were. When I had mine, I never had an ultrasound since they were only done back then if something was wrong.

Times that are a changin'.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some mothers actually want a lot of friends and family in the room! My best friend was allowed to have only four people in the delivery room when she had her son last year...and she was disappointed. She wanted 7 people to be there! For some people, it's a beautiful moment that they want to share.

As for having pets in the room...I'd really love to have my cat, Zoe (:

7:48 PM  
Blogger stockingup99 said...

Another point scored for home birth, you can have your pets there. And only people who you approve. No one sneaking in and hollering push like a cheering section.

9:18 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Hee hee hee, i love the comments, thanks for the laugh!

When i had my daughter, i did have hubby & my mom in the delivery room. But i kid you not -- as i was pushing her out, the nurse was in the hallway flagging people to come in and see: "Look! She's doing it the old-fashioned way!!" I guess natural birth is a pretty rare event at that hospital...

Enjoy your time off, ND!

1:19 PM  
Blogger LeosMama said...

My first child, I specifically told the staff I wanted just the OB and the nurse any my own people in the room. Somehow it seems that my request was ignored and there were three nurses 'helping', the OB, and an extra nurse and a nursing student (I presume, no one told me who he or the other nurse were, they just came in b/c they wanted to) watching (I specifically told them NO students and this was not a teaching hospital).

My second birth, accomplished entirely at home, was much more peaceful and quiet. Me, my husband, my best friend (who was my doula) and our midwife. It was great. Almost completely dark (which I always prefer, I even shower in the dark for the relaxation) and very calm.

The fewer the better, but the mother should have the control over the individuals present when she gives birth, provided there are no complications.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous supertech said...

Yup, you need a vacation all right!

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't see how some women can stand their family members, including moms, at the delivery, but all the power to 'em if they want that. I wanted only my husband there, and even that I debated for a while.

Personally, I don't mind as many hospital personnel as necessary in the room as long as they're DOING something. I would HATE med students/residents, whatever they are, standing there. I also know that if that happened to me, I wouldn't have the wherewithal, energy, or focus to kick them out (my husband would, though).

I understand med students/etc. are there to learn and have to learn somehow, but if they're going to sneak into the room, unchastised by distracted parents, then they had BETTER LOOK BUSY. Run errands for the doctors/nurses. Sit there with a clipboard looking really intent, like you're doing something important. Pass the mineral oil to the OB, SOMETHING. Otherwise, my hubby is going to KICK YOU OUT!

This raises an interesting point about hubbies in the delivery room. I may be raising a controversial topic and I can only speak for me, but there are two things that make it difficult for me to "assert my rights" in a hospital setting: 1) I'm kind of shy (though now that I'm a mom, this is becoming less and less true); 2) I'm kind of, like, busy having a baby.

Husbands (I can only speak for male partners), though often cowed by hospital settings and births, do tend towards testosterone-heavy responses towards encroachment: that's a handy thing to have in a hospital these days. Whereas I'm kind of shy and non-confrontational, my husband has no reservations whatsoever about telling somebody, politely, where they can go or stick that thing. I'm all for hubbies in the DL.

P.S. Why would you let dogs in before cats? Cats are way more mature.

3:38 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Thanks, everyone, for all the laughs. Shamhat, I really didn't mean to be making fun of this woman.

For what it's worth, I have two cats and no dogs.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Nurse M said...

hahaha... the cat can play with the cut cord!

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently gave birth, and I said to my hubby "we just need our dogs and cat here and it would be great". They were the only other family members I would have wanted in there. Mind you I don't know what would have happened with them when I was taking to off to theatre for an emergency cs... They could have had little blue gowns, hats and masks... ok I better stop now!

5:01 PM  
Anonymous thankful canadian hbac mama said...

My friend had her doctor, a nurse, her husband and their dog in the LDRP room at a local hospital. I wonder if you'd allow for seeing eye dogs like they do here?

9:35 PM  
Blogger overactive-imagination said...

Personally I take offense to this post. Why introduce dogs first? Why not cats first? You are prejudiced against cats aren't you?
Just thought I'd throw that in there since this seems to be the the only post of yours that I've read that there wasn't someone taking offense to something that you said. WE can't have that, now can we? :o)
You really do need that vacation don't you? Enjoy.

8:38 AM  

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