In between her heavy pants through her contractions, I hook up the new momma to the fetal monitors and switch on the computer. Based on her wide-eyed, wild looks and her contractions kicking off steady and strong on the monitors, I don’t think it will be long before she is holding her baby in her arms.
“Who is your doctor?” I ask, busying myself with the endless forms while we still have some time.
She names the doctor that has just left for vacation, breathing through another contraction, this time with her eyes shut.
“Well, that doctor is currently out on vacation,” I say as gently as I can. “The doctor on call will be the one taking care of you and your baby today. Her name is Dr. Smith.”
“Oh,” she replies, looking up at me suddenly.
She pauses, tears starting to form at the corner of her eyes.
“But I have never even heard of her,” she whispers, looking back down at her stomach as it tightens again.
For women who have developed a close relationship with their healthcare providers, especially those women who are expecting their first babies, the fact that their doctor might not be the one to deliver them on their big day can come as a shock.
It can be hard, in the midst of the pain and fear that labor can bring, along with the sometimes overwhelming experience of being admitted to the hospital, to hear the news that you will also have to be cared for by a completely different doctor — and maybe someone you have never even met before.
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