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Sunday, October 07, 2018

DOCTOR SPEAKS OF HER OWN MISCARRIAGE

The Sensitivity Of The Doctor's Role After A Miscarriage

Guest Post By Uruakanwa Ekwegh

As a medical doctor and also a woman who has experienced a miscarriage, I have been on both the giving and receiving of care after a miscarriage. My experience of a miscarriage exposed me to a whole gamut of emotions that I had no idea were associated with this kind of loss. In fact, I was totally unprepared for how hard it hit me. This made me to wonder: if, as a medical professional, there was so much I did not know about miscarriage - how common it was and how devastating and alienating it could be - then there was a possibility that lay women would know much less than I did.
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In much of civilized society, particularly in the Western world, there is a lot of credence given to doctors ensuring that their patients are well informed; even when time does not permit in-depth conversations, reading materials are made available to answer questions and highlight key issues for patients to consider. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Miscarriage Association has leaflets that are usually given to women after a miscarriage by the nursing staff. These leaflets answer so many typical questions associated with this kind of loss and offer follow-up support.

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In the study I conducted among Nigerian women, the need for such support was made clear in some questions that were addressed by the study. When women who had admitted to having experienced a miscarriage were asked if the medical and nursing staff that handled their miscarriage treated them with sympathy and understanding, the overwhelming response, with 84% of the votes was, "Yes". This however reveals an unacceptable number of women who do not remember being treated with sympathy and understanding: approximately 1 in 6 women who had had a miscarriage.
Why are these figures important to any healthcare professional that wants to deliver quality care? In establishing the main sources of support these women have after a miscarriage, my study revealed that doctors and nurses were a more important source of support than even their parents, extended family or personal faith. In fact, the only source of support that had marginally higher votes was the spouse (or partner). If the healthcare staff is this important at such a scary, lonely and miserable time of their lives, then it is appalling that any one in such a capacity should be anything less than sympathetic or supportive.
However, the doctor's role goes beyond hand-holding or platitudes. The woman needs, as I have already hinted at earlier, to understand what happened to her: the possible causes, the reasons for the decisions that were taken in the course of her care and the possible emotional aftermath of her experience.
It is interesting that even though 84% remember being treated with sympathy and understanding, only 56% did not blame the doctors for their loss. This is proof that poor communication between doctor and patient is risky, giving rise to uninformed blame-placing. Paternalistic health care delivery does not work, especially when it is an issue as sensitive as pregnancy loss. Furthermore, it may affect future health-seeking behaviour; in the developing world where maternal mortality is a major problem, this is a risk that cannot be taken.
The role of the doctor in times of loss is very sensitive; we are not taught how to handle such roles in medical school. Some of us learn from personal experience; like me, we learn to do to other patients what we wish had been done for us. However, we all need to appreciate our importance in times like these and rise to the occasion.
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Dr. Uruakanwa Ekwegh is a Medical Doctor with a Masters degree in Public Health. She is the founder of the Miscarriage Support and Information Centre, committed to educating women and their carers on the effects of pregnancy loss on the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the woman, while also offering encouragement and support when needed.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Uruakanwa_Ekwegh/933699
http://EzineArticles.com/?The-Sensitivity-Of-The-Doctors-Role-After-A-Miscarriage&id=6096538

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