Quora Query: As a Doctor, What’s the Most Shocking Thing to Transpire While Delivering a Baby?

Shocking? SHOCKING??

On the one hand, as I am not an Obstetrician, I don’t have many stories about assisting women in the delivery of their children. On the other hand, however, there was a time – when I was a third and fourth year medical student – that I simply fell in love with Obstetrics and Pediatrics, and really thought that I would go into one of those two areas. In that context I did numerous rotations in Pediatrics at multiple institutions, and at least one very impressive elective rotation in Obstetrics at LA County-USC Medical Center.

This was in early 1979, so you have to allow yourself to time-travel back to that era. LAC-USC Medical Center was a huge white structure, built around the 1930s and the architecture was quite characteristic of that era: sort of an imposing “Totalitarian-Light” kind of building. Yet the architecture did not define the feel of the hospital. Upon entering through the front doors, one would see beautiful Works Progress Administration (WPA) murals showing Californians at work; these were quite impressive; I still remember the thrill – each day as I entered the hospital – of seeing these.

For the time I was there, I roomed in Student Housing, within walking distance of LAC-USC. This housing complex was surrounded by small restaurants crafting some of the best Mexican food you could find North of the border; from a gastronomic standpoint I was in heaven.

Walking from the Student Housing area, past the eateries, surrounded by smells of the working-class Mexican food and entering the hospital to the sight of the WPA murals was always a wonderful way to start the day.

I would ascend to the Department of Obstetrics Labor and Delivery floor – it was, as I recollect, an entire floor – greet the nursing staff, who were already hard at work, and sit through the change of shift discussions about who was on the Ward, the stage of labor and so forth. Then the Senior Resident would assign cases to all of us.

In my time at LAC-USC – four weeks was the duration of the rotation – I assisted something like 4 to 6 women during my daily shift with the labor they were going through. While I am not trying to be pedantic, I never “delivered” a baby; I did assist the women as they delivered.

And the most amazing thing? The most “shocking” thing? It was the absolute beauty of the process of birth. I still remember to this day.

Much of my training was at places like LAC-USC and Cook County Hospital, large public institutions serving our people. I remember, with gratitude, from where I’ve come. and how I got here

About AJ Layon

AJ Layon was, for 28 years, at the University of Florida College of Medicine, in the Division of Critical Care Medicine, in Gainesville, FL. For the approximately 10 years until September 2011, he was Professor and Chief of Critical Care Medicine at UF; In September of 2011 he became System Director and Co-Chairman of Critical Care Medicine in PA; this ended in 2017. He served as a Physician in the Surgical Group with Médecins sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) through 2018 and is presently an intensivist in Florida, struggling through the SARS-CoV-2 crisis. While his interests are primarily related to health care, health care reform, and ethical issues, as a citizen of our United States and our world, he will occasionally opine on issues of our "time and destiny". Follow on Twitter @ajlayon
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