A couple of weeks ago the Obstetrics and Gynecology Interest Group hosted a seminar on labor and delivery with two obstetricians and a few residents. The seminar was only open to eighteen students, so I was thankful for my absurdly frequent e-mail checking habits, and I quickly nabbed a spot.
The gender balance at the session was a bit skewed, as I might have expected. There were sixteen female medical students and two male medical students in attendance, but there were a couple male residents and the two attending obstetricians were male, which was a good testament to the fact that the profession is not unfriendly to men. A quick search for the statistics actually showed me that there are a nearly equal number of male and female OB/Gyns, which was a bit surprising to me.
The session began with a short lecture on some of the basic information about labor and delivery, which we needed because we haven’t studied reproduction yet! We heard about the seven cardinal movements of labor and puzzled over the attending’s confusing drawings.
Then we moved into a simulation room, complete with two female manikins and a baby. The attending showed us a plastic sheet with cervical diameters in two centimeter increments and had us estimate cervical dilation with our eyes closed. Then, a resident demonstrated the techniques associated with a normal vaginal delivery. We all practiced a delivery as the attending watched and coached us. It was hard to know how much force to use when pulling and I felt pretty clumsy trying to get the baby on to my arm, as the attendings did so effortlessly. They assured me that the technique would come with time, and all that was really important at this point was not dropping the baby, which was hard because it was so slippery!
The attendings and residents also showed us the maneuvers used to deal with a shoulder dystocia, and demonstrated the use of forceps and vacuum for difficult deliveries. It still amazes me how much physical manipulation and brute force can factor into the birth of a tiny, fragile baby. The fact that the manikin baby had limbs that spun and bent in all directions was a bit troubling too, since it easily became contorted into strange shapes. But contortion isn’t far from the truth, since the attendings explained that sometimes things need to be moved around or even broken to aid the delivery process.
I’m not sure of my specialty preferences yet, but OB/Gyn is still probably in my top five. It was interesting to try out some of the techniques that I’ll get to watch and practice next year, and to practice them in a low-stress environment without patients and teammates complicating the process. All in all, it was a sometimes surprising but enjoyable afternoon.