Dear Dr Buck,
(and while we’re at it, any other medical professional who feels its ok to joke about being inconvenienced by pregnant labouring women).
We are the organisation that shared your Facebook post. We shared it because the level of disrespect that was directed at women, during the most vulnerable time in their lives – labour, was not only appalling but also, unfortunately, a very public representation of exactly the kind of egotistical, arrogant, bully culture that is all too common amongst medical professionals in maternity wards Australia wide.
We know this because we are a national organisation that advocates for better maternity care for women all over Australia. We talk to the consumers of maternity services every day. You know the ones…those pesky women who wake you up in the middle of the night with their outrageous demands for medical assistance. Unlike you, we listen when they talk to us about their experiences, both good and bad and we care. We talk to women all the time that are coerced into ‘being cut open’ to ‘get things done at a reasonable hour’. We talk to women all the time who’s pain or discomfort was dismissed and disregarded ‘you’ll be right love’ or in your words ‘Unlike you… I cant feel a thing…so I don’t want to rush’.
For the women who have been let down or even traumatised by a maternity care system that fails to recognise the importance of women-centred care, we can assure you that comments like yours, especially coming from some one who is supposed to be a care-provider, are not funny.
It appears that this happens often enough in ‘your world’ that its obviously considered so normal that doctors like you think its ok to joke about it, in a public post, on Facebook. Whether it was intended as a joke or not, the fact that you and many others think its OK to joke about demonstrates to us that there is a culture that you have been exposed to throughout your training and career, where you have learnt that this is OK and until now, you have not been pulled aside by your peers, your educators, your seniors and told ‘that is NOT OK’.
Your comments are a reminder for so many women of what is wrong with the way maternity care is provided to women in this country. They are a reminder of feeling disrespected. They are a reminder of feeling like an inconvenience. They are a reminder of feeling like they don’t get a say in their own care, that they didn’t get a choice and that their experience doesn’t really matter.
As we write this, your words have reached over 80,000 people. It appears you’ve hit a raw nerve.
So let us tell you this. Their experience does matter. In fact, it matters way more than your experience of having broken sleep and cold feet at 11:30pm. A woman, as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth. How do you think you’ve made women feel so far in your career?
We see that you have posted an apology. We have our doubts about whether you truly realise the error of your ways. Changes in attitude are rarely incurred so quickly. As we all know, education is a key driver to change and growth. Luckily for you, we are happy to help educate you and your employer, Queensland Health, further on best practice consumer engagement and woman centered maternity care.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Maternity Consumer Network
See our original Facebook post
Read the related article published in The West Australian here