Out here in GP land it's hard to get much in the way of exposure to obstetrics and gynaecology. The university lures you in by getting previous students to boast that they were delivering babies before breakfast on their first day. But it's been my experience that unless you are prepared to stake out the labour ward in drag you won't have much luck. Only one doctor in my practice does deliveries any more, so of course early in the year I made the point of having a conversation with him about how hard it was to get access to these patients and he made all the right noises about how important it was and so on and so forth, and then ... that was kind of the end of it. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I also harrassed another doctor I know and he agreed to help out but nothing came of that either.
I saw my first birth not long ago when I managed to guilt a midwife into persuading the mother (who was a nurse) into letting me hang around. And recently I saw my first caesarian delivery because the scrub nurse in the operating theatre mentioned that it was going to happen that evening and perhaps I should hang out in the tea room munching on biscuits until then. So my advice to any future medical students reading this blog is this: don't bother asking doctors for help, bug the nurses instead.
Not only did I get to see a caesarian, I also scrubbed in, which I haven't been allowed to do much this year on account of being a jerk and a klutz. But most excitingly of all - I got to drive the suction thingy. It turns out that when you cut your way into a full uterus, there's an awful lot of blood and amniotic fluid waiting to rush out. So it was my job to hover there, sucking it all up with my little plastic tube. Sluurrrrrrrrp!! It makes a noise like a kid reaching the end of a giant slushie. A raspberry slushie.
A couple of times I got too keen and started sucking up the doctor's finger or a swab or bits of the baby's face so I'd then have to wrestle the suction thingy free before somebody went missing. It was great fun, certainly a change from the rest of the day with the visiting surgeon where my contribution began and ended with me being asked to fish his glasses out of his top pocket and stick them on his face because he'd scrubbed, gowned and gloved before remembering where they were. And the only reason he asked me was because I'm tallish and so I was able to get my hand down the front of his gown. Who'd have thought that was a skill that would come in handy in my professional life?