Oct 242010

“Get your hands off my sterile field!” – OB to mother reaching down to feel her baby crowning.

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 October 24, 2010  OB, pushing  Add comments

  53 Responses to “"Get Your Hands Off My Sterile Field!"”

  1. “No, it’s my body and my baby.”

    Hopefully she later pointed out that she does not belong to him and birth is not sterile, nor should it be.

  2. Control freak much?

  3. That’s so stupid! I want to know how any doc thinks that area could possibly be a sterile field to begin with. Everything down there is likely leaking bodily fluids of one kind or another either with or between each contraction. This comment reeks of stupidity.

  4. jaw hits floor…
    Wow, not allowed to touch her OWN vagina….crazy madness.

  5. How ’bout this doc… How ’bout you get your hands of my CHILD and my VAGINA!?!? (and then catch my baby myself!)

  6. I really hope this happened in 1920. At least then it would have been a standard hospital practice and somewhat evidence based since, you know, for the last several decades we have known that creating a sterile field at birth doesn’t help reduce infection rates since the woman and her baby are already immune to their own germs.

  7. Oh for the love of…if my OB says anything like this to me during the birth, I’m going to be sure to have a sarcastic remark ready and waiting. First of all, it’s MY vagina and MY baby, and I’ll touch it if I damn well please! Second of all, why doctors think that anything about birth can be sterile is beyond me. The whole area is likely to be covered in birthing fluids, blood, and possibly feces…so does it REALLY matter if I introduce some oh-so-scary hand germs to the equation?

  8. The futility of trying to make a vagina sterile aside, why would you WANT a baby’s entrance into the world to be sterile (assuming a vaginal birth)? Babies need that bacteria to colonize them!

  9. Get your “sterile field” off my vagina!

  10. “Oh eff you!” is all my brain is allowing me to process right now…

  11. Where exactly does the sterile field start? I know a human vagina isn’t sterile, the bowel movement some women have while pushing isn’t sterile, and I’m pretty sure the top of the baby’s head isn’t sterile anymore. How ’bout you go take your sterile field somewhere that might actually be sterile.

    • This is the first thing I thought of too. I’m thinking the bowel moment many women have while pushing kind of interferes with the whole “sterile field” think. How asinine.

  12. Goofy. My doctor during my son’s birth actually encouraged me to feel my son crowning. Its kind of encouragement that your baby’s really almost here and all that good stuff.

  13. I also really hope that this was from years ago! When I was pushing my daughter out I would not move my hands and the doc ended up telling me to catch her :)

  14. I think my foot might slip and accidentally kick you in the face..

  15. YOUR sterile – say, what??
    Get your hands off my vagina! Oh, they’re one and the same (to you)? Well, then, I was here first.
    And all the stuff about sterile, like everyone else said. Cracks me up. Seriously.

  16. I’ve heard a lot of nicknames for ‘vagina’, but ‘sterile field’ was never one of them…

  17. That is not YOUR sterile field, Doctor. It is MY body, MY baby, and this is MY birth, which, not being a medical emergency, is being done MY way (in real life, of course, I homebirth with a midwife present, but I’m suspending disbelief for the sake of argument).

    If the baby can thrive inside me for nine or ten months, I’m pretty sure it can handle my vagina coming out (by the way, you can skip slapping my nether regions with a cold heavy Betadine sponge – if I’m going to dye my privates for the next few weeks, I think I prefer Easter egg colours, not orange, and I don’t need to be “cleaned off” anyway). And it can handle being held in my arms and nursed at my breast right away. I’m not sterile and asexualized into “patient” status, but I’m clean enough.

    Your hands, though – they better be washed off under those gloves… Come to think of it, Doctor, get your hands away from MY sterile field. NOW.

  18. That’s what happens when doctors stop thinking. *eyeroll* If mom tried to cop a feel during a c-section, okay, but I think that wasn’t the case. ;-)

  19. Wow what an idiot. My OB told me to touch the top of my first baby’s head to see how close I was and offered me a mirror so I could watch.

  20. “(by the way, you can skip slapping my nether regions with a cold heavy Betadine sponge – if I’m going to dye my privates for the next few weeks, I think I prefer Easter egg colours, not orange, and I don’t need to be “cleaned off” anyway)”

    What?? They really do this?

    • They did to me when I gave birth to my second daughter, Liesl, in the hospital. Then they wouldn’t let me hold or touch her. I was too “dirty.” She was a fragile preemie, probably because of something I’d done (and how dare I wait until the baby was crowning to get to the hospital; forcing my OB to give me a VBAC like that!) and my touch could kill her, and I didn’t want that, did I?

      I didn’t even fight back, aside from struggling a little when the nurses held me down on my back and made me spread my legs. That’s what haunts me the most.

  21. Any doctors reading please help me out. Why do some OB’s believe in this crazy “sterile field” thing, and others know the truth?

    A sterile field is for surgery, right?

    • Birth used to ALWAYS be surgical, usually in the form of a honking huge episiotomy.

      • PS. Sorry, I’m not a doctor, but I have an autistic perseveration on matters relating to birth. ;) You might be interested in a couple of books that go into the history and culture of obstetrics: _Immaculate Deception_ by Suzanne Arms, and _Birth As An American Rite Of Passage_ by Robbie Davis-Floyd, who is a medical anthropologist.

        • Thanks, Sarah! I have read _Birth As An American Rite Of Passage_ – it was very, very thorough! (but a little outdated since it was written in the 80′s) Maybe I’ll check out the other one. I also read _Pushed_ and that was excellent (and current.)

          But, I mean, today, in 2010, I don’t understand the wide variance in how OB “rules”. I had an OB/hospital birth for my first baby, CNM/hospital for my second, and neither even mentioned a sterile field. Of course neither did my CPM during the homebirth of my third :-)

  22. This comment would be totally appropriate if the mom were giving birth to a unicorn.

    Human moms and human babies…not so much.

  23. Okay, tangentially, I have a funny story…

    My grandmother is a retired RN and was already practicing when a friend of hers was trying to hook her up with my grandfather. The friend gave him my grandmother’s number at work (the hospital) and he called to ask her out. Well, he happened to call just after she got all scrubbed up and put on sterile gloves, etc., so when another nurse told my grandmother he was on the phone for her, she said, “Tell him I can’t talk to him– I’m sterile.”


  24. Ummmmmmmm, doc? We’re in a hospital. The most “sterile field” is in a woman’s own home.

  25. This one just made me laugh, it’s so ridiculous. Do they even hear themselves when they say stuff like this?

  26. I had a nurse slap my leg (which I was moving and shaking about in the bed) because I was getting it into the sterile field. Guess what? I ended up going to the bathroom there because they didn’t let me leave the bed to go to the bathroom, and I wasn’t really “allowed” to cope on my feet out of the bed like I wanted. So, since they had me pushing without an urge, I kept going and my husband said they had to keep cleaning the sterile plain they wouldn’t let me put my leg into (the bed was not broken down, where was I supposed to put my feet? Goofy people!

  27. Uhhh, when is the genital region ever sterile? Dumbass.

  28. I agree that this comment is outrageous & that having a “sterile field” such as the doctor wants is silly. However, I just want to point out that many women died from puerperal fever in hospitals until doctors began washing their hands. Perhaps the washing/sterilization started with that and then just kept going until it was out of control.

    As a side note, I know of a homebirthing woman who got an infection due to the dirty hands of an attendant (not her own). So keeping things “clean” is good, but the definition of “clean” can depend on who you’re talking to. Of course it’s silly to tell a woman not to touch her own body or think her own bodily fluids are “unclean”.

  29. Am I the only one getting deja vu here? Haven’t we seen this exact one before?

  30. When I was having my third (in a hospital in 1977) a nurse pulled my hand away when I reached down to feel the head. I knew it made no sense, but I wasn’t too far from having my first in a hospital which usually strapped women’s hands down for birth, so I knew this was hospital think at that point and not a battle I was going to win. I was too busy pushing out my 11 pound baby to use any breath arguing with her.

  31. Um, no, that’s MY body and it better NOT be sterile! My baby needs my natural bacteria for her immune system!

  32. That notion is completely ridiculous! But when I was 19 and had my first VBAC (yes had a c-sec with my 1st at 17) I instinctively went to reach for my baby and the nurse quickly grabbed my hands and said “you don’t want to touch there, it’s all dirty” ???? my son is dirty? I don’t think so! Instincts are amazing and every mom who wants to reach down and touch her baby should be allowed too!

  33. Sigh. Just the same as 95% of OBs…insane and incompetent at his job.
    Hey bro? You know I can just give birth onto a bed or whatever without you even there, right?

    They want women to believe OBs are needed so badly. No. Most births are straight forward. And most doctors are brainwashed as hell. So, not buying the bull.

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