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Language used by midwives, doctors.....

(21 Posts)
colakubes Sat 03-Dec-11 11:43:42

Random post i know, but i was wondering if other people have experienced the use of negative language by health professionals......
My favourite is "oh you are only 3 centimetres" or "No you are not ALLOWED to do that".
I don't think people realise that negative connotations with words can impact how a person feels and labours etc.
Any experiences you would like to share would be greatly appreciated! xxx

oflip Sat 03-Dec-11 11:55:52

Personally i think that these people have a huge job on their hands without worrying about how to word things "nicely" so that you are not getting informed of things that may upset you.

As long as they are not being offensive or insensitive, obviously.

Negative it may be, but mostly its to ensure you are informed and safe.

Sometimes information can only be said how it is, not fancied up.
Dunno, i think that its somewhat unreasonable.

Yorky Sat 03-Dec-11 12:29:48

I read something a while ago about how negative medical language is towards women generally - an INCOMPETENT cervix? FAILURE to progress? so I think its a lot to do with medicine being historically a male field, but I agree it would be nicer to be told '3cm, you're off to a good start' than 'you're only 3cms'

I understand your point, but do think its a case of listening to the information not the actual (often clumsy) phrasing used

The not being ALLOWED is a totally different kettle of fish, questions like, 'why, what are the alternatives, what are the implications for myself/the baby if we do/don't follow your course of action?'

Flisspaps Sat 03-Dec-11 13:04:03

Anyone who is told that they are or are not allowed to do something needs to respond with Mary Cronk's line - "Allowed is not an appropriate word to use when speaking to a mentally competent adult'

I do think that language is important - I had a forceps delivery with DD and found it VERY hard to overcome the fact I'd not done it 'myself' - but on reading my notes I saw the MW had written that I was pushing really well.

Knowing that made a world of difference to me, if only I'd heard it from her at the time I might not have beaten myself up about it for months after.

MiauMau Sat 03-Dec-11 13:14:29

This thread reminds me of that sketch on "The meaning of life" where the woman asks what she should do and the doctors laugh and smugly say "nothing dear, you're not qualified" grin

heartmoonshadow Sat 03-Dec-11 21:22:54

I took offence to my midwife when in my first pregnancy at the booking in appointment of 10 weeks she said to 'come back to her if the pregnancy is found to be viable'. Obviously not a nice thing to hear when you are so excited over a pregnancy that took 7 years to happen. Anyway she went off sick when I was 20 weeks pregnant and I didnt see her again that pregnancy. This pregnancy I saw her for booking in and got the same comment I ignored her. I have since been back for my 16 week app and found out she retires at Christmas Hurrah!!!!!! I wont see her again.

Yorky Sun 04-Dec-11 09:12:09

Heartmoonshadow - thats an awful thing to say to anyone, however statistically accurate it may be. I'm so glad you managed to avoid her - you wonder how anyone with that attitude could be happy when she delivers a little baby

Methe Sun 04-Dec-11 09:19:27

I actually have an incompetent cervix. The language used to describe it doesn't offend me at all confused

People can be so over sensitive.

fraktious Sun 04-Dec-11 09:23:36

I quite want to do a research project on this <applied linguist> because it does seem to be something which comes up time and again and could have real practical implications on how HCPs interact but the ethics are dodgy.

Yorky Sun 04-Dec-11 18:44:15

Methe - I totally see your point, its just a name for a medical condition, but why do men suffer 'erectile dysfunction' and not an incompetent penis?

Methe Sun 04-Dec-11 19:13:02

Presumably because a 'dysfunction' might not be permenant but something which is incompetent is just that, it isn't going to get any better.

nancerama Sun 04-Dec-11 19:16:11

My cervix was apparently "most unfavourable". I found the terminology amusing, but not very encouraging.

My MW also teaches hypnobirthing and she was always very clear but supportive in her language when speaking to me, both at antenatal appointments and in labour. I think all health professionals should be trained in how their choice of words affects how people feel. There is a whole field of study called Neuro Linguistic Programming which studies how the choice of words makes people feel and react.

buonasera Mon 05-Dec-11 08:10:46

The use of technical or procedural terms in front of someone who doesn't work in medicine I think can be very rude if there's an assumption that the patient just has to make the effort and learn the language. Part of the job should be communicating with people in a language that will be easiest for them, personally, to understand.

It's the procedural language that really drives me up the wall. An incompetent cervix is an incompetent cervix in any hospital in the UK, but when I phone up the maternity reception and get told off for asking for the early pregnancy assessment unit when I should be asking for the maternity assessment unit it really gets on my nerves. I'm 17 weeks, I've been there once. How the hell should I know which one it is? I don't bloody work in the place.

Flisspaps Mon 05-Dec-11 09:12:08

It's about finding the fine line between using medical jargon and being condescending though buonasera - on another thread a poster complained that the MW felt the need to explain to her that an obstetrician is a 'baby doctor' hmm

brettgirl2 Mon 05-Dec-11 09:19:56

Wouldn't that be a paediatrician? I must admit that the 'allowed' thing bugs me but apart from that its just medical speak.

Flisspaps Mon 05-Dec-11 09:23:17

That's what I thought too brettgirl2 - perhaps the MW didn't think that the poster in question would have understood her if she'd said 'pregnant lady and unborn baby doctor' wink

Allowed gets right on my tits. It makes me sad when I see posts by women who say they're 'not allowed' to go more than 10 days overdue in their area, or 'not allowed' a home birth.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 05-Dec-11 09:27:01

I'm guilty of sometimes calling paeds "baby doctors" to women. In my defence I'd say about 80% of the women I see wouldn't know what a paed was. I'd rather someone be miffed that I'd said baby doctor than someone not know what one was and not feel they could ask.

Saying stuff like "only 3cm" is poor and not something I'd ever do. In fact I do the opposite and go a bit overboard about "brilliant, thats fantastic you're 3cm" while the woman is looking at me like hmm

And stuff like failure to progress and incompetent cervix aren't nice terms for a woman to hear. Unfortunately they will be things which even if not said to the woman's face will be written down to be seen in notes. So I always try and explain that this term is here, its just medical speak and not to get hung up on it.

I do think that language is important.

LovesBloominChristmas Mon 05-Dec-11 09:35:30

It's not just in medical situations, that's just how lots of people talk.

LovesBloominChristmas Mon 05-Dec-11 09:36:33

It's not just in medical situations, that's just how lots of people talk.

buonasera Thu 08-Dec-11 19:03:12

That would get on my nerves as well Fliss - I think it's about communicating in a language appropriate to the listener. Like I say the medical jargon doesn't bother me so much as the sort of internal NHS procedural terminology - as it happens I've got PhD in chemistry so they're almost always talking down to me but at least they're making an effort.

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