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Delivering babies is tricky business!

Delivering babies is no easy job; not only is it psychologically demanding, but also very physical in nature, often leaving doctors in discomfort. These discomforts can result in injury if left untreated or if job factors are not changed.

This past week I had the opportunity to observe and follow along on an evening shift with a group of obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) residents in a busy city hospital. The reason for my visit was residents’ concerns over work-related discomfort, which, in some cases, leads job change or reduction of work hours. This is a big problem, particularly in a city experiencing a baby boom.

Witnessing the miracle of a new life entering the world left me awestruck, but also shocked at how physically and mentally demanding it was for both the mother and the staff member. In this short, 5-hour observation, I witnessed the delivery of two babies - one by C-section and the other naturally. In each case, staff were required to exert high levels of force in very awkward positions, while still protecting the tiny little life in their hands. Between deliveries, staff were racing between the operating room, the assessment unit, and labor and delivery rooms, affording little time for rest. To navigate the unique demands of their highly emotional and stressful work environment, as well as the concerns of new mothers and their families, OBGYN staff must be physically and mentally fit.

As an occupational therapist, my responsibility is to identify, eliminate or modify the job factors that can contribute to discomfort and/or injury. To do this for OBGYN staff, many solutions need to be considered, including: proper positioning of the body, use of equipment to reduce force, and incorporation of stretching and stress management techniques.

Over the next three weeks, I will be reviewing key job factors and strategies to ensure a healthier work environment for OBGYN staff.

Industrial Health
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