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Meet Your Doctor - Jean Lessard, FACOG, MD, CPE
Q: Having a baby is one of the most exciting things a woman (couple) goes through. Does it lose excitement for you since it becomes so routine?
Although every job does become routine, I’m not just doing the job. I am also caring for a person. That’s the difference between medicine and many other jobs.
Q: What is going through your head when you get the call to get to the hospital?
I am focused on caring for my patient. I will see my patient several times during their labor. I don’t just get called to catch a baby. I am there during the whole labor process to care for both the mother and the baby.
Q: What does it feel like when the baby comes out?
During a vaginal delivery, I’m truly catching a baby. Physically, there is the sudden slippery weight. Emotionally, there is a sense of completion, even though we’re usually only halfway through the delivery process. When all is going normally, my position fades into the background as the baby becomes everyone’s focus.
Q: Can you take us step by step through the whole process from time you go into L&D till baby comes out? Please show us the technical in layperson’s terms but also what you are thinking? How you stay focused, etc.
Remember, everyone is different; every labor and delivery is different.
There is the physical process of labor:
- Uterine contractions causing the cervix to thin and dilate
- The fetus starts to move lower in the mother’s birth canal
- The mother’s bones and tissues to adapt
- The head moves lower, and then flexes putting the chin on to the chest, (so the smallest part of the skull comes through first).
- Closer to delivery the head rotates, so the face is down (usually), and then extends out of the vagina.
- The head then turns back to the side, and the shoulders deliver. The shoulders are essentially always the biggest part, so the rest of the body just slides out.
My job has many aspects:
- Evaluating if labor has started or not
- Evaluating the fetal position
- Evaluating the health of the fetus and the mother\\monitoring how the labor is progressing
- Helping the nursing staff to encourage the mother and family through the process
- Intervening, if necessary
- Lastly, catching the baby
What I am actually doing and thinking is so variable with the situation that I couldn’t comment.
But, focus is something I always have. My patient and their health and well being is always at the top of my mind.
Please tell me about some of the more complicated cases:
Q: Have you ever feared you might lose the baby or mother?
Yes, there have been occasions in my career where the life of a baby or a mother has been in the balance. I am trained to maintain focus and do everything within my power to save lives. I have been able to do that throughout my career and have been happy to celebrate life with all of my patients following the birth of their child.
Q: What is going through your head in these cases? – I’m thinking about what else needs to be done? What is the next step?
We always maintain focus and do what we are trained to do.
Q: How do you stay focused?
There is so much going on – you can’t not be focused.
Q: How do you keep the mom calm (or are you able to communicate with her at all through this?)
You have to communicate, but it is quick and succinct. Studies show that people don’t really hear what you are saying, but it is important to be calm yourself while getting everyone involved to act quickly. It’s your job to be the calm leader.
Getting help is always the first thing to do in an emergency –usually that means calling for more people to assist, but you also have to know when you don’t know what to do next and where to get that information.
Q: What does it feel like when the outcome is good in the hardest cases?
It’s always exhausting, and then I go on to the next patient.
Q: What does it feel like to do all you could but lose a baby or mom?
Fortunately, I have not experienced that situation.
Q: Why did you go into this field? What have you most learned through your experiences?
I started in Obstetrics and Gynecology because it is a mixture of medicine and surgery. What I have learned most is how different, but yet alike people are. Everyone comes with their own biases from their life experiences, but still have similar fears and concerns.
Q: Why do you stay in this field?
Women need obstetricians who understand that childbirth is a natural process that does not need to be ‘medicalized’. On the other hand, delivery in a hospital setting is the safest for both mother and infant. We have to allow nature to take its course, and be able to recognize and intervene when (only when) things are not going as expected.
Q: Maybe tell me something about your relationship with the patient from the time she comes in for first prenatal visit through the delivery.
Each patient is important, and we take our relationship with them very seriously.
I work with a team of providers at Summit Women’s Group-Waynesboro who meets with every patient throughout the pregnancy. We show our patients care and compassion because that is what they deserve. We make sure our patients’ wants and concerns are known to each provider, so our patients feel comfortable with our whole team.
It’s very rewarding to share the pregnancy and birthing process with my patients. I’m glad they chose me to be a part of their lives.