Excerpt from Memoir of a Doctor

Working in the labour ward was equally exciting and dramatic. We could not predict when patients would come in for labour. They usually come in at the most God forsaken hours of the night but seldom during office hours. Patients came in with variable degrees of pain. Some came in screaming and shouting in pain while others came in with more respectable and tolerable pain. It had to do with the pain thresh hold. Generally speaking, Indian women seemed to have a much lower pain threshold than women of other ethnicity. They tend to scream and shout with each contraction and demanded more and more pethidine for pain relief which was not good for the fetus. 

I learned a lot from the midwives. Some of them had been in the profession for decades and were very experienced. The Indian word for breathing in and out is ”muchu” and the Indian word for pushing with all of your life is ”muku”. When you want her to breathe in and out, you would say ”muchu” and when you want her to push with all of her life you would say ”muku”. The problem was when the houseman mixed up these two commands and said push with all your life when he wanted her to breathe in and out and to breathe in and our when he wanted her to push with all her life! I was told that this had happened to some houseman before my stint but whether this was true or not I could not confirm. But then again, they say, ”truth is stranger than fiction”. Sometimes the truth out there is more bizzarre than your imagination.

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