Doctors are patients, too

by Lydia Akinola

Care during pregnancy for medical professionals has been brought to the fore by BMA guidance

Location: UK
Published: Monday 8 July 2024
Lydia Akinola

‘Doctors are humans too.’

If I had a pound for every time I said that, I probably wouldn’t be as rich as the possibilities suggest as too often, we operate and act as if we are super-human machines programmed to give care but only to others. Doctors have lives outside medicine (scandalous, eh?), get pregnant, have babies, but can also suffer from miscarriages, struggle with hyperemesis and worry about how they are going to continue breastfeeding.

It’s classic trade union speak but, as doctors, we don’t surrender our basic employment rights, despite the unsocial hours and long shifts. This guidance seeks to set out the minimum standard of care for our pregnant colleagues, clearly setting the basic checks that should be done and the key adjustments that can be made.

As an obs and gynae trainee, I think this is a fantastic piece of work, backed by evidence, powered by compassionate consideration and essential reading for all employers. Pregnancy is not without risk, and working as a doctor is not without hazard – this checklist goes some way into beginning to mitigate this risks.

Doctors are parents too – if you’ve made the choice to breastfeed, this guidance helps clarify what you’re entitled to ask for: protected breaks for expressing milk and also exemption from night shifts. It’s the small things that can make the difference in the transition from parental leave to return to work. It is definitely worth asking for if that will work best for you and your family.

Doctors are humans too, and our jobs can be difficult, but we’re beginning to transform the system, so that when you hear that exciting, life-changing news of pregnancy, how to cope at work is no longer an issue.



Lydia Akinola is an obs and gynae trainee in the Oxford Deanery. She is also a current member of the RCOG national trainees committee and a former member of the BMA joint negotiating committee