COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: In praise of Dr. Wonderful

The rallies at Scripps Encinitas have ended. Dr. Robert Biter, known to the San Diego birthing community as Dr. Wonderful, was reinstated — and immediately resigned all privileges. Many expectant moms have been choosing to make the trek down to Sharp Mary Birch to birth with Dr. Biter as their unpaid doula. Why would someone switch their choice of hospitals so late in their pregnancy? Who would want a longer car ride while in active labor? They are willing to give up everything to have Dr. Biter present for their birth. After all, he’s called Dr. Wonderful for a reason.
Whether it’s his shockingly low cesarean rates or his reputation for being the “midwife’s doctor” that brought them to his office, one appointment is usually all it took for San Diego area women to switch their care provider to Dr. Biter. No matter how long you have to wait (and it can be hours), nothing else matters when he comes into the room, because you have his full and undivided attention for as long as you are there. I have never met another doctor who treats women with the same level of respect that Dr. Biter shows each and every person who walks through his office doors.
In my first birth back in New Jersey, I received an epidural before feeling a single contraction and pushed numbly for hours. Obviously, nothing mattered in the end except for my baby girl. But after a few months, I started to feel a twinge of regret. What would birth have felt like? I felt as if I had been a spectator at the event, that I had no control over what had happened. I wanted to experience birth the second time, so I committed to birthing with Dr. Biter at Scripps.
I gave birth on April 26, 2010. Dr. Biter walked into my room and found me in the middle of a contraction. He came up behind me, applied counterpressure to my back, and waited for the contraction to end before he spoke in a low voice, asking me how I was doing.
The defining moment in my birth came 10 minutes later. He told me the baby was close, but he didn’t have enough room to get out in my half-sitting position. He asked if I would rather lay flat on my back to push or get up on my hands and knees. I was floored — what doctor gives the choice to the woman in this situation? I could make things easy for him and lay on my back, or get up on my knees where he couldn’t see what he was doing — but he was giving me that choice freely, trusting that I would answer the feeling of what my body was telling me to do.
His validation of my control over my body was the most empowering thing I’ve ever felt. I chose to get up on my knees and started pushing. The next five minutes were the most intense moments of my life, but Dr. Biter’s complete trust in my body gave me the strength to push harder than I thought I could. My son was born five minutes later without a single tear to my body.
My first birth took away my confidence in my own body. My second gave it back. And I have Dr. Biter to thank. His respect for me and trust in my body’s ability to birth were the most empowering gifts I have ever received.
No official comments have been made by Dr. Biter or Scripps about what happened in May. Dr. Biter’s Babies By The Sea Birth Center is not yet a reality, but many of his supporters are working tirelessly to see it through. In the meantime, his patients are choosing to go out of their way to birth wherever Dr. Biter may be — can you blame them? His patients birth with dignity and honor. I would follow him anywhere to birth with him, and there are 1,000-plus fans on his Facebook page that would agree with me. Wherever Dr. Biter takes his talent, I only hope that women are able to call him their “baby catcher” again soon.

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