Dr. Wonderful

I was cruising the blog world, and had heard about Dr. Biter, but this post says it all and so much more.

Directly from Dou-la-la, here is her post and at the end, how we can help him get his rights back


Dr. Robert Biter was given the name Dr. Wonderful by the well-known and loved blogger Navelgazing Midwife. We birth bloggers often make disclaimers (either preemptively or when directly accused of being ‘anti-doctor’) when criticizing common obstetric practices and attitudes, stating variations upon the theme of “We know there are exceptions, we know there are good, caring, incredible doctors out there who honor birth and babies and understand the pitfalls of intervention.” This man IS the exception. He embodies it. Let me give you a taste, from the aforementioned blog. The text and beautiful photography are all hers. Her homebirth-planning client needed to change to a hospital setting, and lucky for everyone, Dr. Biter was there:

The (wonderful, amazing) nurse (we had) did a vaginal exam and found mom to be 3 cm. The nurse and I began preparing mom for a cesarean – physically and emotionally. I explained the cesarean procedure, the epidural… and the nurse said the anesthesiologist would do a spinal because the spinal would be faster… and I explained things to dad, tried to get his garb for him to put on, but we were busy getting consents signed and all. Waiting for the doctor seemed endless. Fetal heart tones were dipping into the 90’s and not getting any higher than 110 with accelerations. I kept calm, but was clear and sharp with the information.

My dear doctor was on the phone at the nurse’s station when I went out to go ask his ETA and our nurse said, “Do you want to talk to him?” and I emphatically said, “YES!” before the other nurse hung up and said he was on his way in.

Dr. Wonderful floated into the room like a silk scarf on perfumed air, filled with more confidence and hope than I carried – more like a midwife than I was at that moment. He did a vaginal exam and immediately, the baby’s heart rate jumped to 148! She loved his touch on her head. Oh, and how I did, too. Mom had also progressed to 6 cm. in the last 30 minutes. Amazing!

Tears fell from my eyes as I watched the baby’s heart rate settle back down into the low 100’s (90’s/100’s) and the doctor suggested taking a whiff of oxygen every few minutes when she felt like it instead of keeping it on all the time like she had been. He also told her she didn’t have to lie on her left side… to move wherever she wanted to – oh, how she wanted to be on her hands and knees! He said the baby was just low, having a vagal response and there was no need for a cesarean at all.

And me, thinking he needed a scalpel. How precipitous I would have been as a surgeon! Thank the goddess it wasn’t me making that decision.

Interjection from me: How moving is that shot? Believe it or not, there’s an OB in that picture: Dr. Wonderful is on the left. Yes, really. Sitting patiently on the bed with her, calmly being the essence of watchful waiting. Lights lowered, mom upright and naked and doing her own thing, as support simply stands by without being intrusive. This photograph is equally revealing:

As Navelgazing Midwife writes of her shot:

I love, Love, LOVE this photo. It speaks of the beauty a hospital birth can actually attain when given a chance with the right doctors, nurses and hospital. And supportive midwife as doula. Because we thought she would need a cesarean, we had mom take off her gorgeous Hawaiian dress and mom was then naked. The great nurse handed mom a hospital gown once mom knew she was going to stay laboring in that room and she promptly took the gown, put it in front of her and puked all over it. I thought I was going to pee in my pants from laughing so hard. No one ever offered her another gown.

The birth unfolds further (you really must read the whole thing; I’m cutting it up for length and space), with more description and wonderful photography, and then this:

Dad wasn’t sure about catching, was going to help me catch when we were having a homebirth, but wasn’t so sure about it at the hospital. Once there, though, I’d talked him into helping the doc and even had him practice washing his hands with the fancy foot soap and water thingie at the sink. Once the doctor was there, though, he was more nervous, but as things got closer, I put my midwife voice on and said, “You will only birth this child ONE TIME, so I HIGHLY suggest…” and that was as far as I needed to go before he jumped up and washed his hands and got ready to help the doc catch his baby.

Do you see the doctor in this picture? He’s the one not in scrubs. The one in the yellow shirt.

In 24 years and 8 months of assisting women in birth in the hospital, I have never seen a woman birth on hands and knees. I’ve never seen an OB or a CNM allow a woman to birth in the hands and knees position. I have never seen an OB do a vaginal exam on a woman in any position except on her back until this birth when this doctor did a vaginal exam with mom on her hands and knees. I actually wondered if he could even find her vagina with her on her hands and knees! He didn’t have any problems at all. Shocking. I think I’ve seen a CNM do a vaginal exam on a woman in an “alternative” position maybe 20 times in all these years, so even that is a sad commentary. I tell women I can find their vagina or fetal heart tones if they are hanging from chandeliers! How did I get so good at it? PRACTICE!

Anyway, so here my client has her baby on her hands and knees… her husband helps the doc catch and it is amazingly wonderful, but now mom needs to see her new daughter. How does that happen?

In most hospital worlds (as if any of the above would have happened in the first place), the cord would be cut, mom would be flipped over, the bed would be broken, mom would have her feet placed in the stirrups so she could have her vagina checked and she’d get her baby that way. Instead, Dr. Wonderful, who’s not wearing scrubs and only a pair of surgical gloves, doesn’t cut the cord and knows how important it is to just give mom her kidlet says, “Okay, mom… here comes your daughter… ready?” And then passes her between her legs.

I love, Love, LOVE that I have this picture! There won’t be many times in my life that I will have a photo such as this. This is a DOCTOR (I know, I shouldn’t be shocked anymore, should I? But I am. I am mostly shocked that I am blessed to be in the same room and photographing such an awe-inspiring event that brings hope to hospital birth everywhere).

I end the series with a tender surprise photo I took of Dr. Wonderful with my client. He embraced her, then she him. He with tears in his eyes and both of them whispering thanks to each other.

Utterly incredible, right? The way hospital birth should be all the time, whenever possible, right?

So why am I going on and on about this right now? I mean, the post and story and photography are all sublime and could be marveled at anytime, so why the urgency?

Well, I’m sorry to report that Dr. Wonderful has just lost his privileges at Scripps hospital in San Diego, leaving expectant mothers without care (though other care providers are stepping up to fill the formidable void, including the Navelgazing Midwife herself, who has a long history with Dr. Biter) and, equally important, taking one of the most progressive OB’s in existence out of the picture, for reasons that have everything to do with his willingness to support mothers, for being “too slow on the decision-to-incision”.

This is an absolute TRAVESTY. THIS is one of the good guys. THIS is one of the doctors who has the guts to stand up for women in the face of our largely atrocious maternity care system. THIS is one of the few OB’s to whom I would ever entrust my or my child’s well-being – and that’s saying a lot. He stood with mothers and gave them and their babies time and care and choices. So of course this was inevitable. The timing of this, by the way, comes on the heels of the recent closing of St. Vincent’s in New York, the hospital to which many home birth midwives could transfer. The battle claims another casualty.

His supporters in San Diego and surrounding areas have pulled together a rally for tomorrow, on Mother’s Day. If you are in the area, GO! If you know anyone in the area who cares about birth SEND THEM! I wish I were in San Diego to fight the good fight with and for him. We cannot take this lying down. Literally or figuratively.


Come and show your support for Dr. Biter tomorrow (MOTHER’S Day) by attending a protest in front of Scripps Encinitas: Scripps Encinitas: 354 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024

11AM-1:30PM Wear Green! Bring Signs! (and a lunch, snacks, water, etc.) Babies and kids welcome.

Dr. Biter, if by any odd chance you read this, PLEASE do not give up caring for women in exactly the way you have been. Please take heart and know that there are women across the country who know what you do and how vitally important it is. We need you, and others like you. And our babies need you.


Edited to add:

More news. Here’s how awesome he is, as if you needed more evidence: For the time being, he “is now offering to attend his patients as an unpaid doula at Sharp Mary Birch so that he can offer his patients the support they need, until this gets resolved.”

AS AN UNPAID DOULA. How many doctors do you think would ever even THINK of doing such a humble, gracious thing? That says everything there is to say about this man’s intentions and character.

Edited yet again to add:

Here’s what we non-locals can do to help from a distance:

1) Write a letter to the Medical Board of California:

Medical Board of CA

2005 Evergreen St Ste 1200

Sacramento, CA 95815

2) Write a letter to the CEO of Scripps Encinitas:

Chris Van Gorder–President & CEO of Scripps

4275 Campus Point Court

San Diego, CA 92121

And, of course, spread the word.


10 Responses

  1. Amazing. Those photos are so amazing, I am filled with chills. An un-paid doula, phew, love it.

    So sad what he is going through.

  2. That’s awful! You don’t find OBs like that ever! Women should be able to have that support in the hospitals! Consider my letter sent!

  3. Wow! I wish he was my doctor!!! He seems even more calming than my midwife! I hope Dr. Biter is able to continue helping moms make birth choices such as this example.

  4. As one who birthed in just that position with Dr. B I agree there is no doctor, NO DOCTOR, like him. There’s no one who cares this much or is this talented. My doula was the only one (including Dr. Wonderful) who could visually see what his hands were doing to keep me from tearing as my baby came out said she had never, ever, seen anyone work tissue like that.
    He has an incredible future in changing the face of birth in this country and I hope we can help him get there. Write Scripps now!

  5. There’s another (even bigger!) rally scheduled for this Friday afternoon, details on this facebook page:


    Even though I wouldn’t choose a hospital birth, I’m saddened that this hospital would put personality conflicts and hospital politics above patient choice and patient access to care. (I’d like to say I’m shocked that they don’t choose to support doctors practicing evidence-based care rather than following a medicalized paradigm, but, well, “shocked” left the building some time ago…)

  6. Abi (who commented above) wrote a guest post for me today about the birth “Dr. Wonderful” attended for her! I wonder if she’ll live-tweet the rally tomorrow. That would be pretty cool…

  7. Seriously, it’s time to kick up some dust, stir the pot, whatever it takes to get this Doc his reputation back! I plan on writing.

  8. Amazing story and photography….thanks for sharing.

  9. While he does seem to be a terrific OB/GYN, we really can’t make assumptions without hearing the other side of the story about losing his privileges

    • True. However there has been no malpractice suits filed against him, EVER, there have never been any bad things on his record, and the hospital refuses to respond to why he was suspended.

      What we are going by here is what he has come out with, what we know from the women and men that work with and have birthed with him, and what normally happens in this country to OBs that are slow to cut because they find no medical reason to do so.

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