Laissez-Faire Childbirth?

I just read a fairly expected post over at Cesarean Debate: “‘Shocking’ Cesarean Controvery in Turkey.”  Shocking?  For whom?  It’s as if the only thing that’s debatable is homebirth safety.  What is shocking that the same people who would dare to use the slogan, “Every pregnant woman should be given the chance to give birth in the way she chooses to,” (ugly dangling preposition and all) are often the most polemically critical of birth venue choices such as homebirth, homebirth after cesarean, and unassisted childbirth. 

The slogan, more aptly put would read:

“Every pregnant woman should be given the chance to select the type of hospital birth she desires.”

Therefore, a woman can choose a cesarean, an induction, an epidural, an episiotomy, broken membranes, purple pushing, other drugs, fetal monitoring, and possibly (though unlikely) an unmedicated natural vaginal birth.  Because they’re ALWAYS choices – informed choices.  Does it matter that interventions are unnecessary and that wasteful, careless use of technology negatively affects health outcomes?  Do women honestly believe that surgical specialists are going to know how to support unpredictable, natural labor?  I guess so.  Call me jaded, but I’ve learned way way too much about the medical profession, obstetrics, even nurse-midwifery, and the culture of medico-legal fear running rampant across the United States to just put my trust in a surgical specialist when I know that generally speaking, the best way to labor and birth is naturally (minus the surgeon in the scrubs).

Another big concern is that highly-educated women tend to embrace technology and trust authoritative knowledge moreso than less-educated women.  Of course this does not mean that ALL women with doctorates are ordering cesareans and that ALL women without college degrees stay away from doctors.  But highly-educated women are a group at risk when it comes to acceptance of clinical practices that are not evidence based.

It’s funny how both poles of childbirth philosophy have paraded around versions of the “women’s choice” slogan and so often are completely unwilling to converse respectfully about the REAL issues surrounding childbirth.  At the end of the day it’s really about two things – the health of the mother AND the health of the baby(-ies).  Both parts of the dyad must be healthy to flourish during the babymoon and beyond.

Speaking of laissez-faire – I’m sure glad I don’t need a surgeon to use my vagina!

4 responses to “Laissez-Faire Childbirth?

  1. “At the end of the day it’s really about two things – the health of the mother AND the health of the baby(-ies). Both parts of the dyad must be healthy to flourish during the babymoon and beyond.”

    So true! It seems that so often the focus is on the health of the baby and that a mother who would want a VBAC or a homebirth is putting herself before her baby. I know I faced this a lot while planning my HBAC. The interesting thing is–the health of my baby was foremost in my mind. I also know that if I am not nursing a sliced open belly, I will be better able to take care of my baby, thus making for a healthier and happier baby.

    The health of my baby was also ultimately the reason we transfered and I sacrificed myself on that OR table for yet another unnecesarean.

  2. I can see her point. If I want a C Section with my next baby (and it is very likely that I will) I should be free to try to find a doctor who will agree to that. I would hate to have the government restricting what choices my doctor and I are free to make in regard to my birth.

  3. I’m all for choice. Though it makes me cringe when people make these lovely informed choices to NOT allow vaginal birth after cesarean. Despite all the literature and studies and medical proof that elective surgery quadruples the risk to the mother and the baby. *note… MOTHER AND BABY! Nothing about the emotional toll it can take on anyone involved either.
    It has been seven years, four months and eight days since my cesarean. I’ve had a miscarriage and two homebirths since then (PTSD from the last one, so vaginal birth is not always perfect). I am still reaping the rewards of that surgery. Just yesterday I bled out close to a litre of blood and tissue. Perfectly normal for a mom of three at 36? nope. Normal for a mom of three at 36 with a uterine surgery? yup. No one told me this was the fun and games I’d get to have!
    Cesareans are needed. Just not as much as we all are seeing!

  4. Excellent post – I think that many people see only one side or the other of this issue. While I do not want a cesarean and did have a successful natural birth without pain medications at a hospital, I am not going to go out on a limb either way and say that I know what is best for all women. I love what you said about being glad you didn’t need a surgeon! My sentiments exactly! I wish they would consider it as a bonus to allow women to have MORE options for childbirth. If only!

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