Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On My Soapbox

Most people would agree that living in a modern, technologically advanced society is a blessing, but when that technology infringes on our rights, we need to stop and assess whether such advancements are really beneficial or whether they are setting us back thousands of years. To be blunt, I am frustrated and appalled by the medicalization of childbirth, notably the increased rise in inductions, C-sections, and other unnecessary interventions that are preventing women from trusting their bodies and doing what we were created to do.

In the past year, five women who I know and care about have had normal pregnancies only to end up being delivered by C-section. In three of the five cases, a cesarean was deemed necessary because of a failed induction, and in the other two, the women were told their babies were measuring large and they would not be able to deliver them vaginally. I am sick and tired of doctors who are so concerned about malpractice suits and the inconvenience of normal, physiological birth that they convince women that we aren't capable of knowing our own bodies and allowing labor to occur on its own, in its own time. A C-section is not a minor outpatient procedure; it is serious and major abdominal surgery that can result in numerous problems for the mother and the baby. The risks of cesarean include hemorrhage, infection, organ damage, threats to future fertility and, with future pregnancies, the possibility of uterine rupture and placenta implantation problems. And yet, today, 1 in 3 women have a C-section every year. Don't get me wrong; there are incidents that necessitate emergency surgery, but these cases are few and far between.

At the heart of the problem, I think, is that women no longer take control of their pregnancies and the childbirth process, preferring to remain ignorant and trust the doctor who "knows best." We have forgotten or perhaps never really internalized the fact that God made our bodies to bear children and that women have given birth since the beginning of time without the "aid" of doctors. It seems quite a setback to me that women have abandoned their natural instincts to birth, whether out of fear or ignorance I don't know, and given complete control to doctors.

Don't just read What to Expect When You're Expecting but read Having a Baby, Naturally by Peggy O'Mara or Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon. Find out what exactly is happening in your body and with your baby. And when your doctor tells you s/he wants you to have a certain procedure, don't just take his/her word for it but research it, find out your options, ask what the risks and benefits are. Don't just assume doctor knows best. Doctors know what's best for their bottom line; you have to take responsibility for your body, your pregnancy and childbirth. Having a baby is one of the amazing miracles that God has placed in our lives. Stop letting others control your childbirth experiences and be proactive.


  1. I completely agree, but I also think that we should be pushing the medical community to change. I am not a doctor, and I should be able to trust my healthcare professional who went through years and years of schooling to do what is best for me and my baby and not what is best for him/her or the healthcare system/health insurance company that they seem to work for in today's current capitalistic economy that we all seem to love for some reason. But that's a subject for another soapbox.

  2. I totally agree but I think if women are informed and expect something different from our medical community, then things will change. If we are complacent with how things are and trust our doctors implicitly--which, I agree, it would be ideal that we could--then nothing changes and they continue worrying about their bottom line rather than what's best.