Thursday, June 24, 2010

From breastfeeding rights to birth choice and safety

They are all feminist issues!! Bodily autonomy and the right to how we use our bodies, respond to them, and allow them to work is a human right.

Some states get this when it comes to breastfeeding like I mentioned in my last post about Washington state's breastfeeding law, but NO WHERE do they seem get it when it comes to birth.  And by they I mean the laws protecting a woman's right to choose, not only IF she has her child, but where, when, how, and with whom she can birth her baby.

How doctors like this or this are allowed anywhere near birthing mothers in our country is beyond me. When we have one of the highest maternal death rates in the industrialized world, a cesarean rate that is twice the WHO recommended value, and more babies born premature due to interventions than could possibly be safe why aren't the powers that be doing something about it?  Instead we are allowing doctors to dictate to women how they will give birth using documents like this!

Famed midwife Ina May Gaskin whose birth center The Farm in Tennessee has a cesarean rate of under 5% has been working hard to bring to light the dangers in modern obstetrics and how in the United States we seem to be blissfully unaware of the unreasonably high death rates of moms and babies. Her projected called The Safe Mother's Quilt was started to bring to light the severity of the situation.  By raising awareness of this hidden risk to our nations women and children she hopes to see changes made in policy and procedures governing the management of birth in our nations hospitals. Take a look at the fact sheet she has put together. So much of this report is not readily known by women going into hospitals to have their babies. But it should be.

With the recent release of the Amnesty International report on the crisis in maternal health care here in the US, those of us in the natural birth circles are hoping more prominent and influential people will step up and make changes. But when the attitudes of OB/Gyns continues to be one of disdain and disregard women who wish to birth in a hospital will continue to face the risks of unnecessary interventions, over managed medical responses to labor, and even unnecessary high risk surgery.

This article in the NY Times did a really good job outlining some of the risks and causes of our higher rates.

Someone once said that a good way to judge how an OB will treat a woman in labor is to ask them what they think about doulas.  I recommend that if you are expecting, plan to deliver with an OB, in a hospital or attached birth center asking them how they feel about birth plans, doulas, and informed consent.

***I just want to say that there are certainly cases where interventions and cesareans are 100% medically necessary.  But the World Health Organization says that 15% is the rate that should not be crossed for cesarean deliveries.  That rate gives the best outcomes of both maternal and infant survivability. Currently in the US we are at an average of 32%. Some places are double that.***

No comments:

Post a Comment