Friday, July 9, 2010

Medical Control as Acceptable

Still going through my saved-things-to-blog-about and want to share these thoughts from the book Brought to Bed: Childbearing in America 1750-1950 in the epilogue:

Many of birthing women's successes in increasing their powers over childbirth procedures have depended upon women reeducating themselves about childbirth. The enormous proliferation in recent decades of popular literature about giving birth, much of which advocates decreasing routine medical interventions, is evidence of women's attempts to reclaim knowledge previously more commonly held within women's world. When birth moved to the hospital and became dominated by technical interventions, women lost their understanding and familiarity with the processes of labor and delivery. Many women, realizing that their lack of knowledge distances them from their own bodies, are trying tor recover some of that lost knowledge through self-education in normal functions...

In addition to the women who completely challenge medical authority and those who want to find ways to work in cooperation with it, there is a third group of American women today who find medical control of childbirth as practiced in most hospitals perfectly acceptable. They find the prospect of delivering babies frightening or uninteresting, and they wish to experience as little of it as possible. They want to be assured of a healthy outcome, but they do not feel the need to participate actively in bringing it about. They, like many women of the 1920's and 1930's, eagerly turn over their decision-making power to their doctors, who, in turn, readily accept it. The women hope that medicine can provide a streamlined and easy experience and that they will not have to suffer too much either in the process of labor and delivery or in its aftermath. Many women enter the hospital and emerge from it with their babies without having given the experience itself very much thought. (emphasis mine)

This third group (as discussed in the second paragraph) is a conundrum to me and I think it is the main reason why the birth culture in the U.S. ISN'T changing rapidly in response to evidence-based information, great books, informative publications and websites, helpful doulas, awesome childbirth classes, etc. How do you reach women who just don't care? And, why as advocates, do we care if they don't? :( And, is it any of our business if a large subset of the population finds medical control of birth perfectly acceptable and even desirable?

I'd like to explore why I think it is our business in a later post, but first I have to clarify why exactly that is...

CfM Blogger


Anonymous said...

I am interested in your insights, as this is one of the biggest problems I agree we face! Many Moms just don't seem to care.

Unknown said...

I don't usually comment, but I noticed no one has commented on this yet and I think it's an important issue. Doctors aren't going to change their approach as long as the majority of women go along with them.

I'm not sure it's so much a not caring as they have such a blind trust in conventional wisdom that they don't stop to question it. My in-laws fall into this category and my husband and I have gone several rounds in the years we've been married, not just about birth, but about many aspects of child-rearing. He's coming around, but I bite my tongue when I'm around his family.

My sil had a section for pre-eclampsia and when she got pregnant again, it was just taken for granted that she would have another and had it planned and scheduled when she was just a few weeks along. Another sil recently had a section because she's a little overweight. It was also just taken for granted and scheduled way ahead of time. I like to think these women care, it's just so ingrained in them that the doctor knows what he's doing and the patient should just go along with it.

CfM Molly said...

Sarah--I do think that ALL women definitely *care* about their babies, but I do think a lot of them honestly don't care about their births...OR, simply do not think birth matters. And, you're right, the feeling that it doesn't matter is reinforced by almost everything around them. The cultural messages are POWERFUL!

Sarah--Well Rounded Birth Prep said...

We had exactly this convo recently @ Mom's Night Out when several moms voiced that they loved their cesareans & don't care in the least how their baby is born. One mom used to be a natural birth advocate (had 3 babies non-medicated) but then had 2 medically necessary C-sec and changed her tune. She now states that she is "mature" enough as a mother and as a woman to know that it doesn't matter whether you have a C-sec or vag birth; whether you formula feed or breastfeed; do what makes you happy.

I got blasted for throwing in a few statistics. I didn't state my opinion, just a few facts. It didn't go over well. I'm still a little haunted by the convo & unsure how to resolve it.