A short while ago I was reading an article about the safety of home birth. The article was well written, concise, and to the point about how home birth can be a viable option to many women in the United States, however what really struck me was the overall theme of the comments section. Over and over I read comments that stated something that amounted to this: It's more important to birth your baby in a hospital where it is safe, than to have some spiritual, or hippie like experience. This sentiment is echoed by doctors and women alike. Even ACOG stated that "Choosing to deliver a baby at home, however, is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby"
I find this line of thinking somewhat hypocritical and here is why: Many times the same women who make comments like the ones above, are the same that can be heard saying she wanted to enjoy the birth of her child and not be in pain. How many times have we heard of the nurse trying to convince a woman she isn't a martyr and that there are no rewards for women who endure the pain? Doctors are always selling the experience of easier, pain-free birth through epidural. Yet epidural does not come without risks, some of them very serious. By the previous rationale, aren't the women who choose epidural putting the experience of having a pain-free birth experience over the goal of having a healthy baby as well?
Now before anyone gets all riled up, I want it to be known, I believe epidurals have their place, but so does natural birth. It does come down to personal choice. So why as a whole, does our society value one personal choice over another? Some out there in pro-medication land may be quick to say that home birth holds more risk than a medicated birth and let me be the first to go on record and say you don't know what you are talking about. Yep, I said it and what's worst, I am NOT going to cite any references to back that statement up. I am not playing the statistics game today. I am blogging from a different place. Matter of fact it can be quite liberating stating my opinion as fact! Now I know why so many do it, but I digress. More or less risk is really irrelevant. The risks are there regardless and most times the risk of epidural is completely downplayed.
I've been pondering this double standard for sometime and while I can speculate on many different reasons one thing that comes to mind is ignorance. This is going back to my previous statement about people not knowing what they are talking about. The bottom line, people are ignorant. They are ignorant about home birth. They are ignorant about the real risks of interventions. They are ignorant about the driving force of hospital policies and procedures. They are ignorant about midwives. They are ignorant about the reasons so many women truly choose home birth. They are ignorant about the kinds of women who choose home birth. They are ignorant about their rights. They are ignorant about their choices. Wow, that's a buttload of ignorance. Now, I'm well aware these aren't the only reasons this double standard exist. There is the Hospital, Insurance, Doctor factor. We all know that song and dance, so let's get back to the ignorance.
See, the underlying problem that keeps coming up in these article's comments section and in conversations I have with people, not only in person, but all over the internet is that this ignorance often morphs into something I like to call willful ignorance. You try to share statistics, research papers, medical articles, journal entries, books, and just plain common sense with people and it falls on deaf ears. They say the information is tainted, bias, unreliable, or the completely ignore the evidence and harp on one regurgitated statistic of their own. Yeah I am looking at you she-who-shall-not be named! This is why I am writing this totally opinionated blog post. I'll write another one chalked full of evidence later, but for now I just want to get this off my chest.
So what is the solution? How can we allow for value to be placed on both choices. I think first we have to teach everyone, women, men, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, hospitals, to value choice . Because let's face it, many do not. The system isn't set up for valuing choices or informed consent and decision making and that crap way of thinking just spreads in our society like a disease. We devalue the choices women make that do not mirror our own, and what's worst, we devalue our own right to have choices and this couldn't be more evident than in the birth practices. So I guess once again, my opinion is that everything begins with choice. Owning them, having them, respecting others, and understand what they are.