I've talked a lot about choices in childbirth in this blog. I've encourage women to choose paths for themselves and own those choices. Right now though, I want to talk about how we exercise our rights and give voice to our choices. More than that, how we keep choice from being just a buzz word and a mere illusion that is really system of control to placate us.
Now the childbirth educator in me says that the key is education. Get as much evidence-based information as you can. Really educate yourself on pregnancy, labor, and birth. Educate yourself on hospital procedures. Educate yourself on postpartum topics like baby care, breastfeeding, and vaccination. However, the warrior in me knows it's not that simple. Yes, knowing your options is by far the best way to be able to know what choices you want to make and how to make them, but it does very little in preparing you for intricate system that seeks to narrow your choices by simply removing them. So what if you learned there is a such thing as hotdogs and decide you definitely want hotdogs if the chef has completely taken them off the menu. In that scenario lets just say hotdogs are VBACS (vaginal birth after cesareans) and the chef would be insurance companies, hospital policies, your doctor, etc. Are you getting my point?
So what does the warrior in me say? Fight. Advocate. Talk. TAKE ACTION. (Sorry, I really didn't mean to shout. That was the warrior in me) How do we take action? You may ask? Well voting comes to mind, but really that's another blog post. For now lets stick with consumer advocacy. Many years ago there was shift in what birth looked like in hospitals. Women and families rebelled against protocals such as twilight sleep, separation of family members from the birthing room (in particular husbands), routine drugs and pain medication, and more. We can affect change again by demanding it. Demanding that the standard of care practiced by the people we hire, our doctors, midwives, and their staff, is evidence-based medicine. Demanding transparency in maternity care data reporting. Demanding an overhaul of the insurance system. We can affect change in policy and procedures by putting our money, time, and efforts where our mouths are. Writing our congress person. Joining grassroots efforts. By signing petitions and organizing and/or participating in demonstrations. Sharing our stories and donating money to efforts that support our causes. The list goes on and on.
I really hope this post didn't come off as preachy. It's just that I've had this idea rattling off in my head for a while and our recent elections have really awaken something within me. There is a huge difference between knowing your rights and exercising them. In the same vein, knowing your options and keeping them on the table are two different things as well. Although many women equip themselves to fight for their choices in birth while in labor, I'm thinking that if we fight collectively for them now we could spend that energy in labor concentrating on something really radical: Birthing our babies. Our way.
1. 'Definition of Twilight Sleep". MedicineNet.com. http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10221(November 7, 2012)