Jumping right on in because this bitch still has Sunday sessions to attend...
I have been fascinated by the debates that have gone down here at the NAPW Summit over vaginal birth versus c-section, midwives versus OBGYN and hospital births versus home births.
Basically, folks are debating the definition of what a "normal birth" is. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that birth is normal.
I'm not a mother and the mothers I know have chosen variations on each theme...some did the midwife thing and others did the hospital thing (vaginal or c-section) and most had positive experiences. I was troubled to listen to stories about how the state stepped in and told women that they had to have a c-section because they had one previously, violated civil rights unnecessarily and interfered with medical decisions. But do those wrongs make the entire notion of hospital birth wrong? Isn't that absolute reversal just as dictatorial towards women?
I've never been one to see princess to pauper as more liberating than prince to pauper...y'all know a bitch isn't fond of absolute statements (wink).
But having attended several sessions that broke out into heated debates between midwives, OBGYNs...oh, and the doulas too...my mind was whirling!
I thought of the women at the shelter I volunteer at and how they might absorb these messages. Most had hospital births (with the exception of the one car-based birth, the relating of which got my nerves so fried I might as well have been there). How would these women receive this debate over normal birth?
How would they feel if told that an experience they value as mothers was viewed as less than...wrong...damaging? Keep in mind that several of these mothers chose their future profession as nurses because their experience at hospital was so positive and nurturing.
Wanting to hear more from the medical doctor side of the debate, I sought out Annie Lyerly, MD, MA, Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology Faculty Associate Center for the Study of Medical Ethics and Humanities, Duke University. She was seated at the next table!
Annie explained that what mattered most was how people felt about their birth. What constituted a "good birth" should be understood from the mother's experience. Annie Lyerly was upbeat and surprisingly positive. She explained that the issue was complex but easily understood when everyone, regardless of their personal opinion, took the time to listen to women.
If women want a hospital then listen to and honor that.
If women want home birth with a midwife and doula we should also value and honor that.
We need to remain focused on women and understand that we can't explore the risk factors of birth outside of what women say they value.
Thank you Annie Lyerly!
The best advocates for anything are passionate people. I can confess to getting riled up on a topic now and then my own self (wink). Regret comes from realizing that I'm speaking over and not for the very people I wish to advocate for...from talking at and not talking with...from waiting for someone to finish talking rather than listening.
We all need to listen to women, find out what we value and develop policy that empowers those things.
More too come...