My ranty attempted reply

Jennifer Block, author of the fantastic book Pushed, wrote a fantastic article in the LA Times about the state of maternal health in our country. (H/t to Our Bodies, Our Blog)

I tried to get a little ranty at the commenters (with display names like “Obstetrician”) who tried to say that higher risk births are the reason why we have such dismal rates of maternal and perinatal mortality. And, a few moms came on and said that her article was somehow making them feel like less of mothers because they chose epidurals. (Not that it said that anywhere in the article, or even hinted at it. They win a square on Mommy Wars Bingo!) But, there was a comment length limit I seriously exceeded.

Here is my attempted reply:

I have a hard time hearing obstetricians complain about the dangers of out of hospital birth when in hospital births are full of so much iatrogenic morbidity! Forget how bad unproven continuous external monitoring is, how many hospitals have pushed internal fetal monitoring, often on all of patients, regardless of risk? We had the closest major teaching hospital lose THREE infants to herpes encephalopathy recently before they stopped that barbaric and unproven practice.

Also, no one said that mothers who opt for pain medicine or an elective cesarean are less of a mother. I am so tired of having all of these discussions turned away from talking about better outcomes for ALL mothers to a few complaining about feeling guilty and inadequate about their birth choices. Birth choices are health decisions. Make yours with informed consent. Let others make theirs with informed consent.

Pain medication and elective cesareans have worse outcomes for mothers and neonates. That is a risk many women are willing to accept, that is their choice, but it does not need to stamp out every conversation about the risks of interventions in birth. Other people need to be able to make choices based on complete information, too.

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