Better Births Beyond Mommy Wars

Why, oh why, do discussions in the US–especially discussions that take place on the Internet–pit one side against the other as ferociously as possible? Egalitarian v. complementarian! Republican v. Democrat! Vegan v. Bacon-ist!

(Is that a thing? Because it seems like a thing. I’ve always liked bacon, but then one day I went on Facebook and saw that people were putting bacon in their margaritas and in their cinnamon rolls and stuff. What’s up with that?)

Anyway, discussions about all sorts of things can quickly turn to extremes. One of those extremes is in the area of birth. I will grant that sometimes to change things we need to take extreme measures (BACON IN EVERYTHING) but just as often, or more often, change comes slowly (humanely raised, non-nitrite bacon as a Sunday morning tradition. Or something.)

Those who’ve followed my writing know that one of my interests is better birth: safer motherhood for women in developing countries, more humane, high-touch childbirth for women in high-tech countries. Here’s my latest Huffington Post article on the subject:

Discussions of what is best in maternity care are often polarized as a choice between elective c-sections in high-tech hospitals and unattended home births in bathtubs, dismissed as a “battle zone in the Mommy Wars” or, worse, as a “status symbol” of hipness. But these lines are artificial, having been drawn not by mothers but by midwife-maligning men who believed that women’s wombs were diseased and dangerous, and there are better models, models that don’t pit one “side” against the other. And we don’t even have to look to Sweden or the Netherlands to find them.

We can, for example, look to midwife Ruth Lubic, who used her MacArthur Genius award to found the Family Health and Birth Center in Washington, DC. Lubic attributes the Center’s success — it has outcomes twice as good as DC generally — to their “high touch, low tech” support. Still, she says: “we can’t function [without obstetricians] and really need to be a continuum. Families can’t have the best care without this partnership.”

It’s not a question of who’s “right,” or which “side” you’re on. It’s about finding policies and practices that make it easier to do what’s best for women, which is to say, what’s best for everyone.

{This is the end; click through to read from the beginning.}

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5 thoughts on “Better Births Beyond Mommy Wars

  1. Agreed. Improving birth experience and reducing c sections are good things, but we don’t need to act like obstetricians hate their patients and want them to suffer…that’s just silly.

    • I also think that sometimes the natural birth movement (and I’m guilty of this, too) overplays the whole “birth is safe!” thing. It IS safe…under competent care. But we need OBs not to perform unnecessary interventions and procedures so that women can trust them to honor their desires, when possible, along with their best interests.

  2. I appreciate this post, especially your comment about pushing “birth is safe”, because I am one mother who was a near miss in the US. It is challenging sometimes to deal with natural birth moms because they make me feel like it was my fault I almost died and lost my ferility. When the truth is that I would have died had I not been in that hospital under the care of that specific surgeon at that God-ordained moment. I never really talk about how much this war hurts women like me.

    • No mother should ever be made to feel “less than,” and I’m sorry that’s happened to you. The truth is that many more women could have straightforward, physiologic birth without complication if hospitals and doctors would do some simple things to accommodate that, but the truth is ALSO that some women will need life saving care/surgery and they should get it, and without judgment or shame.

  3. “Why, oh why, do discussions in the US–especially discussions that take place on the Internet–pit one side against the other as ferociously as possible? ”

    Such a great question, and this is the very reason I NEVER bring up ANYTHING controversial on FB.

    When it comes to childbirth, I’m just trying to be as level-headed as possible – for my own sanity, as well as giving so much grace to others. Everyone is different and birth is such a personal thing… as is breastfeeding, sleep-training or not, scheduling or not, etc. etc.

    Moms can be so judgmental — I think because we are so afraid of being judged.

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