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Doctor's Orders! Silencing mothers with standard care.

by Janelle Larson (follow)
Wouldn't it be nice if instead of having a one-size-fits-all recommendation from my doctor, I was urged to weigh up ALL the options. Imagine if I was then actually counselled effectively, or at least directed to the source of unbiased and evidence based and up-to-date research.

Mind. Blown.

Why is it naturally assumed that I'm going to tick all the boxes on a generic form, after having it delivered to me by the random OB allocated to me by the hospital? This guy doesn't know me or what I want.

He doesn't care, really. Of course he wants me to be alive at the end of it all. Not just for legal reasons, but as a human being, I would assume nobody in a 'caring' role would wish for an emergency to result in a catastrophe.

But there's more to it than just being alive at the end of it.



If I submit to an intervention or procedure as recommended to me- and it goes badly- I wear those scars. Not the guy in the lovely white coat who drives a Ferrari. He gets to go home in his nice car to his nice house with his nice family, and pat himself on the back for a job well done - after completely turning my universe inside out and upside down. Accidentally, of course. But intent doesn't mean much when the general message is: "You're so lucky, you could have died."

Lucky? I was right there next to the lifesaving equipment and conveniently ended up needing my life saved. I didn't feel very lucky. They tried to convince me my case was special.

Why are there 178 members in a traumatic birth support group I joined, then? That seems like a lot of women. And that's just the ones who talk about it. A lot of us are silenced with other pearls of wisdom such as "Lucky you were in a hospital." and "At least you're alive." Or what about my personal favourite (not) "All that matters is a healthy baby."

Lucky, At least, and All that matters are SWEAR WORDS when it comes to debriefing birth. Any birth. Go ahead and write that down. Swear words. Nobody wants to be told how to feel. And nobody wants to be placated when things go seriously, dangerously wrong.

Iatrogenic complications are what left me in an induced coma. Missing my first moments as a mother. My child was unnamed. So forgive me if I don't leap to congratulate the professionals whose care and recommendations resulted in my poor condition.

(I plan to tell both of my birth stories at a later date, but for now you'll have to trust me that they were both very difficult, and both transformative experiences.)

This is probably an ideal time to reiterate that I do not hate all doctors. I was VERY grateful for the skilled hands of a surgeon when my sons have needed it. I am very respectful of the years of training they undertake in order to gain their qualifications, and enter into such a noble profession.

But it'd be naÔve to assume that they're all noble protectors of our health and wellbeing. Just as it'd be idiocy to assume that all feminists are man-haters. And respecting their dedication to caring for others is different to surrendering my free will at the first appointment.

The truth is, the type of care that actually supports informed decision making and honours a woman's rights as a person is almost non-existent. It's there, but most of us don't even know it. Or have a negative view of it as a result of the culture we're immersed in.

If I'd known that I had a 1/3 chance of caesarean for my first birth, I would have stayed the hell out of the hospital. Plain and simple. If I'd had access to a known and trusted independent midwife, and realized they were not just for crunchy hippies, I'd have had a homebirth.

It's about time we stopped politely smiling and nodding while doctors control every facet of our pregnancy and birthing experience.

It's about time we got the care we deserved. I've had enough of Doctor's Orders. How about Doctor's qualified advice with a side of information and respect? It's a mouthful, but I still think it'd be easier to swallow than the current crap we're being served.
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