Knowledge is Power! Know Your Rights!

The following is a VERY good post by Andrea Owen. It is taken from her blog, “Live Your Ideal Life.”

I have come to realize that birth is hands down the most natural, beautiful, organic process in the entire world. It’s been happening for thousands of years. And it’s changing for the worse. We are backpedaling when it comes to nature. Once we figured out we were destroying our planet, we all jumped on the bandwagon to fix it, right? And when we realized how many hazardous chemicals are in our foods and  household products we try to make changes to keep ourselves and families safe, correct? But, here we are, destroying the one thing we all have in common: Birth, and year after year it continues to get worse. In the U.S. the maternal death rate has nearly tripled in the last decade and the cesarean rate has continued to rise for the last 11 years, and if the trend keeps going, it may reach 50% by the time my daughter is ready to have babies. There are many reasons for this sharp rise, but that’s not what this post is about.

I feel if I sit back and say nothing, I perpetuate the problem. What has me so upset, is the lack of information women have when they are pregnant and give birth.  When pregnant with my first, I was one of them! I sat back, let my doctor talk at me and hardly questioned him. My instincts told me to do something, anything, ask questions, go against his word, call his bluff. But, I didn’t. Years and years of wiring were engrained in me. Things like: Doctors know everything. Doctors always have your best interests at heart. Hospitals are the best and safest place to have babies. Birth is scary, painful and dangerous. These are all things I thought were true, never trying to find out if any of it was factual or not. Guess what? It’s all lies.

(Note: Not all doctors are bad. There are some great obstetricians, ones that support VBAC and will even wait it out on a long labor. But, this post is not about that either. Moving on!)

So, what is this post about? Basically what I stated before: I feel that many women lack important information when they are pregnant and giving birth. Some patients rights include:

  • Women can refuse to be examined or treated by anyone.
  • Pregnant women have a right to refuse any medical treatment or drug, including a cesarean section, episiotomy, anesthesia, and pain medication.
  • A woman has a right to change her mind about any decision made before or during labor or childbirth.
Those are just a few. For a full list and other great information, click here. I hear story after story of women who are pregnant that didn’t know they could refuse treatment, cesarean deliveries, vaginal exams or other interventions. It’s up to us to know our rights and be able to ask or question our medical professionals. 
One of my favorite birth bloggers, Barbara Herrera, wrote a post entitled, “When you buy the hospital ticket…you go for the Hospital Ride.” She says, If you want control, why go where egotistical birth is the norm? If you want autonomy, why go where lawsuits and defensive medicine are the rule?” I’ll be honest. I was scared to death that my baby might be in danger during labor. Why? Because I was fed the absolute worst possible scenarios at each and every one of my OB appointments. If you know me and/or read my blog you know that I encourage and teach people to listen to their intuition, their gut instincts. Mine was telling me everything was fine, myself and my daughter were healthy and safe and that I should trust my body. But, as mothers, as incubators of these precious creatures it’s very difficult to ignore modern medicine and not place our utmost trust in our superhero medical birthing system. After all, hospitals save babies. They save mothers birthing babies. In very, very rare instances they do this. But, you have to wonder: Is a hospital the safest place to birth? Is it the best place to bond with our babies? Are we just too scared and maybe uninformed to do it anywhere else? Do women really think they can’t or don’t know how to birth? Is it just a coincidence that as maternal mortality is rising so is the rate of cesarean sections?
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