Despite advancements in health care and technology, personal stories and nationwide statistics reveal birth as too often an emotionally upsetting and physically invasive, highly medicalized procedure resulting in maternal and infant outcomes that fall short.
The U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and as if that is not concerning enough, 1 in 3 women describe their birth experience as being traumatic. We have an abundance of evidence that clearly demonstrates the safety and benefits of de-medicalizing birth, yet there persists a false narrative that birthing outside the confines of a hospital, the very place we take our sickest and most vulnerable individuals, is dangerous. Why do we fear birth and treat it as an ailment necessitating a cascade of interventions, rather than encouraging and supporting a woman’s body and instinct to perform the very function it was made to do?
Do not get me wrong, our hospitals play a vitally important role in our communities and unarguably are necessary for high-risk births. But for most women, data and history would argue that choosing to birth in a hospital may be the first decision a woman makes setting off a cascade of events contributing to a birth far different than what she may have imagined for herself.
At the very least, it is time to shift the focus of our childbirth education classes away from pelvic anatomy and hospital routines and toward promoting normal birth, trusting one’s body, and creating a supportive, safe environment during and following the birth. Better birth outcomes are achievable and life-changing, so I wonder why we aren’t demanding change?
Anna Faiola, Carmel,