Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Reply turned post, on the need for education

I started writing this in reply to Tiny Cassidy's post on how the maternity care system may be in crisis, but most women don't even know it. Here slightly modified and expanded:

I've been to so many meeting lately where all of our discussions boil down to the need for cultural change. When women see all birth as frightening and dangerous, all medical procedures as necessary and good, and people who say otherwise as "natural childbirth nazis", it's hard to make headway. Midwives who attended years of school and went through a lot of effort and anguish to set up practices in order to support normal birth find themselves searching for patients who want to birth normally. I spoke to several midwives recently who talked about fighting their patients on induction - the patients demanding to be induced, and even coming up with ways to get a "medically indicated" induction like saying they felt the baby moving less. How do we transform these attitudes?

I do my small part by showing friends and family "The Business of Being Born", telling them stories from my doula work, and encouraging them to question the standard of care. But that's not the large-scale change we need, and I'm not exactly sure how to do that. At many of the meetings, we talk about the need to start this education early. Nine months often is not long enough to unlearn everything you've learned for your entire life. Can we teach about birth, and breastfeeding, in high school? In elementary school? How do we do this?

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