Sunday, March 10, 2013

Musings from a Pro-Choice Preggo.

I remember when the ideological debate of "pro-life/pro-choice" was based on abortion. But now, at 8 months pregnant, I have found myself being asked constantly where I'm going to deliver, who my OBGYN is, what my birthplan is, and when I'm returning to work.




If we are going to continue to defend the right to "choose pregnancy," we must, COLLECTIVElY as women, encompass the choices made throughout the journey.

It starts with the two pink lines. 


(actually, it starts with the woman choosing a contraceptive that is best for her... and if she wants to start a family, choosing to go without...then, consenting to a mutually beneficial and healthy sexual relationship...but I digress)

Two pink lines.

If the woman chooses to continue with pregnancy, she then makes decisions, every day, throughout the pregnancy, that are best for her. Food. Exercise. Alcohol (or lack thereof). Midwife/OB-GYN. Increase hours at work (more money) or decrease hours at work (less stress). We can say she 'ought' to choose what's best for the baby, but the moment we do that, we start making choices for the woman, and begin to undermine her ability to choose for herself. And when it comes to money, society ought to be sensitive when it comes to saying what one 'should' do. Often, the individual directly involved wishes they could do the same thing! But many women don't have choices (re: working/staying at home, insurance coverage, etc), based on their financial situation. 






Once she is in the third trimester, she begins to solidify a plan for getting that baby out! And so begins my rant...

...The Business of Being Born is one of my favorite documentaries, EVER. I loved all four follow-up episodes, too. I've read 3 of Ina May Gaskin (legendary midwife)'s books, and am actually going TO THE FARM in two days. Based on this paragraph, one would think I'm going to have a natural birth at ALL COSTS. And that probably includes a typed up "birth plan" to hand to the team that will help catch the baby, with strict rules of how it is to go down (This RN will not have "that plan," because I know what nurses say at the nursing station, and I refuse to be that patient. After 9 months of planning with my midwife and husband, I will trust the process and hope my choices are honored without feeling the need to be a control-freak.)




But that's not me.

I'm going to have a hospital birth, because our biggest stressor throughout the entire pregnancy is MONEY, and I am SO blessed to be covered by my mom's insurance plan until the end of May (thank you, President Obama). The insurance plan covers hospital births, but not birthing centers or home births. The cost difference is in the THOUSANDS of dollars. It was a no-brainer. I was thrilled to find a midwife in a group of OB-GYNS, and I have really enjoyed my time with her, and trust her completely.

The single most important factor in ensuring women have a CHOICE and a VOICE, is education. We have to have factual information, without a bias, to form our own opinions. 

If a woman only utilizes her OB-GYN as a resource, she will inevitably have biased information that makes the hospital look like a knight in shining armor, saving countless lives. If she only reads natural birth books/blogs, she will see the hospital as a money-hungry demon trying to push her on the table for a c-section. 

The truth is probably somewhere in between. I've definitely formed my own opinion, and I feel reluctant to even share it with the internet, because people (especially women) are SO quick to judge other women's opinions. Which is just SO IRONIC to me. Usually the same women who are 'pro choice' are liberal, more granola, and 'pro natural birth,' and sometimes....these women can be the most egotistical, condescending, competitive women out there (not to mention, these women can also be very insensitive toward women in third world countries who would do anything to have drugs/doctors to help them with birth. And saying "women in Africa squat and have babies all the time," also belittles the women around the world having babies naturally that don't CHOOSE this birth method, but rather, have no other choice. And yes, I have heard that phrase multiple times). 

I understand the desire to have a natural birth for spiritual reasons, and to feel a natural experience that all other mammals experience without the help of drugs...but if the motivating factor behind natural birth is to brag or belittle other women, the choice has then become quite shallow and petty. 

On the contrary, women who have scheduled c-sections, or who beg to be induced early, might just be missing out on an experience worth having, to feel inheritantly FEMALE and MAMMAL. And I wonder how many women out there never had that choice, based on medical issues or infertility issues (or who knows what), and would have given anything for the experience. But at the end of the day, if a woman doesn't WANT to have a natural birth, we, as women, ought to support her right to CHOOSE. 

The same goes for breastfeeding. I have my own opinion on this also (go figure, I have an opinion...)! We know breast feeding is better for the baby, and has countless benefits for mothers. But those breasts belong to the WOMAN. Not her baby, not her partner, not her doctor/midwife. THE WOMAN. And the moment another person casts judgment on her for not doing something with her breasts...they fall under the same category as a person who casts judgment on a woman who has an abortion...

I suppose, ideally, every woman would have spiritually-transformative, natural births, and breastfeed, and raise civilized, respectful, well-mannered children. Ideally, all women would be educated on the medicalization of birth (and the unnecessary procedures that occur for convenience and profit), and while we're at it, ideally, there would never be a NEED for hospitalized births. But sometimes, there is. And we ought to be grateful we have hospitals in that time of need. Ideally, all women would be educated on the benefits of breast-feeding, and would find the act both nurturing and bonding.

But that's not reality. It's not even CLOSE to reality. And I think what matters more than casting judgments, or being a Google Expert, is trusting other women's ability to make decisions for themselves. 

(*SIDENOTE....I think it's safe to say MOST women know the benefits of breast-feeding, but MOST women have to work shortly after having their babies, and MOST employers don't provide a place (nor time) to pump. So, MOST women dry up early and lose their milk supply. Which is not only emotionally devastating, but also financially burdening, as now formula is an added expense. A lack of mandatory paid maternity leave is prohibiting choice for most women. That's a WHOLE OTHER BLOGPOST....)

So anyway, I'm going to THE FARM in two days. And I can't WAIT. My dreams are ((literally)) coming true. And I'll probably be on a HUGE natural birth kick when I come back. But my underlying value, more so than natural birth, is freedom of choice. And that won't change! So choose on, fellow preggos! Choose what's best for YOU! And women out there, EMBRACE one another! On the many choices we make, everyday! On choosing to be single, or married! Choosing to have families, or choosing to focus on careers! We are living in 2013, and we are SO LUCKY to have choices. Our great grandmothers never had these opportunities, so we should ENJOY THE JOURNEY OF CHOICE!

xoxo,
L





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