Getting Your Chosen Childbirth Experience

Alternet has an article discussing a survey which shows women in childbirth not being properly informed about medical interventions, and being given medical interventions without their consent.  All bad, I agree completely.  But there’s a trend running through the piece which suggests that if women were able to have skillful helpers for natural childbirth everything would go according to plan.  Take these quotes for example:

unless you are willing to research in depth, shop around for care providers and advocate stubbornly for what you want, you probably won’t have the labor you expect. 

Despite the relative health of women in the United States, many women are not getting the uncomplicated births they might expect.

The fact is that childbirth is inherently unpredictable. Telling women that if they shop around hard enough for the right midwife, and work hard enough on their relaxation techniques and positions they’ll have a great uncomplicated time is SERIOUS misinformation. It’s the sort of thing that makes women blame themselves if something goes wrong and they end up desperately needing an intervention, or if they change their minds and decide they really would like pain relief after all. I’ve read far too many stories of women who feel like failures because of these things. Frankly, I am the only woman I know whose first birth went exactly according to plan, and that was because it was a planned caesarean. (And I have lots of friends who had midwives and doulas.) I strongly believe that women should be given natural childbirth as a real option, and given all the assistance they need for it. But suggesting that if they make this choice everything will be just as they plan is wrong.