Monday, March 16, 2009

choices that most don't know about

A couple of weeks ago I wrote on Choice with reference to an Opinion piece by Age Editor Lucy Beaumont, who had stated "Women don't have a choice when the health system can't deliver."

I responded with the claim "There is only one *choice*, that a woman either accept the work her body is doing, or accept the medical intervention." I stand by this statement, as far as the basic natural processes in that amazing childbearing continuum are concerned.

However ...

[Yes, life is complex. There are no simple answers]

... There are a whole lot of choices in childbearing that most women don't know much at all about. Most come under the banner of 'routine' or 'standard' actions by health professionals, and most are done with little discussion and not even a pretense of informed decision making. These include:
. group B Streptococcus screening and subsequent antibiotic treatment in labour
. the induction of labour
. assessment of size of an unborn baby
. assessment of fetal wellbeing
. antenatal prophylactic Anti-D immunoglobulin for Rhesus Negative women
. assessment of dilation of a cervix
. time taken and progress in labour
. 'management' in Third Stage, and blood loss
. measurement of blood loss
. Vitamin K for newborn babies
. Hepatitis B Vaccine for newborn babies

A woman who simply accepts the standard care in this set of issues, and many more, may find that she has, in reality, no choice. She gets swept up on a production line conveyor belt.

Learning how to take responsibility for your own decision making probably begins before conception. Reliance on the little blue line with pee-on-the-stick pregnancy diagnosis rather than quietly accepting changes that come with early pregnancy; imagining that bonding is enhanced via the blotchy grey image on a computer screen, while paying no attention to the timeless event of 'quickening'; ... these technological advances while being very useful for a few, are probably setting most women up so that they follow each other like sheep going down the shute towards their ultimate fate.

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