Who would you believe, if they told you you needed a cesarean? An episiotomy? A hysterectomy? In his book All Natural, Nathanael Johnson points out that people often fail to see clearly when it comes to their own decision-making in the face of a surgeon’s perspective. We tend to bow to the authority of doctors. As he says, “America honors those who take swift, independent action more than those who empower someone else’s agency.”
Surgery is performed ON someone, not with them, even though the cut person must participate by healing the wounds, withstanding the procedure, and consenting to the process. So you see, even grammar–our language–shows the extent to which we view the authority of surgeon and the passivity and helplessness of patient.
Why? We don’t care about our own agency enough to become educated? We don’t want to be responsible? We are partial to being saved? On top of that, it is easy for us to revere people who take authoritative action and more difficult for us to honor those who help other people make decisions. Perhaps it’s an extension of patriarchal culture.
The surgical authority in the United States has started to see the forest for the trees. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently released a statement (that made national news) announcing their intention to reduce cesarean surgery, especially primary (first) cesareans.
They said, much to the amusement of the natural childbirth community:
“Evidence now shows that labor actually progresses slower than we thought in the past, so many women might just need a little more time to labor and deliver vaginally instead of moving to a cesarean delivery.”
A real care provider would help you make an informed decision. Not pull the dead baby card. Not say “It’s up to you but….blah…blah…brain damage.”
Women and their partners need to do their part to educate themselves about birth ahead of time and to be willing to make decisions for themselves. At the very least, a pregnant woman should know enough and feel confident enough to be able to make an informed decision about choosing her care provider. Who would you believe? A care provider in line with your needs and desires, who you really trust, makes all the difference.