Sometimes I wonder, are we our own worst enemy? I can think of several issues that, in my opinion, women as a whole, have sabotaged any true progress or wide-spread understanding. When looking at any issue that involves women's health, one can find articles, research, etc. on who is making the resolution or progress difficult. I may be narrow-minded in thinking this but I am one who truly believes that you can't blame everyone else for your problems. It's always a two-way street. How you respond to challenges is most often more indicative of achieving success in your endeavor. Here are a couple of hot-button issues I see that our in-fighting is not helping and in fact setting us back.
We have a group of pregnant women arguing for the right to give birth how they choose. Most women would say yes, of course. Now let's boil it down to--does the woman who wants a home birth have more rights than the woman who desires an elective cesarean section? Some would argue that the Cesarean poses risks, some will argue the home birth poses risks. Each group has a point but what they don't see is what they share in common and that is the idea of self-determination.
Oddly enough, as the numbers of female ob/gyn's increase we haven't made tremendous strides. Many males are not choosing ob/gyn residencies for many reasons but one being because they feel they will have a hard time finding a job and growing a practice. Female ob/gyn's are more marketable. For me this is sad, I have worked with some male ob/gyn's that are phenomenal. As the numbers of female ob/gyn's increase we haven't seen a decline in the cesarean rate and the politics of birthing have not improved. The informal boycott of male ob/gyn's hasn't helped our cause.
For me I see it as a lack of respect for women among women. We judge--
- The woman who is choosing the elective cesarean.
- The woman who chooses to birth at home.
- The woman who has an epidural.
- The woman who feeds her baby formula.
Now add this to those four situations
- She has a history of sexual abuse and the thought of labor and vaginal delivery is traumatic to her.
- At her last hospital birth she experienced a medical error.
- She has been fully for two hours with no descent and an epidural was used to try and "labor down" for a chance at a vaginal delivery.
- She has exquisitely sensitive skin and had skin breakdown. She was dreading every feeding of her baby until she gave him formula. Now she enjoys feeding time with her son.
Very rarely do we take the time to get the whole story. Sometimes it is not really any of our business. I think we would get further if we had mutual respect for others choices. If a woman is given the respect that she is making the best choice for herself at the current time, in her current experience that is all empowering. That empowerment is what we are truly seeking. The knowledge and confidence in ourselves and the freedom to choose what is right for us.
So next time we read or watch some sensationalistic piece of journalism, know that there is usually a story behind the story that we don't often know. Having confidence in a woman to make a decision that is right for herself, her baby and her family at that time, to me, is one of the biggest boosts we can give to women's health.