We often interpret reproductive choices as decisions made to prevent the production of a baby. However, being pro-choice means that you are pro-family and pro-healthy, and oved babies. Therefore, neglecting to include the choices women can make during pregnancy and delivery (as we sometimes do in our mainstream systems) is disregarding an essential part of women and children’s lives. Because information on options available to pregnant women isn’t discussed as part of conventional health care, it’s important to educate yourself and be proactive in making childbirth decisions.
One of the first choices you can make involves which type of caregiver you prefer. There are several options, and no one-size-fits-all decision. Because each pregnancy is unique, depending on preferences, past experiences, social surroundings, current health, etc., you may want to choose different practitioners for each of your births. In any case, your attendant should make you feel empowered, comfortable and confident in your ability to have a positive birthing experience.
Most women are told to see an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) in the hospital. This specialist provides prenatal care in an office and acts as the official supervisor of your birth. OB/GYNs offer C-sections and other technical interventions as part of their care. In fact, the easy access their patients have to surgical interventions has encouraged more than 30 percent of women to deliver through cesarean. This number seems extremely high when you consider that birth is a natural process, not necessarily an event that must be “treated” with a potentially dangerous operation. The U.S. has a higher instance of C-section than other developed nations with better birth outcomes. Still, celebrating the ability to choose this track of care is part of being pro-choice.
A Family Practice doctor is another caregiver option. This FP physician attended medical school just like an OB/GYN, however, rather than learning particularly about pregnancy, FP doctors focus on the life cycle; a more holistic care approach. Because pregnancy and delivery is determined by general health, social surroundings, previous reproductive decisions, and more, this all-encompassing care method is often better suited to healthy, happy birthing experiences. Similar to OB/GYNs, FP doctors hold prenatal appointments and assist deliveries in a hospital. It’s likely they will spend more time getting to know you and your family, and are guaranteed (unlike OB/GYNs) to be completely present at your delivery. They don’t personally offer elective C-sections meaning that their rate of surgery is much lower than the national average and their rate of healthy birth outcomes is higher.
A third option for birthing attendants is a midwife. In the next article, I will outline the different types of midwives and why they might be able to offer better care for women. There are so many ways to be pro-choice!