Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dear Materniy Care Providers

Found this on Birthing Beautiful Ideas and thought it was worth reposting.

Dear Maternity Care Providers of the World:

On behalf of all women who are, or have been, or ever will be pregnant, I wish to make the following requests and pleas and clarifications.
I make these requests and pleas and clarifications to you not because I think that you are callous or unwise or deficient in your skills.  In fact, I don’t think you, on the whole, are any one thing at all.
You are not a homogenous group, and we are not a homogenous group, and we all come from places and perspectives that are radically unique and individual.
But still.
But still.
I make the following requests of you because, in addition to the quality prenatal care that we all deserve, regardless of our social and economic backgrounds, I also think that we pregnant women–we who have been pregnant, or who are pregnant, or who will be pregnant–deserve a special and robust sort of respect from our care providers.
And I think that too many of us are not receiving this respect.
Perhaps, you might argue, this is because we don’t know  how to properly engage with you.  Perhaps our own advocacy for ourselves and our babies seems disrespectful to you.
For sometimes we state our cases inelegantly.  We use medical terms incorrectly.  We print out pages upon pages of information gleaned from internet sources of varying repute.  We make requests that seem ridiculous or useless or even harmful to you.
And sometimes you find us to be annoying or petulant or curious or infuriating or stupid.
But what many of us really are is desperate.
We’re desperate to find a care provider who respects our autonomy, and not just theoretical respect for our theoretical autonomy but a real, earnest respect for the actual exercise of our autonomy.
We’re desperate to find a care provider to listens to us, and who responds to us without condescension.
We’re desperate to find a care provider who is willing to admit when they don’t know the answer to one of our questions.
We’re desperate to find a care provider who avoids exaggeration and coercion and manipulation in conversation with us.
We’re desperate to find a care provider who supports our active engagement in our pregnancy and birth.
And we’re desperate to find a care provider who simply sees us as persons.  Who treats us as persons.
Not as ticking time bombs.  Not as potential lawsuits.  Not as fetus carriers.  As persons.
And this is regardless of whether we want to give birth in a home or birth center or hospital.
Notably, to expect this from you–to want this, and even demand it from you–we know that we have responsibilities too.
We have a responsibility to treat you with the same courtesy that we expect from you.
We have a responsibility to research our options with care and discretion.
We too have a responsibility to appreciate the differences in your perspectives and values and practices.
We have a responsibility care for ourselves and our babies as best as we are able to (though please note that these abilities vary widely).
Yet despite how well or how badly we manage these responsibilities, we still have a right to your respect.
All your years of training–the blood, the sweat, the tears, the money spent on education, the hours sacrificed to your profession–give you extraordinary skills and abilities and knowledge, but they do not give you  the knowledge of what it’s like to be any one of us.
To inhabit our bodies, to know our bodies as we do, to have the exact and unique values and perspectives and preferences and commitments and plans and dedications that we have.
And all your years of experience do not give you infallibility, nor do they grant you the right to approach us with domination and paternalism instead of mutual respect and partnership.
So we ask you to grant us this respect.  To treat us as partners in our maternity care.
Even those of us who don’t yet have the skills or knowledge or resources to act on these rights.
For we all deserve it.
Every single one of us.
A pregnant woman, who also wants and deserves this respect from you.

*image credit seanmcgrath on flickr
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