Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No pre-natal care = disaster

I caught a few episodes of TLC's I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant today. I have always found this 'not knowing' fascinating since I was so involved in my pregnancies. I realize my situation was vastly different as in most cases of this show, these women believed they could not get pregnant either through some form of infertility or by use of birth control while I was actively trying to conceive in the 7 year span it took us to have our children. I am not disputing the inability of knowing one is pregnant, what I found perplexing while watching this program was the frequent OBGYN MD appearances in which they explained certain medical situations and the issues surrounding them. The most common thing they said was that a pregnancy that did not have pre-natal care would likely have disastrous consequences. I found this mind-boggling, the implication that going to a doctors visit every month for nine months guaranteed a healthy pregnancy and outcome. Do not misunderstand me, pre-natal care is important in terms of fetal monitoring, maternal monitoring and ensuring the health and safety of the mothers choice of delivery; however, depending on the level of treatment a mother allows from their provider- certain issues may never be discussed. Some mothers wish to forgo certain maternal tests for Group B Strep, Gestational Diabetes and even some ultrasounds. Other mothers choose to forgo fetal testing which include scanning for Downs Syndrome and other fetal abnormalities which may be the least invasive form of ultrasound to the more invasive amniocentesis. In these cases, where mothers make educated and informed choices to opt out of testing and scans, there is little that a care provider is doing for them. All pre-natal screening can do is tell you if something is wrong and how to fix it, it can not guarantee you a healthy baby with all ten fingers and all ten toes. These instances of complications with fetal development are unique to mothers environment, genetics and diet. I find it perplexing that this show allows for so much fear mongering in that women who deliver (often) at home are in great danger and if they had not had this magical pre-natal then they are doomed. What these opinions exclude is that a healthy woman with an uncomplicated delivery will usually produce a healthy baby during a healthy natural birth process. This is part of the problem with how Americans perceive birth in this country, the media leads us to believe that doctors are absolutely essential in providing happy outcomes with birth and that women are incapable of creating, nurturing and delivering healthy babies on their own. We have bought too blindly into this mass produced hospital birth model as what is best, without asking our own questions. What we need to unravel from this fear is that birth is not truly the mystery we believe it to be, it is the most natural human process and is absolutely essential to the survival of our species. It could never be so complicated we could not manage it or it would defeat the process of our own evolutions. OBGYN care is a speciality within a specialty, it should be isolated to women who are in need of more complex treatment and management of other conditions either pre-natal or strictly maternal. The average mother does not require this slew of medical management in order to deliver a baby. When watching these programs, I advise it is done so with a grain of salt, any salesmen will say what benefits him most, this is no different for one of the largest for-profit enterprises in medicine, the OBGYN MD.

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