Giving birth in a hospital

The documentary that we watched in class today, “The Business of Being Born,” reminded me of a story that my mom told me. When she was at the hospital to give birth to my brother, she began to feel pressure, and she told the nurse that she could feel the baby coming. However, the nurse told her that there was no way that it was time yet and that she probably just had to use the restroom. She wheeled my mom into the bathroom, and right when they arrived, my brother started to make his appearance.

The nurse refused to believe my mom could be having the baby because it did not fit with the schedule of birth that the hospital had laid out for her.  They clearly ignored what my mother was telling them and acted as though she didn’t know her own body as well the nurses did. These ideas are all touched on in the documentary, where the doctors cling to this idea that there is a specific pattern for giving birth and that all women must give birth in the same way and at the same rate. By doing this, they devalue the woman’s right to decide what happens to her body and display this attitude of superiority that says that they know better than the mothers. I’m not really sure if midwifery is the answer for this problem, but I think that we should be working to change the way obstetricians and their nurses are taught about childbirth. There should be more of an emphasis in medical school and in nursing school on allowing women to determine their path in the birthing process instead of laying it out for them.

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One Response to Giving birth in a hospital

  1. lschott1 says:

    While I think the treatment of your mother does point to gender inequality, I also see this story as evidence to a more general trend in American society. Knowledge (of our bodies in this case) is more trusted in the realm of theory than of experience. Modern medicine has become nearly infallible. The realm of theory is the realm of the expert as well. This nurse’s teacher (another doctor or professor), her expert, gave her a plan. She bound herself so tightly to this plan that she refused to believe what was before her own eyes. But the trend away from midwifery is also caused by this. Today, as we saw in the rising C-section statistics, Americans view natural birth as dangerous and foreign. This pervasive belief is one reason some doctors opt to c-section to avoid malpractice suits and some women schedule births. The suppression of medical knowledge through experience is also seen in how few medical students had seen a natural birth.

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