Is there such thing as free choice?

There is no such thing as free choice when it comes to giving birth in a hospital. Once a woman agrees to give birth to her child in a hospital, she is automatically succumbing herself to a series of tricks done to benefit the hospital. Free choice disappears and the woman is forced to do what the hospital feels is “necessary” for her health and well being. In the film “The Business of Being Born” we saw the hospital does not give women free choice for monetary and legal reasons. “Giving birth is a billion dollar business” states an expert in the film. This is the prime reason hospitals have no concern for the mother’s wants and choices. The film explains our current birthing techniques and the overuse of medical procedures proving the freedom of choice is disregarded.

Watching this movie I realized my mom was a victim of this manipulation. The hospitals were not up front with her and disregarded her freedom of choice. My mother went in to the hospital wanting a natural birth and a sea section was done to her by the end of the night because of time. As the film states “cesarean is a doctor friendly 20 minute procedure.”

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3 Responses to Is there such thing as free choice?

  1. bkraff says:

    I agree with you that free choice often does not exist in the hospital birthing setting. Women at times are forced into taking medications and receiving Cesarean sections that they initially did not desire. It is wrong and unjust for a doctor to put this decision into his or her own hands simply due to time and money. Situations as the one your mother faced are tragic. All women should have the right to make their own personal decisions to how their child’s birth should be carried out, even in the case of an emergency. However, I do not think that it is fair to completely criticize the hospital birth setting. After watching the film, The business of being born, I became frightened of giving birth in a hospital in the future. I also felt guilty for considering the idea of a midwife birthing a child as something I would never contemplate. I think both situations have pros and cons, but it is unfair to put one above the other. Part of free choice is making this initial decision and dealing with the consequences of each. I felt that the film began to alter my own thoughts and future decisions, which also plays into the idea of losing freedom of choice.

  2. laragon14 says:

    I don’t think the take away point of the movie is that hospital births are bad and home births are good. I also don’t think you can make the generalization that free choice “disappears” or is “disregarded” as soon women reach the hospital setting to give birth. In the movie, we were given a view of both ends of the birthing spectrum.
    Additionally, natural births aided by midwives don’t have to happen at home. In fact, most natural births don’t occur in the home. Nurse midwives practice in hospitals/birthing centers where they work closely with physicians and other members of the medical team to deliver babies. This allows women to experience what constitutes as “natural childbirth” in a setting where they will have access to emergency care if they should need it. This documentary was released in 2008. Since that time, many hospitals have actually started banning elective C-sections. The problem is that women are still electing to deliver their children in this manner.
    I think a problem that arises in the labor/delivery setting again and again is education. It is the responsibility of the healthcare provider to educate the patient on his/her options for medical treatment and the complications and consequences related to those medical decisions. The healthcare team must respect the decisions of these patients. It’s completely unreasonable to say that “hospitals have no concern for the mother’s wants and choices.” There are informed consent processes that prevent this from being the case.
    In my time in nursing school I’ve witnessed a live hospital birth. In the case I saw, the woman did not want Pitocin to be used during labor. The healthcare professionals respected this decision and the woman gave birth without the drug.
    My last point is: the women followed in the film are not representative sample of all of the woman who give birth in the United States. These women represent a very small demographic who are very invested in prenatal care and have the resources to choose midwives and buy expensive birthing tubs that allow them to have home births. Realistically, most women don’t have these resources, making hospital birth their only option. Although the documentary is very informative, you can’t base your thoughts and rationalizations regarding labor and delivery solely on the information presented in it.

  3. dorothea3 says:

    I agree that there is limited free choice for pregnant women in hospital settings. It surprised me that midwives attend less than eight percent of births in the United States. Over the last forty or fifty years, medical institutions have slowly been taking away birthing rights from women. It is understandable why there is such a fear surrounding natural births because the media portrays it as this horrific process of overwhelming hysteria. Thus, the inherent beauty in natural birth is lost. Birth should be respected as a rite of passage and it should be the woman’s decision—not hospitals—of how their child should be brought into this world. It is problematic that informed consent is not given to women especially since what happens at birth is very important to future child development. The risks involved in vaginal delivery are much less than the risks related to Cesarean sections. However, doctors prefer C-sections since they do take twenty minutes on average as opposed to spending twelve+ hours in the delivery room.

    However, I do not believe that mothers should be considered “less of a woman” if they do not have a natural birth, but the choice should be theirs to decide without any coercion from outside influences.

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