To be completely honest, I’m not sure how consistently I’ll be able to continue this series…but I keep reading amazing articles that I want to share…so maybe it will turn into an every other Friday Wrap Up.
I’ve been a fan of this blog for a while now, but Dekker really hit it out of the ballpark with this post. She thoroughly examines the current research around outcomes for “big babies,” starting with how they’re defined and the challenges of being able to accurately predict birth size in utero. There have been so many times as a doula when I wanted to shout out “but what PROOF do you have that this is a big baby?!”…but obviously, this wasn’t really my place.
Here’s the take home…but you should really do yourself a favor and read through this. Give yourself time.
In summary, evidence does not support elective C-sections for all suspected big babies, especially among non-diabetic women. There have been no randomized, controlled trials testing this intervention. It is likely that for most non-diabetic women, the potential harms of an elective C-section for a big baby outweigh the potential benefits.
This NYTimes Magazine article explores the current data coming from ANSIRH’s Turnaway Study. It’s the first study to compare what happens to women who receive abortions and what happens to those who are denied abortions.
Most studies on the effects of abortion compare women who have abortions with those who choose to carry their pregnancies to term. It is like comparing people who are divorced with people who stay married, instead of people who get the divorce they want with the people who don’t. Foster saw this as a fundamental flaw. By choosing the right comparison groups — women who obtain abortions just before the gestational deadline versus women who miss that deadline and are turned away — Foster hoped to paint a more accurate picture. Do the physical, psychological and socioeconomic outcomes for these two groups of women differ? Which is safer for them, abortion or childbirth? Which causes more depression and anxiety? “I tried to measure all the ways in which I thought having a baby might make you worse off,” Foster says, “and the ways in which having a baby might make you better off, and the same with having an abortion.”
I had the opportunity to hear the lead study author, Diane Foster Greene, earlier this spring, and all of us in the audience were fascinated by the data she was collecting. As the NYTimes article notes, there is a dearth of well-designed studies looking at outcomes like this. As a future midwife, these are things I think are important for us to be talking about. Having a clearer picture of what pregnant people are experiencing allows us to better counsel and support our patients.
I really appreciate that this piece came right before Father’s Day…this is a piece of conversation that we don’t talk about a lot, but as the author notes, men make choices around parenting and abortion, too.
Being a parent is about more than buying prenatal vitamins and diapers. It is about having the ability to support a person for the rest of your life. And when I decide to become a parent, I want to make sure that I am in a place where I am ready to do that. And I want to do it with a partner who is ready to respect our children, our family, and me. What Live Action doesn’t understand is that supporting someone through an abortion is a form of love as well. It’s a deep respect for all of life’s complexities. And I believe that most men, and fathers, understand that too.
Speaking of Father’s Day…
Many will recognize Strong Families from their previous Mama’s Day campaigns…this year, they’re also offering free e-cards for Papa’s Day as well! I love looking through these diverse images of families…they encourage us all to re-imagine gender roles in families, to re-think how we define the role of mother and father. The accompanying blog post series is full of thoughtful articles on the meaning of fatherhood in our culture. I particularly enjoyed this one by Dominic Cinnamon Bradley, who identifies as a “Black gender non-conforming, ‘crip and sick’ multidisciplinary artist from the Dirty South”. The piece is titled Four Chambers: Holding my Family of Destination.
It has been a patient labor both to release my dad and name and claim my own desire to parent—though my heart leaps to my throat to admit it. I look wistfully after expectant mothers and into the faces of tiny, blinking children and can imagine a fetus kick. I want to tell my doctors they can shove their pills for the next nine months. I want to relish the confusion as others’ eyes slide off my pregnant form and their ears catch on my pronoun. I want to birth attended by a midwife in my own home surrounded by my closest friends and chosen family. I want us to drum and dance and sing and eat and float my baby out of me on a raft of laughter. I want to cut my own cord, take a bite of my placenta, and shout to the world how tickled I am to occupy this new role. I gaze into my baby’s eyes and confer her carefully chosen name. I once told my friend that I am committed to healing my trauma, so I don’t pass it on to my child. More than anything, I want to live in alignment with that statement.
Finally, there’s this gem:
When he finished there was a moment of silence. I imagined Eleanor internalizing, at such a young age, this deeply important lesson about all that she, in her body (the very body that she has and not one that she thinks she should have), is capable of and at that moment I couldn’t remember the last time I was so moved.
It is both difficult and easy for me to imagine how people can move through life feeling shame and stigma about their bodies…difficult because I feel lucky that somehow I managed to avoid the worst of the messaging around what a girl is supposed to look like, bu easy because I’ve watched friends struggle with body image for years. Around pregnancy and birth, in particular, I see this struggle emerge–feeling ugly and “fat” even when carrying new life into the world.
This little piece about a father affirming his daughter’s inherent beauty and strength made me tear up a little. If only everyone, regardless of gender, had parents and community members affirming their beauty.