Some highlights from this week:
Oh, my beating heart! Someday, I’ll get to one of Kristin Kali’s trainings. In the meantime, I’m going to be breathlessly awaiting a report from my friend K, who will be attending.
Midwifery Benefits? Improved Outcomes For Moms Who See Midwives, Review Finds
You know, just in case you were wondering…
The reviewers looked at 13 trials of more than 16,000 women who saw a small team of midwives throughout their pregnancy, or one primary midwife. Eight of the trials included women who were at low-risk for complications during pregnancy and birth, while five included higher-risk women. All of the midwives were licensed in their respective countries, and none of the trials looked at home births.
On the whole, women who saw midwives throughout their pregnancy were less likely to have an epidural painkiller, an episiotomy (an incision made from the vagina to anus during delivery), or a delivery using instruments, such as a vacuum or forceps. There were no differences in Cesarean birth rates.
As a trans-racial/trans-national adoptee, this piece struck home for me. I don’t have kids, but many of my fellow adult adoptee friends do, and this is a common topic of conversation. I’m so, so glad to see it in the NYTimes (despite the awful comments. I make it a point to never read the comments, especially on Motherlode. It’s bad for my blood pressure.)
Still, it never fails to throw me when anyone demands to know my daughters’ precise ethnic makeup, praises them by singling out their light hair or large eyes, or asks whether such white-looking children really do belong to me. Such comments often bring back memories of my own white-by-default upbringing with my adoptive parents and the many unwanted conversations we were drawn into as a multiracial family in a very white town.
Amy Klein’s guest post on Motherlode is a counterpoint to Time Magazine’s recent The Childfree Life: When Having It All Means Not Having Children.
The concept of the maternal instinct is as ingrained in our culture as the falling-in-love myth, i.e. immediately “just knowing he’s the one,” like in the movies. But is the maternal instinct necessary to being a good parent? Is it necessary at all?
I didn’t “just know” I wanted to have children. I didn’t just know I didn’t either. I did a lot of soul-searching to figure it out.
Despite my uncertainty, without that innate maternal instinct of “just knowing,” I decided to take the plunge anyway. And later, when I felt the baby growing inside of me and saw its heartbeat, I knew I had made the right choice for me, even though that pregnancy did not work out.
I appreciate the distinction Klein makes between childless and child-free…they are very different experiences…yet she grounds her piece in a desire to avoid dichotomies between the two. This isn’t about having and not having, it’s about the spectrum of feelings, desires, and the ambiguities of whatever choices we make.
Yet in large part, the mainstream pro-choice movement seems to have moved away from this focus on the family in favor of concentrating on the arenas of courtrooms and state houses. While the urgency of fighting increasingly severe challenges to abortion care is hard to understate, this shift in attention, messaging, and resources means that the anti-choice movement has been able to make the idea of family, specifically unborn children, central to its emotional power and success. As a result, the pro-choice movement has been left open to charges that it is anti-child and anti-family.
As a future midwife, I think about this a lot, because I know that I am going to face a lot of opposition among other midwives who feel strongly that midwifery is about bringing babies into the world. I see my role quite differently: it’s about support an individual’s needs and desires for their health and wellness. In my mind, this includes if, when, and how to grow their families. I so appreciate this perspective, though, because I think one of the challenges within the pro-choice movement has been acknowledging that a decision to terminate a pregnancy is not always about choice, or the legal freedom to make that choice.
Sarah sums it up well:
Talking about family planning also places abortion care firmly on a larger continuum, along with contraception, access to good prenatal care, and the right of any woman to have a child. This also allows abortion to be correctly discussed as one part of the larger issue of reproductive rights and justice, rather than as an exotic medical procedure deserving of judgment and stigma.
This might be one of the most helpful clarifications of coercion, implied consent, and disregard of consent that I’ve seen in a while.
When I was four years old, a doctor advised my parents that I should undergo a “routine” hysterectomy. It was recommended, the doctor said, to prevent the future inconvenience of menstruation. My parents, thankfully, were horrified and high-tailed it out of there, taking me and my four year old uterus with them.
I learnt of this story as a teenager, after meeting another woman with the same genetic condition as me who had undergone a hysterectomy at the recommendation of a doctor and the consent of her parents. She experienced ongoing physical and mental health issues throughout her adult life as a result of the procedure.
I love this…we don’t see enough in the media about religious communities that offer space for healing within their traditions.
Not being able to process it [abortion] religiously makes it a very hard experience,” Marx said. “We thought it’s important to give it a voice.”
Um, yeah. That headline just made my week.
…and finally, for my readers who are map-lovers as much as I am (yeah, geography majors!)