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Can a hospital really help?
by Laurie Annis Morgan

From Laurie's Thoughts on Childbirth Frequently Asked Questions

Many times, when concerned friends, family, and strangers ask parents that are planning unassisted birth, "What would you do in an emergency?" the answer I hear given most is disturbing. "I would go to the hospital" they say, almost matter-of-fact. As unassisted childbirth gains the attention it deserves on the internet, this seemingly "responsible" answer has become a reflex response for many folks. But I sincerely believe that there is an even more important question that parents considering unassisted birth should ask themselves, and that is, "Can a hospital really help?"

Consider for a moment, that the many reasons parents conscientiously reject a medical environment for childbirth itself include such serious concerns as increased stress, routinely inadequate and inappropriate treatment, high risk of infection and attendant caused illness and injury. These, and too many other factors to list here aside, should cause anyone to wonder what would lead an informed parent to believe that modern medical treatment is the blanket answer for all complications, or even the most likely one for some. In fact, the same good reasons to care for one's self during a perfectly healthy pregnancy, labor, and/or birth are often equally valid reasons to care for one's self or at least seek the most appropriate alternative during an emergency.

Do not misunderstand, it is not my intention to encourage anyone to ignore real, life threatening problems. Instead, I wish merely to shine the unassisted childbirth movement's brilliant light into the depths of another common, modern assumption: that medical treatment of injury and illness is always the most beneficial. The only way a truly informed decision can be made in the event of a life threatening situation is for such erroneous assumptions to be challenged. In reality, even though medical treatment is truly beneficial in some cases, there are many situations where medical treatment of a particular illness or injury is in fact deadly, harmful, or at best, completely ineffective. The ethical ramifications of immoral medical treatments are another facet that often go unexamined.

The routine isolation and torture of premature infants in American hospitals is a very obvious and compelling example of how modern medical treatment can be both physically and emotionally traumatic for an entire family, and at the same time self defeating. (See the article What would you do if you went into labor prematurely? for more information on this subject.) But a short opinion piece like this is not an appropriate place to begin detailing all the possible situations where the "wisdom" of conventional medical treatment is highly questionable.

Nor is any mere observer like myself ever qualified to make personal, life altering decisions for another's family. Fortunately though, individual families are best suited to make such decisions for themselves, and become even better equipped to do so once they are simply aware of the different factors that impact their choices. Today it is unnecessary for a family to learn after the hard fact, that a hospital's treatment of their dying premie would be morally unacceptable to them. Now, with the crucial information that is becoming increasingly available, more and more parents are equipped to make an informed choice of whether to implement alternative treatments on their own, or to seek or demand such alternative treatments from professional care givers. Today more of us can make difficult decisions with the benefit of added guidance from our consciences, because we are increasingly able to explore more of the influential factors.

That is not to say that the present reality is an easy or welcoming place to make responsible, informed decisions. Many ethical and effective treatments are not widely known, practiced, taught, or legal. For some, the legality of such basic rights as to give birth without attendants seems threatened by powerful government agencies. It is important to make courageous decisions for ourselves and our families through convictions about our best interest rather than fear. It is also important for those of us that have rediscovered the safety and joy of giving birth without hindrances to spread the word and offer support to other families to do the same.

Are Castor oil and other so-called natural inductions safe?
How long should a woman feel comfortable going overdue?
Is pain-free birth really possible?
Is all pain in childbirth due to fear?

Letter to my unborn first child
Cierra's Joyous Birth (short story)
It hurts to be silent

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