Week 24: Having rights should not be a marker of privilege

Still trying to sort out my visit with the OB. I think it’s important to separate all the feelings I have after this meeting.

I feel elated at having been told that someone is actually going to go out of their way to take care of me and make sure I’m treated well, and satisfaction at hearing a doctor say that patients’ rights are unequivocally paramount. My understanding is that this is extremely rare in US obstetrics – maybe all of medicine – and I feel lucky that this doctor is in my area.

I also know that if the culture of the hospital respected patient rights so well, he wouldn’t have felt it necessary to give me his cell number, and it gives me anxiety knowing that I could still be mistreated. One of the pitfalls of hospital birth, whether planned or not, is the large number of unknown people involved in any given birthing situation; each of those people is a wild card.

I also can’t help but be angry at the “specialness” of my special treatment because it should have been available to me the first time. This kind of respect should be the status quo and not just the province of people traumatized and determined not to let it happen again, not to mention people with the privilege and resources to engage in these conversations. Even though I now personally feel protected, it’s the exception that proves the rule. Most women giving birth in this country, and in the world, don’t have the privilege of basic human rights – which should be the status quo and not a privilege.

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About investigatingbirth

My investigations of birth began in 2009 when I was trained as a doula. I helped women consider the evidence on common interventions, and helped them prepare for the physical and emotional challenge of giving birth. After some time it became clear to me that there was another type of challenge that I was unable to adequately prepare them for, the challenge of the maternity system. But it was only after my own traumatic birth in 2013 that I realized how little I had understood. I began to ask questions that few around me - doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors - were comfortable hearing. Questions like: Under what circumstances, and for what reasons, do doctors not practice informed consent? How do hospitals deal with other patient populations vulnerable to abuse? How does loss of professional autonomy, for obstetricians, and professional authority, for midwives, impact the quality of care they are capable of providing - regardless of their training? This blog will collect noteworthy information that attempts to answer these and other questions. Most of what you see here will be aggregated from other sources and analyzed. You will also see original interviews, and the occasional opinion piece or personal story, as I try to piece together a clear picture of the system in which American women give birth.
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