Since I started my journey in pregnancy I have heard repeatedly “all that matters is a healthy baby” when I am talking about choices I want to make in my obstetric care and considering not going with what the Dr recommends. This statement implies I don’t care about the health of my baby when in reality I am an empowered educated woman. I have spent much time researching my choices and if I decide to do something contrary to the Dr’s suggestion it is most often because I canno…t find conclusive data to support it is evidence based care or improves outcomes.
This statement bothers me even more so because it is also the same implication many providers use to pressure mothers into unnecessary interventions that meet the needs of the provider vs. the health of the mom or baby. While I am not anti-intervention, I do subscribe to the general school of thought that most interventions are grossly over used in US Obstetric/Maternal Health.
Pregnancy, birth, postpartum is about much MORE than a healthy baby. In fact the health of mom matters quiet a bit and studies have shown that the psychological health (and physical) of the mother and her perception of birth deeply impacts the first year of growth for the baby and their ability to build connection later on in life.
Furthermore treating a mother with evidence based care is not only good for both mom and baby, providing better outcomes over all (unlike outdated standard of care practices which do not always correlate to evidence based care) but it is also a human rights issue.
As Henci Goer writes:
“It is all about the mother because the mother and baby are an indivisible unit. Take care of the mother, and you take care of the baby. Split them into two units with conflicting needs and you harm both. Moreover, when society values the baby over the mother, it makes her into a container for something more precious than she is. Down that road lies forced cesarean surgery because some doctor says it is better for the baby which really means he thinks it will be better for [them] because [they] might be sued. Down that road too is depriving pregnant women of life-saving drugs because they may harm the fetus.”
I think before implying a blanket statement such as “all that matters is a healthy baby” that some research be done to discover how deeply that internalizes into how a mother views her own worth not only in the perinatal period but throughout her motherhood journey. Becoming a mother doesn’t mean you stop being an autonomous person but is rather a time when you learn to align your needs with another who you are providing for.
And if I have learned anything over the last 5 years of parenting it is in order to show up the best I can for my family, I must show up for myself first and not deny I am worthy of being treated by myself, others and my medical providers, like I actually matter.See More