Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Birth Survey

Back in November when I reviewed the book Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, I mentioned that childbirth seems to be the last great frontier of feminism, and one that has not yet been taken on in full force. For some reason, many women activists insist on expending tremendous amounts of energy protecting a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

I won't take issue with that crusade, at least not in this post. What irritates me is that these same feminists seem to devote little to no energy protecting a woman's right to birth a baby the way she wants to. I hope it's only a matter of time before the hardliners sink their teeth into that cause, because something needs to be done to make sure women are completely informed about the options available to them when giving birth. Before you stop reading because you think this doesn't apply to you, please note that it doesn't matter whether you are pro-intervention, a home birther, or somewhere in between. In order to make an informed choice to have the birth she wants, a woman should have access to information.

A project called The Birth Survey is setting out to do just that: put specific, pertinent information in the hands of women who are planning to give birth. At this time, it is difficult for an expectant mother to find out about a certain birthing facility's C-section rates, epidural administration rates, fetal monitoring methods, or even the facility's policies on food and drink during labor or level of breastfeeding support. The Birth Survey is collecting details of women's pregnancy care and birth experiences to compile reports that will detail this information and make it easily accessible to any woman who wants it. Reports for New York area hospitals are already available. In order to expand the data, they need you to take the survey, too.

Take the survey. Tell other people about your experience. Share information, so that what you liked, didn't like, loved, or hated about your birthing facility can be passed on to any woman who is investigating her birth options.

If for no other reason, do it as a matter of courtesy. As the wife of a PhD candidate, I know how much researchers rely on the kindness of strangers to take their much-labored-upon surveys to help them in their studies.

Do it!


Kristen said...

Woo-hoo! This will be fun. :)

Liz Johnson said...

Done and done. I wonder why they don't ask about all of your births?

Bridget said...

I bet you could sneak in some comments about other providers in there by choosing to give feedback about additional providers. But yes, I wish we could fill in information for more than one birth.

Aimee said...

I did it, and wish I had access to that information before giving birth, although I got lucky. Couldn't you fill out a survey for each birth? I didn't read the fine print b/c I only have one child. Especially if each birth was a completely different experience.

Bridget said...

Aimee, your solution is so simple that I think it's proof that having more than one kid fries your brain. Of course I could just fill out the survey again for a separate birth experience! Unless there was some fine print I didn't notice. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

Aimee said...

No problem. I just met so many women at the birth center who had pretty traumatic "1st birth" stories, and I think those are the most important to be heard. Knowledge is power, or I suppose on the flip side ignorance is bliss (until you end up with an induction, epidural and c-section) yet still are grateful to the doc (who needed to be home for dinner) that you have a healthy baby. It's nice to know which docs are going to be your support at such a vulnerable time.


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