The Most Valuable Thing I Can Give You

With the care packages sooo close to being ready, I’ve been thinking more and more about what it is that I can give to clients, & any woman who buys/is gifted the momma box.

Is it the soothing organic shea & cocoa belly butter? Is it the relaxing lavender bath salts?

No. I believe it is the info card.

Yes it’s pretty, and it has some cute tips & tricks for getting labour going, and helping your cervix open up. But what it also has the BRAIN acronym. Something that every pregnant woman needs to know. It’s that sliver of knowledge that I hope will register in people’s minds that birth is something they have control over and must, if it comes down to it, fight for.

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The state of the world today is a scary one, I think we can all agree on that. There are some crazy things happening over in the United States, one upsetting thing in particular is the amendment to the constitution that Alabama just passed, making it state policy to recognize and support “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life,” as well as to “ensure the protection of the rights of the unborn child in all manners and measures lawful and appropriate.”

(I’m citing this amazing post on Birth Monopoly about this.)

The article goes on to describe this amendment as “fetal personhood”.
Fetal personhood means that a fetus is a person with a set of rights that is separate from the person carrying them. This idea exists outside the U.S. constitution, as fetuses are not included in what we understand to be legal persons.  Various states, however, have advanced policies and law that view fetuses as legal people with constitutional rights, with Alabama’s new amendment perhaps the strongest law to date. When this happens, the fetus, which cannot speak for itself, must be represented by someone, and that representative is invariably NOT the person carrying the fetus.  Once a fetus has rights endowed by the state, the state is empowered to act on behalf of the fetus—or, in cases we have seen around the country for decades, doctors and hospitals act on behalf of the fetus against the mother, with the blessing of the state.”

I am so shocked & saddened to read this. This pushes us so far back in time.
How can anyone agree with this amendment, and believe that it makes sense for anyone other than the mother carrying the fetus to make choices for it? It’s flabbergasting.

Some possible scenarios caused by this amendment might include:

  • “Prosecuting a woman who has a stillbirth for any type of behavior that is seen as risk-increasing, such as taking anxiety medications or choosing alternative therapies over medical treatment

  • Compelling a pregnant person to have an induction or Cesarean at an arbitrary deadline; removing her newborn into state custody if she refuses

  • Prosecuting a woman for an accidental home birth and/or removing the newborn from the family into state custody

  • The state medical association challenging the constitutionality of the newly passed midwifery legislation on the grounds that hospital birth is safer for babies

  • Prosecuting a pregnant woman for leaving the state to give birth as “kidnapping” or “appropriating” a fetus”

My heart hurts for women in Alabama. This amendment is a stripping of their rights, and I sincerely hope that changes will be made for the better, and that no one has to suffer. But I know that unfortunately that won’t be the case. These laws make it difficult to believe otherwise.

I urge you to find out the laws where YOU live. Know your rights.

I’m lucky to live in Canada. I love our healthcare system, how accessible help is for us, and that we have clear birth rights.
The Ministry of Health has a guide on consent for practitioners.
This guide outlines your legal rights regarding giving & refusing consent:

1. The right to give consent or refuse consent on any grounds, including moral or religious grounds, even if the refusal will result in death;

2. The right to select a particular form of medically appropriate health care on any grounds, including moral or religious grounds;

3. The right to revoke consent;

4. The right to expect that a decision to give, refuse, or revoke consent will be respected; and

5. The right to be involved to the greatest degree possible in all case planning and decision making.

If you also live in Canada, please know this! Please use it if any medical professional tries to make you do something you don’t feel comfortable with. You deserve to know all of your options, to have time to learn & understand what they are, to make a decision that feels right for you, and have that decision be respected.

I’ve said it many times before and I will keep on saying it, informed consent is everything.

The reason I do this work isn’t just because of adorable babies, it’s because women deserve to be treated with respect always, especially when we give birth.
I don’t care how you wish to give birth. I really don’t. If you know you want an epidural, that’s great! Let’s get you one. I just want to make sure you’re aware of all the benefits & risks, and that you make an informed decision regarding this matter.
Same goes for non-medicated birth.

Knowledge is power, I firmly believe that. Being armed with knowledge increases your chances of having your ideal birth.
That is the most valuable thing I can give you, the push to learn.

Do you know your rights? Let me know in the comments!

 Support. by  Krista Evans

Support. by Krista Evans