What happens when you don’t listen to women? When women are taught to listen to their bodies, trust their instincts and gather their strength… what happens if you then ignore those women? If you try to squash them, silence them, brush them under the carpet? What happens then? What happens when you take away choice like you take dangerous toys from a baby? What happens when women are not allowed?
In 2009 I had an appointment to meet with my consultant to discuss birthing options for my second child. My first had been born via emergency c-section and so I was given the opportunity to talk through plans for this baby, bearing in mind what had happened previously. It all sounded so good on paper.
What happened instead is that my consultant sent a registrar to tell me that I basically had no options when it came to my body. The elective c-section I requested was denied. The choices I thought I was entitled to were swept away with an overly bright proclamation that what happened before wasn’t going to happen again. Baby in disstress? Oh no, that won’t happen again. Cord around the neck? Not a chance. No, we won’t scan you to check. No, your concerns are not reasonable. No, you can’t have the birth you want.
I left the appointment with a c-section date of the 9th December, 5 days after my due date, and the promise that my baby would come before that and all would be fine. On the 8th December however, a midwife called me to tell me that my surgery date had been moved to the 15th instead- a whole 11 days after my due date. Despite my pleads, nothing could be done.
When I arrived at the hospital on the 12th, in labour, there was every chance for the situation to turn around. I asked for my c-section. No. I asked if I was in labour. No. I asked if my husband could stay. No.
Was an elective c-section the right choice for me? Yes, I believe it was. The hospital did not agree. Instead my son and I were taken to the very edge. I laboured for hours and I was taken to theatre amid chaos and panic. My son was brought into the world just minutes after the theatre doors crashed open and his little blue body was plucked from my body just in time.
Did a category 1 emergency section under GA save the hospital money? Was it the right choice for me, and for my son? Was it the best outcome for a scared woman who has previously been through a traumatic birth?
Or was it the result of a woman being ignored? Choices being denied. Birth wishes being dismissed.
What happens when you don’t listen to women?
Lack of choice.
Lack of control.
A flawed system that fails to support women in their decisions, and instead allows them to believe that the things they want are not important. The choices they made are not important. THEY are not important. Do I think that women should be allowed c-sections if hey request them? Yes. Do I think women should be trusted to know what is best for their own bodies? Yes. Do I think health care providers should supports guide and accept women in their choices? Yes! No question.
Because when we don’t listen to women we are talking then under no certain terms that they are not inportant. That a healthy baby is all hat matters. That hospital budgets come first. And actually what comes first is mum. It has to be that way. And until it is, nothing much will change.