The United States was formed to insure religious freedom for all. As a result, a person can participate in any form of religion that they choose, or they can choose not to participate in religion at all. However, there is a new religion, an institutionalized religion, which every person is expected to participate in. If a person chooses not to participate in these institutionalized rituals, they are often subject to ridicule, harassment, and even legal action. If a person chooses not to allow their children to participate in these institutionalized rituals, they are often subject to legal action and in some instances even have their children taken away from them. This is the way of the New Religion - Medicine.
Doctors are the high priests of this new religion. I call it a religion because of the fanatical devotion that people in the West give, and are expected to give, to this institution. People are expected to consult their doctors before they do anything....from taking a walk around the block to putting their children to bed at night. Pregnant women are expected to go to doctors for prenatal care. They are told they are reckless and are endangering the lives of their babies if they don't. However, doctors treat pregnancy as a disease rather than a natural function of a woman's body, which it is. For this reason, many woman are now choosing not to go to doctors, not for prenatal care, nor for the actual birth of the baby. Some women choose midwives to help them give birth. But there is now a growing movement of women who are choosing to take responsibility for their own health and the health their unborn children. They choose to do their own prenatal care and birth their own babies, alone. They do this out of a deep concern for the safety and well-being of their unborn children, and should not be considered reckless or negligent. They should be applauded for being brave enough to go against a system which is in many cases the cause of not only miserable birth experiences, but birth trauma which follows them and their children for life.
Faith is an essential element in any religion. If one goes to a doctor, one has to have faith that the doctor is competent. To check on whether or not your doctor has ever been prosecuted or convicted of malpractice, or has ever been sanctioned, see the Questionable Doctors Website.
Even if a doctor has actually gone to medical school and obtained both a degree and a license, one still must take it on faith that what he learned is actually going to help people. As a Certified Childbirth Educator and birth attendant, I routinely encounter situations where the medical procedures used were of more harm than anything that could have happened naturally. Of course, that depends on your definition of harm. To a doctor, the goal is a live baby and mother, period. If the baby has been delivered safely, and the mother and baby are going to recover from whatever happened, the doctor probably feels that he has caused no harm. However, most mothers have a different opinion of what constitutes harm. They feel that many of the procedures they are subjected to during the prenatal period as well as during the birth process are both physically and emotionally harmful, not to mention dehumanizing. In my work, I have found that most of the things doctors panic about during pregnancy and birth are things that will resolve themselves naturally given the appropriate circumstances, or they are circumstances which are actually caused by the routine procedures forced on mothers during their pregnancies and births. Women should have the right to refuse these procedures if they feel what is being done against their beliefs or not in their best interests.
We live in a day and age when women are allowed to exercise control over their own bodies. If they want to terminate a pregnancy (i.e. dismember a baby and suck it out through a vacuum extractor) they are allowed to do this. However, if a mother wants to deliver her own baby by the method of her choice because she believes it is safer, there are those who would like to deny her this right, to say that she is negligent. If this is the case, why don't we call her negligent when she has an abortion? The answer is, because doctors profit from and are in control of the abortion procedure. In an unassisted childbirth, no one profits, no one is in control except the mother. So the question is, do we really believe in women's rights?
Robbie Davis-Floyd, in her book "Birth as An American Rite of Passage", explains how every aspect of hospital birth, from putting on the hospital gown, to giving birth in the lithotomy position (on back, feet in stirrups), are rituals designed to "align the belief system of the individual with that of the social group conducting the ritual". In other words, the whole hospital birth experience is designed to deprive the woman of her own power, alter her belief system so that she believes the hospital procedures are necessary and willingly submits to them as part of the rite of passage from childhood to womanhood. She explains the differences between the technocratic and holistic models of birth - one in which the woman places all her trust in experts and technology, the other in which the woman places her faith in her body and self. I highly recommend the book (which can be purchased by HERE).
If one has faith in the medical model, one will always need to go to a doctor for help. If one has faith in their own body's ability to heal itself or birth without medicine, one can then take responsibility for one's own health, and do that which will prevent disease or have a healthy pregnancy and birth, thereby eliminating the need for Western medicine and the doctor. In the United States, each person has a fundamental right to choose which religion they will believe in and practice. If this is the case, then they must also have the fundamental right to choose NOT to believe in the medical model or in doctors, and not to practice the western medical religion. And, they should not be penalized for this by being prosecuted or by having their children taken away.
Alternative models of healing are very prevalent, especially in other parts of the world. The West is very arrogant if they believe that their model is the best or the only one which is valid. The United States brags that it has the best medicine in the world. Well, if I was in a car accident or cardiac arrest, of course I agree that the United States has superior emergency medical technology, and if I were in such a situation of course I would avail myself of it, since one has nothing to lose if the only other alternative is death. However, when one is not in an emergency situation, the body is perfectly capable of healing itself, if a person will simply assist the body in it's healing process instead of getting in the way. Sadly, many of the drugs, treatments, and surgical procedures available today actually impede the healing process and the birth process rather than assist it. For that reason, a person is much better off being their own physician rather than visiting a licensed one.
Notice that I am not advocating practicing medicine without a license, or advocating receiving treatment from "alternative" health care providers either. I am simply advocating that everything you need to know to be your own physician or midwife is available to you, and you can do a very good job of it on your own.
To have an autonomous pregnancy, one must trust one's intuitive abilities, and take advantage of one's constitutional right to self-government. You are competent to make decisions about your own body and your own pregnancy, especially if you do research and study, and then apply your intuitive abilities to improving your condition naturally. You will have a healthier pregnancy and birth if you direct the course of your own pregnancy, rather than relying solely upon an expert to take responsibility for your health.
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