A stranger on the internet says: I chose a great birth center to have my baby in, but as of this morning they say that I’ve risked out. I don’t want to have my baby in the hospital. So, I’m reading a few things about unassisted homebirth, and I’m thinking that my husband and I can do this ourselves. We’re planning to call the paramedics when I’m delivering so that they can be there to help.
A hundred people in reply say: Heck yeah! That’s a great idea! You can do it! Don’t let them bully you!
Another stranger on the internet says: My sister’s doctor says that she needs to be induced tomorrow. I’m trying to talk her out of it. How long should I tell her she can wait?
Another hundred people say: Tell her not to show up! Wait as long as she wants. I know someone who went three weeks after her due date, and she’s just fine!
And here on the other end of the screen, I sit on my hands.
I can’t believe that I even need to say that this is a bad idea on so many levels.
We have NO other information about these mamas. We don’t know why the practitioner that she knows and has chosen to trust with her medical care is advising her to make this decision. We don’t know what her birth center has said, or why the OB is concerned enough to think that the baby is suddenly safer on the outside. We know nothing of test results, or mama’s health, or signs that the baby may need help.
As a birth community, when we advise blindly to ignore medical recommendations, we are just as much in the wrong as the practitioners who apply all interventions to everyone regardless of need.
As doulas, childbirth educators, or even online birth junkies, it’s great to encourage and support. Mamas no doubt need the community around them who is willing to say “You are so strong! You can do this!” Yes, we are in this together seeking to learn, and sometimes, we might know information that is relevant and useful. However – these decisions should never be left to the opinion of strangers on the internet. When we cross the line into saying, “Don’t listen to anyone!”, we are taking the risk of jeopardizing the wellbeing of a mother and baby we don’t know. This is a serious breech of ethics.
We may be a lot of wise women, but we do not possess the collective wisdom to know what is best for a person that we have never met, that we cannot see, who has been advised by a practitioner that we don’t know, about medical facts that haven’t been shared.
Mama needs to talk with her practitioner. Ask the benefits. Ask the risks. Ask the alternatives. Ask if doing nothing is an option. Then, make her own best choice. No hive mind needed.