It’s Always A Woman’s ChoiceOctober 31, 2011 1 Comment
Controversy has erupted over women’s bodies in Britain this week. Pregnant women’s bodies, in particular. In other words, a very personal time in a woman’s life, yet one that causes all manner of people to come out of the woodwork with advice, opinions and unsolicited touching of the bump.
A new report by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended that healthy women should be allowed to have an elective C-section on the National Health Service (NHS) if they want one. Yes, Britain could become home of free C-sections on demand. Currently, C-section births covered by the NHS are for medical reasons, emergencies and if the mother has already had a C-section in the past. In other cases, women are expected to try and give birth vaginally.
What is curious is that this recommendation has invoked the ire of two groups that don’t usually have a whole lot in common — natural birth advocates and British conservatives who support the cutting of government spending wherever possible. Given that C-sections cost the NHS, and therefore the British taxpayer, more than natural deliveries, I can see why the fiscal conservatives are freaking out.
But what about the natural birth advocates? The ones who are proudly not too posh to push and urge every pregnant woman to try and get their baby out via the way it got in there? Perhaps childbirth has become too medicalised.
If this recommendation is taken on board, however, it might not make a whole lot of difference to current NHS C-section stats. At present, women can have an elective C-section because of fear of a vaginal delivery. This is a valid medical reason for a C-section under current guidelines. A pregnant woman wouldn’t need to be an Oscar-winning actress to convince a doctor she was freaking out at the prospect of natural childbirth.
Indeed, in my case, I won’t be able to give birth naturally should I ever be pregnant because of a back condition known as spondylothesis. It’ll have to be a planned C-section on the NHS for me. I’m fine with this. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t secretly pleased about this. Having grilled friends with kids about their birth experiences, I’d be inclined to opt for an elective C-section. It’s a perfectly valid choice as long as its an informed choice and all options have been clearly and accurately discussed well before the due date. And in a society where the laws and morals lean towards prochoice, this is another way women can have control over their bodies.
Georgia Lewis is a journalist who lives in London. Contact her here.