Is a Pregnant Woman a Patient?
Webster's definition of a patient is someone awaiting or undergoing medical care or treatment. This begs the question, are pregnancy and birth medical events? Do they require medical management and intervention? Or are they innate physiological (the branch of biology that deals with the normal functions of living organisms and their parts) processes that women's bodies were uniquely designed to carry out? As an educated professional I stand firm taking the stance that the latter is the case. I have earned an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, State License, as well as a National Certification and at the end of that I am deemed an expert in physiological birth. I have been present at well over one hundred births. From the smoothest and most peaceful through all hands-on deck sorts of births my opinion that birth is what our bodies, as women, were made to do remains firm. We have an entire complex organ system dedicated strictly to growing, birthing, and feeding our babies and the design was not a mistake. Yes, there are always exceptions. There are complications out of our control that make pregnancy and birth more difficult and less safe, these are not what I am referring to. I am only referring to low-risk women with low-risk pregnancies.
I find it immensely important to be thoughtful with the verbiage we use. When a woman hires an obstetrician, nurse-midwife, or licensed midwife, she becomes their client, not their patient. Rather than telling women what testing and procedures will be done as they come up, providers should supply ample information throughout their pregnancy regarding testing, and procedures, so that they may make an informed decision regarding their choices.
This is how I choose to practice at Sol Midwifery. I rely on my expertise in normal physiological pregnancy, labor and postpartum to monitor women and their baby throughout their childbearing season. I do not approach this season as something that needs medically managed to be safe and I take maternal and infant satisfaction into consideration and acknowledge that changes in birth plans can be devastating. While it is my job to ensure mother and baby’s safety, it is also my job to keep maternal and infant satisfaction in mind. It is not my job to intervene at the expense of the mother’s comfort without her consent in any situation. Evidence based practice, while important, can miss out on so much when maternal satisfaction and infant experience isn’t considered. Check in next week to see what I have to say about Evidence based care.