Spurred by an intriguing piece of anecdotal evidence I received this morning and without having much scientific evidence to cover the topic: I thought I would hop on and wright a little about one of the most controversial aspects of motherhood: decision making.
Being a pregnant or having a newborn means you will be making many decisions for another person and each decision you make has possible positive and negative consequences…. of course, you already know this. But, as a doula, my role is to help my clients gather all of the research they seek to make informed decisions for their family. Often, that means I gather the scientific evidence that is available so that the risks and benefits of each decision are able to be weighed by each client–based on their own personal circumstances. This also means that each client has a different birth and postpartum plan than the next. That does not mean, however, that decisions made with scientific knowledge are cut and dry and this fact is why I am choosing to write this detailed article about decisions and motherhood. Specifically, the roles of anecdotal and scientific evidences.
Since we all understand that when making a decision, we generally want to know the facts before signing the dotted line–lets talk about scientific evidences. Our medical communities’ credibility is based on the scientific method which is often considered infallible. It is not. New technologies are introduced as the years progress, that help us disprove our previously proven hypotheses or better understand a proven theory. Plus, better ethics (which evolve over time) in science today allows scientists to pick out biases in some of the most revered scientific consensuses. Some of these revered consensuses are actually used to determine medical procedures used in the birth world today-even though they may be biased or even highly flawed.
For example, one hot topic of today’s birthing community is the safety of Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (commonly abbreviated as VBAC). The medical community generally created procedures based on a highly flawed consensus on the dangers of VBAC when in fact: newer, less biased, science shows us that (generally) the risks are higher when repeat cesarean births are had. The point here is that although our medical and scientific community is an asset to making decisions, it is not the “end-all-be-all”. Of course, with everything, there are exceptions but it does not mean, however, that there is not value in the science: One of the values in scientific experimentation is that we can better document and understand the positive and negative consequences of medical options that are available to each society and ultimately, our families.
When taking on a new client, my number one priority is to familiarize myself with their own personal point of views. Their experiences in this world and in society as well as their medical concerns are some of the most important aspects of a family because no one person or family are the same. I delve into understanding them as people and understanding their personal concerns before conducting any research for them-so that I can better serve their concerns-and so that my own personal beliefs never come to the table when serving a family.
Because presenting all of the evidences available to a parent is incredibly important in making informed and personalized decisions, I like to pinpoint anecdotal evidences that are present in the community and around the world in addition to scientific journals. After all, theories start out as hypotheses and hypotheses are not much different than anecdotal evidence in the medical and scientific community. Often even, hypotheses that will be tested by the scientists start out as anecdotal evidence; The fact that there are always two sides of a coin, and that nature is never really defined by science, makes it ever-so-important to hone in on anecdotal evidence (in addition to) studying scientific evidence.
Whether you have an unbiased doula, medical provider, friend, or family member to walk you through your options or not, do not neglect anecdotal nor scientific evidence when doing your research. By looking at both sides of any coin you are studying, you will be able to choose the decision that best suits you and your family instead of what is best for most of society, or just go with what your friend from sixth grade says they did.
When you make an informed decision about a medical option being presented to you, remember: be led to listen to your intuition as well as your studies so that you can look back at that decision feeling whole and secure in whatever you chose. Your decisions will never look exactly like your peers and that is wonderful: it means that you understand that we each have different circumstances that translate to unique plans of action.
Feel free to contact me if you would like me to send you personalized, up-to-date, evidences on a specific topic… or, if you would like to see me write an article on a certain pregnancy, birth, or postpartum topic.
Check out my library page where I include different evidences to study up on, including some of the most intriguing aspects of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenthood.
Much Love-Evergreen Doula,