What’s best for society is not necessarily what’s best for an individual

I hope that heading got your attention.

It’s a thought I heard a few weeks ago and can’t get out of my head. Read it again.

What’s best to society is not necessarily what’s best for an individual.

This concept is so important in the birth and postpartum space.

According to the World Health Organisation, as a society it’s in our best interests to reduce the caesarean surgery rates down to 10-15%, which would be most effectively done by reducing rates of other interventions like non-medical induction of labours, epidurals and continuous fetal monitoring. This will lower morbidity and mortality for both birthing parents and babies, as well as drastically reducing medical expenditure.

It’s also in society’s best interests to increase the breastfeeding rates. There are so many well researched and documented health benefits to both the breastfeeding parent and the child in receiving breastmilk until at least the first year of life, which will again reduce health spending. There would also be a modest environmental saving in the number of plastic bottles used, manufacturing of formula etc.

BUT

Those things may not be in an individual’s best interests.

The best thing for a labouring person who’s 40 hours into labour and reaching exhaustion may be an epidural. Breastmilk is best for (almost) all babies, but it might not be best for all mothers, mostly when factoring mental health.

So, what I’m getting around to, is that the onus is on you, from the minute you find out you’re pregnant, to do your own research. Don’t let any one source of information be your only source. Do the hospital-based birth childbirth education course, but do an independent one too (ie Calmbirth, Lamaze, Hynobirthing). Then do some internet research about specific topics; delayed cord clamping regardless of how baby is born, immediate and uninterrupted skin to skin regardless of how baby is born, vitamin k or no vitamin k and so many other topics.

Just because something is standard hospital policy and practice, does not mean it’s the gold standard of practice. Just because you read something in a blog or article, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you and your family. Just because your best friend swears by X Y Z, doesn’t mean it’s going to suit you and your unique situation.

At every decision, ask the BRAIN acronym questions in relation to 3 factors: you, your baby and your labour.  Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition and No/Not yet.

brain acronym informed decision making melbourne childbirth education your birth your baby

That way you know you’re making the best decision for you and your family. And for you to know that you’ve drawn from a solid pool of information, and to feel confident and comfortable in those decisions, that IS in society’s best interests, as well as your own.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

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Rachel Angelone is the founder of Your Birth Your Baby and is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Postpartum Doula and NurtureLife Pregnancy Massage Practitioner based in Melbourne. Rachel offers independent childbirth and early parenting education to pregnant families before baby arrives. Once your baby is Earth-side, she offers practical and emotional in-home support as you adjust to your new life as parents. Along both journeys she can provide relaxing and restorative massage treatments. She is also a loving wife and mother to two young girls.

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