Never could I wrap my head around my friends having babies without a hint of fear. I just had so many questions. What if you experience complications? What if the baby isn’t healthy? What if…what if…what if? Those who knew me well attributed my concern to anxiety. While they’re not wrong, they’re not exactly right either. In my personal experience, I’ve perceived a kind of willful ignorance in some (not all) prospective parents; a ‘hope for the best’ approach to conceiving. While I do strive for glass half-full optimism, I still fancy myself a realist. I rely on cold hard facts when making decisions. The decision about children was no different. I calculated the risk/reward ratio of pregnancy and opted not to invest and I have, what I consider, a realist’s view of pregnancy.
What do you think is more dangerous: contraception or pregnancy? According to researchers, the risk for young and healthy women who take birth control pills is 240 times lower than the risk of death from pregnancy-related complications. Based on news clips and article headlines, I could have thought oral contraceptives to be riskier.
“Pregnancy is more dangerous (meaning, more likely to kill you) than the following: general anesthesia, hang gliding, SCUBA diving, rock climbing, canoeing, and air travel. In fact, pregnancy is 14 times more dangerous than the next riskiest activity (hang gliding).”
– I’m an Ob/Gyn and I Never, Ever Want to Be Pregnant, Lisa Torres, M.D.
I’m not keen on becoming 1 of the 600 women in the U.S. who die as a result of pregnancy-related complications each year. In fact, I think I’d rather take up hang gliding… while on birth control.
Not only can pregnancy result in death, but you could incur a host of other symptoms:
Just reading the list makes me want to take Peptobismal. I also want to call my mom and 1) ask her how she had not one, not two, but three children and 2) give her kudos.
Rewarding for Some
Pregnancy is truly, and quite literally, a labor of love for some. Most, if not all, women who want to have children don’t get pregnant for the pregnancy itself. The pregnancy is a means to an end and the baby is the light at the end of the tunnel (no pun intended).
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women who decide to take on these risks but here’s the caveat: They need to know the risks.
I don’t mean you should go up to every aspiring mother you see and start spouting off pregnancy complication statistics. Or if you do, please leave my name out of it ;-P But, every woman deserves to know what she’s choosing when she chooses to have kids.
We live in an extremely pronatalist society. What does this mean? Pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing are viewed through rose-colored glasses. Recently, there were days you couldn’t even log into Twitter without seeing Beyonce’s maternity photos and read the praise that followed. Yet, this is what we’re not seeing:
A woman, who at 35 years old and carrying twins, is more likely to experience “miscarriage, premature delivery and stillbirth, gestational diabetes, bleeding complications, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, C-section, chromosomal abnormalities in babies, and growth retardation in babies.”
The behind-the-scenes shot is not always as magical as what you’re seeing front and center. Regardless, it still deserves to be seen.
I think we do all women a disservice by showing only the pronatalist point of view. Instead, let’s be realists.
What do you think? How can you be a realist? Tell me in the comments section below!