Dr. Klein is shocked

Dr. Michael Klein is shocked, shocked at how willingly women are to follow their obstetricians’ advice. As an article in yesterday’s LA Times details:

Doctors, led by Dr. Michael Klein of the Child & Family Research Institute and University of British Columbia, surveyed 1,318 healthy pregnant women. They found many seemingly unprepared to make their own decisions regarding childbirth options, such as whether to have natural childbirth or a Cesarean section…

“[E]ven late in pregnancy, many women reported uncertainty about benefits and risks of common procedures used in childbirth,” Klein said in a news release. “This is worrisome because a lack of knowledge affects their ability to engage in informed discussions with their caregivers.”

Klein’s findings have been appear in the paper Birth Technology and Maternal Roles in Birth in this months’ issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada. Klein’s distressing conclusion? Many women appear to follow the advice of their obstetricians.

Contrast that with women’s relationship with other professionals. Are women seemingly unprepared to make their own decisions regarding legal options such as whether or not to sue a business colleague? Do they demonstrate uncertainty about the benefits and risks of common legal actions? Actually … they do. That’s why they consult lawyers in the first place.

Okay, law is a highly specialized profession, so that accounts for the fact that women fail to do their own “research” and “educate” themselves on all their legal options, but what about something more straightforward like building a house?

Are women seemingly unprepared regarding architectural options like structural steel roof framing vs. conventional framing? Do they demonstrate uncertainty about the benefits and risks of common structural options like the locations of walls or the framing of windows? After all, what could be more basic than walls and windows. Every women who lives in a house (and that’s most women) are directly affected by their walls and windows. And yet … most women merely rely on the advice of their architects.

Alright, women rely on the advice of their lawyers and architects, but surely they have a different approach when the decisions involve their own body.

Consider the decisions women face regarding breast cancer treatment. It is difficult to imagine when women are more vulnerable, and when their decisions directly affect their autonomy as when they are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Do women demonstrate uncertainty about the benefits and risks of various treatment options like surgery vs. radiation, or radiation vs. chemotherapy? Um … yes, they do.

But surely they are fully versed in the many benefits and risks of specific chemotherapy drugs. Wait, they’re not? But no doubt they understand exactly when, where and how radiation should be delivered to the breast. They don’t? Surely, they don’t merely rely on the advice of their oncologist to make such an important decision? Actually, they do.

Okay, maybe that’s because cancer is so complicated. Consider something far simpler like eye care. Every woman has eyes, and their eyes are designed to see perfectly. It’s not like they are dependent on the decision of an optometrist as to whether they do or do not need eye interventions like glasses? Oh, they are?

Well, at least they understand the myriad risks of wearing contact lenses. They are undoubtedly familiar with all the rare eye injuries and diseases whose incidence is increased by contact lenses, right? How could they allow an intervention like the placement of plastic IN THEIR EYE unless they were fully cognizant that in rare cases, it could increase the risk of BLINDNESS?I Wait! What? They don’t know about these things and they acquiesce to wearing contact lenses because their optometrist recommends them? That’s shocking.

Of course it’s not as shocking as the fact that women rely on the advice of their obstetricians. Think about how different childbirth is than these other examples. It’s not surprising that women rely on their lawyers because they are legal experts, and it’s hardly surprising that women rely on architects because they are experts in the construction of houses. And surely it only makes sense for women to rely on the advice of an oncologist when they have cancer, because oncologists are experts in cancer and obviously, they are going to take the advice of optometrists on eye care because optometrists are experts in diagnosing and treating vision problems.

But why, oh why, do women rely on the advice of obstetricians when obstetricians are merely … experts in childbirth??!!

Dr. Klein is right to be terribly shocked and disturbed at this completely unreasonable, wholly inexplicable phenomenon that has no parallel in any other aspect of a woman’s life.