Dissent Without Action Is Consent


Birth workers…. PLEASE speak up when you see clients’ patient and human rights being violated, or being flat-out lied to. Please don’t stand by in silence for fear of having nurses / doctors not “like” you.

Inside the birthing room, there are ways to advocate diplomatically. You can be strong without being aggressive or disrespectful. You can be assertive while still being polite.

Outside the birthing room, we need to be truthful about the atrocities we see in hospitals, and provide women with honest information so they can make informed choices about where and with whom to birth.

Recently, two local photographers worked with BC Women’s Hospital’s Power to Push Campaign to put together a beautiful and important video of women thanking their nurses. I LOVED the video. In a recent guest post I wrote for Humanize Birth, I talk about how I value access to good medical care facilities and staff. Nurses have a tough job, and the care they give to birthing women has a huge impact on their experience during a hospital birth. You can see the video here, and I encourage you to read / participate in the discussion happening in the comments section of the video.

Luckily for BC Women’s Hospital, they have the luxury of raising public awareness of their happy patients with the help of a professional marketing, communication and design company.

Unfortunately, women who have had less than respectful, positive births, women who have left their hospital births feeling traumatized, bullied or manipulated, do not have these expert advertising companies behind them to help publicly share THEIR stories.

So these women rely on each other, and us birth workers, to spread the word.  I’ve been working with Vancouver Birth Rally and Humanize Birth since June to raise awareness about issues in our maternal health care system such as the need to improve informed consent practices and transparency in health care. You can read about that work in the Vancouver Birth Rally category on my blog, or you can visit my birth activism channel on YouTube.

I do this because, when it comes to witnessing abuse, mistreatment, or a violation of rights, I believe “dissent without action is consent” (Henry Thoreau). I believe there are serious issues that need to be addressed in ALL of our hospitals, and in our birth culture at large. I believe women have the right to know the truth about their birth options, and a right to make informed decisions about where, how, and with whom they birth. And I believe birth workers have a responsibility to provide them with honest information, and to speak up when they witness inappropriate, disrespectful or negligent practices happening inside the birthing room.

So tell us…. What are you doing to inform women about the truth of our maternal health care system? What are you doing to facilitate change? If you’re finding it hard to actively participate, what is holding you back? I would love to hear about the work you’ve been doing, or any ideas you have to help facilitate change. Please leave your comments below.

If you are a birth worker, mother, or someone who cares about women’s rights, please join our local movement for better birth practices. Join the conversation on Vancouver Birth Rally or Humanize Birth.

If you had an upsetting experience with your maternal health care, please visit Humanizebirth.org and share your story, so we can work towards demanding change.

I am a birth advocate and doula in Vancouver, BC. I provide doula support for many types of births, with a focus on supporting women who have had previously challenging or traumatic birth experiences.  ~ Jessica Austin

One Response to “Dissent Without Action Is Consent”

  1. Julian February 13, 2016 at 11:05 pm #

    Sarah, unfortunately we don’t have a lot of infamrotion about C-section rates at many of the hospitals here, though we’re working on collecting it. I suggest you ask the hospital directly for their overall c-section rate, and also ask your doctor his or her rate (the attitude of individual doctor is even more important than the hospital). Ask him or her how many times he has delivered babies vaginally, and if he has ever done a natural childbirth (without epidural). It is much better to have this conversation early in your pregnancy you can read , where she found out only in her 7th month that her doctor though natural childbirth was ridiculous and laughed at her! She ended up switching doctors.In general, natural childbirth is not well supported at most hospitals in Bangkok, there is not a lot of awareness of how it works. At the moment, Samitivej is the only hospital that offers special active childbirth rooms, with tub. Bumrungrad is planning to renovate and offer an active childbirth room in the future.If you have questions about natural childbirth, I suggest you attend a . This is open to any pregnant woman or couple, whether or not you are interested in hiring a doula it can be a very informative Q A session about the childbirth scene here in general.

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