Birth politics

Alice Roberts writes about the process of childbirth as she awaits her second delivery: “Childbirth: why I take the scientific approach to having a baby”. The essay includes a bit of evolutionary perspective and a good discussion of evidence-based medicine and the ways that advocacy can distort it. A teaser:

Another problem is the politics of birth. It can be quite hard for mums-to-be to access impartial evidence and advice when it seems there are plenty of people wanting to influence your decision in one way or the other. Evangelical advocates of home birth often talk about the importance of women's choice and empowerment, as well as instilling distrust in obstetricians. For me, being empowered to make a decision requires access to good evidence and the freedom to make up my own mind. And whilst "maternal satisfaction" is often put forward as an important factor to be taken into consideration, I want to know what the relative risks are. And if there's not yet enough evidence to assess that I want to know that too.

For more detailed reading about the role of evolution in female health, I can recommend Wenda Trevathan’s book, Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women’s Health.