4 October 2011

When Did We Have to Start Defending the Physiological Norm?

This has been on my mind a lot lately.  Recently in conversation I've found myself having to defend/justify my decisions in which I've simply not taken action.  In other words, I've gone with the physiological norm.  For example, I refuse the Vit K injection at birth (given a normal delivery and delayed cord clamping), refuse a managed delivery of the placenta (again, provided all is going well), only allow some vaccinations (and I'm not entirely sure I'll even continue that unless I see them as truly necessary, we'll see), am very opposed to routine circumcision, prefer natural childbirth (preferably at home), breastfeed full-term, etc.

For each of these, I've met with horrified expressions at one point or another, with people in disbelief that I would do that.  At first I just brushed that aside, but as I've thought more, it's struck me about how we've come to see the physiological norm as the thing that must be justified as being a deviation from the societal norm.  Somewhere along the way we've been told that the physiological norm isn't good enough and must be altered somehow, to the point that most go along with these interventions without even thinking about it.  Societal expectations are such that choosing to forego these interventions is met with derision or curiosity, and there are even times when we have to fight just for the right to not take action!

Shouldn't it be the other way around?  Shouldn't it be that the physiological norm is the societal norm and that any action taken must be justified?  I'm not saying that choosing Vit K, managed delivery of the placenta, vaccines, etc are necessarily bad, but I do think there's a problem when these things are done for all as standard, routine care, without consideration of whether it is necessary or helpful for that individual.  As I'm sure is obvious, I would much prefer for the standard to be the physiological norm, with these interventions being limited to when they're truly necessary.  And there are times when such measures are necessary, I'm not saying otherwise, but I just can't see how everyone needs all these interventions.

Edited to add: I just want to make it clear that I'm in no way saying the above interventions are necessarily bad, for they do serve a purpose.  My beef is in saying "these things help in these cases, so let's use them with everyone".  I'm very thankful for the advances in medicine, but, to quote from Ecclesiastes, to everything there is a season.  

1 comment:

  1. I hate being a person who says "Abortion! Birth Control!" all the time, but I really do think it started with contraceptives - seeing a norm (getting pregnant) - as something to be avoided.