The concept of risk has been increasingly mentioned in birth-related literature over the past few years by many different groups. Just to name a few of the more obvious ones, we have those who have become concerned by what they view as the risk-laden nature of certain aspects of birth, those who are keen to manage these risks, those who have sought to illuminate and challenge the way in which the notion of risk is being used, intentionally or unwittingly, to limit and/or control women’s decisions and those who have to make very personal and difficult decisions amidst all of these other debates. I have added to this literature and would identify more often (though not necessarily always) with those whose aim is illumination. I believe that, although the notion of risk has come to dominate our culture, there is often no good evidence to support the fear it creates. I think it is good to point out the frequent lack of basis for the fears that are so often expressed so that those who choose to may face up to this monster, see that it is really not as scary as it may have first appeared and, ultimately, take back their power.
I want to share a few things related to this over a few posts. Firstly, a small collection of editorials that I have just uploaded that relate to different aspects of the risk debate. These include Reflecting on Risk Assessment, in which I looked at the topic of carrying out risk assessment for the purpose of determining which women may be more likely to experience venous thromboembolism, and a related editorial called Deep Vein Thinking, which was published, by coincidence, exactly two years later. Another older editorial on this topic is Bad Science and the Limits of Choice, which looked at a controversial study on home birth and in which I said a bit more about how the notion of risk can be used to control women’s choices.
No matter whether you agree or disagree – for it would be very dull indeed if we all thought in the same way – I hope they will serve to illuminate and further your own thinking 😀