The balance sheet of risk

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA“But if the risk model is applied to homebirth then it must be turned back on hospital birth also. There is a label we give to the harms caused by doctors: it is called iatrogenesis. Iatrogenesis has many forms: the side effects of prescribed drugs, the complications of surgery, or when people pick up an infectious illness in the hospital. Iatrogenesis in childbirth is huge problem. It stems from the fact that interventions are applied in the name of risk reduction to people who do not need them. We are not good enough in the prediction of complications to ensure that only those who need interventions get them.”

“Arguably more important are values that don’t show up on the balance sheet of risk. These values are the benefits, often immeasurable, that one gets from having experiences. What is it worth to you to have the feeling of being tucked into your own bed with your freshly birthed baby, minutes old, beside you? What price could be assigned to that feeling that some of us secretly know? The feeling, from the vantage point above fresh sheets and below a lovingly fluffed duvet, snuggled in with your baby: where you know with certainty that the whole world is made of two.”

– Alison Barrett.


Barrett A (2014). Climbing treesHome Birth Matters 1(2), Winter 2014.

The photo illustrating this post features the very beautiful Giordello Murphy-Lawless 😀


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