I was talking with my brother today about language. That over the last few decades there is an artistry to the language we use that has both changed, and had parts lost. People spoke, or seemed to speak more eloquently than we do today. We currently tend to say what we mean in as a few words as possible, and often with the simplest language to guarantee we are understood. It also means we wont need to repeat ourselves or offer further clarity. This is in everyday conversation however. We aren’t using our full vocabularies on a regular basis. Then when we go to read a legal document, or medical documents, we need it explained and abbreviated because the sheer length of many of these documents are printed in both very small text or are so long, it will take even the best readers a long time to read; in addition to the fact that there are many challenging and technical terms in these documents that many of us will need to further investigate to have all the information. This is worded and compiled this way deliberately. All of this takes too much time, so the quick solution is to give you just the basics. We are seeing this in the medical field and with some care providers.
Some care providers are giving you a synopsis of the information, and most of it may be true, but it may not be complete. We see this often with fear tactics that are commonly presented to mothers who wish to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Many women hear that the risks with VBAC are high, and that if you attempt it you are putting both your life and the baby’s at risk. This is such dangerous language for many reasons. First, yes there are risks with VBAC, but there are also risks with multiple cesareans too. Those risks are far too often left out, which means you cannot make an informed decision. When someone uses language like this it promotes fear, and strips away a persons right to choose how to proceed with their medical care. It is essentially them telling us we aren’t smart enough to accurately weigh our options and pick with is right for us, even with proper guidance.
It also helps to spread miss information. It’s like when we played telephone as kids. Some things may change slightly, but those differences can make an impact on the final message. Language is a tool that everyone uses in one form or another, and if we aren’t careful with our word choices, we can leave valuable information on the table. This goes for asking the right questions too. We have to force simple answers sometimes. Make it so the answers can be only yes or no. So when picking care providers pay attention the the language they are using, and how your concerns are discussed with you. Make sure it is a discussion with you, not just someone talking at you.
Remember that words have the power to spread anything we allow it to. It can shape our lives and experiences if we allow it to; for both better and worse. Be mindful of your word, and those of others. Next week, we will look at one of the ways positive language can shape an experience, and specifically the experience of childbirth.