Opinion | It’s Better for Women to Have a Birth Plan

A mother emphasizes the value of preparation, especially now. Also: Comparing virus numbers; evangelicals; a therapist’s story.

More from our inbox:

To the Editor:

Re “Letting Go of Your Fantasy Birth Plan,” by Rosemary Counter (Sunday Review, March 8):

“Letting go of your fantasy birth plan” suggests that birthing the way you want is not only impossible but also entitled. Women must plan; too often our needs are not met in hospitals, and our unnecessary cesarean and maternal mortality rates are too high.

Preparation for birth has never been more important, considering the many additional unknowns in this wild time. All the more reason to prepare and advocate for yourself.

The more pregnant women can learn about labor, their bodies and how to give birth, the better and more confidently they can navigate the many unknowns that birth brings.

I prepared for my births, two in the hospital and one at home, carefully selecting providers, taking childbirth classes, reading books, practicing labor positions and meditating. My preparations were the foundation of three totally different, empowering experiences that eased my difficult transition into motherhood.

Pregnant women should not assume that they have no control over what happens to their bodies during birth. That’s not freedom; we deserve better.

Allison Yarrow
The writer is the author of a forthcoming book, “The Mother Load,” an investigation of how sexism and misogyny shape the transition to motherhood.

U.S. Has the Most Coronavirus Cases, but …

To the Editor:

Re “Job Losses Soar; U.S. Virus Cases Top World” (front page, March 27):

A number of recent Times articles have described the United States as the country hardest hit by the coronavirus, as the total number of reported cases has recently surpassed that of any other nation. That description may mislead some readers.

While the United States does now have the most reported cases, its infection rate per capita still remains well below many other industrialized nations, including Italy, Spain and Germany.

While we would never want to downplay the scale of the crisis, particularly in hard-hit cities like New York, readers need an accurate understanding of the disease’s impact in comparison with other nations.

Oren M. Abeles
Hancock, Mich.

Don’t Blame the Christians

To the Editor:

Re “The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response,” by Katherine Stewart (Op-Ed, nytimes.com, March 27):

So now it’s the churches’ fault? It is so easy to pick out a few extremes, set up a straw man and knock it down. Ms. Stewart sounds like Nero, who 2000 years ago blamed Christians for the fire that destroyed the city of Rome.

A deadly virus doesn’t need human help. Playing the blame game isn’t going to save lives in a crisis. Churches across the nation are caring for the sick and providing much needed physical and spiritual help. We are all in this together, and that includes the president whom so many love to hate. We all need to work together now. We can vote on our opinions and preferences later.

I’m sorry, but this opinion article could only serve to stir up hatred against churches at a critical time in our nation’s life.

David Butts
Terre Haute, Ind.
The writer is chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee.

The Therapist and the Penguin

To the Editor:

Re “A Wave of Viral Anxiety Washes Over the Internet,” by Amanda Hess (Critic’s Notebook, Arts pages, March 21):

The vision of a newly freed penguin marveling at the exhibits of Chicago’s now shuttered Shedd Aquarium captured me. Ms. Hess writes, “Finally, he can see the other animals as he himself was once seen.”

As a psychologist now forced to work remotely on Zoom, I am Wellington the penguin: My own face reflects back to me at the same time I see my patients. I see myself as I have always been seen.

This has been a distraction upending my normal therapeutic activity of focusing in on my own feelings to guide my work. The little box housing my face provides sometimes disorienting information.

I may end up borrowing a tip from a colleague struggling with the same problem. She has resorted to putting a sticky note over her own face to avoid distraction and better approximate our usual work environment.

Janet Rivkin Zuckerman
Mamaroneck, N.Y.

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