Friday, April 17, 2009

The State of Birth: You're so Brave?

Thank you Kim at DoulaMama for bringing this link to my attention.

The Motherhood Online is doing a series on the State of Birth in America. Wednesday's author, Helena Holgersson-Shorter, wrote on her experience of being told she's "so brave" for having three home births.

While her language is a little ... um ... well, she curses, her point is still valid.
Who the f*** robbed you of your birthright as a woman? Who convinced you that you don’t have the power to do what you are literally born to do? Who the F*** stands to benefit from your inculcated fear, your deliberate ignorance, your passivity when it comes to the fruits of the most intimate and dearest of your labors?

It is no accident that our dying society sustains its capitalist, industrialist power in part through a Brave New World health system designed and perpetuated through the denial and destruction of health, in the true sense of the word. So don’t be impressed by my homebirth: I just happen to have some primitive Wolf Woman gene that seems impervious to years and years of cultural brainwashing. You can do it too, of course you can. If you couldn’t, the entire race of homo sapiens would not exist. We need a revolution to rival Descartes’, except our motto will be "Gero ergo sumus".

She ends with:
Birth is power.
Knowledge is power.
It is, and always has been
yours, mine, and ours.
I could not agree more. While the birth of my son was not all I hoped it would be, I do believe that birthing in many "developed" nations is BROKEN! Women trust more in doctors, machines, and opinions than our own bodies.

The medical profession alone is not responsible for this perpetuation of fear and anxiety-- trust of medicine over our bodies. No, we do it to ourselves too! Women share their "horror" stories, but very few share their peaceful (not to be confused with painless!) birth experiences-- especially those who birth at home! I say-- share away! Let's hear about home births and unmedicated hospital births. Tell women, young and old, that it can be done. That YOU DID IT! That our bodies still know how to function as they were designed...without unnecessary interventions, pressures and monitoring!

5 comments:

Elita said...

I ALWAYS tell women that it's not that bad. Your body was built to give birth and you can do it. I am always vocal about having an unmedicated birth. Not because I think I am better than anyone, but to counter all of the horror stories women hear. It's not pain-free, but it's definitely a pain you can manage and get through.

melissa said...

i had what some would consider an intervention-heavy birth (induced due to high blood pressure, pitocin, epidural), but it was heavenly. i dilated to a four before i even asked for my epidural, and the pain even then was not very bad. interventions or not, i totally credit my easy, smooth, and beautiful birth experience to being completely relaxed and trusting my body to do what it needed, and trusting my caregivers to help me if the need arose. tension and fear only work against the process, no matter what the circumstances are.

melissa said...

i had what some would consider an intervention-heavy birth (induced due to high blood pressure, pitocin, epidural), but it was heavenly. i dilated to a four before i even asked for my epidural, and the pain even then was not very bad. interventions or not, i totally credit my easy, smooth, and beautiful birth experience to being completely relaxed and trusting my body to do what it needed, and trusting my caregivers to help me if the need arose. tension and fear only work against the process, no matter what the circumstances are.

Rebecca said...

This is my first chance to check you blog since returning from my vacation, and what a wonderful post to return to!

Tammy B said...

I had a natural birth (with the exception of antibiotics given before heavy labor started because I tested positive for strep-B). My daughter was breech, and there was so much fear projected onto me about this. I had to do a lot of meditation practices to get past the fear of the birth because the only experience I had with breech birth was the US-medical attitude that it is almost an assured c-section. Also, my brother was breech, and he was injured in the birth in circumstances that my mother was never really informed about.

With all of this baggage, I was blessed to be working with midwives (in Germany) at a hospital that specializes in vaginal breech deliveries. Even the head of the department encouraged me to try for a vaginal birth because the size of the baby was great for it. Though, there was a strong assumption that I would need an epidural (the midwives did not share this assumption with me for which I am grateful).

I made it clear that I wanted a natural birth. I have been practicing yoga for ten years, and I had done a lot of preparation for the birth using the methods I studied in that tradition. I used all of the yoga techniques I know in labor!

I wouldn't say it was easy (quite the contrary, it was the hardest thing I have ever done), but it was peaceful. I 'vocalized' (sometimes just outright screaming), but it was just a method to deal with the pain. My husband was my birth attendant for most of the labor, and the midwife only intervened when I needed support. She asked me only once if I needed help with the pain, and I said I preferred to just scream, and she said I was welcome to scream as much as I like.

A doctor was present for the birth because it was the procedure for breech deliveries, but she sat with her hands folded at the end of the table and did not disrupt the mood (she had to introduce herself but was gracious when I just stared at her without responding - she introduced herself again afterwords).

My mother was also present, and after my begging, she took amazing photos of the birth. The midwives asked if they could use them to educate doctors in the hospital. Apparently, my birth position was not the standard procedure for breech deliveries. I delivered on my hands and knees, and I delivered without any tearing or complications.

The midwives have a policy of not picking up the baby so that I was the first to hold my daughter. She was left on my chest for more than an hour before they examined her across the room.

I went home four hours after the birth and recovered in the quiet of my home.

I realize that we were VERY lucky with all of the circumstances, and so much of the beauty of the moment had nothing to do with me or my efforts. My the grace of God, things were manageable and went really well. However, the wonderful team of health care providers and my husband and mother made the experience beautiful and safe.

I had debated a home birth, but in the end, our choice to deliver at this hospital with these midwives was the best for us. We couldn't have asked for anything more perfect.

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