People in the “Women should birth where they feel safest.” You hear this a lot in the birth change movement. Midwives, doulas, CBEs, advocates and allies — we all support women’s choice in birth place. Most women in this country give birth in hospitals. Are women going there to birth babies because they truly feel safe there? What ingredients = feeling safe?
There’s the standard, albeit superficial, ‘healthy mom, healthy baby’ wrap offered up by women to partners and sometimes themselves, but what lies beyond the cheery one-liners? Where does emotional safety lie? Normal birth is so hidden and rare in our culture that the average woman may never even encounter it through her life experience or in the media. She has no models around her. We can see the challenges to trusting birth and feeling safe within a low-tech, instinctive birth model. So where then are American women birthing in the hospital finding their sense of safety? To what extent is it external? Is it found in the presence of machines? Uniforms? Medical personnel? Medications?
There’s been a lot of talk lately about physicians responding to their ‘patients’ birth plans by providing a copy of their own written birth plans of what they will or will not do, allow, accommodate, or condone during a woman’s labor and birth. The Feminist Breeder and Stand and Deliver have written recently about the hullabaloo, as have The Unnecesarean and Crunchy Domestic Goddess. The following is an excerpt from an OB birth plan that was given to a pregnant nursing student during one of her prenatal visits. Just for fun I bolded the parts I thought were the most outlandish and offensive, or simply untrue.
DR. ________ “BIRTH PLAN”
As your obstetrician, it is my goal and responsibility to ensure your safety and your baby’s safety during your pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period… The following information should clarify my position and is meant to address some commonly asked questions…
* I do not accept birth plans. Many birth plans conflict with approved modern obstetrical techniques and guidelines…. Please note that I do not accept the Bradley Birth Plan.
Are you more likely to lapse into sweet, cozy sleep resting under a warm blanket or a sheet of galvanized tin? Is it a big surprise that our sense of touch directly communicates with our body-mind of emotions and thoughts? Here in the west our allopathic medical system’s understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and experience has been limited at best, but it looks like we’re broadening our horizons.
Medical fields like psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) have recognized for a number of decades now that humans are an awesome bio-dynamic web of interacting neurons, emotions, sensations, feelings, thoughts, disease, and health. Michel Odent’s “Primal Health” perspective similarly recognizes that the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems of the body are not separate, distinct entities but rather a beautiful symphonic concert of neurochemicals, emotions, and experiences.
Science is now confirming what instinctive mothers have been doing for tens of thousands of years. (more…)
Here are two excellent pieces exploring the social and personal dynamics among breastfeeding, feminism, and class: “What does feminism have to do with breastfeeding?” from the Breastfeeding Medicine blog:
“After all, the conventional wisdom is that breastfeeding is a maternal duty that forces women to eschew their career aspirations to fulfill some ideal of motherhood, while feminism is about liberating women from exactly those constraints. Case closed. Or is it?….
Why do we accept that, if a woman devotes all of her time to caring for her family, she does not earn any social security benefits, whereas if she gets a paying job and sends her children to daycare, she and her day care provider earn credits toward financial security in old age?”
And from the International Breastfeeding Journal “Women’s liberation and the rhetoric of ‘choice’ in infant feeding debates:”
“…’choice’ in infant feeding method operates to distinguish women who make “good choices” from those who do not, as if those choices are unconstrained. Infant feeding choices – whether made by “heart” or “head” – are practiced in the context of the social, cultural, and economic forces that structure most people’s daily lives and intimate decisions. It is our responsibility, as feminists, to identify the constraints that reveal the “choice” itself to be not so much a choice but a class privilege, and then to figure out how to challenge the status quo that makes it so.” (more…)
Raising awareness for the tragic, often preventable deaths of pregnant and birthing women worldwide for whom basic healthcare and maternity care is unavailable, unobtainable or unaffordable. 1400 women die every day during pregnancy and birth.
from Birth Activist….
The United States remains near the bottom of the rankings. Among European nations, in the graph below, the seventeen countries above the US have better (lower) infant mortality rates.