Thursday, March 29, 2012

unassisted birth

Recently a friend asked my thoughts on unassisted birth. Here is my response. 

Birthing at home with an educated midwife is fabulous. It is not for everyone nor does it need to be. I think every choice with birth should be have the precursor of education, contemplation, and a removal from the "world's view" of birth. As with any "debate" or exchange of opinions, there inevitably are some who are wacky, who do brag, or who overshare, frankly and make the rest of "us" look bad. It bothers me. Big time.

Back to the topic you asked about, however-- unassisted birth. As I have had more children, more experiences, I have become more "open" to the idea for others, if that makes sense. Its not really my place to decide what is right for them. I can only hope that all people do educate themselves about all the ins and outs. Being in labor puts you out of your normal state and I think women deserve the support of educated care providers who can help them make the best choices in that state... who KNOW them and know how to communicate with them effectively. Women are vastly under supported in many ways in our country, but it is glaringly clear with birth. I think for some doing it unassisted may be out of fear of being manhandled-- they're more scared of having a baby in the hospital than having one ALONE... and that is really sad to me.

Also I think the internet has helped create this false "superbreed" of women. They take pride in doing things on their own because they are too scared to ask for help because it has been denied to them too often. Its like, "I can't rely on anyone to help me the way I want so screw you all, I don't need you I'm doing it myself...." Of course, there are some who approach it prayerfully, etc, and that is their conclusion, to stay home, without additional help... so I don't think those who are going for "superpowers" are the majority, I don't think. I also take pride in doing things for myself, but its the bragging about it online, the judging others based on your own situation and choices that seems so detrimental to getting anything to change in the way women are treated in their birth care.

Every topic has lots of different angles and facets, but those are just some of my thoughts about this. Mainly, my worries for these women in terms of what their choices MIGHT say about our society and women's resources.

1 comment:

Charlo said...

From the first time I heard of it being an intentional (and not last minute) choice about 5 years ago, I've liked the idea of a home birth. B, however, is a little less comfortable with the idea. Thus far, it's not been a topic we've had to argue out to a solution though.

As for unassisted though... well, we all know women are capable of it. Hundreds of secret prom night delivery dumpster babies attest to that fact. Women have incredible physical endurance.

Never mind all that, I think I agree with you. The desire to do it entirely unassisted seams to me more of a psychological barrier... not feeling there is someone you trust enough to let them into such personal space, feeling alone, etc. In such cases I think the answer is not in doing it entirely alone. Having said that though, I've been severely withdrawn before, feeling entirely unconnected to those around me, and I can't exactly cast the first stone.

It's just unfortunate that we live in a world where there are enough of us that everyone has a few people nearby they could connect with as genuine friends, and yet, people get forgotten, and neglected. We aren't the sisterhood we should be. We shouldn't be so slow to make connections. We are all connected.

I used to be very closed about who was with me at labor. I thought my husband, and maybe my mom and sister. No way was my mother in law coming in. I am forever grateful for my sister letting me come into her labor. I started out abashed. Sulking in a chair in the back, averting my eyes to give her privacy (we hadn't exactly discussed boundaries). Just before the end though, I looked up, and I realized something.

None it mattered. She was having a fricken baby. Her vagina was not taboo. It wasn't gross, it wasn't beautiful, it wasn't sexual. It was simply amazing. fascinating. And as I held her leg and saw that baby make it's way out I realized that is a true shame.

A shame children don't understand and witness birth for what it is... and not something inappropriate, horrible, and gross.

A shame that adults aren't comfortable with birth. That many have never seen it.

And I decided then, that if I ever did get pregnant, birth wasn't really about me and my privacy. It was about something outside of me that was fascinating. It was something everyone should get the chance to witness several times, and be comfortable before they went through it on their own.

ANd I went from wanting only 1 or 2 people there, to wanting everyone there. Friends, sister-in-laws, mother, father, even the dreaded in-laws.

They can take turns rubbing my back, squeezing my hand, hearing me yell... and thats the way it should be. No birthing mother alone.