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Homebirth and Oppression of Women - Page 6

post #101 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by OMama
Thanks to annakiss for starting this excellent thread and to others for adding to the great discussion.

IMO the largest problem is that women (from "the north" -- globally that is) are oblivious to the existence of this impervious discourse on birth and parenting. It is so ingrained and accepted that we have trouble seeing it for what it is: a system of control. (By discourse, I'm referring to the language and processes through which power is wielded). In this case it is rooted in our medical systems and "protocols" (i.e. doctors, hospitals, insurance) and it permeates throughout our social culture (including families and friends). The language we use, the way we discuss and refer to our own bodies, the terms that "experts" use when referring to us and the birth experience, even the way birth is depicted by popular celebrities -- all of this shapes the way we behave -- whether we like it or not. None of us are immune because this is the world/society we live in. And the favorite weapon of those in power in this discourse is this concept of fear. At the root of so many decisions is this nagging, pit-of-the-stomach, incessant threat that we have all been trained to swallow. Until we realize the incredible power of this discourse and figure out ways in which to transgress it, I think it is extremely difficult for birthing women to make genuinely empowered decisions. When we are all part of the machine, it is near impossible to think and act outside of it. As women I think we need to be constantly vigilant and aware of this pervasive, insidious discourse. It is not just about semantics, but instead about power. The juxtaposition of the spirituality and biology of birth (and that incredible part of it that you can just never describe to someone who hasn't experienced it) in contrast to this discourse, this system of control (which is also incredibly patriarchal) is just surreal when you really think about it.



even the terms are just so bizarre: "incompetent cervix", "failure to progress" etc. etc. I'd like to see someone telling a guy with erectile dysfunction that he has an "incompetent penis"

and the history of how birthing became what it is due today because of the male takeover of medicine is truly frightening. That web of "women supporting women" was wiped from the culture and replaced with a medicalized "system."

ITA by the way with what the PPs said about allowing a midwife but not feeling as if you are giving up power... let me rephrase. It's just that the nature of the fact that she is a "professional" can subtly change the dynamic--and not so subtly the more hands on she tries to be. It's very hard to find the midwife you describe, stormbride--and those are truly the most empowering ones. Otherwise the mom has to be very clear that SHE'S the boss, no matter what.
post #102 of 144
I've gathered that the really hands off midwives are hard to find, but I've talked to the woman who will attend me if and when I have another baby. I'm not worried about it at all. I was fortunate enough to get referrals from here and from other people locally.
post #103 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by poetesss


even the terms are just so bizarre: "incompetent cervix", "failure to progress" etc. etc. I'd like to see someone telling a guy with erectile dysfunction that he has an "incompetent penis"
Maybe we should try that...
post #104 of 144
I had a hospital birth for my first, and so far only child, however, any subsequent children will be homebirths due the horrible experience that I had in a hospital.

I would like to say though, that even though I agree with this thread in a lot of ways, it doesn't totally sit right with me. When I chose to give birth in a hospital I thought I was well informed and educated. I consider myself to be a feminist, which is why I went with a practice of midwives instead of an OB. To my friends and the people in my community I had made a choice, or choices rather, that were completely unfamiliar to them. I was going against the norm and driving an hour away to a different hospital in order to have an empowered midwife and doula attended natural water birth for my son. And we were even going to leave him intact on top of that! I felt like the choices I had made were powerful choices and they impacted almost everyone I shared them with. I was going outside of the box, the typical hospital experience, to have the type of birth that some people that I know never even knew existed. Is that not radical? I guess I chose a hospital birth because I wanted the best of both worlds, and I thought that existed, in fact I read birth stories where it did and my own mother had a a very empowered midwife attended hospital birth with my sister when I was ten, so in my world a hospital birth was not typically a gentle and natural experience, but it could be if you stood up and made it that way for yourself. I ended up being totally wrong, but while I was researching my options, I never had a warning from anyone about what it would really be like to give birth in a hospital. I was extremely angry at other women after I gave birth for not warning me. All those other mothers I encountered while I was pregnant, who never once warned me what it would be like to have a hospital birth. But honestly, if they had, I would not have listened to them. I felt very good about my choices, I trusted in what I was told about the hospital and the midwives and having a homebirth wasn't something I gave any real thought to. I don't even know why now, I just never even considered it as a real option.

Another thing that I think about, and that is never really talked about on this board, so maybe it was only me, is that when I was pregnant I couldn't make a decision to save my life. For the first time in my life, I allowed my husband to order for me at restaurants, : and if he hadn't I would probably still be sitting there trying to decide what to get. He picked out the baby's furniture, the baby's clothes, and made every other decision that needed to be made while I was pregnant. And instead of being mad at him for not letting me decide, I was so grateful when he would recognize my indecisiveness and just take over for me. It was such a huge relief for some odd reason. I briefly turned into the kind of woman I can't stand, and during labor that was amplified 1000 times. I felt vulnerable and confused during pregnancy and labor. Maybe it was the hormones, or maybe it was because I was physically vulnerable, but it was horrible and I hated that part of it. I came very close to not choosing midwives or hiring a doula because it was just so hard to make choices, especially ones that seemed to make things more complicated. If I had not thought of those things and known that I wanted them before I ever got pregnant, I don't think I ever would have done it. Since I had never considered homebirth before I got pregnant, it wasn't even something I wanted to look into in pregnancy, I couldn't even handle deciding what I wanted for dinner let alone where I wanted to give birth. So if a mainstream woman is presented with facts and statistics and whatnot during pregnancy, I don't think that would change her decisions at all if she is anything like I was during pregnancy. And I have seen it already with my own SIL who had a baby a few months after I did. I presented her with so much evidence and facts and statistics, and she said thank you and went on to have every drug they offered her and ended up with a vacuum extracted baby whose heartrate had dropped from the epidural. I told her and my brother how the hospital can be and how to overcome these obstacles, and they shifted around and got all nervous like "what, you mean we have to stand up for ourselves?" and they pretty much told me they were just gonna do as they were told, in there annoyingly passive aggressive way.

I feel lied to and cheated by the hospital and their nice website and their nice brochures and their childbirth classes that showed video's that reassured me that everything would go naturally and smoothly just the way I planned. I sat with midwives for my prenatals and told them all my wishes and they wrote them all down and acted like that is what they do anyway. I didn't know that hospitals hated women, I didn't know that there were CNM's out there that hated women and had no understanding of the emotional needs of a woman in labor. My DH was respected, my doula was respected, and I was treated like an insane child. It bothers me to this day to watch the video right after my son was born. The nurses took him away from me right after birth, I didn't even get to touch him, and they had him over across the room poking him and doing stuff that could have been done later. Twenty minutes later, the nurse finds it in her heart to be a little bit compassionate... to DH. Oh, never mind me over there who was just repeatedly violated by a horrible midwife with a vagina fetish, never mind that I just got cut and tore on top of that, never mind that I didn't get the birthing room and got stuck in L&D and was treated like an L&D patient, and that I wasn't allowed to use the tub so no water birth, and I could on and on but this is already to long. Anyway, the nurse turns to DH and says "I can wrap him up and you can hold him if you want to." Those nurses hated me, that midwife hated me, they could have cared less if I ever held my baby, they only cared about DH, they talked to him so nice like he was an actual person. Why did they hate me? Because I labored loud, because I snapped back at them, because I screamed, because my veins were hard to get into, because I kept telling them no to everything they wanted to do to me and DS and I kept telling them to check my chart and then they would find it there and be even madder. If I would have been quiet and meek and did everything they told me to do, I'm sure they would have liked me a whole lot better and I would have gotten better treatment. So if women think that there is no other choice besides being in a hospital, no wonder they go in and get hooked up to everything and play by all of their stupid rules. Maybe then the nurses like you and they let you hold your baby and they treat you like a person and they look you in the eyes and they try and comfort you.

Being treated that way came as a total shock that I am still not recovered from. Nobody warned me, I never read anything about the evils of hospitals, I never heard anywhere that we would have to go in fighting. Maybe I wasn't reading the right things at the time, but it was my first baby, how do you know what to read or where to go, especially when everyone you know is mainstream? And at the time I did feel good and empowered by the decisions that I had made for the birth, and I had no idea that the hospital would be an oppressive place. Those two things are reversed now as to how I feel about them, but at the time that is what I felt and if someone would have come along and told me having my baby in a hospital was going to be oppressive to me, I would have just rolled my eyes and thought "whatever, maybe at your hospital with your OB, but not with my midwives, they would never be that way." Anyway, sorry that got so long, I hope it is halfway coherent.
post #105 of 144
Jennica - thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story.

May respond more later. Just couldn't read it and not respond to the beautiful gift of your painful story you just gave me. Thank you.
post #106 of 144
Jennica,
Your post made me sick because it brought back all the same horrible, degrading feelings for me too. DH was a human being. I was talked about, around, over, as if I was not even human. Maybe I was dead?

You also mentioned how you became dependent on DH for all decisions, and it was 1000 times more during labor. I know what you mean. During labor you suddenly become helpless and dependent, and your brain is concentrating on the contraction soooo much that you can't make the most simple decision about anything. I can't imagine having to be in a contraction and also have to argue with medical personnel about my rights.

Perhaps in this case, it is best to know this may happen again, and find a very firm, aggressive, powerful woman to help at the next birth. Last time I depended on DH, which was a big mistake. I think his passiveness (seen by me as bending to "authority" and completely disregading and disrespecting me) was profoundly damaging to our marriage. I no longer trust he will be capable. But maybe these are his limits. Instead of changing him, this time I am having a powerful girlfriend, who has birthed in USA and Denmark, to stand up for me, when I am so deep in thought that I can not. That means I am merely transfering my trust from one person to another. But I know my borders and limits during birth, and I respect them. So I am choosing who I feel is best for me and will stand up for me the most. And of course avoiding the hospital by having a private midwife in my home also helps, to no small degree.

You mentioned how angry you were no one told you the real truth when you were pregnant. In my experience, it doesn't work. I tried to tell a friend who was brainwashed by the hospital "yes, your husband stays with you, yes, you have the same midwife..." I said, "No, there are three women plus three babies per room, unless you are lucky enough to have the place to yourself, your husband has to go home at night. No, you get the same midwives for all consultations, you get a total stranger for your birth." She got angry and won't speak to me anymore, because I was spoiling her dreams. I don't know of a way to inform primps, but if anyone out there knows, please start a thread.

Allison
post #107 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArlyShellandKai
Allison,

As long as the baby wasnt transverse why would you choose major abdominal surgery over breech presentation? Who says which way is the right way to arrive: feet first or head first...
Michele,
I said that was the best choice for me, and not for all other women. True empowerment comes from understanding we all have slightly different needs, and different limits. Many women may feel fantastic about birthing breech at home. For me, the possibility of desiring to push and having to hold that in will produce anxiety and trauma, a lot less than the trauma of major abdominal surgery. The goal of pregnancy is not a natural birth at all costs, but a healthy mother and baby. Healthy means mentally and physically.

When you know your limits and borders and respect them, you can make powerful choices. When others disregard your borders, you feel degraded. People have different views of empowerment and pushing their limits. For example, some people want to climb Mt. Everest. The risk is high, but the accomplishment is even higher. But because I don't want to climb Mt. Everest does not make me a failure, weak or passive. It just means I have other interests and I want to succeed in other things.
post #108 of 144
With all due respect, I must take strong exception to what I perceive, perhaps incorrectly, to be a tone of condescending superiority toward the women you refer to as otherwise "intelligent, feminist, [and] progressive" -- and certainly by extension, the ones who are stupid, non-feminist, and non-progressive.

Among other things, you assume that their choices are "acquiescent" to the will of a male doctor or at least a male-dominated institution when in fact those choices may very well be the result of the research they have done and the conclusions to which they have come for themselves.

I eagerly concede that homebirth, under many circumstances, is "safer" and certainly "friendlier," but not all women -- not even the "intelligent, feminist, progressive" ones -- fit those circumstances, as other posters have mentioned. Many do, to be sure, and to be sure, the standard of medical care in the U.S. promotes iatrogenic labor dysfunction in many cases; however, for some women, a hospital may still be the better of the choices.

You assume that the "intelligent, feminist, progressive" women to whom you refer think inside of the "box," a perception which I certainly question. The implication I find objectionable here is that these intelligent women haven't done the research, as you suggest when you say, "one must be solidly educated on how to even make an alternate choice, finding out what those choices even are, how it works, where to find it." Then, even after a woman has done research into treatment options for labor and delivery, you imply that she is "acquiescing" or thinking "inside the box" if she chooses anything but homebirth, and that is simply not always and inevitably the case, though it may be for some women sometimes.

As I'm sure you are well aware, homebirth has its choices too -- and its sacrifices. I'm thinking particularly of women here on this board who have lost a child during a homebirth whose painful stories have broken my heart.

It is absolutely possible to lose a child during hospital birth; it is absolutely possible that the choice to homebirth made no difference to the outcome; however, for some women -- the "intelligent" ones as well as the rest of us among the hoi polloi -- the belief (correct or incorrect) that their choice to homebirth caused their child's death would be too much to bear, and I argue here that (correct or incorrect), the guilt of having chosen a mainstream option would generally be far less simply because of the belief in society (correct or incorrect) that in a hospital, "they did everything they could."

Moreover, there is the very real, very painful fact that society, parents, friends, and random strangers would level far more blame on a woman whose child died during a homebirth than they would on a woman whose child died at the hospital. Horrible as it is to speculate that anyone, under any circumstances, would point accusatory fingers at a grieving mother who made the best choice for her, I'm sure we all know at least one person who actually would do that. For many women in that circumstance, already vulnerable, already grieving, that accusing finger might be the event that drives them to suicide -- or am I exaggerating or being melodramatic?

In short, I strongly believe that women should be genuinely empowered by having their health care providers give them unbiased, research-based information in which both the pros and the cons (and the data to support them) of major medical decisions are available in print -- ideally generated by an agency made up both of those on the side of the OBs and those on the side of midwife-managed care. The genuine disempowerment, I believe, comes from women who blindly trust either their doctors or their midwives (or anyone, really -- I'm not a big believer in blind trust as a general rule). The women who are too poor to have access to a library or a computer, too busy to do research because they're working their butts off, too afraid to question for themselves, undereducated about health care options, wrongly educated about them by friends, family, or one's health care provider, or too naive to realize that there are indeed two (and more) sides to health care decisions are the genuinely disempowered ones, not necessarily the "intelligent...progressive" women who choose a mainstream model of health care over homebirth.
post #109 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonR
You mentioned how angry you were no one told you the real truth when you were pregnant. In my experience, it doesn't work. I tried to tell a friend who was brainwashed by the hospital "yes, your husband stays with you, yes, you have the same midwife..." I said, "No, there are three women plus three babies per room, unless you are lucky enough to have the place to yourself, your husband has to go home at night. No, you get the same midwives for all consultations, you get a total stranger for your birth." She got angry and won't speak to me anymore, because I was spoiling her dreams. I don't know of a way to inform primps, but if anyone out there knows, please start a thread.

Allison
if someone won't take a flat out description from someone who has given birth in the exact same hospital? Maybe suggest that she speak to the L&D nurses? They might not know what the 'party-line' is and accidentally give her the real scoop.
post #110 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennica
...while I was researching my options, I never had a warning from anyone about what it would really be like to give birth in a hospital. I was extremely angry at other women after I gave birth for not warning me. All those other mothers I encountered while I was pregnant, who never once warned me what it would be like to have a hospital birth.....

I feel lied to and cheated by the hospital and their nice website and their nice brochures and their childbirth classes that showed video's that reassured me that everything would go naturally and smoothly just the way I planned. I sat with midwives for my prenatals and told them all my wishes and they wrote them all down and acted like that is what they do anyway. I didn't know that hospitals hated women, I didn't know that there were CNM's out there that hated women and had no understanding of the emotional needs of a woman in labor....

Why did they hate me? Because I labored loud, because I snapped back at them, because I screamed, because my veins were hard to get into, because I kept telling them no to everything they wanted to do to me and DS and I kept telling them to check my chart and then they would find it there and be even madder. If I would have been quiet and meek and did everything they told me to do, I'm sure they would have liked me a whole lot better and I would have gotten better treatment....

Being treated that way came as a total shock that I am still not recovered from. Nobody warned me, I never read anything about the evils of hospitals, I never heard anywhere that we would have to go in fighting...
I just wanted to highlight the above quotes from this post. I've never read anyone else give such an accurate description of what a natural hospital birth is really like in many instances.
One out of three of my hospital births was good. (And we were still fighting in that one instance.) I wonder if that statistic holds true in general? (i have no idea...)

In some ways I think the second birth went so well because I was so prepared; I remembered what it had been like and my midwife was really concerned for me to have a positive birthing experience. And then because that experience had been so good I wasn't prepared for the last one. I didn't go in fighting.

The hatred of those nursery women was astonsishing. While I sat in that room full of newborns with my hand firmly on my son's stomach where he lay in that plastic bassinet for 2 hours (this was our first trip to the nursery, not the second time when they took him without permission) I got to see an awful lot of what goes on to perfectly healthy babies...
It was almost like they forgot I was there at one point and were just going about their business. I watched them wake up a sleeping newborn girl, she was hispanic and really beautiful with dark curls framing her delicate face; they were taking turns holding her, one nursery attendant left the room with her and walked around for a while, at one point someone came in with a camera and they took turns having their picture taken with her... they fought over who would bathe her (again), one woman stormed out angrily... they hastily checked the infant's chart to see if she was supposed to be given any supplementation, reading that it was not filled out they decided that it was okay and gave her a bottle... (i would have liked to have stood up for the mom's and baby's rights, but i really had my hands full in there.) in the meantime there was a slightly jaundiced infant boy lying in his basinet under the bili lights, screaming bloody murder. the head nurse ordered one of the other nurses over to him and she stomped her foot and went to say something snarky but caught herself as she spotted me. the room became very quiet but for the muffled cries of the boy who now had a paci stuffed in his mouth... the room was cleared; they all left to confer.

as i sat there in this room a few hours post labor i truly wept, feeling the weight of the world. i felt so naive. of course it would be this way: power struggles, beauty contests, secrecy and hatred.
i wanted to go home so badly. they would have taken my child from me if i did.
post #111 of 144
Thread Starter 
I have to just respond all at once, rather than quote ever single person, as it would make this post a mile long. What I was saying in the OP and further posts is that because our society and the hospital is so oppressive, people cannot make a real choice to have an empowered birth and that we need to get out of the hospital in order to change that system of control. I explicitly stated that I do not blame mothers for the choices they make. I am infuriated by a system that only gives the illusion of choice. I thought that I made that clear, but apparently I was misread.

Additionally, the reason I am so saddened by feminist women who make these choices is because that's how far the oppression goes - powerful womenmake "choices" based on misinformation and a society that pressures them to do it a certain way.

So those who are taking issue with what I've said, I was making the same point as you. Saying homebirth is a radical act does not mean that people who give birth in the hospital are wimpy sad women. I am not trying to sound arrogant. I am merely PISSED OFF that the world is this way.
post #112 of 144
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arwyn
If you feel it as giving up of power, then sure, you are. But I don't see it that way, because I borrow more from the feminist collective, women supporting women traditions. I am not disempowered because I live an interdependent life - I am, mostly, more empowered by it. I don't consider independence to be the height of being nor the best goal of feminism, but rather living in a supportive, creative web of individuals who nurture each other and foster growth.
I totally agree with this. I understand the UC perspective that having anyone at your birth can be an interference and take that into consideration as I study midwifery. I don't have real clear answers in this regard, however. I believe in midwifery as supportive and in the interdependence of women helping women, but it is a delicate walk between supporting someone and interfering. I am not entirely sure there is a perfect space one can walk in. It's a constant negotiation.
post #113 of 144
jenniey ~ Hugs to you. Don't apologize for being emotional! This is an emotional event even in the best of circumstances, and you had your baby stolen away from you while you were sleeping and found him crying and envaded! You are right the staff often takes advantage of women left alone, young women, those who speak out and stand up for their wishes and needs, etc. Then they blame you for endangering your baby by not playing it their way, or for being "emotional"! For Christ's sake this is an emotional event, the woman has a right to be emotional about her birth and her baby. The hormones working to birth that baby and provide milk for the baby are also creating intensified emotions.

It is not feminist to not be emotional in the midst of hormonal surges, it is a result of society's oppression on women to be more like men!
post #114 of 144
As I was "trying" to fall asleep last night I was thinking a little more about this and I wonder what role "responsibility" has in this discussion. In part I was reflecting on some of what I had been reading recently about NonViolent Communication and how so often we talk about what we must do or what we have to do; really this is placing the blame or responsibility on others. I think this is in part of what happens when we "choose" a hospital birth. I know somewhere in the recesses of my mind that thinking applies. "If I was in the hospital and something went wrong, at least I wouldn't be blamed for it." This alludes also in part to what the earlier post said about "someone" blaming a HB mother if something goes wrong, but feeling sympathy for a hospital mother with a child with the same outcome. When we "choose" to go to the hospital we are giving up a certain amount of responsibility. Letting others take the blame -- or better yet not even others but the nebulous entity, the impersonal medical system that operates so pervasively in our society. This is where the real rub lies -- when women want "control" but they want to go to the hospital because that way they think they will have some control, especially when choosing to use a midwife at a hospital. I know this was certainly my thinking with the birth of my DD. We were at a hospital with midwives and for the most part we did get what we wanted but the experience was also driven in part by two types of fear (sorry to be bringing up the fear thing again but I think it is really central to this discussion). We had to "fear" that the hospital wouldn't respect our wishes and we "feared" that something would go "wrong" with the birth and that is why we were there in the first place.

Just an hour ago I spoke to our "old" midwife (who works at the hospital and was part of the team who was there for the birth of DD) and politely told her how we were switching to midwives who would do a HB for us. I knew she wouldn't be estatic, but actually I thought she would understand a little more than she did. She made comments to me that were what I would term "fear- based." She said "oh, I remember you bled a lot last time" (BTW it wasn't a lot) and "hope everything goes okay." I felt justified to tell her how these midwives carry drugs to stop bleeding, how our home is close to the hospital for an emergency, and so on. It is the same old dialogue really. And my gut reaction because I have been "trained" to think this way is fear. It makes me angry! Part of me for a split second started questioning my decision, but now an hour later again I am confident. This is what I believe in. This is my "responsibility." I want to make my decisions based on love and joy -- that is what I think birth is truly about --not fear.
post #115 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arwyn
If you feel it as giving up of power, then sure, you are. But I don't see it that way, because I borrow more from the feminist collective, women supporting women traditions. I am not disempowered because I live an interdependent life - I am, mostly, more empowered by it. I don't consider independence to be the height of being nor the best goal of feminism, but rather living in a supportive, creative web of individuals who nurture each other and foster growth.
Excellent point! Kudos!

I also wanted to comment on the tendency to blame women who birth in the hospital for any concequences of that choice, when in reality society has conditioned us to make that choice. In my opinion, when we blame the woman for her birth choices we are no better than the hospitals that blame her for needing all their interventions.

This kind of blame is much like that of a rape victim that is accused of asking for it by her dress or life style, which the society she lives in encourages. The woman who choose to birth in the hospital because society has convinced her she will be safest there and can't birth on their own anyway, is not to be blamed for her choice. It really is a societial matter and must be addressed as such. Blaming women for the choices they make when they have been conditioned to make these choices is unfair and counterproductive to the greater cause of empowering women and offering real choice in childbirth.
post #116 of 144

do not read if you do not believe patriarchy exists today

anna kiss, i agree completely with you. the allopathic model of medicine is deeply rooted in patriarchy. the medical system historically came about at the expense of women's ways of knowing and healing. this is the illusion of patriarchy ... women think they are making informed and real choices - when they are not.

women who are able to find "truth" and who do have enough information to make informed choices ... are labelled many things from stupid, weird, strange, looney, psychotic, you name it. for crying out loud, doctors have been known to write on charts "difficult" patient, or terms along those lines when female patients disagree with a doctor or ask for what they want that does not go along with the doctor. i think most, if not all women who have chosen homebirth have heard at least one derogatory comment about their decision. this helps to keep women from looking to alternatives or exploring different options.
homebirth and midwives are not easily accepted into our culture because there very presence challenges the ideals of patriarchy. keeping homebirth illegal, regulating the practice of midwifery, changing the educational requirements to becoming a midwife (where apprenticeship and self study are becoming less acceptable due to regulations), rejecting homebirth as a healthy, appropriate model for birthing are some of the ways patriarchy keeps homebirth from becoming more acceptable.

women are tossed little teasers here and there to make it seem like hospital birth is empowering ... "allowing" dads into the birthing rooms, "allowing" trial of labors for VBAC, "permitting" women to walk around (albeit often attached to the IV), "allowing" women to use the shower or a birthing ball, hiding equipment to make it seem more natural, "allowing" women to wear their own clothing, the writing of birth plans, and "allowing" women to choose painkillers. are these real choices?

so how does this relate to birthing ... are women really empowered stepping into an institution based on patriarchy? are women really empowered seeking the care of a provider whose practice is guided by the roots of patriarchy? are you really free and empowered to birth when you are birthing in an environment guided by protocols and practices that are not suited to your own specific needs, where birth is seen as an illness?

of course, hospitals and doctors do save babies, they do save women and they are a vital, important aspect of the birthing community. what is unfortunate in our culture is that we accept the medical model of birthing without question, most women do not enter a hospital to give birth fully informed and fully understanding the consequences. my first birth i felt very informed only until after a terrible birthing experience did i realize that what i had been taught and what i had read and what i had been told were lies and half-truths. this is i think the reality of birthing in our culture today for the vast majority of women today.

now, in a feminist fashion ... onto vacuuming my dirty house
post #117 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by OMama
. . . I think it is extremely difficult for birthing women to make genuinely empowered decisions. When we are all part of the machine, it is near impossible to think and act outside of it. As women I think we need to be constantly vigilant and aware of this pervasive, insidious discourse. It is not just about semantics, but instead about power. The juxtaposition of the spirituality and biology of birth (and that incredible part of it that you can just never describe to someone who hasn't experienced it) in contrast to this discourse, this system of control (which is also incredibly patriarchal) is just surreal when you really think about it.
well said.
post #118 of 144
Annakiss, I am in total agreement with you.

Jenniey, I thank you for sharing your stories and especially relished the "book burning" one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Piper's mama
I felt like my birth in a hospital was very close to a birth at home, with obvious irritants like hospital beds and crappy foods, and yes, I was woken up during the night by nurses. But I toured the hospital before we ever went in, made a birth plan for my midwife (which was pretty much a duh situation with her) and knew what to expect. Don't get me wrong here- I am not trying to wave the banner of hospital births here...I am just saying that it is possible for a person who is educated about birth to have a really positive experience with the right midwife (very important) in a decent hospital.
What Annakiss was trying to get at, I think, was what if your labor had not progressed as is regarded "normal" by most hospitals? Would they have still allowed you to labor in such an empowering way? With my first labor I was having consistent contractions for 50 hours without dilating. At that point it wouldn't have been just an issue any longer of whether I was allowed to labor naked over a birth ball, they would have been pushing interventions. So, what if you had not progressed according to their standards of "normal"? Do you think they still would have been so accomodating and respectful of your birth philosophy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arwyn
Outcomes for mother and baby are best when there's a 1-5% cesarean rate (not zero, and definitely not 30%!), and some more 5-10% of women do need to be in at least a consult relationship with a specialist (OB), possibly giving birth in hospital.
According to who?
post #119 of 144
Quote:
According to who?
Me.

Seriously, no homebirth practice or midwife has a 0% cesarean rate, or a 0% transfer of care rate, and I don't think that's a failure of the midwife or the midwives model of care, I think that shows it's working. The above numbers are a best idea synthesis of reams of data from homebirth and natural birth practices (The Farm has something like a 1.5% cesarean rate, the CPM study showed an average of what, 3%?) and information from the WHO (which says very conservatively that there is no known benefit to having an average cesarean rate above 7%).

Birth works, and it's safe, but nothing in life is perfect, and sometimes it does need a little more help. Women do have twins in unfavorable positions, or placental per/acreta, or abruptions, or confounding comorbid factors, and within a midwives model of care and with good nutrition and social support the need for the type of help not available at home is severely reduced, and midwives should always, always be available to every pregnant woman if she wants, there are still (rare) times when outside help is needed. And probably at approximately the above stated rates. It doesn't mean birth isn't safe, it's just part of how we make birth maximally safe, with the rare, judicious use of appropriate interventions in a maximally mother and baby friendly way.

(It's that last bit that is missing from the current homebirth system, in that with the need for a transfer: midwives have to give up the right to be seen as the primary care providers, rather than be treated as the experts in birth and motherbaby care they are; women have to give up their autonomy and their rightful place as being finally responsible and in charge; and the motherbaby is subjected to all kinds of anti-mother, anti-baby, anti-family, completely unnecessary practices.)
post #120 of 144
Jennica-I just wanted to say that it is women like you who are brave enough to come here and tell their stories that have helped women like me become more educated. I thank you for that. You are empowering a new set of mamas today.
I explained to my own mother (who is a doctor) that I was having a homebirth. She said I didn't need to that, I could get the care I wanted at a hospital and they would have to obey my wishes. I just wanted to laugh! I know better and I also know how vulnerable I will feel and how easy it will be to take advantage of me in that situation. So I am trying to protect myself and babe. Again, thank you
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