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Homebirth and Oppression of Women - Page 3

post #41 of 144
I think no one has brought up the what-ifs in a negative way, i.e., casting doubt on homebirth as the way to go. All my post did was say if you are not fortunate enough to be "normal, low risk and healthy", you can STILL be a radical s***-kicking feminist and own your birth if you deliver in a hospital. Some women's bodies WEREN'T meant to give birth, actually, and some babies WEREN'T meant to live after a natural childbirth, actually. It used to be that dying during childbirth or having at least one stillbirth were considered normal parts of life - unfortunate, but not uncommon. I think homebirth should be the norm, but that doesn't mean women who, through their research and action, decide this isn't the best approach for THEM, are just victims of male oppression. What they are, is lucky they're not living 500 years ago.
post #42 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss
I also need to mention that all of this is of course a very privileged perspective to take. Most women don't even know they're in the box, or as in the case of the really really oppressed and impoverished, are so far outside of it, they don't even have the option of consistent care at all, let alone the possibility of seeking alternatives.
Thanks for adding that anna. I know where you are coming from, and it really is good to aknowledge that we are privileged just by the fact that we were born into a country of wealth. Even the limited choices in birthing that we do have, are not available to a large percentage of the world population. Unfortunatly with that privilage comes restrictions, and loss of some true freedom to do things in a way that our privileged society deems "dangerous".

My point being that although we do have many choices in childbirth, we do not have any REAL choice. The choice to birth at home is often labled as radical, dangerous, and irresponsible. In many areas there are no midwifes or birth attendants available to assist women in the home, and those who do attend out of hospital births, are at risk of losing their medical licensing and/or hospital privileges. The choice to birth without a medical attendant, or to be completely unassisted, can put the family into a sticky legal situation in some areas.

Within the hospital or birthcenter setting, the woman often finds herself without any of the choices that she thought she had. The monitor is on and now if she refuses to co-operate with the protocol, she is "endangering her baby" and labled a trouble maker. When she isn't able to push effectively because of the epidural, or even if it is just taking too long pushing naturally, she has no real choice about having the attendant cut a huge episotomy, even into muscle tissue, and pulling, or sucking out her child, and whisking the baby away to the nusery.

So the real choice to birth in a place and a way that we choose, is not really available in many cases. Birth has been taken away from women and put into the rhelm of "health care" and "professionals". It is my opinion that we will never have any real choice in birth until we take it back from the medical community and empower women to understand birth as a natural fuction of a woman's body. When birth is seen as normal and placed back into the care of women, those whom, for one reason or another, need extra medical care and attention, can be reconized and refered to a medical provider for care. this way we don't treat all women as if they are a potential emergency, but are able to give special attention to the women who truely do need extra care in pregnancy and birth.

I don't see this happening because as ridiculous as it sounds, the creative ability to carry, nuture, and birth another human being, is a threat to a controlling, paternal society.
post #43 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by barbara
the creative ability to carry, nuture, and birth another human being, is a threat to a controlling, paternal society.
YES, and so to prevent that ability from becoming even more of a threat, we are told that our bodies are just waiting for the opportunity to kill our babies and that we need all sorts of things to prevent that from happening, or at least that we need a representative of the medical community present "just in case." I have personally witnessed quite a few "complications" and only one came anywhere near resulting in a dead baby (and it didn't, BTW).

To say that some women's bodies weren't made to birth and those women should be glad they didn't live 200 years ago is to buy into the lie that medical treatment during pregnancy has improved outcomes. It hasn't. Every study shows that medical treatment hasn't improved outcomes, and that it has actually CAUSED more problems than it has hoped to prevent. I personally know too many normal, healthy women who have had stillbirths under the observant care of their OB. And I believe that if we still had an average of 10 children per family, it would still be normal to have at least one stillbirth per family.
post #44 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss
Yes I did. I really hated it, actually.
me,too,lol
post #45 of 144
Sadly, the fact that we women are the the ones who give birth and can breastfeed has caused us to be feared. These acts of OUR POWER are terrifying to lots of people, men and women alike. Reclaiming birth and breastfeeding, seeing both as an expression of power and celebrating life this way is truly radical.
post #46 of 144
Periwinkle does have a point, in that the ideal number of interventions in childbirth is not zero. 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.

Birth is safest when society views it as normal and safe; reserves interventions for when really, truly necessary; and when OBs are seen as the specialists they are (in the rare abnormalities of pregnancy and birth), who are available as a resource for the normal prenatal and birth attendants, midwives, to use as they see fit.
post #47 of 144
I would like to make the point that a negative hospital birth can be an important stepping stone for a woman who would otherwise never even consider a homebirth. We have to keep in mind that we are all on different levels.

There are so many women who just are't radical, who aren't free-thinkers, who don't take resposibility for their lives. It's a personality type to be a "slave" to authority. It's hard to judge that one temperment is better than another.

So yes we have to somehow radically push for homebirth while at the same time lovingly allowing for a woman to experience and make her own conclusions about the hospital birth she was raised to have.

I wish more doctors and nurses were feminists!
post #48 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenniey
thanks ms. charlotte... i'll pretend i just bumped it, and bump it again.

i really like what you wrote (not what i quoted, the other stuff in your post, ). i have felt that way for a long time now; you expressed it well.

we, as women, need a role model. a figure like the "old midwife" who we can take our cues from. dykwim?

oh, and lurve, i had that book, what to expect... someone gave it to me when pregnant the first time. when i went into my midwife's office (my good midwife who delivered my second two sons) and had some random concern (which i had inadvertently picked up from the fear mongering in that book) she gave my this look and said, did you read what to expect when expecting? and i said, shyly, yes. and she asked me to bring it in next time for her to look at. so i did. she asked me why i had held onto it. i told her that i had written a pseudo journal of our first son's pregnancy in the back. she flipped to it, tore out the pages and handed them to me and then took me and the book to her living room upstairs (she works out of her basement and delivers the babies in the hospital), where she quietly set the book afire in the hearth. i now it sounds funny and bold maybe, but it really affected me. like, i actually cried. somehow, seeing all of those pages of warnings and questions go up in flames just freed me from their power. i mean, yes, i still had my two sons in a hospital with her, but my pregnancies were not filled with worry and fear.
i wish that i had worked harder to find a midwife who would deliver at home, there aren't many around here (in VA), and not many anyhow who would work with my situation. but more than anything, i wish i had just done it ourselves. i feel like that is what she was trying to prepare me for. that is what she did herself 17 years ago.
you know, that's just beautiful! i mean it really is. and i can feel the catharcism from your story. and i understand it too. my friend loaned me her copy of the book and i started reading it and i felt like there was something wrong with ME! i mean everyone i know reads this book! and now they have the damn infant and toddler books too! and everyone's first words to me are "have you gotten the What to Expect When..."
And then I came here and looked at pregnancy books. And a cyber friend of mine told me her sister called the book "What to Expect When the Apocolypse Comes" and wow, hearing that just made me feel so good. Like I was not alone in hating this book, because in real life I know of no one who doesn't worship at its paper spine.
So I can totally relate to your story and it's stories like these that make me feel like I am doing the right thing! thanks!
post #49 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaac'sMa
Sadly, the fact that we women are the the ones who give birth and can breastfeed has caused us to be feared. These acts of OUR POWER are terrifying to lots of people, men and women alike. Reclaiming birth and breastfeeding, seeing both as an expression of power and celebrating life this way is truly radical.
This is so true.

Shelley
post #50 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by faeriewisp
I would like to make the point that a negative hospital birth can be an important stepping stone for a woman who would otherwise never even consider a homebirth.
But we shouldn't have to be violated and nearly butchered (negative hospital birth) to make that step. I agree that this is how many women first start to think outside the box about birth and their bodies (and babies!) but that's because of our oppression!
post #51 of 144
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenniey
hmmm. well, i love this discussion. mostly i sit on the fence. i just don't know. i feel a lot of the time that the actual reason for MY medical intervention (first babe, induction, pre-e) was not physical. what i wanted to post earlier is this:
we planned an unassisted home birth with our first baby. we planned it thoroughly, talked to others who'd done the same, read a million books on the subject, even had our nurse midwife's blessing (we thought). we really were going to do it, without reservation. before i ever had a single doubt my mil called. and she called. and called. and my fil called. and called their son (dh) at work. and they prayed that we would come to our senses. they were relentless. they said things that you cannot imagine. horrible terrifying things. eventually that seed of doubt was planted firmly. i started, unconsiously, to look for a way out. if you asked my mil today she would swear up and down that it was her praying that saved our lives. if you ask me i would say that much negative energy sure can affect a person. i do not believe i had pre-eclampsia at all. (i really wasn't sick, my bp was within normal, a bit of protein showed up) but, the midwife was looking for the same way out. they said pre-e, induce... i couldn't say no.
for all the reasons you are talking about anna. fear mostly. and sitting here today healthy with 3 healthy boys, who am i to regret, doubt? but i do. the fear is what landed me in the hospital. and once there, you are just a sitting duck. you are surrounded by life saving instruments. but you are not safe. it is an illusion. an addictive illusion.
despite all my wanting, all dh's wanting, we never got a home birth. that fear took over me and everyone was always supporting it. without even meaning to i think, people, like many here, people who believed in homebirth, were throwing their own beliefs to the side, unwilling to question my fear. no body ever wants to really jump over that fence and say, "hey, come on, do it at home. you can do it." but a million and one people will stand on the other side beckoning you to enter the safety of their hospital room... where babies are lost every minute.
yes, it is all about fear. everybody wants a healthy living baby. but at what cost? i could list for you at least a thousands points of disappointment, regret, grief, loss, sadness, anger... over my hospital births. i will always feel a heaviness in my soul for never having gotten to experience the feeling of my membranes rupturing spontaneously, and getting to get down on my hands and knees with my husband beside me as we explored the mess and cleaned it up.
once in the hospital situation labor turns into a timed event, even with the best midwife. it turns into a competition. you and the clock. you and death. you are just lying there thinking, okay, come on, lets get this going. by my last birth, i requested my water be broken! just to speed things up. like it weren't a beautiful event that should be respected in its progression, however slow, fast, or intense.
i consider myself lucky to have come through 3 hospital births with an intact sense of the dignity of child birth. with the good sense to still mention to EVERY ONE we meet, "we were planning a homebirth. we wish we had just done it despite the complications."
allright, enough. i want to add quickly about this:

I am not in my post suggesting that the above listed problems are all in a woman's head and they should just have a homebirth and damn the consequences. I do not feel that way for myself or anyone. I do feel that in my experience, I should have, it was in my head. Just want to pre-clarify that. :
And yes, it is what is best for you. I just can't stress enough: we had support, research, brains, hearts, motivation. But, my mil and fil's fear was heavier than all that. It infected us. I think a lot of women face this. The weightiness of the people standing on one side screaming FEAR and the gentleness of people like us on the other saying, do what is best for you. The FEAR wins. I know you are just suggesting a more compassionate way of easing women over to the side of informed birth, and no one can say that is a bad thing. It is a great thing. Occassionally though, doesn't someone's passion for homebirth need to motivate others? Damn, i wish i had talked to someone as passionate about it as annakiss, maybe i would have gotten the guts to do it, at least with the last two.
I had a really long response to this this morning and lost it when I tried to make sure that the word I was looking for was "solopamine".
post #52 of 144
Quote:
Anna, I loved what you posted but hope you will allow my slightly different perspective. I don't think birthing at home vs. in the hospital is what is a particularly critical differentiator of a woman taking back her body and owning her birth.
With that said from PP I would have first agreed as a fellow 100% no touching me hospital birth. However, even with a perfect hospital birth there was still alot of ME instructing THEM what to do and not to do. If I would have been home the first time I could have been more relaxed and not having to call the shots from the time I walked in, the middle of the night wakings from the nurse, to them trying to get me to be in a wheel chair to leave.


I FEEL I AM TOTALLY Taking back MY OWN body and OWNING my Birth In my OWN home this time. ANd I do agree western med is there for emergency and I am thankful for that. I rather fight off my dog on the bed then a nurse

They can pretty up the labor and delivery floor all they want, call it home away from home however
1. ITS NOT HOME
2. Its just a wolf in sheeps clothing


BTW to the OP If i could rant so well like you I think I would rant all day
Just to listen to myself..

Im sure some in my family will practically be holding their breaths until I have this baby however I do have to accept their feelings because I to feel like that when i hear another one goes to the hospital and is alllll hooked up.


Ok its late i need to go to bed
Michele
post #53 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaac'sMa
Sadly, the fact that we women are the the ones who give birth and can breastfeed has caused us to be feared. These acts of OUR POWER are terrifying to lots of people, men and women alike. Reclaiming birth and breastfeeding, seeing both as an expression of power and celebrating life this way is truly radical.
So eloquently put!
post #54 of 144
What this feels like to me, who had intervention upon intervention with my last pregnancy, the sum total of which saved both my and my son's lives, is the oppression of the oppressed. This is people telling me that I cannot be a feminist and think that hospital birth is a very viable option.

I don't see how it's any less paternalistic to assume that if women "only knew the truth" that we would all come to the same conclusions and think alike. People can (and do) weigh evidence differently; that doesn't make either of them wrong. I weighed the evidence-based practice in my case, and yes, I chose a c-section at 36 weeks when my kidneys and liver stopped functioning. A hundred years ago, I would have died at home. Maybe that would have been more empowering, but frankly I prefer to be alive.

As I weigh the available evidence, I think a hospital is the appropriate place for me to VBAC. Other women will weigh the evidence differently and come to a different conclusion. I don't agree, but that doesn't make either of us wrong.

To assume that there is one answer to the devaluation of women, and one way to be a feminist, is simplistic. It's possible to be a feminist despite a (horrors!) hospital birth.
post #55 of 144
Maxmama, I agree ... ok, heck, I'll jump in here. I completely respect the preference of other women about how they would prefer to give birth, and I completely accept that patriarchy has shaped and still shapes medical paradigms, like practically everything else. Yes. However, I think this is an astonishing and troubling statement:

Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss
My point is that I do not believe that for most normal, healthy, "low-risk" mothers that the decision could possibly be entirely researched and informed and still indicate a hospital delivery. Not for a minute. And I won't call anyone who chooses that route radical and I can no longer believe that they really understand the full scope of their oppression.
I believe that going to the hospital probably saved my daughter's life or at least her health, & I have to say that, had I been any more inculcated in the "hospitals are bad & detract from the birthing experience & foster our oppression as women" school of thought before she was born, I might well not have gone to the hospital when I actually needed to. How close I came to that scares me.

I went just because I thought possibly my water had broken & I was not having any contractions. In fact I was having long contractions which I could not feel. Once they strapped me up to those much-hated monitors, nurses realized that there were contractions, and about an hour later, they saw that my baby's heart rate was plummeting (to just over 40 BPM, for well over a minute) during the most intense contractions (which were lasting 9 minutes). The baby was in extreme distress. I meanwhile was watching my college football team tank it on national TV and was feeling nothing. This happened twice. The first time they were able to stop the contraction & the baby's heartrate recovered. They offered a C-section then & I declined it, in large part because of the anti-cesarian sentiment I had been steeped in. If my kid had not made it, in retrospect, I don't know how I could live with myself for refusing the C-section when I knew she was fine at that point & that there was something weird going on in my uterus. The second time the de-cel happened I was rushed in for an emergency C-section.

My baby is fine. Maybe she would have been had nature taken its course; maybe not. I pretty much think not.

I am thankful as hell that I was at the hospital on those annoying, oppressive monitors. And I had had a completely uneventful low-risk pregnancy -- there was no reason I should not have thought it would be good to have a home birth.

I just offer that for what it's worth.
post #56 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss
I had a really long response to this this morning and lost it when I tried to make sure that the word I was looking for was "solopamine".
don't ya hate when that happens... this thread has been a hard one for me, my computer shut down twice and last night when i went to put a simple smiley response in mr. mac locked up so tight i had to use the plug! it is the masculine powers at work to keep us from revolting against their system. if this message doesn't send i will laugh my arse off.
i wonder if by "solopamine" you meant, "solipsism?" you can be a solipsist, or have a solipsistic thought or idea... i think it is a philosophy about the self... the self is the only reality?
anyway, if that is what you meant, it has given me something to think about. i will try to formulate an idea of what you typed and lost... m,.
post #57 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucysmom
I believe that going to the hospital probably saved my daughter's life or at least her health, & I have to say that, had I been any more inculcated in the "hospitals are bad & detract from the birthing experience & foster our oppression as women" school of thought before she was born, I might well not have gone to the hospital when I actually needed to. How close I came to that scares me.
See, what you just wrote is what feeds the fear... it leads to the thought: everyone should be in the hospital because this happened and it could happen to you too. I am glad that you and your daughter are healthy and safe and happy... but I do not say, "whew, thank goodness she went to the hospital." i say, "thank goodness that mama did what was best for her situation." A smart unoppressed woman does not ignore her body's cues. She does not fear the hospital. In a perfect world, the hospital would serve its purpose. Not every possible purpose under the sun. Do you allow for the possibility that, had you planned a home birth you might have been okay too? Had you been at home, the midwives attending you (had you chosen the midwife route) probably would have done some fetal monitoring too. And maybe you would have thought the same thing,
Quote:
I went just because I thought possibly my water had broken & I was not having any contractions. In fact I was having long contractions which I could not feel.
I do not think the fact that you went to the hospital and were planning a hospital birth have anything to do with each other. Your water broke, you were concerned, you used your good sense, your brain, your heart, and you went to a medical faciltity... I applaud you for your good decision. This doesn't have to turn you into a hopital birth advocate. I really really don't want to step on your toes. It just sounds so much like my mil and fil calling with all of their WCS (worst case scenarios). I hate that you are crediting the hospital for saving your daughter, why not credit yourself? You did it, you are the smart one. The hospital staff didn't show up on your doorstep saying, "hey lady... stop watching tv and come into the hospital, you need some monitoring..." You said that to yourself. You saved your daughter's life. What a wonderful way to start your journey into parenthood.
I'm serious. You made a good decision. Take the credit.
allright, i am just going to submit this and hope it comes across lovingly. if i have misunderstood your post in any way i apologize.
eta: i understand the anti-hospital bias you are talking about and i guess i see that as being the effect of the hospital propaganda. if hospitals weren't seen, by many, as the safest and sanest route, then they could be utilized for their true purpose without the fear of them becoming avoided even when neccessary. but i do know where you are coming from. in many ways i see myself as having done just that. i went in for my first due to many pressures. after which the choice was back in my court... i went back to the hospital situation. (b/c the good midwife was forced to do deliveries there, b/c there were no other good midwives close enough to us) But, mainly, because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to judge a dangerous situation from a normal intense one due to my own anti-hospital bias. Ironic, isn't it, that this would land me in a hospital?
post #58 of 144
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by maxmama
To assume that there is one answer to the devaluation of women, and one way to be a feminist, is simplistic. It's possible to be a feminist despite a (horrors!) hospital birth.
I don't think I'm oppressing anyone with my statements. That's frankly impossible. You cannot oppress anyone without power over them. I am not systematically undermining the decisions that women make to birth in the hospital. I am merely challenging the idea that it is an appropriate place to birth under normal circumstances. And I did repeatedly specify "normal" circumstances. It does not sound like your kidneys and liver failing was at all normal and it seems that a hospital delivery was indicated in your case.

It is also surely possible to be a feminist and to birth in a hospital even under normal circumstances. I don't think it's possible to consider birthing in a hospital a radical act, however, and I don't believe that normal circumstances indicate a hospital delivery. I think it is much more in line with a philosophy committed to the liberation of women to realize that the hospital is an institution dedicated in part to undermining a patient's power as part of achieving its normal goals and that as birthing women, we are most vulnerable to the indiscretions and abuses that follow from that.

One can claim to be a feminist and work towards other feminist goals and still be oppressed and completely unaware of that oppression. I see it all the time. It really is what inspired this rant, as I am frankly sick of seeing smart, powerful women obliviously choose to have their power stripped from them. They hand it over on a platter. It is ridiculous to think that we are such amateurs in our own bodies that we need professionals to save us. It is ridiculous that this may in fact be true as we have allowed history and the oppression of women to guide us to this place where we are disconnected from ourselves.

To believe that one is making an informed, empowered choice by going to the hospital to deliver with no risk-factor indicating that this is needed, is to accept the distrust of birth and a woman's body that this medical history has instilled in us. If we truly trusted in birth, birthing at home would make perfect sense.
post #59 of 144
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arwyn
Periwinkle does have a point, in that the ideal number of interventions in childbirth is not zero. 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.

Birth is safest when society views it as normal and safe; reserves interventions for when really, truly necessary; and when OBs are seen as the specialists they are (in the rare abnormalities of pregnancy and birth), who are available as a resource for the normal prenatal and birth attendants, midwives, to use as they see fit.
I have not contradicted this. I have never said there were no risks. I think that birth can have inherent risks without being inherently risky.
post #60 of 144
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenniey
don't ya hate when that happens... this thread has been a hard one for me, my computer shut down twice and last night when i went to put a simple smiley response in mr. mac locked up so tight i had to use the plug! it is the masculine powers at work to keep us from revolting against their system. if this message doesn't send i will laugh my arse off.
i wonder if by "solopamine" you meant, "solipsism?" you can be a solipsist, or have a solipsistic thought or idea... i think it is a philosophy about the self... the self is the only reality?
anyway, if that is what you meant, it has given me something to think about. i will try to formulate an idea of what you typed and lost... m,.
ARGH! No, I meant "scolopamine" which was a psychoactive drug they used to give birthing women to make them forget their pain (but it also made them completely crazy while they birthed like they were on acid or something). I was talking about the history of childbirth and how obstetrics has tortured women and how we think that in this modern age we're somehow immune to that sort of barbary, when in fact we are not, it has merely been disguised better.

I could not possibly recreate the post. It's hard for me to remember what I was saying. I have not had much time to even be online, so I have missed many opportunities to sit with my thoughts on these matters further. I have to clean my house now...
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