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Homebirth and Race and Class - Page 4

post #61 of 117
:

I am kinda lost with this topic.

I am low class, poor, no insurance, white, no real education past high school......and I had a homebirth

I did have interent. So that makes me priveledged? Hmmm....I guess I am a bit lost.
post #62 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
:

I am kinda lost with this topic.

I am low class, poor, no insurance, white, no real education past high school......and I had a homebirth

I did have interent. So that makes me priveledged? Hmmm....I guess I am a bit lost.
There are always going to be those more privileged than you, as well as far less privileged. Just by living in the US you are fairly privileged, wouldn't you think?

I am privileged to be able to...is a statement that we used to hear fairly often, and it was something you acknowledged, maybe even a source of pride in some cases. Now we seem to want to deny that we are privileged, because we feel like the word is being used to deny that we have problems, regardless.

My mother lived during the Great Depression, her mother died from meningitis at a young age, the children were all split up and sent to different relatives, some of them were abusive, and then my mother's favorite aunt killed herself. They were dragging the river for her body while my mom was at school. My aunt, to this day, is a very hard worker. She cleans move-out houses for money, even though she is almost 80 years old. People ask her why she still works so hard, she says when she was a child and was sent to live on a farm, she was told if she wanted to eat, she had to work. She knew she liked eating, so she worked hard, and she still does. In any event, my mother knows she is privileged, knows now how more privileged she was than others. Although I think in some ways it makes her less tolerant, because there are things that are unacceptable to her no matter how bad things are, and a lot of us don't see it the same way.

But I think of privilege as being aware of how your own situation is not comparable to another's, and you can't just say, "I did it, so you can do it too."
post #63 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Viola View Post
There are always going to be those more privileged than you, as well as far less privileged. Just by living in the US you are fairly privileged, wouldn't you think?
I agree that there is always going to be somebody that has more than you and somebody that has less than you. Sure, somebody might think they are privileged because they live in the U.S. At the same time, somebody else may view living in the U.S. negatively and would not view it as a privilege at all. The word privilege is not a neutral term.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viola View Post
I am privileged to be able to...is a statement that we used to hear fairly often, and it was something you acknowledged, maybe even a source of pride in some cases. Now we seem to want to deny that we are privileged, because we feel like the word is being used to deny that we have problems, regardless.

Often times, when someone is referred to as being privileged it is usually a loaded statement. The intended meaning is usually, "Shut up, you don't know what you are talking about because you have X or Y or Z." In this case, it almost seems as if you are saying that because you have Internet, you don't qualify to consider yourself part of X group. Heck the homeless person that is dying on the streets can be considered privileged because they are alive so it is really a matter of perspective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viola View Post
My mother lived during the Great Depression, her mother died from meningitis at a young age, the children were all split up and sent to different relatives, some of them were abusive, and then my mother's favorite aunt killed herself. They were dragging the river for her body while my mom was at school. My aunt, to this day, is a very hard worker. She cleans move-out houses for money, even though she is almost 80 years old. People ask her why she still works so hard, she says when she was a child and was sent to live on a farm, she was told if she wanted to eat, she had to work. She knew she liked eating, so she worked hard, and she still does. In any event, my mother knows she is privileged, knows now how more privileged she was than others. Although I think in some ways it makes her less tolerant, because there are things that are unacceptable to her no matter how bad things are, and a lot of us don't see it the same way.
I am not sure what this adds to the conversation about homebirthing and race/class. I have family members with similar stories. My grandfather didn't find out his real name or real identity until he married my grandmother as a result of being broken up because of disease killing family members. I have similar stories of people working their butts off to eat today (single moms that feed their kids by picking up coke cans on the side of the road). There have always been and always will be people that are struggling to survive while the rest of us sit on our computers talking about them like they no longer exist and are a thing of the past or don't exist in this country.

The more interesting thing to find out was whether or not your aunt had her kids at home or in a hospital. My 80 yo grandmother had all of ther kids at the hospital but her mom had some kids at home and some at the hospital. I am not sure but I have always found it interesting to talk to older family members about birth and kids and how things used to be done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viola View Post
But I think of privilege as being aware of how your own situation is not comparable to another's, and you can't just say, "I did it, so you can do it too."
You are right. You can't compare one person's situation to another and lump people together. That is why I am having a really hard time with the assumption that homebirth is related to race and class. It is lumping people together and claiming that because you fall into X category, it is not available to you or you are not as likely to do it. I can see arguments on both sides why falling into a certain category (rich/poor/black/white/etc.) would make you more likely to have a homebirth. I can see compelling reasons for anyone to have a homebirth just as I can see compelling reasons for anyone to have a hospital birth.
post #64 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
Where are you? That has not been my experience at all.
i'm in seattle. i don't know if it's my particular midwife's practice, because i'd think it would be EVEN MORE caucasian and priviledged. i don't know if you know much about seattle, but the city is very white and $. we definitely have lots of immigrants & minorities spread around the outskirts, so i think it's interesting that they'd find their way to the most "hip" neighborhood in the city for a midwife & homebirth!
post #65 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by library lady View Post
Often times, when someone is referred to as being privileged it is usually a loaded statement. The intended meaning is usually, "Shut up, you don't know what you are talking about because you have X or Y or Z." In this case, it almost seems as if you are saying that because you have Internet, you don't qualify to consider yourself part of X group. Heck the homeless person that is dying on the streets can be considered privileged because they are alive so it is really a matter of perspective.
That is not at all what I am referring to when I talk about privilege. I feel that it's important for me to constantly question the privilege I experience, to seek it out and recognize that I am not alone in the universe and that my behaviors can be detrimental to others if I am careless - this is why we make an effort to tread lightly on the earth, to be careful about how we buy the things we need (it's important, for instance, to think about the child who sewed a piece of clothing in order to remember not to support slavery, the people who died for diamonds, the way that the chickens were kept that are now propped on petroleum derived plates at KFC).

I feel that it's important to share those ideas with my children, which we do because that's what we value and it doesn't look like sudden lessons on permaculture or child-labor, but rather growing our gardens, choosing our purchases wisely, and letting them know why we do the things we do as we do them.

It's even why I choose to homebirth. I see birthing at home as a feminist act, always have. It's using my biology, my femininity as a tool for change by supporting a midwife, being empowered by a powerful act, and by sharing that with others to see that they are powerful and that the system sucks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by library lady View Post
You are right. You can't compare one person's situation to another and lump people together. That is why I am having a really hard time with the assumption that homebirth is related to race and class. It is lumping people together and claiming that because you fall into X category, it is not available to you or you are not as likely to do it. I can see arguments on both sides why falling into a certain category (rich/poor/black/white/etc.) would make you more likely to have a homebirth. I can see compelling reasons for anyone to have a homebirth just as I can see compelling reasons for anyone to have a hospital birth.
I think it's difficult to deny that certain groups of people have the most access to the information and resources necessary to step outside of their context, to deny the system, to rebel against the norm. Which is not to say that those within those socio-economic contexts will always do so or that those outside those socio-economic contexts will never do so. It's about a correlation, which tells a bit about how homebirth happens and how it doesn't. Or maybe how homebirth happens or doesn't tells us about the context it falls into. Either way.

The point is access. The point is recognizing and questioning, whether it leads anywhere or not, why the freedom to empower ourselves is so limited and so difficult.

Ultimately, it is about changing the system entirely, not just about providing access to all groups, because changing the system will lead to access and the real goal - empowered birth, regardless of the setting.
post #66 of 117
maybe if we all wrote to our insurance companies and to the state departments of health and explained that we desire and support insurance coverage of homebirths this might change something, making homebirth more affordable and widespead.
post #67 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by GOPLawyer View Post
Both internet access and books are free at the library.
:Have you tried to take small children with you to the library to use the internet? I only do that if I am REALLY desperate. If I didn't have the internet at home I would not be able to go to the library to use it for recreation since I always have at least one child with me; particularly since I now live further from the library than I used to.
post #68 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by arismama! View Post
maybe if we all wrote to our insurance companies and to the state departments of health and explained that we desire and support insurance coverage of homebirths this might change something, making homebirth more affordable and widespead.
In my case, it would have to be 100% coverage in order for it to truly make a difference. The last time I had insurance, the copays added up to more than what it cost me to pay for a home birth and my midwife was a heck of a lot more understanding. I think everything dealing with health care needs to be affordable.
post #69 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Viola View Post
The idea that one would give birth in their tiny, messy place (or that they would have to clean it and make it ready) without access to any pain relief or aftercare may not strike a person as empowering, it may feel precisely the opposite.
This is a great point. We actually moved, well for a lot of reasons, but to this day, that main one was because we didn't want to give birth in our dingy little apartment far from a community that would give us the great aftercare we needed. I think to feel comfortable giving birth at home, you first need to feel comfortable at home!
post #70 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire
Certainly, race and class have a HUGE, HUGE impact on the birthing choices and experiences of women, whether we're talking about home birth or not. And yse, I suppose there must be some manner of rejection from some classes in order to differentiate their "alternative" choices from the choices (or non-choices) of the poor.
How so? I'm not white. What does that have to do with
my birthing choices?

What does race have to do with any of this and why
is it significant?


Quote:
Originally Posted by soso-lynn
The middle-class enjoys the immense privilege of being able to do things differently. The poorer, less educated often do not know about their options.
I've never been what anyone would consider poor; however my spouse is a different story. So I feel safe in saying that poor does not always equal less educated. People really need to throw that out of the window.

I went to private school all my life and guess what; there were rich people and poor people. Lacking finances does not always hinder ones ability to receive a "good" education.

Once again, we are back at this "I am so educated because I have money" arguments.

And by the way, just because someone is "educated" it doesn't mean they will make the same decisions as you. As this "educated" woman doesn't plan on breastfeeding. *gasp!*

Quote:
Originally Posted by library lady
They do but I think that too many people have this notion that just because you aren't of a certain race or a certain class that you are somehow too stupid to think for yourself and you need those that are of the preferred class or race to come and save you.

Just because a person has access to something doesn't guarantee that they will use it. It might increase their chances of using it, but it will not guarantee anything. There are a lot more barriers to homebirths than race or class. The biggest barrier to homebirth is the medical profession.
Exactly!
post #71 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
It's even why I choose to homebirth. I see birthing at home as a feminist act, always have. It's using my biology, my femininity as a tool for change by supporting a midwife, being empowered by a powerful act, and by sharing that with others to see that they are powerful and that the system sucks.
I agree that it is good to show others that they are powerful and have the power to choose what they want for their bodies. Yes, the system sucks. I am a bit confused though because it sounds as if you want people to home birth for political reasons or to make a statement. I think that is totally cool but I just don't like it when personal choice becomes politically motivated. I choose the things that I do because I think that I am doing what is best for my family. If my neighbor does something different, it is not because they are less powerful or are somehow inferior. They are just different. I am sure that I am not communicating what I mean correctly but I hope that some of what I mean is coming across somewhere in my ramblings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
I think it's difficult to deny that certain groups of people have the most access to the information and resources necessary to step outside of their context, to deny the system, to rebel against the norm. Which is not to say that those within those socio-economic contexts will always do so or that those outside those socio-economic contexts will never do so. It's about a correlation, which tells a bit about how homebirth happens and how it doesn't. Or maybe how homebirth happens or doesn't tells us about the context it falls into. Either way.
Yes, certain groups do have more information and more access. I guess the problem that I keep having is the fact that just the other night I watched a PBS special on midwives/birth in Africa. Home birth is the default standard there. Women only go to the hospitals for complications or problems. I know that you are looking at just the US but I find it difficult to look at things in such isolation. I like looking at the bigger picture. If you look at home birth rates for the US, you can say that white women are more apt to have a home birth. I couldn't find a correlation with education. The following chart indicates that just over 50% of the women in 2005 have over 13 years of education. http://www.uptodate.com/patients/con...x/moms_who.htm

In that regard, you can generalize that in the US, educated white women are more apt to have a home birth. I am not sure why that is the case because that is not the case in other countries. In doing some research, it is interesting to note that the homebirth rates actually appear to be slightly declining. I found a report that provides stats for place of birth from 1990-2004. http://nchspressroom.files.wordpress...birthplace.pdf

It is interesting to note that homebirth rates are actually declining. When I looked at the report, I was looking at the number of women that gave birth in their residence. It went from being 25,923 in 1992 down to 23,150 in 2004. I think the report itself is a bit racist because it only considers Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics so I don't think it gives a complete picture. I was unable to find anything that linked place of birth to socioeconomic status.

Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
The point is access. The point is recognizing and questioning, whether it leads anywhere or not, why the freedom to empower ourselves is so limited and so difficult.

Ultimately, it is about changing the system entirely, not just about providing access to all groups, because changing the system will lead to access and the real goal - empowered birth, regardless of the setting.
I completely agree that the whole point is access. One thing that keeps coming up for me is what is hindering access. Is it the cost that hinders access? In some cases, it is cost prohibitive. In other cases (such as mine), it is the only affordable option. Is it lack of education that hinders access? Perhaps. I don't think that you can identify a single source that prohibits access. As a librarian, one of the things we try to identify is barriers to service so that they can be removed. In some cases the barriers are so pervasive that you have to tackle them one at a time from within. Like you say, the entire system needs to be changed and it needs to focus on personal choice rather than you need to do X because somebody else thinks that is what is best for you.

I hope I have made some sense after being interupted a bazillion times.
post #72 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharr610 View Post
This is a great point. We actually moved, well for a lot of reasons, but to this day, that main one was because we didn't want to give birth in our dingy little apartment far from a community that would give us the great aftercare we needed. I think to feel comfortable giving birth at home, you first need to feel comfortable at home!
Yep, with my first daughter, I didn't have a home because the house we bought to bring our new baby home to had been destroyed by a flood the month before she was born. The time I was in the hospital with her allowed me to forget that I didn't have a home. We hadn't even gotten our insurance payments when she was born. I have since had two home births and am planning on a 3rd but you couldn't have paid me enough to have a home birth with my first.
post #73 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by HisBeautifulWife View Post
How so? I'm not white. What does that have to do with
my birthing choices?

What does race have to do with any of this and why
is it significant?




I've never been what anyone would consider poor; however my spouse is a different story. So I feel safe in saying that poor does not always equal less educated. People really need to throw that out of the window.

I went to private school all my life and guess what; there were rich people and poor people. Lacking finances does not always hinder ones ability to receive a "good" education.

Once again, we are back at this "I am so educated because I have money" arguments.

And by the way, just because someone is "educated" it doesn't mean they will make the same decisions as you. As this "educated" woman doesn't plan on breastfeeding. *gasp!*



Exactly!
I think it has been clearly stated throughout this thread that education and financial means are two different things.

Just because we can come up with examples of non-white people who do X, Y or Z or poor people who are very educated or uneducated people still capable of fighting for their opportunity to homebirth does not mean those things are irrelevant. It is a fact that our society is based on 'othering' certain groups and those categories shape the lives of many people. Saying that black people are oppressed and generally have less access to information and opportunities than white people is nothing controversial. Saying that non white, middle-class bodies have been assaulted by medicine a lot more is not something I just made up. In theory and in your individual life, race has nothing to do with anything, it does not even exist. But socially, it is a reality and society shapes the meaning of it. Currently, society says that white, middle-class women have much more agency over their bodies than poor OR black OR uneducated women.
post #74 of 117
Quote:
I think it has been clearly stated throughout this thread that education and financial means are two different things.
I don't think so or people wouldn't keep bringing education and then using the word poor in the same sentence.

Quote:
Saying that black people are oppressed and generally have less access to information and opportunities than white people is nothing controversial.
It depends on who you say it to.

Quote:
In theory and in your individual life, race has nothing to do with anything, it does not even exist. But socially, it is a reality and society shapes the meaning of it. Currently, society says that white, middle-class women have much more agency over their bodies than poor OR black OR uneducated women.
Actually that's not true. In my life, race has a lot to do with a lot of things; yet I try not to focus too much on it because I get angry that I have to be seen as a "RACE person" instead of a "person" . In fact, the only time I bring it up is when someone else does....

But I fail to see the correlation between race and home birth or why it's even important to bring up race in this instance if your goal is spreading awareness.

Furthermore, my main point is that just because one has this view that they are more "educated and enlightened" it doesn't mean that their decisions will work for everyone.

Tell all the rich, poor, middle class, and everyone else about home birth and that doesn't mean they will want to do it. Still, I think women should know about their choices.

So....

If you want to help, then as someone else said, drop the labels, leave race out of it, and spread whatever message you want to spread.

Instead of "let's educate all these unfortunate minorities about their options" you'd probably get further with "lets educate ALL women about their options".

It just takes the hint of elitism out of it and makes it more welcoming which in turn will make people less defensive and more receptive.
post #75 of 117
My mom was a homebirther, and many of her friends were as well. I have three friends IRL who have birthed at home.

My mom sought a HB MW because she couldn't afford to access the mainstream medical system. My parents depended on my dad's construction work, and when he injured himself and she discovered she was pregnant, she went to a MW. The MW in her area had a policy of, "Pay me what you can afford." My parents paid her $300 in the early 1980s.

Most of my mother's friends were also HBers, and most of them were also poor, lower class, non-college educated. In fact, one couldn't scrape up anything to pay a MW, so she called over two of her friends who had collectively had 11 children, and they helped her.

Two of my three IRL friends have had HBs because of lack of insurance and not wanting to pay $5K+ to a hospital. One IRL friend is who I would classify as upper middle class, and is a well-educated white woman who interviewed many MWs before choosing the perfect one.

These two groups chose to birth at home for vastly different reasons. One group because they couldn't afford the regular medical care system (admittedly, there was a bit of a natural, back to earth mindset there as well), and the other was a purposeful setting out to choose the optimal birth experience, including paying $5K out of pocket for a MW.
post #76 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by HisBeautifulWife View Post
But I fail to see the correlation between race and home birth or why it's even important to bring up race in this instance if your goal is spreading awareness.
Exactly. I don't know why I am obsessed with this thread but it has really struck a nerve with me. I fail to see race as a hindrance or a barrier to being able to have a home birth. Statistics say that white women in the US have home births more often than others but it does not provide any sort reason behind it. If you want to look at is from a strictly statistical standpoint, it stands to reason that the majority of people having homebirths are white women. Why is that the case? That is due to the simple fact that if you look at the US as a whole, the majority of the population is WHITE. According to the 2005 Census at http://www.census.gov/population/www...mic/RACEHO.pdf you can see that 82.2% of the population is white. If you want to extrapolate further, 90% of them have high school diplomas or higher. http://www.census.gov/population/www...Attainment.pdf

From a link I provided in another post, a little over half of the women that have homebirths have 13+ years of school. Thirteen years is about equivalent to a high school diploma. So of course, it can be said that the majority of people that have homebirths are educated white women. In order for the assumption of race and class to be validated, you would have to break it down and see if the percentage of white women having homebirths is roughly equal to the percentage of women of another race. Only then can you make the assumption about race.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HisBeautifulWife View Post
Furthermore, my main point is that just because one has this view that they are more "educated and enlightened" it doesn't mean that their decisions will work for everyone.

Tell all the rich, poor, middle class, and everyone else about home birth and that doesn't mean they will want to do it. Still, I think women should know about their choices.

So....

If you want to help, then as someone else said, drop the labels, leave race out of it, and spread whatever message you want to spread.

Instead of "let's educate all these unfortunate minorities about their options" you'd probably get further with "lets educate ALL women about their options".

It just takes the hint of elitism out of it and makes it more welcoming which in turn will make people less defensive and more receptive.
post #77 of 117
You want to know how I found out about midwife care?

At a Catholic charity in the inner city of St Paul that has maternal care for low income/no income women. My mom dropped me off because I did not have a car at the time of my own. I went there because I could not afford a hospital birth. Thank God I did because that choice changed my life! My birth with a midwife and no intervention at a hospital downtown St Paul left me thinking "Wow. That was wonderful! We could have done that at home!"

SO next time we did. :

I had interent because I lived with family and came home to start researching birth options. I found out about water birth and ended up here at MDC.
post #78 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by library lady View Post
Yes, certain groups do have more information and more access. I guess the problem that I keep having is the fact that just the other night I watched a PBS special on midwives/birth in Africa. Home birth is the default standard there. Women only go to the hospitals for complications or problems.
Just curious as to where they were in Africa? I'm in West Africa and, uh, yea, out in the middle of nowhere where the closest clinic of any kind is several hours away, its a given where you birth-home or the midwives house. If access to a clinic or hospital is available, its going through the same transformation here as it did in the states a while back. Its a status symbol to birth in a hospital, being held up by the fact that this is a country with HUGE infant mortality and infant morbidity rates, so they do feel safer in a hospital. We have a dear friend who literally went broke so that his wife could give birth in the hospital.
post #79 of 117
i really feel like the biggest thing stacked against moms who might choose homebirth is money, at least in most of the usa where homebirth midwives are not covered by insurance (generally speaking, i know some plans do cover if its a cnm and i know in a few states homebirth mws are covered, but not as a rule throughout our country). when i was recieving state insurance i payed 4$ a month for full coverage including dental in MN. granted MN has a more generous state health insurance program than many other states. my birth at a hospital, including DS's 5 day NICU stay was 100% covered, I did not pay a dime. if I had chosen homebirth I would have had to come up w/ 2500$-3000$, the average going rate here, for a home birth mw. I was 19 and this wasn't feasible for me. If homebirth had been covered by my health insurance plan I absolutely would have chosen that and most likely avoided a 2nd degree episiotomy, drugs and having my son taken from me for 4 days for a dubious never found illness.
post #80 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharr610 View Post
Just curious as to where they were in Africa? I'm in West Africa and, uh, yea, out in the middle of nowhere where the closest clinic of any kind is several hours away, its a given where you birth-home or the midwives house. If access to a clinic or hospital is available, its going through the same transformation here as it did in the states a while back. Its a status symbol to birth in a hospital, being held up by the fact that this is a country with HUGE infant mortality and infant morbidity rates, so they do feel safer in a hospital. We have a dear friend who literally went broke so that his wife could give birth in the hospital.

It was Mozambiqu. Here is a link to the MDC discussion about it: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=932448
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