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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think about this topic a lot when I visit these boards or otherwise discuss pregnancy, birth and newborns with ppl....or when I use a Birth Term that someone quibbles with me about, as just happened to me here today....so, I guess I think about this topic a lot!<br><br>
Who owns Birth Language? This is an important question to me because the Owners are usually also the creators or at least the Primary Creators of a language--the people who have key influence over words chosen, and over what words mean. "What words mean" is always "what words mean *in terms of the values and norms of the Primary Creators*" of a language. And I think the topic of language is immensely important to explore because what we say and what we mean are things that shape our reality in a fundamental way. What happens and how we feel about what happens; our relationships with ourselves and other people, with work and money, the planet and all other Life Forms; the way we live and choose is enormously impacted by Language, by words, phrases and the beliefs and images they conjure.<br><br>
There is more I could say about this, but you know how I ramble....In any event, the topic of The Ownership of Birth Language is to me exceedingly important. I think our insistence on owning Birth Language is very much at the core of returning birth to women, and to normal.<br><br>
Part of this is owning our own language and terms--and part is becoming a translator: so when ol Doc Obee says s/he'll 'let you go 41wks', you automatically hear 'I, Doc Obee, am only comfortable with 41wk pregnancies'. Then you know you will simply have to decide (at some point) what YOU are comfortable with, and what kind of care you are going to line up for yourself and baby.<br><br>
Or if you invent a new term and someone says "There is no such thing in The Official Birth Lexicon!", you hear instead that that person is only familiar with one particular lexicon (one that doesn't yet include the term you invented), and you hear that s/he is perhaps irate because s/he doesn't really understand your new term (misunderstanding so often gives rise to frustration/irritability).<br><br>
Anyway, hoping this is not too very obtuse--anyone with thoughts on this?<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 

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Well, I don't know that I agree with the concept of "owners" of a language. It's difficult to point to individuals, or even sub-groups of individuals in a society who could be determined to have that "owernship." Language is such a fluid & dynamic entity. It evolves over time with many speakers contributing to that evolution.<br><br>
As for your 41W analogy... well, I don't think that will ever change. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes"> I don't think ANY medical doctors will ever change their language to say that <span style="text-decoration:underline;">they think or they are "un/comfortable"</span> with any particular course of action. The course of action they recommend IS the only viable course of action in their mind! "I think XYZ is best" is equivalent to "XYZ <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b>is</b></span> best!" & they'll never phrase it in the former way.<br><br>
In a way though, I don't blame them. If you make life-or-death decisions, you MUST think that your decisions are the correct ones. Otherwise you'll find yourself paralyzed with indecision and vascillate rather than act. I think what's important is for us as consumers of medical services to <span style="text-decoration:underline;">know</span> that when a doc says "XYZ is best" that is <span style="text-decoration:underline;">their opinion</span> - and we need to decide if we agree.
 

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I'm curious to see how this discussion will play out here a I am a L and D nurse and find it's very hard to come up with terms that people are universally comfortable with. I think, like you said, there are so many different 'lexicons' that there will always be a variety--and there will always be discussion about what the terms imply on an explicit and implicit level.<br><br>
Honestly, I think it comes down to what people are comfortable on an individual level. Contraction vs surge? Whatever the mother wants to call it is fine with me.
 

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Great post! I love this topic but I will admit that it goes over my head regularly. I'm just not good with words at all. And that goes for both giving and receiving words, lol. I'm a very visual person. I've always excelled at art and math while english was always my worst subject.
 

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I'd love to see the original inspiration for this thread.<br><br>
While there are terms in the lexicon that I can't stand, ther are also "created" terms that are equally as irritating.
 

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I'm having a hard time forming long thoughts. The short thought:<br><br>
Birth is so elemental that there almost can be no solid language for it, because of the variety and depth of people's individual experiences, as mothers, birth professionals, fathers, and others... So the important thing is not just the language but how we communicate with others; what kind of effort goes into understanding the others' point of view. Stravinsky was talking about music when he said, “To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also," but the point is still valid.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>April422</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13271702"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">While there are terms in the lexicon that I can't stand, ther are also "created" terms that are equally as irritating.</div>
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I really don't like the words "surges" or "waves" in place of contractions.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>erin_brycesmom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13272025"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I really don't like the words "surges" or "waves" in place of contractions.</div>
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Me too. They make me want to strangle whoever says it.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>erin_brycesmom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13272025"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I really don't like the words "surges" or "waves" in place of contractions.</div>
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Haha, you hit my nail on the head.<br><br>
I don't think that re-creating the usual birth lexicon does any good.<br>
Hospitals around here aren't going to play the "surge" game.<br><br>
Why not just teach women that labor is varied, from painless to painful and we don't know what it will be for us with any of our labors until we're in that moment.<br><br>
We should educate ourselves on how to deal with ALL the variables. Making the mention of pain verboten is a little absurd in my my opinion.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>April422</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13272079"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">We should educate ourselves on how to deal with ALL the variables. Making the mention of pain verboten is a little absurd in my my opinion.</div>
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That made me remember an exchange during my labor with dd. Her head never really engaged, but she was periodically trying to get down into my pelvis, which was <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/censored.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="censored">: painful. I remember the L&D nurse trying to say it was pressure, not pain. In other words, not from a contraction. It was not a distinction I appreciated, in part because the "pressure" could be continuous for 6-7 minutes at a time.<br><br>
But in my idea of really listening and not just hearing, all that would have had to happen was an acknowledgment that the one could be just as painful as the other.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>April422</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13272079"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I don't think that re-creating the usual birth lexicon does any good. Hospitals around here aren't going to play the "surge" game.</div>
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Hospitals aren't the only entities to consider. Women who use that word do so because it feels helpful <i>to them personally</i> to reframe the concept of uterine movement in their minds, because "contraction" for them holds connotations of something negative, and even if they know that labor may be painful for them, they don't feel it useful to use language that they feel focuses on that. It's irrelevant, in that context, whether hospitals are going to "play that game".<br><br>
I'm curious about the hostility that's come up on this thread, and that I've heard elsewhere, about the use of unofficial/uncommon terms to describe things. Why does it annoy/upset people so much when people see things differently enough that it's useful to them to use different language to reflect that?
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>fourlittlebirds</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13274505"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I'm curious about the hostility that's come up on this thread, and that I've heard elsewhere, about the use of unofficial/uncommon terms to describe things. Why does it annoy/upset people so much when people see things differently enough that it's useful to them to use different language to reflect that?</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">:
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>fourlittlebirds</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13274505"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I'm curious about the hostility that's come up on this thread, and that I've heard elsewhere, about the use of unofficial/uncommon terms to describe things. Why does it annoy/upset people so much when people see things differently enough that it's useful to them to use different language to reflect that?</div>
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You didn't quote me but just want to throw a FWIW out there (since I posted on the topic), it does not annoy/upset me wen other people use those words. They just don't really fit the bill for me. The worst I can say regarding other people's use of those words is that I can't relate. But I can definitely understand that those words reflect accurately for others.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>fourlittlebirds</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13274505"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;"><br>
I'm curious about the hostility that's come up on this thread, and that I've heard elsewhere, about the use of unofficial/uncommon terms to describe things. Why does it annoy/upset people so much when people see things differently enough that it's useful to them to use different language to reflect that?</div>
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It annoys me because I've seen too many who wind up feeling like a failure when their 'surges' weren't waves of pressure that enveloped their abdomen but PAINFUL contractions that were bringing forth their baby.<br><br>
I can't stand any method that makes mention of anything verboten.<br>
I have a fellow doula who is an instructor in a method where you may not mention pain. You may not show videos in your classes that mention pain. There are some great videos out there that can help women preparing for their labor that are totally OFF limits for her simply because they mention the word paid.<br><br>
Rigidity like that doesn't do anyone any favors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
thanks for jumping in, people! Let me start with a few word definitions of my own:<br><br>
Ownership: now usually when we speak of owning something, we are talking about a dichotomy--*I* own this house and *you* don't, for instance. Or the AMA 'owns' the practice of medicine (and it's language), and we with no specific med training do not. But when I speak of ownership, I am speaking more about simply being present and responsive each moment, fully claiming and participating in whatever is going on. There is no dichotomy here; we can all own reality as we experience it, we own it together and separately both. If I own birth language, I'm not laying absolute/entire claim to it's creation and rules, only claiming the power and the right to use it as my own.<br><br>
The discussion about 'surges', 'contrax', etc, is a good example of this. For some, claiming/owning 'surges' is more helpful than 'contractions'--for some its not. If I use 'surges', that does not mean you are forbidden to use 'contractions'--only that I own the language that I use, I acknowledge it's power to shape my reality, make conscious choices about it. I also acknowledge *your* ownership of your own language and the values and realities your language describes for you.<br><br>
I like what claras_mom said (and hey, often 'short thoughts' say far more than 'long thoughts')<br><br>
"Birth is so elemental that there almost can be no solid language for it, because of the variety and depth of people's individual experiences, as mothers, birth professionals, fathers, and others... So the important thing is not just the language but how we communicate with others; what kind of effort goes into understanding the others' point of view. Stravinsky was talking about music when he said, “To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also," but the point is still valid. "<br><br>
Yes, so very well said! Birth IS elemental, it exists outside the realm of the rational mind where words are formed. Words arise in the first place as mere tokens, symbols of reality, remember, and with something like birth the more fluid and flexible we are about it, the better we can describe and discuss it. We do need to carefully communicate about it--both in the ways we speak, and in being open listeners who give and ask for understanding without letting particular words get in the way.<br><br>
So, when someone uses a word/phrase that is not in The Official Lexicon, that is not the time to quibble about the lexicon and the kind of ownership which poses that dichotomy of We Own It, You Don't. It's important to mention with this, that the dichotomy also sneakily poses a heirarchy of One Up, One Down. In this materialistic and greatly heirarchical society of ours, to "own" something grants a kind of power not held by the "non-owner". Now it may be a wonderful thing that the person who owns a house has the right to choose which non-owners and behaviors are welcome there and which are not. But when it comes to our language and reality in a more general sense, that kind of ownership is not healthy, not fair, not necessary--for instance, that kind of ownership (of birth care options and birth language) constitutes a great deal of what has made birth in American hospitals so awful for so many.<br><br>
Also, it doesn't really matter whether or not the Drs and Hospitals are going to play it this way. When your doc says "baby is safest arriving by 41wks", you can translate that in your *own* head to "Dr not comfy with longer-cooking babies". I do NOT suggest that you say in response, to your doc: "Oh, yes, I hear that you are uncomfortable with longer-cooking babies". It would probably be pretty unhelpful, prompt a rant about med ideas on safety, etc. But you can translate for yourself, because you own your reality and language---and you can make decisions based on what you believe, regardless of what that Dr believes.<br><br>
SO--your dr. says "we'll let you go to 41wks and no further", then you can accept that because you accept the Dr's status as The Boss and that is the way you prefer it. OR you can see that as a statement of what Dr is/isn't comfortable with (Dr's owned reality) without owning it yourself. If you are comfortable with letting your baby cook long, then you can choose another provider or setting for birth. I do not suggest that simply by utilizing alternate language from the dominant one, by owning your language use, that you will automatically change others' minds about anything. I do suggest that when we do remain present, and own language and meaning for ourselves, that more options become available to us--we become freer and more positively self-directed while also more readily respectful of the other's reality. I mean, you might be inclined to argue or persuade if you feel bound to this Dr--if you feel that you are NOT free to choose other care, for instance.<br><br>
Well, I'll stop now...keep it coming people <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I think one part of the 'ownership' of language is also the function of claiming ownership of birth, for the medical professionals. By taking something simple and natural and tagging it with clinical or obscure names or phrases you are deliberately trying to separate the birth from the person/people who truly own it.<br><br>
I have more to say, but will be back later.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>erin_brycesmom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13272025"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I really don't like the words "surges" or "waves" in place of contractions.</div>
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I have to agree. With this last pregnancy I had no idea I was having contractions because I was waiting for a surge or a wave. I just thought the baby's movements were causing me pain because I had such low fluid.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MsBlack</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13275101"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;"><br>
Also, it doesn't really matter whether or not the Drs and Hospitals are going to play it this way. When your doc says "baby is safest arriving by 41wks", you can translate that in your *own* head to "Dr not comfy with longer-cooking babies". I do NOT suggest that you say in response, to your doc: "Oh, yes, I hear that you are uncomfortable with longer-cooking babies". It would probably be pretty unhelpful, prompt a rant about med ideas on safety, etc. But you can translate for yourself, because you own your reality and language---and you can make decisions based on what you believe, regardless of what that Dr believes.</div>
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But to many, using certain methods, it does matter. You can not mention pain. It's more the rigidity I have an issue with, than the actual words themselves. When a woman comes into a hospital and chooses to use certain methods and gives the hospital a birth plan that is asking them to change their entire lexicon for this *one* patient or her birth will fall to pieces, that's not a good thing.<br><br>
I completely agree with what you say about longer cooking babies, you're reading/hearing the underlying message. Dr isn't comfortable. But that's a different issue than the "surges", etc type of language modification that some childbirth education methods use.<br><br>
Women need to know that THEY are the consumer and that while they did hire "them" for knowledge and guidance and assistance it is the woman that will ultimately determine what she will allow "them" to do. Just because "they" are uncomfortable with a, b, c, doesn't mean that woman has to agree to the alternative.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MsBlack</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13275101"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">SO--your dr. says "we'll let you go to 41wks and no further", then you can accept that because you accept the Dr's status as The Boss and that is the way you prefer it. OR you can see that as a statement of what Dr is/isn't comfortable with (Dr's owned reality) without owning it yourself. If you are comfortable with letting your baby cook long, then you can choose another provider or setting for birth. I do not suggest that simply by utilizing alternate language from the dominant one, by owning your language use, that you will automatically change others' minds about anything. I do suggest that when we do remain present, and own language and meaning for ourselves, that more options become available to us--we become freer and more positively self-directed while also more readily respectful of the other's reality. I mean, you might be inclined to argue or persuade if you feel bound to this Dr--if you feel that you are NOT free to choose other care, for instance.<br><br>
Well, I'll stop now...keep it coming people <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"></div>
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All that you say here I feel is spot on. Women have choices, and often they are unaware or unable to exercise their right to accept or decline what is too often thrown at them in pregnancy and birth.<br><br>
But I see this as a totally different issue than that of the lexicon changes when it comes to contractions, pain, etc.<br><br>
If it helps a woman to change the name of a contraction to a puppy, so she thinks of soft, fuzzy, loving energy that's totally up to her. But to create a alternate reality that the mention of a contraction or pain will take her out of her "current reality" and bring the true reality of what birth will be for her crashing down around her ears, well, I don't really see the benefit in that.<br><br>
It's really hard to pick a woman up and dust her off when her internal dialogue has changed from "I will feel little to nothing, I will feel pressure, I will embrace my surges as each one brings me closer to my baby . . . " to "OMG this HURTS it's not supposed to HURT, I'm not feeling pressure or surges I'm feeling PAIN and I don't know what to do, it's not supposed to be this way, what am I doing wrong." It goes on and on. Some will blame her and say that she didn't truly believe that she'd have a painless labor, some will say she didn't practice enough. I'll say that no one prepared her with real tools to help her cope with her labor. And of course it doesn't apply to every woman as there are women who do birth successfully within these methods, but if these methods produce just one woman like the above then I have an issue with them.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MegBoz</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13271057"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Well, I don't know that I agree with the concept of "owners" of a language. It's difficult to point to individuals, or even sub-groups of individuals in a society who could be determined to have that "owernship." Language is such a fluid & dynamic entity. It evolves over time with many speakers contributing to that evolution.<br><br>
As for your 41W analogy... well, I don't think that will ever change. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes"> I don't think ANY medical doctors will ever change their language to say that <span style="text-decoration:underline;">they think or they are "un/comfortable"</span> with any particular course of action. The course of action they recommend IS the only viable course of action in their mind! "I think XYZ is best" is equivalent to "XYZ <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b>is</b></span> best!" & they'll never phrase it in the former way.<br><br>
In a way though, I don't blame them. If you make life-or-death decisions, you MUST think that your decisions are the correct ones. Otherwise you'll find yourself paralyzed with indecision and vascillate rather than act. I think what's important is for us as consumers of medical services to <span style="text-decoration:underline;">know</span> that when a doc says "XYZ is best" that is <span style="text-decoration:underline;">their opinion</span> - and we need to decide if we agree.</div>
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Actually my dr did use language like that. He was all the time saying "This is what I think is the safest action, but what is your opinion on it?" The day I found out that I had almost no fluid, he really wanted to send me right to the hospital so that they could monitor the baby. I wanted to go home and pack some clothes, see my dd1, and let my husband drive me to the hospital so we wouldn't have an extra car there. He said that it really made him uneasy for me to do that, but that was just his opinion and it most likely would be safe for me to go home for awhile.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>AutumnAir</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13275130"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think one part of the 'ownership' of language is also the function of claiming ownership of birth, for the medical professionals. By taking something simple and natural and tagging it with clinical or obscure names or phrases you are deliberately trying to separate the birth from the person/people who truly own it.<br><br>
I have more to say, but will be back later.</div>
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I can see what you're saying.<br><br>
On the other hand when a woman is truly informed of her choices, knowledgeable in the accepted language of birth, she carries an immense amount of power.<br><br>
I can look to my own birth (homebirth transfer for Pre-e) to demonstrate that.<br><br>
I knew there were some things that would be necessary, IV, induction with pitocin. I knew there were other things that would be negotiated. AROM, mag sulfate, number of exams, basically everything else.<br><br>
I owned my birth. The DR and Nurses told me their opinion and I'd either consent or respectfully decline, informing them in their own language very clearly why I wasn't consenting to the proposed intervention at this time.<br><br>
We're all aware that homebirth transports with no backup OB aren't always a walk in the park. But by being a consumer who was truly informed of her rights and with a deep understanding of birth, the lexicon and standards of practice, I was able to negotiate the birth that *I* wanted within the system.<br><br>
The truth is most women don't *want* to take that kind of ownership over their births. Those that do are usually birthing at home assisted and un-assisted. It's pretty rare to see a woman take control of her birth within the system. Most are all too happy to hand it over to their providers and then sue when the outcome isn't what they wanted, even though they consented to everything all along.
 
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