Sunday, December 6, 2020

Meconium Happens

The more I live this life, the more I am convinced that the deal is, it is not what happens to you that matters so much, it's how you accept it (or not). I have been to births that have been really challenging and tough, where the woman accepts the labor and is thrilled with the whole experience. I have seen other women fight against labor and birth, one contraction at a time.

Today is December 6, 2020. A day like any other. Except not: it's the anniversary of the day when 14 women were killed by an armed killer.

It's a day when my friend had to go back into hospital. It's a day when thousands of people died from Covid-19.

It's a day when we have to, as always, take the joy from every moment and cherish it. And even when we are full of joy, and all comfy in our enlightenment and entitlement, shit will happen. Meconium does happen. A baby can suffer some small slight and poop. Or a baby can get their cord squeezed so much they poop a lot. Things break down, things break. People break. 

But where there's rupture, there's repair. A body's urge is to health, just as a plant moves towards the light. In the same way, the knowledge of women has always been towards healing. 

We can't do anything to bring those women back to life. But we can speak out against violence every single day. And, unfortunately, in my field (haha no, not in my my real field which is maternity care), violence against women is rampant, ugly, and expected. 

What can be done? Well, one thing that's happening is that pregnant women are rising up and saying "No more violence! No more treating me like I'm a child, that I don't have feelings, that I don't know my own body. No more speaking about me as though I'm not present. No more making decisions about my body without my consent. No more doing things to my body without my consent. No more lying to me!" And how are these women doing that? By withdrawing from the hospital system. They are giving birth on their own or with Traditional Birth Companions. 

Another thing that is happening is that doulas are continuing to support women who choose to give birth in the hospital. Or, more importantly, those women who don't actually have the choice and have to give birth in the hospital. Especially these days, it's hard to be a doula. Many hospitals have taken away the birthing woman's right to support by insisting that she choose between her partner and her doula. So doulas are providing companionship and support virtually. 

Medical staff in hospitals in today's world are stressed. They're overworked, tired, and they have all the same concerns on their minds as you or I. Suicide rates are higher for physicians than for the general population, and higher for female doctors than males. The medical system isn't working for anyone.

What can a doula do to relieve everyone's symptoms? Let me be clear: when a doula works to facilitate a mother feeling empowered in a situation where her power can be taken away from her at any minute, we are not talking about getting at the root of the problem. If a birth is an undisturbed birth in a place where the birthing woman is comfortable, safe, and respected, then the doula can do the work of being a doula: easing labour, providing encouragement, seeing to the birthing woman and her family's needs. But if a birth is taking place in an environment where the go-to routine is medication, management and directives then the doula can only provide bandaid measures within a strict and abusive system.

And these bandaid measures can work! Any number of women leave the hospital with their babies feeling joyful, even ecstatic, and satisfied with their care. But a huge number of women leave the hospital hurting.

Is it time to finally step away from an abusive system? What happens to a woman when she has a vision of a natural, normal birth and she arrives at the hospital and things start to go haywire? Is it possible to convince women to stay at home, at least until they are in active labor? What about the woman who feels every contraction, from the very beginning, like torture; the woman who can't separate her labor contractions from an abuse she experienced years ago? What is the role of the doula through this seismic change? What about midwives? Why are midwives still using the words "should" and "allow" when they speak about birth? 

Is it time to Rise Up?

1 comment:

  1. great title! B"H no earthquakes or tsunamis in this part of the world at the moment! Birth pangs, as they say :). Well, it's all for the good, right?