Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Baby Magic Season Two: The Birth Conspiracy


I birthed my new podcast on August 21, 2020 ... commemorating my 64th journey around the sun. A couple of weeks ago Season One came to an end with Episode 8, where I chatted with a volunteer doula from Montreal Birth Companions, the greatest, most radical volunteer doula organization ever that met its untimely end in 2016. 

Just last week, a couple of lovely colleagues and friends, Sylvia Otvos and Jenny Bee,  invited me to chat with them on their show aptly titled Wombs with a View (maternal musings with Jenny and Sylvia). They wanted to ask me about my views on hospital birth, freebirthing, home birth and why women should or shouldn't give birth in the hospital.

The Birth Conspiracy is the title of my book. It's also the title of Episode One of Baby Magic, Season 2. Listen up and you will hear what the conspiracy is all about!

So, should women give birth in a hospital? Actually, I believe that hospitals should be reserved for sick people. During pregnancy, birth and postpartum, of courses, sickness happens. But pregnancy and labor are not sicknesses and do not belong in the hospital. 

Where do they belong? Certainly not in any space at all where the woman does not feel safe, whether that is a hospital where overworked and overtired staff members just want to get the birth over with in the least amount of time, and preferably in the quietest manner possible. And neither all by herself at home, where she has decided to give birth because she's scared of going to the hospital and wants a midwife but can't find one. Nor in a birthing centre, where the midwives are so controlled by government regulations that they regularly send healthy labouring mothers to the hospital to give birth where they didn't want to in the first place.

Birthing women, as the creators of new life, belong wherever they damn well please. We should be working hard to provide safe, respectful, sacred care for mothers and babies everywhere. Home, hospital, center; all of these places are appropriate for birth. It's what we fill the spaces with that is so much more important than what the space is. Hospital birthing rooms should be safe, respectful, and woman-centered. Informed consent means that a woman is explained what her choices are, objectively and truthfully, and then she makes her choice, and then that choice is respected. Sacred care means that the whole of a birthing experience is respected: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of the mother and baby are held in the highest regard by the care providers.

Home birth spaces should have that same access to safe birth practices: a midwife shouldn't have to lie to the hospital staff if the birthing mother needs medical care. Access to midwifery care should be universal, and regulations surrounding midwifery care should be created by midwives, for midwives. 

Some women choose to give birth completely on their own, or with their partners and other children. This is a sovereign choice and should be respected as such. But a woman should only make the choice to "freebirth" or give birth "unassisted" if it is a positive choice, that is, it is a choice FOR freebirth and not AGAINST her other limited options. 

Of course, I'm not imagining that it's going to be easy to change our broken maternity care system. It's not. When women are birthing with our sovereign power, in our spaces, with our sisters, and feeling the energy of creation moving through us, the world will tilt on its axis and life on earth will change. Don't imagine any different. When we birth standing up, squatting, lying down, crawling, surrounded by our sisters in loving-kindess, a new life will emerge. 

It's time, sisters, to say out loud what you want. Do you want to go to the hospital during the times of Covid and bring your doula and your partner? Let's find a way! Do you want to birth your twins at home? Let's find a way! Have a VBAC at home? Let's find a way NOW!

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