Childbirth in this country is at an all-time crisis. And going against the grain is my way of rebelling against this seriously fucked-up system.
Think about it for a second. All those movies and tv shows you’ve seen throughout your life showing a woman in labor. What’s the experience usually like? Let’s see, she’s rushed ER-style to the hospital. She’s usually screaming and grunting, sweating and swearing. She’s then positioned on her back with her legs up in stirrups, glaring-bright hospital lights shining down on her, while she’s begging for an epidural. Oh, right. And she’s pushing. She’s pushing so much that the blood vessels in her face are bursting.
Ladies and gents, in a nutshell, mainstream childbirth.
It’s an image that’s been played out so much that it’s hardly questioned. It’s seen and accepted as the “normal” experience. And there’s a whole industry built around it. I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but for these reasons, I always kind of avoided the whole pregnancy/childbirth part and in my imagination just skipped straight to holding babies.
As my belly gets bigger, though, it’s been impossible to ignore what I’m soon about to experience. And educating myself about childbirth has led me to some of the most fascinating research I’ve ever done. It ties in with my fascination for self-care, green-witches, women’s history, and women’s reclamation of power over their own bodies. Mainstream pregnancy is in fact a profit-driven industry that thrives on the culture of fear. Ever wonder why women are on their backs while delivering, even though this position makes it physiologically harder to do so? Because it’s easier for the doctor to monitor the birth. And the crazy cesarean rate? While it should be used sparingly and in extreme cases, it’s usually the end result of the drug-administered trail that starts not long after a woman arrives at the hospital. The administration of drugs is begun when the woman is not birthing according to the hospital’s timing, never mind the fact that a woman’s body will literally close up and her labor will slow down or stop if she is not in a comfortable, safe environment.
And then there’s all the bullshit leading up to the birth. Most mainstream sources, especially the famous What to Expect When You’re Expecting, have me rolling my eyes. Articles such as “Are these on your registry?” and “Hospital bag essentials!” cram the site. Oh, and did you catch that recent NYT article, “Along with babies, hairstylists are arriving in hospitals”? If you’re like “what the?”, it’s the newest thing being done to profit from your childbirth (and insecurities). All of this makes me crave for a more spiritual side of birthing, and less for what established authorities have to say about what drugs are at my disposal or what baby gear I must buy. Where oh where is the wisdom that was passed down from woman to woman, before it was forced to go underground by the medical patriarchal system?
As I delve deeper into the subject, one thing is for sure: I deeply refuse —refuse— to have my baby in a hospital. Just ain’t gonna happen.
Now, I get it. I get that sometimes, in rare cases, hospital intervention is crucial. And I also get that not all hospital births are traumatic, nor do all women experience cesareans. What infuriates me is that there is a profit-driven industry around birthing, and the main stage upon which this plays out is the hospital.
Luckily, blessedly, there’s another side to this story.
Years ago, can’t recall exactly when, though I’m certain it was not long after I enrolled in the School of Womanly Arts, I remember hearing for the first time about orgasmic birth. Yes, orgasmic birth. It was one of those moments in life that blew my mind. The possibility that a woman could actually have an orgasm as she birthed was like someone telling me that unicorns were in fact real. Or that I’ve just won $100 trillion.
And then, years later, someone showed me that super-famous birthing video of that woman giving birth to her baby by the river. By herself, with her breath, in a safe environment surrounded by her loved ones. All of this painted a very different picture of childbirth, one that has since been expanding in my mind these last 9 months.
This side of childbirth seems somewhat mystical and very underground (which, like most things, is totally right up my alley). That a woman, fully embodied and empowered, can in fact trust herself and her body to birth in a truly beautiful way. This woman is not rushed, and she’s not drugged. She allows the time for her body to open. She uses her breath, she moves her body, sways her hips, even snacks throughout. She’s working with gravity, not against it. And most importantly, she’s in a safe environment surrounded by people she trusts.
Blessedly, things have been changing, and women have been taking power over their pregnancy and births. And stepping further away from hospitals and deeper into the sacred, natural ways of bringing a child into this world. There are many out there that are bringing back the truth about childbirth. And it is to their ideas that I will subscribe. I believe that this experience can be magical, I believe that it has the capacity to bring in an overwhelming sense of pleasure, and I believe that I am more than capable of doing it on my own provided I’m in the right place with the right people.
I believe whole-heartedly that my belief in Exquisite Self Care has facilitated a really healthy, non-mainstream pregnancy. And I chose to proudly stand beside my sisters who are revolutionizing childbirth, giving it a much needed renaissance.
Now I see that becoming pregnant with a baby boy, and choosing natural birth, has by far been the most rebellious and revolutionary thing I’ve ever done.
To be continued…