Leave it to Ina May Gaskin to remind us of how it should be.
This was part of her answer in a question about which feminist she’d want with her on a desert island in an interview on Feministing.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton rocked. She found it possible to imagine that you could be a powerful mom. She had help from Susan B. Anthony who would take care of her 7 kids while Elizabeth went into the attic and wrote powerful speeches. I love that kind of feminism where you had someone who didn’t have kids and someone who did team up and put their energies together. I think what those two women had was amazing and I think we need that kind of cooperation amongst feminists today.
Reminds me of how I tried to have this conversation a while ago but it went unfortunately, perhaps predictably, wrong. It’s not mothers vs. not-mothers out there unless you make that your reality, it’s women/sisters/friends with all the potential to be allies. If you can feel that, believe that, or see that, you may not have the right women/sisters/friends around you.
And her take on why news stories about the ‘unsafe’ nature of home births are so damaging to ALL choices in childbirth really hit home with me.
To suggest automatically that planned home birth isn’t safe is to accept a propaganda that’s being put out for more than a century in this country that is now sweeping the world because it’s a way of scaring people and a lot of money can be made from that. If you don’t have home birth as one of the choices women have then we can be exploited and birth can become a commodity the same way water is being grabbed and sold to people and the way food is being controlled by multinational corporations. For women to get it that we’re not inferior to squirrels, cows, rabbits and elephants, is a very radical thought that’s actually true. When you have about 5000 species of mammal and we’re encouraged to believe that we’re the only one that can’t give birth, that’s mis-designed? That takes quite a stretch but that’s the overall belief system our culture has taught us to adopt, and it’s not true. For someone like me and most of my partners who have not had formal medical education, how could we produce such good results? We had 186 babies from the beginning before we had a need for a C-section. Now 1 in 3 and in some places half the women are having C-sections? Who is benefiting from that?
My own birth story ended happily in that mother and child were both safe and healthy. I would not personally choose a home birth, but I also would not choose to have the doctor I wanted so much to trust with this momentous occasion pressuring me (repeatedly) to have a c-section when neither myself or my baby were in distress. If I ever have this experience again, I will find a support network and medical professional that help me access all the interventions I want while pushing on me none that I do not. Sounds so novel, but it shouldn’t be.