Ina May Gets In My Head

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.

8 thoughts on “Ina May Gets In My Head

  1. I like the idea of supporting each other. While I’m still hoping for a child, if I don’t have one, I will definitely support the children of my friends and family and be the greatest aunty possible. I will hope that they will also support my dreams and understand my frustrations as I try to do so for them.

    1. I can’t imagine you being anything but a wonderful aunty to your friends and family, L! 🙂 I hope you get the same respect and understanding from them that you deserve…if not, be open with them about what you need/expect. If they still don’t give that to you, maybe they don’t deserve the privilege of your friendship!

  2. I sought out one of the only midwifery practices in Atlanta for Lila because I believe so strongly in their beliefs that birth isn’t just a cut and dry thing. It takes belief in yourself, in your body , and support from so many people. I loved them, I loved my doula, and the natural birth community here that are all so supportive of each other. I wish more moms spent time helping each other and not bringing each other down, starting with birth!

  3. If you are able to get pregnant, personally I feel there is a little bit owed to your unborn child, but mostly to yourself to learn a smidge of how the process works of getting the baby out. I worked with a doula and it was the best money I’ve ever spent -less book reading more leaning on a women who was supportive and already very educated! I ended up with a section, after trying my very very hardest to go the other route. The decision was made swiftly, but I knew EVERY option had been tried -and I had tried my hardest and had nothing left -if I hadn’t been in a hospital, I don’t know how things would’ve gone down. A question I asked to myself and others immediately after and will continue to ask for a long long time. Maybe there is Registered and Lisencesed Mid-wife out there who could have provided a different service for me during my labor (where baby was most literally stuck in the birth canal and has the dented head to prove it) maybe I wouldn’t have made it in terms of evolution…? Who knows really, no need to wonder too much because we do have modern medicine and surgeons and doulas who can work well together and provide the best care possible.

    1. And cheers to being supportive of women -in general. Not if they agree or disagree, but to know that we have options and differences and to be different is the most beautiful way nature shines through. Variety in nature is what makes this entire world so special. Okay… enough of the mush and gush. Good post Laner. Bumper sticker I read the other day: Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too. 🙂

    2. I am so thankful that you and M were in a hospital at that time, and I agree we have a duty to ourselves to find as much information as we can and do what we feel is prudent based on that. For every person that may be something different. But more than anything, I learned that you can prepare as much as you want, but each birth experience is a totally wild ride your body takes you on and expectations are somewhat pointless!

    1. 🙂 I hear you Les…I don’t know if I’d be able to have the kind of the birth she describes in her books, but I do know that having as many choices available WITHOUT having the medical and/or profit-based model of childbirth imposed on me would be ideal. Choices choices it’s all about having them but realizing we can only control this so far.

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