On Birth – and with due deference to Nancy Wainer whose revolutionary thoughts helped so many of us frame our own.

I propose that we reclaim birth. Our first step can be the removal of labels from birthing. Birth is birth. Women are women. We’re not mothers, wives, primips, multis or “the VBAC in room 3”, we’re women. We’re women at work, women in the home, women in the revolution and women when we birth. And birth, is just birth. If a woman has had five previous surgeries, this homebirth is still just a birth. The woman-hating surgical discourse has colonised our once great nomenclature and turned it on us, pathologised it, made it an unattainable, risky, undesirable managed process designed to “fail”. And let’s drop “successful” and “failed” from our descriptions of reclaimed birth. Birth doesn’t fail although often the system does.

Alternatively, if we reclaimed our lives, maybe birth would naturally follow on? Now there’s a radical thought!

A survivor of birthrape birthing again, is just birthing.

A woman with a “big baby” is just birthing.

Let us leave the acronyms to those who seek to remove our humanity and have the power in naming our own births. No more FBAC, VBAC, HBAC, EBAC, UBAC, BAC, whatever. Don’t give in to the powermongers, and fearmongers, just give birth.

Give birth at home. Give birth with friends. Give birth on your own. Catch your own baby as she plunges from your yoni and inhale deeply. That is the true scent of freedom. Give birth screaming, give birth whispering the meaning of the universe. Give birth nestled into your lover. Give birth holding the hand of your chosen wise woman. Look into her eyes and see the line going back to when we first walked upright and our bodies adapted to birthing that way. Give birth in a rented deflating secondbest pool in your study, hey, I can recommend that personally!

Give birth in the living room, after your previous surgery. Give birth on the roof this time if you feel like it. It’s just a birth. Give birth in the garden. Last time you had surgery, this time you’re giving birth. Not a big deal. Just a birth. Give birth at your kitchen sink in ironic tribute to your inner housewife.

Give birth to yourself, embrace yourself, throw off the shackles, womankind arise! Even suffragettes just gave birth. (And most of them at home.)

Give birth to boy babies that they may be loved onto earth and cherished from birth, not brutalised to fit society’s demand for drone-like men. Give birth to girl babies that they may continue the line and know the power of birth and the power of women themselves, all their lives.

Birth, birth, birth, that’s all it is. What our greatgrandmothers did at home, alone or with friends and sisters, just birth.

Reclaim our birthright to name our births, own our births and choose woman-centred baby-loving birth. Birth after surgery = just a birth.

© Janet Fraser 2007

Benefits

 

There are no benefits to:

intact genitals

ecological breastfeeding

autonomy

privacy

spontaneous physiological birth

vaginal birth after caesarean

not travelling in labour

never being separated from your baby after birth

physiological third stage

skin on skin

confidentiality

being respected

colostrum

homebirth

cosleeping

being in control of your choices

because they are the normal states for your body.

 

Do you have any you’d like to share?

Belinda will have her next baby at home

My name is Belinda and I live in a town in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

I have only had one child, and she was born via emergency c section at my local hospital. I had always wanted a very natural, very calm birth and when I was pregnant with my daughter asked my husband about home birthing, but he brushed off my thoughts with a simple “the hospital is the place to be, what if something goes wrong?”

My birth story is one that I have since heard repeatedly. I was late, my daughter was in the right birthing position, was induced, daughter turned a little, nasty midwife, waters broken, put on the drip, told to stay laying down, labour stalled, drip turned up, gets to lunchtime on a friday, doctor (who hadnt seen me at all) declares I need an emergency c section due to failure to progress. (I was told afterwards by a doula I met that the failure to progress was simply the doctor deciding he wanted to go home early on a friday)… After my emergency c section I didnt get a chance to hold my baby, and she was taken away by the nurses to be checked over, where later I learnt that before I got my cuddles she had already been held by nurses, the midwife, her father, my mum and my in laws.. This broke my heart, with feelings of guilt over the way the labour had gone, and the fact that I should have been the one to hold my daughter first..
My stay in hospital was long (over a week) and was treated horribly. I was upset, (which they thought was depression and brought in a psychologist), I couldnt feed, and was forced to shove my screaming daughter onto my breast, and no one would listen to me.

I still feel guilt, and sadness over my birthing experience, and it has taken me a while to realise that I cant do anything to change what happened, but I can learn from it.

I know that next time will be different, I want to have the choice to birth at home, with caring professionals who are responsive to my needs. I know the Government wants to take this choice away from high risk mothers like myself and that makes me mad! I dont care about the cost, I want to birth like it should be, no induction, no drugs, no drip, just me, my support team, in a comfy environment where I am relaxed and the baby is too.

Katie just wanted a vaginal birth

Where do you live? Perth
How many homebirths have you had? 1 

Why did you birth at home? Because I wanted a vaginal birth and I wanted it done safely without fear or pressure. I wanted to feel like I had given birth. I felt like with the changes in legislation on the horizon, that this could be my only chance to birth at home with a qualified midwife.Did you homebirth your first baby or subsequent babies? My first was a caesarean, my second was a HBAC. I didn’t know that Homebirth was an option. I thought everyone went to hospital and have a baby. I felt Homebirth was something people did elsewhere in the world whom didn’t have access to hospital facilities.

Have you used a publicly funded homebirth scheme in any country in the world? No. I am ineligible for the CMP here in WA because of a scarred uterus. 

Have you experienced hospital or birth centre birth? Hospital birth (supposedly Team Midwifery Care)

Have you experienced trauma around birth? Having a baby surgically removed. I felt like I didn’t give birth. I felt disconnected from my baby. The process was painful and unpleasant. I was recovering from surgery and had a newborn. My partner was looking after me and the baby, totally different notion to how our start to parenthood was supposed to be.

How old were you when you were birthing at home? 29
With what ethnicity do you identify? Australian (caucasian australian?)
Have you had a caesarean? More than one? 1
Have you had a breech home birth? no
Do you identify as disabled/temporarily able-bodied? no
Have you had a midwife-attended home birth? yes
Are you in a relationship? yes
Are you single? no

How did you pay for your home birth? I paid from my wages at the intervals set out in writing by the midwife

Do you work at home or in the paid workforce?  paid workforce
Does your family have a history of home birthing? no

Jo had a HBA2C!

Where do you live? Bull Creek, Western Australia
How many homebirths have you had? 2 tries at it
Why did you birth at home? Because i wasn’t sick- only having a baby. It was created at home and should be born there. Hospitals are for the ill and dying so when my dad died and i found i was pregnant on the same day i knew i should home birth

These are some other things to consider:

Did you homebirth your first baby or subsequent babies? First in hospital via emergnecy c-section, second attempt at home birth then transfer c-section and third home birthed!!
Have you used a publicly funded homebirth scheme in any country in the world? No i wasnt allowed to get public funds as I became high risk after having a c-section
Have you experienced hospital or birth centre birth? YES! Grrrr
Have you experienced trauma around birth? Just the experience of having a c-section and feeling like they were rummaging around me like i was an old suit case. I was very upset about having one but had a asynclitic presentation with baby 1, then posterior presentation and maternal exhaustion with number 2.
How old were you when you were birthing at home? 30
With what ethnicity do you identify? Australian (english heritage)
Have you had a caesarean? More than one? 2
Have you had a breech homebirth? No
Do you identify as disabled/temporarily ablebodied? No unless i am in front of the medical ob profession then they assume i am a moron for trying to VBA2C let alone have a home birth
Have you had a midwife-attended homebirth? Yes- best decision ever.
Are you in a relationship? Yes married for 6 years
Are you single? No
How did you pay for your homebirth? With a lot of stress but at the end of the day there was no choice but to find the money and pay for it. it was worth it. my insurance company cancelled home birth support during my second pregnancy
Do you work at home or in the paid workforce? work at home in the paid workforce – i do accounts for our IT company
Does your family have a history of homebirthing? Not really. my father in law was born at home so his mum thought it was great. my sister is a public hosp midwife who told me i couldn’t have a vagnial birth (ha ha i showed her and had a 10 lb 6 baby 1st stage 9 hours, 2nd stage 51 mins, 3rd stage 9 mins. second degree internal tear that healed itself but was amazing to know i can do it.

Will send you a birth story when i finish it. still writing bub no 3- he is still newish….

Giving and receiving the gift of birth

Judy Chicago, Hatching the Universal Egg

 

Giving and receiving the gift of birth.

It is no accident that we call the act of bringing babies earthside a gift. The first gift we can give to our children is the manner of their birthing, so we “give” birth to them. I gave loving, bloody, long birth to my daughter. She was wrapped in my body until she released herself and swam down through me and into the world. Welcome earthside, wee woman, your first gift from life was from me. A birth where loving hands receive us at the end, and no one breaks the sacred space should be the first gift for each child.

I did not give that gift to my son. He was pulled from my womb by uncaring strangers who were painted with my blood not knowing how I blessed them. He was not given birth, he had a deformed version of it forced upon him. Oddly it was ultimately a gift to me though as it changed and altered my life immeasurably and I hope that the sacrifice of his birthright gift will be made up to him in other ways.

I could not parent him as he deserved in his early life because the gift of his birth was too painful to bear. I could only stay afloat, nourishing him with my body but with my soul sometimes absent. I even felt driven to killing myself but came back from the edge realising he did not deserve such a gift from me as that. Although I was a broken mother, I was his mother and in my own way a gift to him as I struggled to put myself back together again. I can hold him more strongly than I would have been able to now, knowing as I do the price of life and the cost of the gift.

When he is old enough to know that we are separate and that our birth journeys were separate, I should like to thank him for coming through my body and helping bring me that gift. While it nearly killed me, it only broke the back of my spirit instead and then brought me back, whole and infused with more pain and thus also with more joy than before. I celebrate my scars, I love them more deeply for their impact and how they force me to concentrate on living above all else.

April had two hospitals births then a freebirth

I live in Warrnambool – South West Victoria.
I am Caucasian. I am married and am a stay at home mum (who sells the odd handcrafted placenta over the Internet LOL).
And I have had one homebirth after a previous caesarean and previous to that a traumatic hospital induction.

About 3 years before my first child was born my older sister planned a midwife attended homebirth which resulted in a transfer and ’emergency’ caesarean, her second child was born via elective caesarean.

My first birth experience was at our local public hospital, I was 22 at the time. I was induced for pre eclampsia and it was a horrid experience. Multiple VEs, multiple attempts to get drips into my arms, many attempts to get a fetal monitor attached to my son’s head, all excruciatingly painful.
I screamed and screamed, I writhed around, I tried to get away and as a result of my unwillingness to cooperate I was assaulted – a midwife held me down by the shoulder as they broke my waters.

18mths later my second son arrived via elective caesarean (I was 24). I was terrified of experiencing all the above again and in the midst of flashbacks and a really shitty head space, thought that a Caesar was my only way to avoid it all.
Shortly after he was born I was diagnosed with PTSD.

Before I was even pregnant with my 3rd child I knew that he would be born at home. I initially was drawn to freebirth but then learned that there were in fact 2 Independent Midwives local to me, so then hired them.

At 35wks we ended care with them as the nagging doubts that I had had for a few months came to a head when they triggered my PTSD (with talk of induction should I reach 42wks…which they then tried to reassure me about by saying I wouldn’t even reach 42wks anyway) and I realised I wasn’t getting the care I wanted or needed from them and would not be able to labour or birth with them present.

We then found a doula and planned a freebirth.

Our 3rd child was born at home in our kitchen, in a birth pool, into his daddy’s hands, while our doula looked on (and took lots of amazing photos!).
Despite the earlier assumptions of the midwives, I did indeed carry to 42 weeks, and #3 was born at 42 weeks and 2 days gestation. (I was 26)