I’ve been thinking a few feisty thoughts about feminine power and societies response to it. Throughout history there are examples of societies taking steps to lessen a woman’s power, both physically and through weakening her spirit. We see this in the battle for women’s rights to choose what happens to their bodies, we see this through laws that create women as second class citizens, and we see this through the social normative behaviors that constantly belittle women till they themselves believe their power is less than. Lately, I have been thinking about these behaviors in relationship to a woman’s ability to give birth and her relationship with that birthing experience.
Almost four years ago I gave birth to my daughter. It was an experience I would never forget and that I was fortunate enough to have. When I found out I was pregnant, I chose to go through a midwife and to have my baby naturally and out of a hospital. For living in the states, going through a midwife is incredibly taboo. Besides the point that we live in a healthcare based society, the idea of having a child naturally, especially to American women, is a nightmare. We are led to believe that the pain is so great we could not stand it. We are told that if there are drugs to numb the pain, why even endure the efforts? American women are so used to being told that we are weak that many no longer believe they are capable of giving birth, one of the most natural experiences there is.
Now before you start believing that I am so naive and in my own perfect world bubble, I get it. I understand why we would believe that. I battled with the same thought process every time someone questioned my logic and capabilities to go through with a natural birth. And the fact that I was planning on a having a baby outside of the hospital, LORD, I have never received so many concerned inquiries/prayers/wtf and I doings in my life. The fact of the matter was, I was tired of being told that I wasn’t as strong as I know I am. Ladies, we are fierce, amazing, fabulous life-giving beings, and even if you never decide to have children, just knowing AND believing that fact is empowering.
Child-bearing is a power that we should take strength in and know that we can do, and we can do without the assistance of what is considered normal American health care procedures. We are not fragile. If you have a low-risk healthy pregnancy and labor past 37 weeks, you are physically capable of surviving the pains of normal birth. That’s not to say that no women needs modern medicine. There are various reasons why a doctor would become necessary; high-risk birth, multiples, pre-term labor, extensive labor, or sometimes the baby is literally just too big. These are a few of the times when it makes sense to seek a doctor. But what I am referring to specifically is that we grow up believing that the normal procedure for giving birth is being drugged up with pain killing and labor inducing medications in a hospital bed before ever giving any indication of physically needing them. The first thought of going into labor should not be a reach for unnecessary medication.
It used to be that many women would deliver at home, and even now in many European countries it is normal practice to only go to a midwife unless something is going wrong in your pregnancy. This shift has happened for multiple reasons, commercialization of the health care industry, a shift from midwifery to the hospital system, and social practices of over medicating to name a few, but there is one more that we don’t talk about too often. The continually exaggeration of women as weak and incapable creatures who can’t bear pain, despite our bodies being designed to overcome.
So the next time you may or may not hear a friend, family member, or even some random Facebook friend (the one you aren’t quite sure where you met them, but you feel it may be too rude to delete them JUST in case), talk about natural childbirth, don’t let the first thing you think or say be, “Oh I could NEVER do that!” You can. You have that strength. You have that power. You have that capability, and your body is fucking magnificent! Now if you choose not to because you just don’t want to go through that pain, fine, to each their own. But you are much stronger than you ever thought.