Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I know I talk alot about the "continuum of reproductive rights". This spectrum of individual choice is one of the tenants of my beliefs about woman's health. I also believe that we have great privilege as American women. Certainly, not everything is perfect- Cesarean rates are still too high, maternity leaves are too short and there are states still attempting to curtail access to birth control and abortion. But the breadth, quality and legality of our choices enable us to be safer and more empowered than the majority of the world's women.
Yesterday, due to a post on A Midwife's Tale I learned of yet another style of birth, freebirth. I had heard of women here and there expressing interest in such a thing but did not realize that it was a full blown moment. As neutral as I try to be, this one really pushes the limits of my compassion and flexibility. As a recent situation has shown, attempting to birth at home, unaided by a birth professional, is dangerous.
I understand that women have been traumatized in certain birth settings and situations, and certainly, an unnecessary c-section deserves angry feelings and grief for the loss of the intended birth experience. But to express the same sort of violent obstinacy ("my way or the highway") in opposition to the medical community does no good to anyone.
Birth happens unassisted, all the time, all over the world. But maternal and infant morality is a global tragedy that is deserving of the attention and resources of the UN (MDG5). These women don't have access to basic obstetrical skills and technology that would keep them and their babies safe. Birth is usual a very normal physiological process but just like anything, even walking across the street, there are risks involved.
One final thought: birth is the start of parenting. The strength and confidence that a woman can gain from her birthing experience gives her momentum for her job as a mother. An unassisted birth seems to set the foundation for irresponsible parenting.
What are some of your thoughts about the practice of free birth?
Posted by Kate Zondervan at 8:19 AM