Women own their bodies and have an inalienable right to decide how they give birth. It upsets me when individuals or organizations qualify when, for example, it’s “acceptable” for a woman to homebirth. Too many times I read or hear something like: well, homebirth is fine but only if this, that or the other thing… Maybe it’s only low risk mothers that have this “right?” Or maybe it’s okay only when you have a “licensed midwife” in attendance?
Stop qualifying it. Either women have autonomy over their bodies or they don’t. The right to birth as one wishes exists whether or not you agree with the choices being made.
I’d like to see organizations who claim to support all women truly get this. Opinions about Unassisted Childbirth (UC) too often divides women (thereby weakening our collective voice). Bring up UC with someone and how they respond will show you whether or not they actually respect that women have the right to choose how they birth.
It’s only complicated if you allow it to be. If you remember and respect the fact that women have the right to choose, then it’s pretty straight forward, yes? I would hope that women are making informed decisions regardless of what path they choose. No birth is without risk regardless of where it takes place, so it seems to me it’s best left in the hands of the birthing woman. We live in a culture where the tendency is for caregivers to determine what risk is acceptable instead of who it is birth belongs to–women!
Let me get back to something regarding organizations who claim to represent all women. Perhaps they feel the need to hush UC into a dark corner because it makes them uncomfortable or think even acknowledging it as an option will bring scrutiny from the medical establishment. Well, I wish to say to them: please reconsider. Embrace the reality that UC exists, always has and always will. Women who choose UC are not really “outside of the system” as it has been argued. Some choose pre and post natal care within the system. Sometimes UCers do need to access medical treatment during the birthing process. Do they not have a right to that access without judgment? Please stop throwing women under the bus by saying UCers are outside the system.
I stand for women’s autonomy over their bodies–the right to choose their birth place and birth attendant or none at all. Simple, right? All women’s voices are important and deserve to be heard. Honouring women’s rights in this way will take us a step closer to improving care for mamas and babies in our province and in our country.
I leave you with a poem from Empowering Birth Blog:
Why We Must Stand Together
First they came for the unassisted birthers,
but I did not speak out, because I do not free-birth.
Then they came for those who birth at home with lay midwives,
but I would would not speak out, because I would not have a home-birth with a lay midwife.
Then they came for those who birthed with Certified Professional Midwives,
and I would not speak out, because I would not have a home-birth with a CPM.
And then they came for those who birthed in birth centers and with Certified Nurse Midwives,
but I would not speak out because I would not have a birth in a birth center or with a CNM.
And then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.