Saturday, November 17, 2007

childbirth education of a feminist

ive been meaning to post this for about a week now but have been busy. so the day after i post "birth of a feminist" i read this article in mothers movement online e-letter:

What Women Aren't Told About Childbirth

(and here comes the pertinent part - well actually the whole article is damn good - and by good i mean scary - for anyone interested in women's reproductive health and/or women currently or considering becoming pregnant)

Popular media outlets and advertisers would have women believe that labor and delivery happen in only one context: hospitals. When television shows, health magazines and films depict birth as a highly medicalized phenomenon that involves lots of screaming, a command to push and a baby before the next commercial break, it is no wonder that so few women in labor think to ask for more information when they are offered medical interventions. Or that so few are educated about natural childbirth.

back in college i wrote a paper about how crappy the medical establishment was surrounding menstruation. i briefly touched upon pregnancy and birth. i consider myself a relatively smart woman, knew i wanted a natural, hippy, midwive-assisted, keep your patriarchal medical establishment ass away from my vagina, -type birth experience. but still was confused about when my water was supposed to break. you mean i'm not just going to magickally explode and labour will be off and running? and whats this about the baby turning? i didnt really know what that meant but i think it was in a movie and it sounded good.

so much of what we know about pregnancy and birth (and life in general) is what we see in the images bouncing around us. fuck, if every birth played out like they do on ER, the human species would be screwed. childbirth and breastfeeding are a state of mind as much as they are a physical process. when every one around you questions your abilities to birth and feed your children, when movies and tv shows only show worst case "weneedthatbabyoutnoworyouwillbothDIE!!!!!!" scenarios, you get sent formula in the mail the second you pee on a stick, how do we NOT expect women's self-esteem to be affected.

so, yes, we owe it to ourseves to be educated and informed - and inform the hell out of everyone around us. but we also deserve some honesty and respect from the image makers.

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