Reclaiming the Birthing Process
By Hwaa Irfan
There are many battles that women face today, some of which are the result of the unintentional sacrifice of our bodies for the illusory freedom offered by men through modern medicinal practices. In the process many have learnt to despise their bodies, or disrespect their bodies by using it as bait! Because of such, far too many generations have never learnt to feel comfortable within their own bodies.
Has changes take place around the world, part of that change is perosnal identity – reclaiming the real self instead of the “ideal self” that has been shaped by media, and consequently society. This is part of the silent revolution that is taking place as the illusive cloth of happiness of the established order begins to disintegrate and reveal its true nature. Part of that struggle for women is the reclamation of the womb – soemthing that African-American women have become acquainted with to the extent that they would rather trust their birthing process to the traditional means, i.e. the midwife, rather than the hospital.
Now, Brazilian women have been reclaiming their womb by rebelling against caesarian births. Natural birth fell out of favor amongst those who could afford otherwise with over 50% of babies entering the world through C-section – 82% of Brazilian women have private health insurance which of course enables them to do so.
Reporter, Juliana Barbassa tells of the case of one expectant mother, Mariana who wanted a natural birth. That feeling became strong enough to give up her obstetrician, her health plan and her private hospital room, the makings of priviledge, for a free public hospital in downtown Rio, because that is where she could have a natural birth.
Mariana is not alone as indicated by the street protests that have been taking place in 28 cities. They not only protested against C-sections, but episiotomies — cutting the vaginal opening to prevent tearing — and for having company during the birth. There was no room for interpretations of what the protests were about with banners like “Our Children, Our Decision” and enactments of the natural birthing process using dolls posted with “Born Free,” and women with painted bellies.
The demonstrations worked, and has led to a federal government investment into natural childbirth campaign including hospitals that are specialized in natural birthing.
In China the rate of babies born of C-sections is over 50%. In the U.S., the norm for 2010 was:
- Number of vaginal deliveries: 2,680,947
- Number of Cesarean deliveries: 1,309,182
- Percent of all deliveries by Cesarean: 32.8%
C-sections allow hospitals to place expectant mothers on schedules that makes it easier for hospitals to organize, which means babies are not necessarily born at the time they are due, along with the many complications and fatalities that occur at the risk of a C-Section.
The World Health Organization, which occasionally tells the truth found in a 2005 report that it is all about the money that hospitals can make by carrying out C-sections which is more costly than natural birth. An average C-Section costs, $24,300 in the U.S. 2011, compared with $15,200 for a vaginal birth according to the London-based International Federation of Health Plans. Mary Lou Moore cites in the Journal of Perinatal Education the case of one U.S. obstetrician from the South who was reprimanded for her low C-section rates – below 10%. This same obstetrician had also acheived better gestation periods, and birth weights, and had lower fatalities than other local practices that carried out C-sections.
Reclaiming the Process of Transformation
Like, Maria do Carmo Leal, a researcher at the National Public Health School at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation there is a growing understanding of how modern medical practice treats birthing as a health problem and not as a natural process. Do Carmo Leal came to this realization after having surveyed 24,000 birthing Brazilian mothers. The whole experience has become dehumanized and sterile risking infection, hemorrhaging, blood clots, premature births, respiratory failure, and lack of stimulation to kick –start baby’s cognition and the bonding process. But all of this is a legacy from the Christian attitude towards Eve, the woman that cause Adam to fall from Grace, according to the Christian interpretation of the Garden of Eden. This attitude towards Eve does not exist in the Islamic tradition, but confused with modern medicine practice, which views the female body as one great big health catastrophe this attitude towards Eve has become a part of everyday life for many.
This process, unique to women, to transform cells into a life unto itself has been exorcised by the world of men not only through medicine, but also through the conflicting roles that men put upon women from objects of ownership, to work, and as tools of pleasure all of which far too women have submitted to in one form or another over generations. Far too many women have learnt to view their bodies through the eyes of others, as incapable on many levels, and as inconvenient.
Of course a woman’s body is incovenient. It was conceived and came into existence under the laws of nature, long before the human race had been set upon by the global elite’s agenda to make us dumb with sex, and dysfunctional from overwork, unnatural foods, factory education, and media misrepresentation. If the growing number of fathers over the years who prefer to be stay-at-home fathers is anything to go by, it is that we were never ‘designed’ to function in such an unnatural fashion. So we end up resisting the naturals processes with our minds taking control, with women about to give birth who are full with the same sense of powerlessness with which they have lived their lives. In other words our minds influence the pregnancy and the birthing process. With the feeling of powerlessness, how can women facilitate a process of transformation without consequences.
One of the consequences is being ashamed of our bodies, and in labour removing it from sight to the world of mechanical birthing. This was one of the complaints of the protesting Brazilian women, not being able to have significan others present at the time of delivery. Yet, Drs. Marshall Klaus, and John Rennel have proven that having a doula, female support shortens first-time delivery by an avergae of 2 hours, decreases C-sections by 50%, decreases the need for pain killers, reduces epidural anesthesia, and helps the father to participate in the birthing process with more confidence. This is a clear example of how the positive attitude of the mind affects the birthing process.The love and support that is needed is present as a part of community, not separate from it!
Barbassa, J. “Brazilian Women Rebel Against Cesarean Births” http://www.officialwire.com/news/brazilian-women-rebel-against-cesarean-births/
Moore, M. L. “Increasing Cesarean Birth Rates: A Clash of Cultures?” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595272/
Northrup, C. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. Bantam Books. U.S. 1998