why is intuitive, undisturbed birth not a priority for more women?
Why does it seem like the majority of women simply give birth in hospital and do what their doctor tells them, without much concern or complaint?
Maybe they do the new, cool thing and hire a doula … but they still sign up for a birth within the system - even if they say they want to give birth naturally and breastfeed.
It’s like going to a fast food place to order a healthy meal. Why??
They just don’t serve “natural birth” at the hospital.
Why would women want to remain in the dark about birth in the system?
Gosh, there’s so many ways to look at this question.
Firstly, I think that when we’ve been lied to in massively impactful ways, for a very long time, it’s almost more painful to finally condemn those who are colluding in our oppression.
So instead, we turn against those who share the truth.
It’s like Plato’s allegory of the prisoner chained in the cave…
When a woman is so conditioned to accept the shadows on the cave wall (i.e. the narrative of modern birth as safe and normal) as her “proper” reality … once the chains were removed and she could finally choose to leave her prison and experience the wide world of freedom ... she chose to stay in the shadows.
We know that women have been systematically lied to for profit and preservation of the status quo; that our bodies and babies have been subjected to unnecessary and possibly harmful interventions; that allowing birth to unfold without intervention is overwhelmingly proven to be a lot safer and more sensible than meddling with it.
If we know these things to be true, then we must accept that we’ve placed our trust in the wrong people for generations, and have even become complicit in our own trauma and powerlessness by condoning the system as it stands.
This is simply too painful a thing to acknowledge for many women.
“If we weren’t in the hospital, our baby would have died!” we hear, all too often.
If that’s not quite true, then what is the real story?
If we can’t blame birth itself as inherently fraught with risk, then where do we turn when the interventions we agreed to in order to avoid the risks turn out to be even more dangerous, harmful - and risky?
The process of becoming parents is alone a massive adjustment. There’s so much to learn, and people can only take in and integrate so many new things.
Getting them to understand and accept that modern birth practices are actually not safest and best, and that they must look deeper, question everything, and rethink our entire cultural construct of pregnancy and birthing norms…
That’s just too overwhelming for many new parents to take in.
In fact, many women who believe that they had unnecessary Cesareans don’t feel that way immediately…it takes some time for them to come to terms with the reality of what happened to them.
It is a conclusion they reach after processing and reflecting on what really happened. Many women never do that processing fully, and never reach that conclusion. They feel that their doctor saved them with a warranted surgery.
After all, “the only thing that matters is a healthy baby,” we hear all too often.
This is of course not true at all, and contributes to much stifling, depression, and shame in new mothers - yet this is often heard and repeated whenever unexpected interventions are “needed” during childbirth.
Another major feature of our culture is that we are expert worshippers.
When the information comes from a position of authority (and OBs certainly are that), it’s awfully hard for most people to go against the grain. This is especially true if “everybody else is doing it”.
Even with the mass exodus from hospital birth that the last two years have wrought, nearly 99% of babies in America are still born in hospitals. We have the worst neonatal and maternal health outcomes of any developed nation, especially for women and babies of color.
This is our normal, and it’s being perpetuated by so-called experts who refuse to quit playing puppeteer with the masses.
Finally, I believe that an even deeper aspect at play here is that females are socialized to be submissive.
Our culture claims to be all about girl-power, but still raises us to not “make waves”, to go with the status quo, and to not be assertive - especially when it comes to the pressured of perceived (often male) authority figures.
The disturbing and disheartening truth seems to be that even now, women are not generally trusted to be competent decision makers when it comes to their own bodies. This is evidenced by many current affairs such as restricted access to birth control and abortion, VBAC bans, and forced Cesareans, to name just a few.
The concept of birth as a sacred rite of passage, a warrior’s journey, a transformative, holistic life event has long ago been eclipsed by the industrial concept of birth.
It’s become “progressive” and “safe” to view birth as a factory production of a uniform product - something to “get through” instead of something to embrace.
Modern medical concepts of birth are sanitized and sterile (pun intended).
They see no beauty in the wild, galloping horses of an unfettered labor and undisturbed birth, and only seek to tame them into homogenous, predictable servitude.
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