At the end of every six week block I ask my students, one by one, what word has come to them in their practice. Usually they only think of it when asked, usually in the verbalising do they only realise how powerful words are. Common answers are: confidence, faith, breathe, determination (this is particularly common for women preparing for a VBAC and who believe their first birth was an unnecesarean). But last week one of my students said something that made my heart absolutely swell. She said:
C H O I C E
"I just thought I had to do what my OB said. I didn't think I could ever ask him questions, challenge his opinion or question his motives."
On that same day I was informed that the local private hospital has a cesarean birth rate of 65%. That's double the national rate. That's a lot of unnecesareans. A few months ago one of my students was the only woman on the ward who birthed vaginally.
I understand now that not every woman has an emotional attachment to birthing vaginally. Some women don't want to do it, some women have liberating cesarean births. However, to know that there must be so so so many women who follow the words of the OB like gospel and hand-over their choice and body saddens me beyond explanation.
I discovered this exciting trailer for the Australian documentary "Face of Birth". For me it's not so much about where a woman births but it's about her choice. A pregnant woman should never surrender her choice. I cried when I watched this - the passion and love and unity in this short piece is palpable. I am especially moved by the words of midwife Jan Ireland - negative birth experiences can affect relationships, marriages and can contribute to post-natal depression and other mental health disorders.
If you know a pregnant woman, encourage her to watch this. To seek out information and to make her own choices. Because in taking responsibility for our birth only then can we experience the liberation.