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Autonomy in Birth

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Birth as we know it is the most medically managed of all biological processes that we experience.

A woman can be trusted to have a bowel movement on her own, but not to birth her own baby that she's grown for 9 months.

Hell, we don't even trust ourselves to give birth!

When society stopped honoring women as the authority of our own bodies, our autonomy was stolen, and birth along with it.

Autonomy is defined as the right or condition of self-government, and it’s become almost extinct in birth.

How is autonomy even possible when we have been conditioned to believe that our bodies are broken, birth is dangerous, and the doctor is the authority?

We give our power away because we think we don't have any.

But we do.

Women own birth, and it's time to reclaim our birthright.

A system that thrives by ensuring that birth is treated as a pathology.

Midwifery is the most ancient and long-standing form of woman-centered maternity and birth care, but most people do not even know what a midwife is. Why not?

Midwives, the women who had the deepest understanding and ancestral wisdom about birth, were discredited to make way for the new profession of "obstetrician gynecologist" (OBGYN). The role of midwifery was adapted to fit into this new allopathic system.

Though midwives today are trained more in physiological birth and OB's in complications and surgery, they are part of the same system. A system that thrives by ensuring that birth is treated as a pathology.

A doctor will earn more money and be less liable in a lawsuit if they give you a c-section. A midwife can have her career ruined by allowing a mother to make a choice in her birth that goes against policy.

Without autonomy in birth, you risk the most deeply transformative and empowering experience of your life being robbed from you for no other reason than protecting the status quo.

I want you to know that you do have the authority in your birth, no matter where you do it. But it will most often not be presented to you that way. You likely won't even be asked for consent.

I asked women how this quote landed for them:

"We have the legal and moral entitlement to take the lead in every single one of our childbirth choices." - from the book, Give Birth Like a Feminist

And this is what some had to say...

"Do whatever needs to be done to get my child out safely."

"Be open minded and don't fight it, doing so could cause your baby harm."

"I will do anything the doctors tell me to do for it to be a safe delivery for my children."

"They deliver more than one baby a day. Who am I to tell them how it works?"

Reading these responses made me so incredibly sad, because women have forgotten.

We've forgotten that we are designed for birth.

We’ve forgotten what actually makes birth safe.

We've forgotten that how we give birth matters.


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