Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Birthing Autonomy

I've been thinking about birth lately- not because I'm pregnant or anything. I just really really love it. It's so happy- there aren't many things happier than a new baby.

I read a book lately, "Birthing Autonomy: Women's Experiences in Planning Homebirths." I really enjoyed it. Really.

It was a very well done book: discussing feminist theory, doctor/women relationships, midwife/women relationships (and doesn't necessarily display these as golden). It even mentions UC as an option, but states that none of the women interviewed chose that route, so it didn't involve it in discussion.

I love how there are references for EVERYTHING. You can look up all the studies that indicate homebirth is safer than hospital birth- even for women of higher risk. It discusses interventions, history, and all kinds of feminist theory.

I'm a sucker for feminist theory.

It seemed that on every page there was a sentence that I wanted to share with someone. I really liked how she discusses why female bodies are considered to be more "problematic". The word she used was "leaky." Basically, if a man's body is leaky, he is either sweating or bleeding. Ignoring the sweating part, men "leak" due to an injury- leaking means something is wrong. Women on the other hand leak as part of their normal body processes: menstruation, ovulation, lochia, lactation. These don't need to be "fixed" but because the male body is the cookie cutter for human bodies, it "does". When a man's body leaks, it needs to be controlled, so when a woman's body leaks, it "needs" to be controlled.

I just thought it was interesting to think of my body as being "leaky" because, well, it is. And it doesn't mean it needs to be fixed. Leaky is one of the natural states for the female body. Just leave it alone.

I have a little rant about bodily fluids and feminism and dealing with women being taught to be ashamed of their body's natural processes. I actually think I've blogged about this a year and a half ago. Well, I'll save it for another day, just in case. :)

I also loved reading about what the other women had gone through to have homebirths and why they chose homebirth. It was very thorough.

Now, this was a tough book to get through. It's very dense. It kind of reminded me of a PhD dissertation. But it was fun. If you feel like reading a dense book, read it. And for those of you in Provo, it's at the BYU library. Well, maybe I'll check it out again...

Like I said, I'm a sucker for feminist theory.

And side note, Rixa, I know you don't actually know me but I was thinking of you the entire time I read this book. I was thinking, "I wonder if Rixa's dissertation will sound like this book, except with more UC!"

And Jennie, autonomous birth is completely alone. UC is simply without professional medical assistance such as a doctor or midwife. You can UC and still have 50 of your closest friends in the room. Well, some UCers would say that's pushing it. Anyway, autonomous birth would be completely solo- no friends, no family, no spouse.


  1. So like Rixa's birth was autonomous. Is that what you mean? Like yours wasn't because McKay and J were there?

  2. Well, I think Rixa's husband was there- but I haven't read her story in a while. But yeah, mine wasn't autonomous because McKay and J were there.
    I think if I ever did an autonomous birth, it'd have to be one where I was really the only person in the house total. I made loud noises in labor and I don't think I'd be able to keep McKay away. He loves that he was able to catch Margaret- he'd want to catch the rest, I suppose!

  3. I can think of a part of a man that "leaks" that I don't think any man would want to "fix". (if you know what I mean. By the way, I tried a doula for my 2nd birth because I was doing a vbac and wanted every advantage. It's sad to say that they (I had 2-they worked as a team) really bugged me when I was in labor. It caught me by surprise because I had a good rapport with them in our previous meetings. I just had never been in labor before and didn't know that I would feel much more comfortable with just my husband there with me. Labor is so such a unique experience. I felt completely different during it than I ever could have imagined.

  4. What exactly is feminist theory, Heather?

  5. I think that I am going to have to find a copy of this book! You know, I bet if you did a poll you'd find that lots of women who home birth are suckers for feminist theories and ideologies. They just seem to go hand in hand-- which is interesting because I think that shows feminism is changing. It is no longer women trying to be like men, but women really rejoicing in their women-ness! Hmmm...maybe I'll just have to write up a post about this.


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