I am not sure I am qualified to pontificate about this being that I do not want to be pregnant in the next ten years, or maybe, even EVER. I am very conflicted about this, so we will see. But, there has been a trend of late (more like this whole decade) to give birth at home. At home, outside of a medical facility with a midwife. Crazy, some may say, but that is how the vast majorities of births have occurred through our history.
In fact, when I was traveling to Cuba with Pastors for Peace several summers ago, this lady (sixteen year old lady) was a trained midwife. I remember her because she had some weird faux African name, lived in a commune, and lent me a couple of CDs to listen to, which was very nice. Supposedly, afterwards she was moving to Chiapas, Mexico to practice there. But, I soon resented her because she was white and affluent. She could afford to make a choice like that. Lately, there have been some articles documenting the move to home births. Maybe, because it’s Women’s History Month? Maybe. But, these issues should be in our national discussion on a regular basis, regardless of the month.
New York Magazine’s article headline is Extreme Birth (Does anyone else resent that headline?). In this article, he chornicles the tales of a New York City midwife, often citing her memoir, Labor of Love. And on Reality Check’s blog about reproductive health, there is a more informative article about home births. Ricki Lake made a documentary about many of these same issues in The Business of Being Born. The website has some great recommended reading. The documnetary is available on Netflix Watch Instantly. I am going to watch it right after I post this! In fact, when reading the article I remembered my host mother during the run-up to Cuba who worked for The Birthing Project (I hope they’re still around). The Birthing Project is an organization founded by women of color for women of color. Why?
Infant Mortality rates are much higher in the US for black children compared to their white counterparts due to racism, income disadvantages, and a lack of research focused on health issues specific to women of color. And, in fact, Cuba is one of the best places to have your child if you are a woman of color (Mmm, the irony). So, in response Kathyrn Hall (the most crazy awesome lady I have ever met with whom I also appeared on Sacramento’s NPR show, Insight) founded this organization and it set off electricity through the country. There is an ever-growing network of birthing projects throughout the nation aimed at improving reproductive wellness for women of color. This is an important issue and it is receiving ever more attention. Even though we have a population problem, the births that do occur should be healthier.
Many of those in my friend group are pursuing graduate school or will in the next couple of years (including yours truly who cannot decide whether or not to apply again next year). And we all know Doctorate programs take a long time. The problem is my age cohort can hear their biological clock ticking at a low volume, but nonetheless, still audible. And some of the choices we make now may have an impact on what we can do down the road. So, much of this information is really forcing me to re-evaluate how I view pregnancy (!!!), and child-rearing. And it is frightening. These issues hit home. I am at that age where the older women in my family are staring to share these tales with you. I hear the stories from my Grandmother who had a cesarian section which sliced up her abdominal muscles leading to a lifetime of back problems. I hear about my Mother’s similar problems with cesarian sections. And I realize this is my context for understanding these processes. If I ever want to give birth to my own children, I want to have a choice. It didn’t sound like my Grandmother did. It is unclear whether my Mother did, even though Dr. Cuthbert is a cool lady.
Ladies, go to the library, inform yourself, and reclaim our bodies.