feminism and homebirth

(74 Posts)
darleneconnor Tue 25-Jan-11 21:08:31

I have noticed, although this is maybe just anacdotal, that a lot of pro-HB women in RL and on MN are also feminists.

I certainly feels that my pro-HB views are part of my feminist identity. Has anyone else thought about this?

OP’s posts: |
msrisotto Tue 25-Jan-11 21:22:11

It certainly seems like a kind of rejection of the over medicalisation of birth and medicine is historically a very male dominated arena. However, I have seen it mean that some people reject pain relief which seems to be the opposite of a feminist belief! (Why experience pain if you can avoid it? We don't make people pass gall stones without pain relief).

FlamingoBingo Tue 25-Jan-11 21:27:15

Well, I think for me it does go along with rejection of the male doctors who decided that they knew better than nature and started telling women how to birth, how to feed and mother their babies etc.

Certainly there is a great need for caesareans and interventions, but they are vastly overused, and the evidence definitely says that for uncomplicated births, homebirth is safer. It's about asserting your right to make an informed, rational choice, and not just do what (historically male) doctors have told us to do just because they're men.

I think it's less that 'feminism makes us choose to birth at home' and more that the part of us that makes us question social norms wrt to birthing/mothering etc. also makes us question social norms wrt the equality of men and women.

TheProvincialLady Tue 25-Jan-11 21:30:12

I don't know that I have pro-HB views. As a feminist, I am very pro education and choice, so that women can give birth in the environment they feel suits their circumstances best, rather than being told or made to do something because a person in a white coat (or a kaftan, for that matter) says so. Having said that, I chose a HB for DS2 (because of the crappy male ego-centric environment in my local hopsital, which I experienced with DS1).

wukter Tue 25-Jan-11 21:31:59

Hmm, conversely, it seems like a victory for feminism that maternal care was taken seriously enough to warrant medical intervention. Look to many parts of Africa today, for example.

Speaking as the granddaughter of a woman who had her first 3 at home and was overjoyed at the prospect of safe, hospitalised births with pain minimalisation, personally I feel that HB ain't neccessarily more fulfilling/empowering. (Nan had some bad experiences)

FlamingoBingo Tue 25-Jan-11 21:36:08

It's about choice, though, isn't it, Wukter. If you choose to have your baby in hospital, fully informed, then that is good. When you have your baby in hospital because the option to choose has been taken out of your hands and you are no longer in control of your own birthing experience, then that is not good.

wukter Tue 25-Jan-11 21:37:39

That is true Flamingo. But I think people are a bit quick to jump towards HB. But that's jmo, and of course everyone is entitled to jump any which way they want. smile


Ephiny Tue 25-Jan-11 21:39:42

For me it's part of being pro-choice, no one should be forced to accept medical interventions that they don't want, and that doesn't change one bit because the person in question happens to be a pregnant/labouring woman.

I would not want a homebirth for myself (quite the opposite in fact, my ideal would be elective c-section!) so have no interest in 'pushing' the idea on anyone else. I feel women should make their own decisions - ideally based on both the best-available evidence regarding safety etc along with their personal values and feelings.

It's also perhaps relevant that a lot of women seem to choose homebirth after their first birth experience in a hospital was a bad one because of unwanted interventions or their wishes being ignored or overruled, basically losing the right to autonomy over their own bodies. From a feminist point of view obviously I would prefer that to not happen in the first place.

BooBooGlass Tue 25-Jan-11 21:41:30

It's an education issue surely? I'm sure I've read stats somewhere that say the higher the level of education, the more likely a homebirth is. And a class one too, certainly in my area homebirth is seen as a very middle class thing.

TheProvincialLady Tue 25-Jan-11 21:44:52

I considered a HB with DS1 and the idea was laughed at by the MW. I was not allowed to even talk about it, let alone choose. Even with DS2, after I was much better educated on the matter, obsetricians would talk about "allowing" me to give birth at home. That kind of language makes me so angry.

wukter Tue 25-Jan-11 21:44:53

But globally, maternal mortality & injuries are major problems. Because women are way down the list when it comes to health care provision.

Eglu Tue 25-Jan-11 21:45:06

I don't think it's a feminist thing. I wouldn't class myself as particularly feminist but am pro-HB.

wukter Tue 25-Jan-11 21:46:04

The Provincial Lady, I would imagine that's a funding/resources issue, rather than control?

Ephiny Tue 25-Jan-11 21:46:47

I'm not comfortable with the idea of 'male doctors who decided that they knew better than nature' etc though. Nature has really not done a very good job of 'designing' childbirth - the process is good enough to allow survival of the species (which is all that matters on that level and all that 'nature' cares about) but with really quite a high rate of casualties (both women and babies). Medical efforts to reduce the death and injury and pain resulting from 'natural' childbirth are pro- not anti-woman efforts IMO.

FlamingoBingo Tue 25-Jan-11 21:46:49

I'm pro-choice, though. I'm pro-not-being-told-you're-selfish-for-wanting-a-HB . I'm pro-respecting-women-choose-HB-because-they-feel-i t's-safest-for-them-and-their-baby-and-have-done-a -lot-of-reading-and-are-making-an-informed-choice.

wukter Tue 25-Jan-11 21:48:16

I agree Ephiny.

ThatVikRinA22 Tue 25-Jan-11 21:50:21

i had a hb.

im not a feminist. our authority used to positively encourage hb, and having experienced both a hospital and a home birth i can see why.

so much easier, nicer and worry/pain free.

nothing to do with being a feminist in my case.

TheProvincialLady Tue 25-Jan-11 21:51:44

Wukter home birth costs less than hospital birth, even though there has to be two MW present.

Believe me, the people I am referring to were reinforcing their view of themselves as In Charge and knowing best (which of course they do in many situations, having been trained etc....but not in a perfectly straightforward pregnancy when the Trust's own guidelines state that HB is an option).

FlamingoBingo Tue 25-Jan-11 21:52:07

"I'm not comfortable with the idea of 'male doctors who decided that they knew better than nature' etc though. Nature has really not done a very good job of 'designing' childbirth - the process is good enough to allow survival of the species (which is all that matters on that level and all that 'nature' cares about) but with really quite a high rate of casualties (both women and babies). Medical efforts to reduce the death and injury and pain resulting from 'natural' childbirth are pro- not anti-woman efforts IMO."

Have you heard of 'The Farm'? It's a large community in the US. There is a midwife there who supports the women there who birth. She works with them, their bodies, and nature. Her Caesarean rates are minute!

The first women to give birth on their backs, were asked to do so so their royal fathers could see them being born - naff all to do with what is best for baby/mother and everything to do with men putting themselves first.

Male doctors really did decide that women weren't to be trusted to birth or mother their own children without them telling htem how to do it.

ThePosieParker Tue 25-Jan-11 21:53:58

I like to think I am a feminist and I am not pro HB. I am pro choice and empowering women to believe they can choose what is right for them and their baby. I totally agree with wutker's first post.

I have had 4 c-sections, without which neither myself or my children would have survived without.

Chandon Tue 25-Jan-11 21:54:49

Ye Ephiny, and of course, lots of doctors are FEMALE as well, not all male.

I am a feminist, and I chose a hospital birth for both my DC, with the option of an epidural (which I took).

I very much believe that if you can alleviate a person's pain without risk to mother or baby, that is a great option to have.

I was in the very capable hands of a male midwife, and a female anaesthetist

ThePosieParker Tue 25-Jan-11 21:56:16

Rogue 'without'.

Chandon Tue 25-Jan-11 21:56:46

...also, I was "allowed" to walk around until I was around 9 cm, by which time I decided to lie down and have the drugs. I felt very much that everybody there was looking out for me and my baby, rather than imposing "their way".

TheProvincialLady Tue 25-Jan-11 21:57:09

But medicine is a very male environment isn't it? Not necessarily in terms of numbers...I think there are more women doctors now? But in terms of structures, history, traditions, protocol etc.

tethersend Tue 25-Jan-11 22:01:50

Interesting question.

I am a feminist and anti-HB.

I'm not sure that it's a feminist choice to challenge the male medicalised environment of a hospital by not attending or opting out of the system.

Am prepared to have my mind changed, though.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in