Pregnancy Your Way, Part II: Freebirthers Beg the Question

And speaking of doing pregnancy “your own way”, check out FREEBIRTHING! Now this is an extreme example of taking things into your own hands. But I do not mean to make these brave and committed mothers out to be extremists or fanatics.Freebirthing is when a mother decides to forego the hospital…even the birthing center. She decides to forego all medical intervention and medication. And she says no to the help of a midwife. She delivers her baby at home, by herself, unassisted. And I do mean unassisted, as in, she herself catches the baby as the baby leaves the womb!I so love this idea! And I don’t think I just love it because my childbirth days are over. I love it because it embodies so many important truths about pregnancy and birth.

Truth Number 1: Giving birth is a natural process. Women have been doing it literally since the beginning of time. The body knows what to do…and it knows when it is ready to do it.
Truth Number 2: The process of birthing should be a mother-centered affair. No matter what her choice of method or location, the mother should be in control of what is going to happen to her body and to her baby. She should not relinquish herself to any other person or institution. Any help she receives should be to assist her in what her body already knows to do.
Truth Number 3: Fear has no place in childbirth. And yet so much about the conventional medically-driven pregnancy is fear-based. Pregnancy is not a disease. Though there are women who have some exceptional medical concerns while pregnant, a normal pregnancy is not a medical emergency. But we go about it as though it is. I do not intend to diminish the seriousness of the birthing process. It is a major physical challenge. And not every mother can choose be home unassisted. But every mother should approach her pregnancy with these three truths in mind, whether she has her baby in a hospital or at home. For the Freebirthers, these realities loom very large and thus these mothers want more than what conventional methods offer. Put more accurately, they want less—less intervention, less fear-mongering, and less disruption of the mother-baby bond. They want to bring their babies into the world gently and peacefully and intimately.Intimacy is a big theme among Freebirthers. Many women feel that the experience of giving birth is as intimate as having sex.
As Veronika Robinson, of The Mother Magazine puts it when interviewed for Reuters, “Birthing uses the same hormones as lovemaking—so why would you want anyone poking and prodding you, observing you and putting you under the spotlight?”Now, I have to admit, I have never thought of childbirth in this way. (If I did, perhaps I’d have had even more children!) But I certainly never appreciated the intrusiveness of the hospital process, either. Everything about it is invasive and disruptive. The introduction of a heart monitor is supposed to be a comforting precaution. And hearing the baby’s little heart pattering away does give some assurance that everything is okay in there—until it fades, or speeds up or Heaven forbid, slows down. Then you get worried and apprehensive. You panic, thinking something is going wrong when usually it’s not a sign of anything amiss.And how about the wonderful Uterine Electro-myeographer, the machine that measures the duration and intensity of your contractions? What is the point of that? You KNOW when a contraction is coming and you know full well how intense it is. What does this machine add to the experience? Oh, yes. It allows your husband to tell you when a contraction is coming so that you want to smack him. It’s annoying and the instigator of many a spousal spat!!
So much about the hospital experience is unnecessary for a normal pregnancy. Clio Howie, a British renegade mother,(pictured above) allowed her birth to be filmed for a documentary about freebirthing. She delivered her baby in a birthing pool in her home. You can see her on film as she looks almost like she is relaxing in the lukewarm water. She is actually smiling and talking as the baby emerges and is lifted out of the water. Wow!
Now, I don’t know how she reconciled her notions of intimacy with the idea of strangers filming her birth. But from the looks of Ms. Howie, her baby experience is a peaceful incident-free affair. Her birth is so different from my last, where I had to fight the nurses to get my hands on my baby so that I could hold him on my stomach and nurse him soon after birth. I remember having to threaten somebody. Mine was far from the “spiritual experience” Ms. Howie says she had.Most doctors would say that Ms. Howie was lucky and at unnecessarily high risk. In the face of this growing freebirth movement, the medical profession in up in arms and in high alert. They assert that these mothers are being reckless and selfish and irresponsible. What if something goes wrong, they ask? And they can be very persuasive when they go down the laundry list of possible disasters for both mother and baby.
One incensed doctor argues that the babies born in this manner should have legal recourse against their parents later in life.But the freebirthers are perplexed by this extreme reaction. Some consider it an affront to their right to decide for themselves. One mother brushed off her critics as self-interested medical professionals who do not believe a woman is capable of making her own decisions. However you come out on this birthing option, freebirthers make a very strong argument for questioning the largely unquestioned medical birthing conventions; and taking control and responsibility for the pregnancy and birth that you want.

Posted by Gina L. Carroll at 15:08:59


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