Category Archives: Homebirth

Empowered Birth vs. Empowered BY birth

The interesting thing about the natural childbirth movement (of which I strongly support) is that it often fails to differentiate between empowered birthing and the empowerment gained FROM ones birth. We tend to treat the two as the same thing when we discuss natural childbirth, and in our fervor, we fail to mention that it is entirely possible to have one WITHOUT the other. Instead, we refer to natural childbirth as “empowering” the woman and bringing “empowerment” to women everywhere. But, what exactly do we mean?

I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately, and it is my belief that we lump empowered birth and empowerment BY birth into the same phrase of  “empowering women”. I think we choose to use one phrase because in today’s society they ARE the same thing. In the current day where entering a hospital with a normal, healthy pregnancy increases ones risk of unnecessary medical interventions, we hope to educate women so that they might be “empowered” to make the birth choices that are correct for them. In turn, we hope that these women will experience a birth that is fulfilling TO THEM…thereby granting them a feeling of empowerment (increased self-worth, a powerful sense of accomplishment, and a revelry in her role as a woman).

I feel particularly strongly about increasing the education women receive with regards to the variety of birth choices that may impact their birth experience. Too many women simply go along with whatever their doctors dish out without QUESTIONING him or her. So many women end up in uninformed situations where they have no one to trust other than their doctor…their doctor who has been trained to treat emergencies…their doctor who is  a SURGEON first and foremost. A doctor who has no reason OR time to allow them to labor naturally…to provide them with alternative pain relief, and the solemn support of a midwife or doula. For these women, natural birth is a hard achievement…and often impossible. Some of these women go one to have traumatic births and are left with a sense of loss-the loss of their birth experience…and there is no empowerment in this.

For others, they may have what “normal” culture deems a ‘normal’ birth: labor naturally to 4-5 cm, receive an epidural, deliver vaginally with no complications, but they will still feel dissatisfied with their birth. Perhaps they would have felt a stronger sense of entitlement over their birth if they had managed it naturally. Perhaps they did not educate themselves enough to KNOW of these alternatives. Perhaps those they trusted to educate them failed them in their time of need. And, for these women, their is no empowerment in their birth experience.

By increasing the amount and quality of education that women receive prenatally, we empower women to take control of their births. We can inform them so that THEY can choose what happens to their bodies and their babies. If a woman receives unbiased, informative information regarding the epidural and its risks AND chooses it anyway, then SHE has made an empowered decision in her birth. I want this. I work towards THIS.

While I strongly believe that having an empowered birth (where the woman is educated in her choices and affirmatively controls what happens to her) will lead to a lasting feeling of empowerment BY her birth, I also believe that there are other ways to gain empowerment from birth. For some women, knowing that they have created life is enough. For them, there is nothing to be gained from a vaginal birth over a cesearean. Others only desire to birth vaginally…whatever happens past that point is meaningless as long as their baby is healthy. And, lastly, there are the women who are quite content to leave their birth and the health of their child in the hands of the qualified doctor they have chosen. While these births may happen in a variety of manners that I might not personally advocate, they all empower the women who choose them. These women are empowerd BY their birth.

So, have I made a mess of this distinction? Are we right to use one phrase/word to refer to such an ecompassing meaning? Have we alienated some women by our fervor? Or am I wrong to believe that we are actually referring to TWO separate ideas.


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Filed under Birth Preferences, C-section, childbirth, Homebirth, pregnancy, prenatal care, Uncategorized

The Birth Spectrum

Births occur on a hugely ‘unknown’ basis. I think this is what can utterly terrify some people into opting for the controlled atmosphere of a hospital. There is no danger in a hospital of something going terribly out of control…and if by some mad chance it DID, well, then there are doctors who are trained to react in just such occasions within easy reach.

For other people, the unkown of birth can mean a triumph where one could never have been foreseen.

A friend of mine was relaying the story of  her sister who had an unneccessary C-section with her first child. This same woman switched caretakers, adopted the Bradley Method of childbirth, and vaginally birthed her 2nd and 3rd children. Despite her proven ability to birth, this woman was talked into birthing her 2nd and 3rd children in the local hospital where she was forced to undergo all the medical interventions deemed ‘necessary’ by her attending doctors. For her 4th and final child, she chose to homebirth. Despite all their best preparations, her 4th child came too quickly and was delivered by his father in the family’s living room. The midwife arrived to the cries of wonderfully healthy baby boy who had been welcomed into this world in the most natural way possible. This woman feels like a warrior and thanks to the huge ‘unknown’ of birth has reclaimed her birthing rights. She no longer doubts her ability as a woman to bring a child into this life…and that is wonderful.


Filed under Birth Preferences, Birth Stories, C-section, childbirth, Homebirth

Free Book of Birth Stories!

Sheri Menelli is offering the digital (pdf) copy of her book Journey into Motherhood for free! The book is a collection of 48 inspirational birth stories that are meant to empower women to take charge of their own birth experiences. She is also offering the hard copy version of her book for only $5 in the hopes that this collection will become as popular as the ‘DREADED’ What to Expect series. You can read more about it as well as download the pdf here.

I just found this today, and I can’t wait to start reading! I’ve heard that it’s an exciting read!

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Filed under Birth Preferences, Birth Stories, childbirth, Homebirth, pregnancy, prenatal care

Getting “Normal” Birth OUT of the Hospital

Canada has been all the talk among those of us in the natural birth realm over the past few months.

A few weeks ago, they instigated new medical protocols regarding breech births…basically requesting that doctors actually attempt vaginal births even when a breech is present BEFORE conducting a C-section.  As a resutl, doctors in Canada are now being trained in breech presentation which is basically becoming a lost art among OBs her in the U.S.

More recently, the  Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada came out with the following statements APPROVING natural birth and displacing the theory that medical interventions are ALWAYS necessary.

“We want to be sure that women who are at low risk for complications receive adequate information and support to have a normal birth.” …  “…the number of medical interventions used in healthy pregnancies is on the rise and could be subjecting mothers and babies to risks they don’t need to take.

Additionally, Canada recently conducted a study that found planned homebirths to be SAFER than planned hospital births. The best part about this study though is that it takes into account planned hospital births with a physician and ALSO with a midwife. Homebirths STILL won out. So often people seem to think that just birthing with a midwife is enough…what we forget is that there is so much more that will affect the outcome of a birth than just the overseeing practitioner. The sense of comfort, familiarity, and naturalness that comes from birthing at home can obviously improve outcomes in a way that the stark environment of a hospital simply can not.

(of course, they had to sneak in that the data gained from midwives was limited by the incomplete nature AND ONLY accept data from REGISTERED midwives.) *sigh*

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Filed under Birth Preferences, Homebirth, Scientific Studies