Home Birth Advocacy

There is Light at the End of the Birth Canal

2 Comments 20 September 2012


It has been said that the hardest part of the journey takes place right before the breakthrough or transformation.

This is the position in which I see childbirth in the United States and around the world.

Everywhere, there are uprisings. People taking to the streets, reclaiming their power, strengthening their resolve, beckoning with their voices. No matter where, or what the reason, there is a similar tune: freedom.

Tonight I was part of a viewing of Freedom For Birth, a documentary film by One World Birth, and sat on a panel discussion after the film.

The entire event was exhilarating for me to be a part of. Although I had already seen the film earlier this week to prepare for the panel discussion, the depth in which I appreciated it’s content was just as, if not more, powerful as I’d felt watching for the first time.

Freedom For Birth is a film that will outrage you, that is for sure. The statistics and stories told from around the world about the abuses to women during childbirth are completely unacceptable.

But the film is also incredibly inspiring in that one can answer with confidence that change is not only necessary, I’ll go as far to say it’s on the horizon.

We’ve hit the bottom of the abyss. (I’m paraphrasing Michel Odent said in the film.) His statement is followed by this question, written out for us on the screen: How do we climb out of the abyss?

The same way our children come into the world. Pushing against what feels like nothing, twisting and turning, feeling stuck and then moving another inch. Sometimes backward an inch too. Yet all while, on some deep instinctual level, we are moving forward toward the light.

Our journey to reclaiming birth as a fundamental human right will be long and hard. But there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. That light signifies freedom. As long as each person who believes in birth lets their voice be heard – on a micro and macro level – there is nowhere to go but upward.

My final message is in these few action steps you can take to #1, ensure you have a choice in creating your ideal birth experience, and #2, how women and families can take back the power of childbirth.

  • Have a vision for your birth. Dream about your birth. Draw your birth. Meditate over your birth. What does it look like? How do you want to feel? What is the best way to bring your baby into this world?
  • Find the right care provider. I’m talking the perfect fit. You must know like and trust that person with all your heart and know your entire gut instinct says they are the one. Interview as many as you need to.
  • Share your positive pregnancy experiences and empowering birth stories with everyone you can. The world needs to hear about beautiful births. The balance is currently tipped in the favor of negative and fear-based tales. Let’s change that!
  • Get involved on a local, statewide, and even a national level to help change the conversation in a positive direction. What organizations can you become a part of? For me, it’s FoMM, and attending screenings like the one tonight (and BBH of course!).

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What action steps do you think we can take as a nation, or as a planet of human beings, to change the culture of birth for the better?

Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Steve says:

    Agree with all you said Kaitlin! In response to your question “What can we do…”, I’d suggest the answer is ask more questions.

    Skeptical of why my wife wanted to fire her first OB, I leaned in to ask, listen & learn more. I followed the “trust, but verify” thingie we often hear.

    I thought I’d verify the maternity care system was legit & my wife might be uber ‘emotional’ because of all the changes happening inside her.

    Verification never happened. It was clear at my first go at pealing back the onion… many of the decisions made by those providing maternity care went against the best available evidence. So I asked more questions. And found more of the same.

    I knew I didn’t need a medical degree to see the situation, understand the options on the table & make a good decision. It required the same risk/reward decision making brain power as crossing the street.

    Where do we want to go (across the street to point A)? What options might help us get there (walking, running, skipping or patiently waiting to give us even more options)? What are the risks/rewards of each? What are we comfortable doing? Who will help us get there?

    We had to ask the questions to make better decisions, no one was going to do it for us.

    Like you said, I think that is what moms (couples) are realizing…to get better care, you have to be involved in the care. It’s naive & silly to expect the best results (for anything we’d do) by just showing up and expecting it all to ‘just happen’.

    Amazing, Incredible & Phenomenal care exists, but it’s up to us to seek it.

    I’d suggest our action steps begin with asking more questions of ourselves & of those who’ll potentially provide our care. Then asking those we hire to show us the evidence backing up their responses, decisions & actions.

    • Debra White says:

      I love this response and the street crossing analogy!! Another way to become positively involved is to be proactive politically in MI right now. There is, once again, murmuring about regulation of homebirth/midwives, even from among some very well intended MI midwives. Caution! Cross this street by another way! This action from a pro-abortive senator, Gretchen Whitmer, is the first step, or foot in the door, to making us comply with the overbearing policies that hospitals already enact, NO ThANK YOU!


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