Politics of birth-today's rendition
As the 2nd wave feminist slogan goes "the personal is political". Yes yes. I get that. It just happened to smack me in the face today that’s all. I have an important announcement to make and though I consider this blog to be my professional blog and try to reserve my rants for other venues, this one is important to us all. I contacted one of the hospitals in town today to ask them a question regarding their policy regarding doulas. My question was as follows: "What is your policy regarding the number of people who can attend a birth including a doula?" The answer was two. So for a woman who desperately wants her mother, her partner and a doula attending and supporting her in labour, she must pick just two. I questioned her very carefully and politely about how doulas are not part of the family but are there as a health professional. Her answer? "Well the Doctors don't like it. It's too many guests." I politely said "Oh, okay thank you" and hung up.
Now, I understand that I don't work for the hospital so policy wise, I might be considered a guest. What I am concerned with is the nonchalant "the doctors don't like it". Let me just remind my reader that doctors normally are in the delivery room only after the mother has started pushing and the head is soon to be crowning. Doctors typically are in a birth for a relatively short period of time, sometimes only 20 minutes. An average first time birth is 16 hours. 20 minutes...16hours....
A labouring woman will not always have a nurse in the room with her. Nurses sometimes are fabulous and will massage you, breath with you but usually if this happens it’s only for a brief moment.
Whatever the situation, for a nurse to say, "Well the Doctors don't like it. It's too many guests" is a clear indication that birth in a hospital setting is not about the mother. Maternity wards are not mother centered health units. The important factor is what the doctors like, even when they are not there to enjoy it.
Birth is an immensely powerful life transition. You become a mother. There are incredible amounts of hormonal, emotional, and spiritual factors in every birth. It's intensely beautiful, miraculous, challenging and personal. Birth has the power to shape whom you psychologically experience yourself as. If you have a powerful birth experience, you can take that and negotiate whatever life throws your way with equal strength, courage and esteem.
When birth becomes someone else’s (dr.) experience, and when it's up to what the doctors like, you run the risk of being passive in your most personal, intimate moments.
This is not about how many people can be in your labour and delivery room. No, this is about who gives birth. Is it you, or the Dr.? I ask this question to all birthing women as a collective identity- however problematic that may be- because this is a gender based, systematic problem.