Everything I knew about giving birth before I actually gave birth was an unfortunate production of media misrepresentation, blurry tales of past generations and a sense of emergency that could only be possibly resolved by someone wearing scrubs. I have always wondered out of the “emergency Caesarean” how many were actually emergencies the way we imagine them i.e. mom and baby in theatre in the span of 10 minutes to save their lives. I’d be curious to know. Have you ever wondered why women give birth lying on their back with their feet on stirrups, when everything in our animal nature suggests that if you are “expelling” something you are sitting, squatting or upright? There are beliefs that this practice became common in France during the reign of Luis XIV to enable him to comfortably enjoy watching women giving birth; the reclined position seemed much more catered to his caprice then the birthing stool of course!
It is so important that women are given back their power when it comes to their bodies, that they are educated and informed around birth choices because far too many of them still feel like giving birth is something that happened to them rather than them making it happen. So yes, birth is very much a feminist issue.
The female’s body is still treated by the health system, society, social media,and sadly also by ourselves, as an object, as a vessel, as something to scrutinise, judge and measure with a tape that is often held by the male gaze.
Every time I teach a pregnancy yoga class, if the women leave with a sliver more of confidence in how powerful their body is than when they came in, my job is done. Because the scrutiny we subject our bodies to, the lack of faith and confidence in them, easily have a negative effect on our pregnancy and the pinnacle of our bodies strength: giving birth.
Thankfully there are many midwifes, birth workers, birth keepers who are serving this cause with loud voices and strong drives so that women can be listened to, they can be given choices – all of them – and can be empowered and respected so they can feel positive about their births and confident in their role as mothers of the future.