Birth Activism is Taking a Turn; It’s time for Social Accountability!

This post is not about your career.  It is not about your professional development as a birth support provider, or how you can better serve birthing individuals and their families.

It’s about something happening in America right now.

Birth activists like us have worked hard for decades to guarantee women’s right to choose in childbirth:

Silence is not neutral and it is not an option

  • The freedom to choose one’s preferred place for their birth.
  • The freedom to choose one’s support group for their birth.
  • The freedom to create one’s birth vision and receive maternal care that acknowledges the vision as equally important as the caregiver’s clinical knowledge.
  • The freedom to give birth and have intact perineum.
  • The freedom to autonomy in L&D by rejecting medical advice that does not align with one’s beliefs and values.

It is time to humbly admit that this birth activism is privileged and not enough.

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What You Miss by Overlooking Birth Support Clients’ Motivations

  • I would like to experience a natural birth”  vs. “The idea of taking an Epidural scares me more than childbirth itself”. 
  • “I feel safe and confident at home, and that’s why I would like to have a home birth.” vs. “I’m afraid of going into the hospital because of the outbreak of  Coronavirus”. 
  • “Being intimate with my partner is what’s most important to me in terms of my ideal birth experience” vs. “I’m afraid a doula in the room is one more opinion to deal with”. 

The statements above show that more and more expectant individuals are aware of their choices and options, and this is great! For many decades, birth support professionals have worked hard to promote the notion of birth givers’ right of choice and to spread the idea of advocacy throughout the journey of pregnancy and childbirth. Our goal was to empower birth givers so they don’t feel they have to obey experts who confuse being knowledgeable with being an authority.  At the same time, we might have overlooked the motivations behind expectant individuals’ choices or goals. You may wonder why is this important? You may think that as long as you understand clients’ desired birth experiences or their visions for their birth, the  “why” doesn’t matter. Well, just keep reading.

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