There, I said it. In the era of fighting for women’s rights, issues with the accessibility of birth control, and rape controversies, it seems like a complete wrong-doing to say I want babies. And I want to have babies after I marry a man. A man whose last name I will take as my own. What? How can I call myself a feminist? What is this “name-taking” I speak of? Really though; if there is one thing I dislike more than people who assert their opinion into others lives, it is…well, actually, I just dislike those people. My life is my life, and I will do with it what I want. If I want to fight for women to have equal pay as men or for powerful women to no longer be called “bitches” (sorry, it’s just the horrible truth), I will do it. And I do. I inform myself as much as possible when it comes to the rights of women and people across the world, and it is something I will continue to hold an opinion over. However, I am not going to shove my opinion in your face and make you agree with me. You don’t think birth control should be offered to all women regardless of their employers choice? I won’t scold you, and I certainly won’t say you’re wrong – unless you start to tell me I’m wrong. In which case I will state my case, and leave it be.
Aside from that raging tangent of an opener, today’s topic is – you guessed it – babies. I want them. Two of them, if I’m being completely honest. I’d love to have a boy and a girl, but I’ll take what I’m given. I just want to bring some life into this world and watch them grow. I think it’ll be a pretty great adventure…but I am still young enough that it’s not quite time. Not just yet. I have one (potential) mother-in-law who has a very different opinion on the topic, but unfortunately it’s up to me and the man when it all happens. Which, isn’t looking to be for at least a few years. Until then, I feel fascinated to learn anything I can about pregnancy and childbirth. I think it is seriously so beautiful, and it is one of the most interesting topics. So, one boring Friday night late last summer, I brought up the documentaries of Netflix and found it.
I’m sure this documentary has gotten some slack from various people, but I personally think it is amazing. The Business of Being Born is a documentary from Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, and it has become a following since its January of 2008. It highlights everything about a natural birth and midwifery, and I was honestly sucked into the film from the get-go. I had heard about natural births and home births before in my life, but I had never really explored what it all entails. If you’ve ever wanted to know, watch this movie. It is intense at times, intriguing at others, and overall just beautiful. Not every natural birth works for everyone, some go smoothly, others take turns in directions that may not have been in the birth plan, but each new mother reveals how much it changed them as a person to even simply learn about the different ways of giving birth (besides laying back and spreading your legs).
This method of giving birth was said to have been started with the mistress of Louis XIV because the king wanted to see his child being born. The doctors began to realize that this method of birthing was much easier for them, and it also became the “posh” method of giving birth, thus rendering women essentially without a choice in the matter. This position, while it may not harm the infant, can be much more painful or stressful on the mother; these are all things that we are not told about growing up, or even when we reach a child-bearing age! How could we not know that it is more natural to get the mother moving around to help progress labor or to simply make her more comfortable? Birth is not about anyone but the mother and child; yes, the father helped make the new creature, but is he in there pushing it out? Didn’t think so. In that case, I stand with a firm belief that women should be able to choose how to give birth, what their plan is, what kinds of medication she does not want used on her while giving birth; these are all topics covered in the documentary and then some. It was honestly just so eye-opening and awe-inspiring, I couldn’t help but be amazed by this information I was learning.
One thing that I have feared ever since my first seizure is that birth (and conception) will become an issue. There are certain things I can and cannot do with a child; I will be taking medication while pregnant, and that could affect my child; I could be less fertile than I would be without the medication, but there is nothing I can do about it! There are so many things I took from this film and said, man, I would love to be able to use that method in the future; the only problem is, I don’t know that it would even be a possibility. However, seeing the stories of women in the documentary (and the short series that come afterwards, More Business of Being Born) who were not able to go through with a natural birth exactly as planned made me feel better. They weren’t able to follow their plans, but they were still happy; they brought new life into the world and they were happy! This is all I can wish for myself and any other expectant or future mothers out there reading this scramble of thought; I want everyone to know they have choices in how the birthing process happens, and I want them to be happy with how it plays out, even if it isn’t following a plan to a T.
A second fear I have is that I won’t be able to find a doctor or midwife nearby who can help me execute the plan they way I wish, and that they will judge the choices I have. Knowing two women who have given birth in town has given me great insight, but it isn’t as happy as I would wish. They both had rough experiences with the doctors they came in contact with, and that scares me. It also angers me; you chose your profession for a reason, and I would hope that reason would be to help others, not make them feel uncomfortable or incompetent. I feel for these women because they didn’t have the best experience the first time around; they had their plans, but the doctors had plans of their own. As they say in the film, some of the doctors have somewhere to be for dinner, and if you aren’t running on their schedule, they will find a way to make it happen. That, to me, is sickening, and I think it calls for a change.
There’s not much I can do as one women in a world full of these doctors and women who haven’t been given the adequate information. All I want to do is pass it along, and hope for the best. If you have the time and are interested in the topic, please take some time to check this all out. Read a book from Ina May Gaskin or research midwives and doulas; look up natural births, check out the birth photos, find out who loved their experience. Just make sure that you can form your own opinion and you know where your choices lay. Even if you aren’t planning on children for a long while, and even if you aren’t married (you’re allowed to have babies before that if you want, and you can wait if you want, too), it pays to read up on the subject before it becomes a present reality. If there is one thing a woman should always be, it is to be informed. An informed woman is a happy woman, no lie.
Do you have any birth experiences you’d like to share? I know it seems weird coming from a 22-year old college student, but it’s just not a topic that comes up often. Help me get this information out there!