“But what does it really matter how the baby gets here?” The words of my doctor.
The woman I’d hired to care for me throughout my pregnancy. The one who I’d trusted to deliver a baby safely from my body. When I dared to ask if a vaginal birth might be back on the table as the baby neared full term, she made it clear that cutting me open would be the most convenient way to birth and shame on me for even considering my health, my risk, my recovery, my body. My job was to be a selfless vessel, always sacrificing, need be or not, for the baby. Shame. on. me.
But what about first do no harm and all that? What about my body autonomy – did I not deserve to be a part of an informed decision making process about my medical procedures? Of course (of course!) provide and care for the baby, keep that beloved one of mine safe and if it comes down to it, always choose my son or daughter’s health and life over my own. But…I still dare to ask, what about the mother, what about the woman, what about me?
So here’s my question, in defense of the feminine: when did we begin to doubt mothers, patronize feminine intuition, and reject the humanity of a woman’s body?
We call ourselves feminists, we raise boys who believe in equality and girls who never question that they can do anything, and yet we begin motherhood by teaching pregnant women to fear birth and submit without question to an inarguably, intensively medical birth process, which data has proven to be increasingly perilous for mothers. The truth is, the way we cut mothers out of the process to manage birth isn’t making us safer, on the contrary, our maternal mortality rates are the highest among developed countries, our cesarean birth rates far exceed those of our European peers and are triple the World Health Organization recommendation, and women are exiting their individual birth experiences more traumatized than ever before.
The way physiological motherhood begins – in pregnancy and delivery – sets the tone for how we view and treat women who become mothers. I was never able to shake those doctor’s words and even though I have my health and my baby, again I wonder, since when did the most biologically feminine thing a woman can do, create and birth life, lose its power?
…And perhaps more importantly, are we brave enough to take that power back?
Kate Marie is a feminist, entrepreneur and mother. Recently, she’s been working on the 2018 collection for her e-commerce company, Babies4Babies and gestating her third baby, both bodies of work she looks forward to debuting early next year.