i have been thinking of late, due to the shocking number of intelligent, feminist, progressive women i meet who make the most typical, acquiescent "choices" regarding their health care during pregnancy and birth, that birthing at home is indeed radical, that midwifery is grassroots political protest, and that women need to get out of the hospital if for no other reason than to buck the system created and sustained by men for no other apparent reason but to oppress women.
i get so accustomed to my little bubble of fellow homebirthers and advocates of attachment parenting/natural family living that i forget that the rest of the world is pretty much not at all like us. i have had lengthy discussions with close friends who insist that they would never birth at home despite the overwhelming evidence that it is a safer, friendlier option and have in the past dismissed my own frustration by acknowledging that it is their choice. i no longer believe this. it is no more the choice of women in america today to birth in hospitals than it is their choice to spend 80 dollars every time they walk into target or to buy gasoline for their car. there are certainly other options, but they are not remotely easily accessible.
making alternative choices requires first stepping outside of the box, divorcing oneself from the norm, from one's peers, from the status quo. this may additionally require being ostracized and ridiculed. secondly, one must be solidly educated on how to even make an alternate choice, finding out what those choices even are, how it works, where to find it. thirdly, one must pay for that choice either by sacrifice or by additional expenditure in time and money. to make an alternate choice, one must think for oneself, do research, dedicate hours and days to understanding and accepting the ins and outs of that choice.
that first step is a doozy though, and once you take it, you will be taking it for the rest of your life. announcing that you birth at home will forever invite stares, slack jaws, and questions. you may always be radical to friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, and how sad it is that normal birth may appear to the outside world as so abnormal. homebirth may get the token mention in a book about pregnancy and birth here and there, but it is mostly misunderstood and misrepresented. even dr. sears, whose own children were born at home, does not give it a solid endorsement for most women.
birthing at home is about taking back one of the most sacred and innate events in a woman's life. it is about reclaiming our bodies as our own and our physiologic wisdom as inherent. it can be about doing what is safest, but i am beginning to see it as a first step in putting the medical model in its place of "only in emergencies" and moving women away from the supine position of inexpert in our bodies and for our children.birthing at home is a quiet frontline of resistance to the continued subjugation of women. march on, sisters.