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Lauredhel is an Australian woman and mother with a disability. She blogs about disability and accessibility, social and reproductive justice, gender, freedom from violence, the uses and misuses of language, medical science, otters, gardening, and cooking.

20 Responses

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  1. blessed
    blessed at |

    Hooray! Thank you for such a beautiful exposition which demonstrates what logic already tells us. This wingnut says thank you!

  2. mimbles
    mimbles at |

    Fantastic post Lauredhel. I’ve learned so much from reading your posts on birthing and I’m deeply appreciative of your work in tracking down and analyzing all the studies and media coverage. It’s good and important work, thank you.

  3. Mindy
    Mindy at |

    There is a very real and very nasty perception out there that homebirth advocates are just dirty hippies. Also, a big “why wouldn’t you want to be in a nice safe hospital” attitude which shows that most people either don’t know or choose not to believe that homebirth is safer. Not to mention lots of ‘it’s better for the baby to be in hospital’ brainwashing.

  4. Rebekka
    Rebekka at |

    I’m not going to have children, but I’m still deeply interested in this issue and love reading your posts on it, Lauredhel.

  5. Mary
    Mary at | *

    Lauredhel, I appreciate it deeply, just it’s almost triggery for me right now in a high risk pregnancy (I have some ongoing issues around medical anxiety). Activism around birthing choices and maximum safety and positive experiences and outcomes for mothers and babies is more important than I can say and I point people at your useful analyses often, and I know other women who do too.

  6. Jo Tamar
    Jo Tamar at |

    This actually feeds directly into a post that I want to write (when I get time *sigh*) about doctors’ perception of risk vs other people’s perception of risk, specifically re birth.

    Or rather, had been planning to write, until I saw this post and wondered if I actually have anything useful to add ;)

  7. blessed
    blessed at |

    “Should I just give up on feminists outside of the marginalised ‘birthing’ niche ever giving a shit about institutionalised assault? Would anything make any difference?

    Feeling very dispirited right now.”

    I feel your pain. I really do. I too feel mighty dispirited at the rebuffs of feminists I’ve experienced. I spent my youthful feminist learning time in the pro-choice struggle and now I look behind me and see almost no one standing there for me in my time of need around “choice’. Internalised misogyny, the surgical discourse in place of a birth discourse, the success of empowerfulised child-hating girlpower, they all add up to a shocking lack of understanding despite women like us working overtime on the issue. This “medical violence” euphemism is a spit in the eye to us all.

    In five years I’ve not managed to forge a single working relationship with another feminist group. When Joyous Birth turns up at feminist things it’s assumed we must be Forced Birthers because no one else is talking about birth, right? For the record, we strongly support women’s right to abortion because we support women’s right to autonomy, bodily integrity and reproductive freedom. Birthrape is a giggle to most people, made up by crazies because everyone thinks it’s “birth” that’s traumatic when if it was surely it would be homebirthers and freebirthers falling by the wayside with PTSD (the undiagnosed epidemic) and PND? I doubt there are homebirthers in that suicidal group that Hannah Dahlen referred to in the committee proceedings around the latest push to outlaw independent midwifery. But regardless of that, why aren’t feminists OUTRAGED that women are suiciding?? Why aren’t feminists OUTRAGED by the deaths of women from forced caesareans?? The experiments on women and babies at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital with a drug not approved in Australia for induction with live babies? Fell like a stone in a pond minus the ripples.

    The press are determined to silence women while printing lies from surgeons and everywhere a deafening silence from feminists despite birth being something most women do in their lives. That doesn’t mean I think parenting is the only thing a woman should do, it doesn’t mean I privilege mothers over those who choose to be childless and I find it laughable when women with children are told to check their privilege because we’re I’m sitting, there ain’t none. Mighty little kudos has come my way in the work I do from mainstream society or from feminists.

    I don’t know what it’s going to take, Lauredhel, but I fervently hope we both live long enough to see it. I console myself that women who fought for rape within marriage to be recognised, and for child abuse to be something that could be printed in the newspapers, and for the vote, were also treated like shit by those who didn’t see what the struggle was for yet now those things are taken for granted as part of a mainstream feminist platform.

    I find your expositions a joy and I thank you for them from the bottom of my heart.

  8. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    I need to comment more on these posts. Appalled silence doesn’t show the support required. Even when I don’t know exactly what to say, I should try and find something so you don’t feel so isolated.

  9. Jo Tamar
    Jo Tamar at |

    Thanks for the extra info. My post was just going to be based on my personal observations, but that’s kind of why it hadn’t been being written.

    Now I just need to find the time to do that research. (Heh, and I also have another post half-written about priorities. Ironic, that. ;) )

  10. Mindy
    Mindy at |

    @ Lauredhel

    I think so. I think it comes from the normalisation of hospital births and the accepted belief that hospital is the best place to be. I think the image most people have of women who homebirth is hairy legged feminist types who hate doctors. Which, like the feminist stereotype, is true for a small minority and not true for the rest.

    I suspect also, but only from my own experience, that many of us may have lost faith in our bodies ability to cope with labour. When I had braxston-hicks with my daughter I was thinking – geez these really hurt, I couldn’t do labour. But now I’m sorry that I didn’t stand up to the doctor and at least try. But then I found the “your baby will die if you don’t have a caesar” line pretty compelling too.

  11. Jo Tamar
    Jo Tamar at |

    Oh, and by the way, this:

    if you consider injuries and trauma and haemorrhage and surgery to be poor outcomes, instead of conveniently only looking at outcomes that are in numbers too small to reach statistical significance (deaths)

    was exactly what I’d picked up on and wanted to write about, too :)

    Especially the anecdata “but you/your baby might DIE!” (you will see that phrase a number of times in my post) argument, which I find completely intellectually dishonest, not to mention unscientific, illogical and irrational!

  12. blessed
    blessed at |

    @ Mindy

    I’m sure some of what you’re talking about is occurring. I’m sorry for your own experience of this stuff and I invite you to explore it further in a safe environment in order to learn for yourself what you make of it.

    Birth isn’t special, it’s just a normal, physiological function of the human body. Yep, it hurts. I’ve done it three times at home, first time ended in unnecessary transfer to birthrape and caesarean. Next two times I just gave birth – long, painful births. Birth hurts, I don’t actually like pain but I prefer giving birth for a few days to surgery and living with the fallout of that for the rest of my life. Support is what we lack. Support and information to show us birth is just normal.

    The continuum which once saw us attending births of our siblings, sisters, aunts, SILs, neighbours, anyone really, has been well and truly smashed as hospital birth, that recent and dangerous phenomenon, has become so normalised. As I keep saying, we no longer have a birth discourse, we only have a surgical discourse. Surgeons are very successful in their exploitation of our internalised misogyny. If I had to give birth in hospital I’d be shit scared too. But at home, women just birth.

    I wish you peace and healing. Birth trauma is a hard road and it cracks women’s lives open in ways that not much else does.

    “I think the image most people have of women who homebirth is hairy legged feminist types who hate doctors. Which, like the feminist stereotype, is true for a small minority and not true for the rest.”
    Would you like to rethink this? Do you remember the admirable entry here on Monica Dux telling us that normally haired women were dragging feminism down? I gotta tell you, there’s a negligible amount of feminism in birth and that includes homebirth populations. Homebirthing feminists are pretty much a tiny maligned minority of a larger maligned minority. I doubt very much that the stereotype in mainstream world around homebirth involves feminism, it tends to involve that bizarre term “hippy”. I don’t think I could get any further from “hippy” if I tried. It makes me snort with laughter when I’m lumped in there.

    And you know what? This “hating doctors” thing is also pretty bizarre and somewhat reminiscent of the dismissal of wider feminist movements and lesbian women into the bargain. Not everything in the world is a response to dudes. This kind of argument just positions men or their perceived agents (lots of surgeons are women, it’s a system not a sex thing) at the centre with the rest of us patrolling the outskirts. Feminists ain’t feminists because we hate men. Homebirthers aren’t homebirthers because they hate all things doctorish. Some of us have a deep and abiding disgust and revulsion at the way doctors are able to control women’s bodies and choices in maternity care when it’s none of their goddam business. It’s patriarchy at it’s finest, a nexus between commerce and misogyny woohoo.

    I’m glad to see a little dialogue occurring!

  13. Mindy
    Mindy at |

    That was actually a stereotype – both embodied in people and believed by others- that I encountered Blessed, but I am guilty of extrapolating my (limited) experience too generally. The women I met probably more hated forced hospital births rather than doctors. I apologise for that, I should have given it more thought. At the time midwives were unable to get insurance (as now) and the NT briefly made it illegal to have a homebirth. Thankfully, after a lot of politicking, the NT govt backed down and homebirths were able to continue.

    As for ‘feminist’ when I heard it it was used as a slur, on par with hippy. I think it was more ‘woman who knows what she wants and will do everything in her power to get what she wants/needs’ and all the attendant issues surrounding ideas about that type of woman (pushy, bitch, unfeminine etc), but who couldn’t be labelled directly as a hippy because she wears “normal clothes” like everyone else, unlike hippies who are “instantly recognisable by their tie die and loose fishermans pants etc.” /sarcasm

    Thanks for the peace and healing wishes. You think you’re over something and then something just opens it right back up again.

  14. blessed
    blessed at |

    I’m sorry for your pain. I spend a large part of my life supporting women to heal from birth trauma and an equally large part supporting women to avoid it in the first place. Please let me know how I can help. You may find some useful and interesting reading here.

  15. Mindy
    Mindy at |

    Thanks Blessed. I am fortunate to have two healthy kids who are fully immunised and who were lucky enough to grow up in communities where immunisation rates were high so that they weren’t exposed to any of these godawful diseases.

  16. Mindy
    Mindy at |

    Oops wrong thread! But I’m still grateful for the link Blessed.

  17. Rebekka
    Rebekka at |

    Mindy: “I think so. I think it comes from the normalisation of hospital births and the accepted belief that hospital is the best place to be. I think the image most people have of women who homebirth is hairy legged feminist types who hate doctors. Which, like the feminist stereotype, is true for a small minority and not true for the rest. ”

    What I find really interesting (from a kind of meta-perspective) is that there’s a really weird intersection of women (particularly in the US) who choose home birth for religious reasons and women who choose it for what I’d loosely call feminist reasons (although they might not identify the reasons as feminist, specifically). And so there’s possibly an optics issue going on from both sides (dirty hippies vs religious freaks). Not to mention the background of reproductive rights against which, as a feminist, I would set home-birth activism is anathema to the religious women (for the most part).

    Lauredhel: “Rebekka: Same here. I’m deliberately barren now (I hope), and hope to never find this a personal issue; but for me this issue ties in very deeply with bodily sovereignty, reproductive choice, violence against women, and kyriarchal control of marginalised bodies. ”

    Lauredhel, yes, yes, and YES!

    And everyone, there is actually a fair amount of feminist writing on this subject, it’s not ignored completely – if anyone wants book recommendations I have a fairly massive library of books, because (a) I’m interested in it as a topic, and (b) I was going to write a thesis on it, until I got distracted by belief in the middle ages.

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