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A Call to Return to Social Childbirth

For the vast majority of women, social childbirth is a safe, supportive and natural option. Within this concept, birth is seen as normal and spiritual, movement and nourishment are gently encouraged, and every newborn is welcomed into a dark, warm, quiet room. This is where the “women-supporting-women” motto of birth support was born: two million years ago in a cave occupied solely by a birthing mother and her female companions. And this motto survived in its purest form until roughly three hundred years ago, when men first began to infiltrate the sacred spaces of women.

It would be foolish to blindly romanticize birth in these “simpler” times, knowing that technological advances have saved lives that would have almost certainly been lost before their invention. However, we have allowed the creation to become the ruler and are now subject to the Frankenstein-esque birth culture we have evolved into. Rather than viewing these novel tools as just that, tools to be utilized as a heroic last resort, we as a society have allowed their use to become the inexplicable norm. Worse, we have blindly accepted them as saviors from iatrogenic emergencies that we would never have encountered otherwise - doctors saving us from themselves. The modern obstetric emergency today is what childbed fever was three centuries ago: a problem caused by uninformed medical practices.

Three centuries ago, mothers invited doctors into our sacred birth spaces. We are once again in a pivotal place, one where mothers and mothers alone have the power to take back what our great-great-grandmothers unwittingly gave away in what can only be described as the first violation of informed consent. It is time to take a real and expansive look at where we are and how we can get back to a place where birth belongs to women.

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