I became passionate about birth rights, after the birth of my first child. I had wanted a home birth, but in the end my Midwife took me into hospital and my daughter was born by Suction, after they had preformed an Episiotomy on me.
For those who don't know, an Episiotomy is an incision that is made in the perineum and the vaginal wall, with the intention of helping the baby to be born. I found both of these procedures very traumatic and very painful.
They say that birth, brings you very close to death and as I lay there, placed in a position that was convenient for the health practitioners and not for my well being, I really did feel like I was about to die. They had tilted my body so that the Obstetrician could have a good view, but which left me trying to push my baby out, uphill.
There is a reason, why birthing whilst you are upright or squatting is beneficial, because you have gravity on your side,and also because of the way that our bodies are designed. So placing a woman in a bed to birth, is all about the doctors and their needs!
This was made very clear to me, during my daughters birth. Another thing that was very clear to me, is that they see episiotomies as just a normal intervention, something that they do on a daily basis. This really upset me, because after this procedure I felt so violated.
And then they had to insert the vacuum, which again made me feel violated. Birth is sacred, it's a rite of passage, it's transformative. Women are meant to feel empowered.
This is something that is rarely talked about. How the interventions in birth are causing women a lot of trauma. Most of the time, women are not given the time to digest or consider the intervention that has been suggested and that will take place.
There is no discussion about the risks of those interventions, especially the long term affects that they can have, both physically and mentally.
Most woman who enter a hospital to birth their child, end up experiencing a cascade of interventions. Interventions that have become routine and seen as a normal part of birth. But there is nothing normal about a woman's vagina/yoni being cut or their baby being born by vacuum.
Treating it like it is a normal routine, is something that I find so disrespectful towards women and towards birth itself. A true reflection, of how our culture really wants to continue to dis-empower women.
Of course I understand, that some women do experience complications and that some interventions are necessary. But after much reflection, I now know that the reason I ended up in hospital was not because of any complications, but rather because of the actions of my midwife.
After the birth of my daughter, I struggled for a long time to deal with the anger and grief I felt and then there was the guilt, because I was meant to be happy. Right? my baby was healthy after all.
But I was not. I felt torn inside, I was ashamed and because these interventions are usually just pushed to the side and seen as no big deal, no body reached out to me and I felt like I had no body to reach out to.
Once your baby is born, it is all about the baby. But a woman needs just as much support after the birth, as she did before and during it.
It wasn't until a year later, when a friend of mine organized a day of workshops on International Women's Day, that I began to really deal with what had happened to me. I attended a birthing workshop, by a visiting midwife and she spoke in detail about the importance of the birthing space. Of being in an environment full of trust, love and care. How even the smallest amount of negative energy can affect the birth hormones and stall the birth.
This brought a lot of clarity to me and after she had finished i approached her and told her my experience. She told me, that because I felt unsafe with my midwife, then so did my baby and that was why the birth was so long and why it did not progress past a certain point.
She also told me that what I had experienced in hospital was "Birth Rape", when she said those two words I just broke down crying, because that was exactly what it felt like.
I had no idea, how important it was for me, to have that experience be acknowledged by someone else. To have someone tell me, that yes you have every right to feel that way, how important it was to be heard and understood!
When I arrived at the hospital, I was so close to birthing my baby and in no condition to assert my rights.They preformed an Episiotomy on me, without me even realizing what was happening and then proceeded to just get my baby out, in a way that was most convenient for them! It suddenly made sense to me why I felt so violated, why I felt so angry!
Birth stirs up so many emotions in us, and the first few months after are an emotional rollercoaster ride until our hormones balance out. So having to deal with this sort of assault on my body, just makes it so much harder.
This is something we need to be talking about, because it has a huge affect on our well being and can really affect the relationship we have with our child. And yet it continues to be ignored, to be brushed under the carpet.
Birth is sacred and should never be treated as anything less. Every woman, needs to be treated like a Goddess when she is birthing her young and rebirthing herself. Anything else, is unacceptable in my eyes and I hope that one day, it will be in everyone else's as well.