There is a lot of talk of Australia’s maternity system and how change is needed to make it better. The conservatives try to work change into the existing system, while the radicals actively fight the system in the hopes that resistance will force change. Others choose to step up onto soapboxes to bring issues into the public arena in hopes of drawing on the power of the people to support the push for change.
In the skirmish of the birth revolution, everyone will seek their own agendas, often to the point where it is forgotten that the only ones that matter in the revolution are the mothers – and their unique, individualistic needs.
Mothers as Agents of the Birth Revolution
Mothers are in a vulnerable position when they are pregnant, giving birth, or have a baby in their care. They are vulnerable because there is only one thing in the world that is going to take priority for them, and that is their baby. This vulnerability makes it easy for mothers to end up being coerced, pressured, threatened, intimidated, or their own knowledge, wants, and needs undermined. The needs, experiences, and health of both mother and baby are all entwined into one, and this cannot be separated without injury to one other. Injuries like these to mothers spread in ripples affecting babies, children, men, other women, and society.
If you are a mother, the only thing that matters in the birth revolution is what you want, and what you know you need (regardless of what that is). If you are not a mother, then you are simply either a woman or a man with your own ideas of what you think is required for these mothers. To each individual mother, your ideas are irrelevant.
The power to determine what happens to her body resides with the mother. This remains true even if there is a baby in her body or one coming out of her body. See Rights of Childbearing Women for more information. It is the mother alone who can be a true agent of the birthing revolution – because she has the insurmountable power to stop everything in its tracks.
She can refuse.
She can refuse to use the maternity system as it is. She can refuse to stand and fight for herself and her baby during a time where she needs to go inward to birth. She can take her power, and walk out the door. She can have her baby the same way she created it – in the privacy of her home, with her partner. Mothers also have birthing power. They do not need anyone else to dictate to them how they will birth. Their bodies will, and can give birth without assistance.
And that, is a truly radical notion in Australia’s current birthing revolution.
If the majority of women were to exercise their will like this (and this is a physiological possibility as the majority of women can give birth just fine without help) we would be looking at a forced change in the social order. It is unavoidable. When mothers give birth in autonomy, they realise something. They have power, and this power has nothing to do with conquering the world or dominating others. This power is of a much more personal and intimate nature. It reminds women of what they once were, before patriarchy came along.
This is a scary thing for our society. Mothers are women. And women coming into their power like this, is something lots of women and men both do not understand. It is scary because birthing in power like this opens the floodgates for women to be their truly authentic selves. To exercise their own personal power. To breathe it. To live it. To change the world for themselves. It would certainly upset the social order in so many other areas. This is dangerous to these currently trying to preserve old habits, broken systems and rigid ways of being and thinking.
To protect the current status quo, mothers are coerced into giving up autonomy when they talk about what they want. They are told they are being selfish and are only thinking of themselves. If mothers stand and fight in the birth revolution, or exercise their right to say no, they are told they are putting their baby at risk. When mothers who have opted out of the maternity system talk about the power of birthing, they are accused of being dangerous, power-mad and uncaring.
Refusing to utilise the current maternity system and freebirthing on a large scale removes power from the maternity system. It is a powerful way to revolt – by making the personal, political.
Freebirth means the agents of the current maternity system have to start listening to mothers, and working for mothers. After all, if a mother cannot have the birth she needs and wants within this system, she can and will abandon the maternity system altogether along with its rigid, inflexible agents.
Think about it. Sometimes there is more strength in walking away than there is in fighting or playing good girl.