My grandmother talks to me about the days when women knew they were pregnant simply because they missed their period. They saw their doctor who confirmed their diagnosis like it was a disease. And then they returned to a hospital several months later to have their baby delivered by a doctor. That was it.
They laboured on their backs, alone in a cold, sterile room and most of the time strapped to a hospital bed. Gravity couldn’t help them, and labour was long and arduous. Almost all babies were ‘delivered’ by doctors, sometimes scissor happy ones who left deep wounds. Often emotional and physical.
Babies were whisked away. The sex of the baby, which was always a surprise, was announced by the doctor, the babies were cleaned, measured and named. And the baby’s dad was never around to witness this miracle. It’s been 65 years since she last gave birth, but my grandmother remembers it like it was yesterday.
How different things are now…
How far we, as women, have come that we can stand up and be heard. We are lucky to have such choice. Dads are allowed and welcomed into the birthing suite. And, the story we now tell our children about their birth is so different.
Today, we monitor pregnancies, test for a bunch of different conditions to ensure mama and baby are healthy. And we plan c-sections like we are having a cup of tea. There is constant ‘mummy beating’ for those who choose a c-section, as well as well as the obligatory ‘mummy beating’ for those who birth at home. And why? Shouldn’t we just be happy that the choice is ours? For each woman to decide what is best for her and her baby. What is best for her family.
The freedom of choice
In fact, today, we are blessed to have such choice that we can actually choose to go against medical advice and do things our own way. We can refuse tests. Refuse treatments. Birth on our own in the wilderness. Choose to birth on an operating table with a team of highly skilled surgeons. We can birth at 28 weeks’ gestation and have life-saving miracles performed on our little miracles. Or we can birth at 43 weeks’ gestation and know that there is a team of highly skilled professionals who will jump in at a moment’s notice if needed.
How lucky we are.
And so I pay homage. To those who have spent decades fighting for our freedom of choice. To the trailblazers who advanced c-section technology and to the other trailblazers that reminded us how to instinctively listen to our bodies, work with them and naturally push out our babies. And to everyone in between.
Every year, I sit down with my little ones and retell them the story of how they came into this world. I am so grateful that the stories I tell my children of their births, is one of freedom in my own choices.
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