This homebirth story proves just how f**king privileged natural childbirth advocates are


Nothing demonstrates the incredible privilege and mind boggling self-absorption of Western, white natural childbirth advocates than the belief that giving birth at home is an accomplishment.

The (undoubtedly privileged) folks at Sammiches & Psych Meds credulously report this mother’s unassisted homebirth, This Home Birth Story Proves Just How F**king Strong Moms Are:

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Women like Marissa who have homebirths are not f**king strong, they’re just f**king privileged and they dont’ even have the decency to acknowledge it.[/pullquote]

In the photo, Marissa looks gorgeous – you would never guess she just endured a 36-hour, drug-free labor …

Then what? When the magic moment was upon them, Marissa trusted her body and let it do the pushing as she sat on the toilet after attempting to remain in bed and couldn’t because it “felt too ‘unnatural.’” The head descended and as she felt that uncomfortable ‘ring of fire’ feeling, she stood up, held onto a towel rack and delivered her baby.

Marissa boasts:

“I’ve never felt so powerful and accomplished in my entire life. Our bodies are truly amazing!!” Ain’t that the damn truth!

No, it’s not the truth; it is so selfish and clueless as to be ugly.

Why isn’t birth an accomplishment for the hundreds of thousands of women do the exact same thing every day, or die trying as in the image above from Afghanistan? Those are black women, brown women, poor women. They have no choice but to labor in excruciating pain at home without possibility of relief and die in agony if the baby doesn’t fit, or bleed to death from massive hemorrhage, or suffocate, racked by the seizures of eclampsia. Just how f**king strong are they?

According to NATO of Canada:

Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world with 117.23 deaths per 1 000 live births! The maternal mortality rate is the 22nd highest in the world with 460 deaths per 100 000 live births. This is certainly an improvement from 1 400 deaths per 100 000 live births in 2008 when the Taliban was in power, but it is not nearly enough of an improvement.

Are Afghan women empowered by birth? Hardly, but they don’t count because the “accomplishment” is not giving birth and surviving. It’s having access to excellent health care and state of the art pain relief and then refusing it.

How about the women who are permanently disabled by childbirth? How about Esther?

Esther gave birth to her second child, Manuel, less than one year ago. She was encouraged to stay at home to deliver the baby, where she labored for three days with the help of a traditional birth attendant. Fortunately, she gave birth to a lively baby boy. However, after four days she noticed she was leaking urine and was unable to control it…

Her husband decided that he couldn’t tolerate the smell of Esther in the house, so he left her and went away to Uganda with their cattle. Her in-laws asked her to leave the house and so she was forced to return home with her mother.

Esther “trusted her body” exactly the same way that Marissa did. If anything, her experience was much more difficult because it lasted longer and she had no choice but to endure it. How f**king strong is Esther? How powerful and accomplished is she while leaking urine into her vagina from an obstetric fistula?

Oh, right, we’ve already established that black, brown and poor women from developing countries don’t accomplish anything by giving birth without medical care because it is the refusal of medical care that’s the “accomplishment” not the birth itself.

Lest you think that maternal morbidity and mortality are problems only in the developing world, reading the ProPublica/NPR series on US maternal mortality should set you straight. The most recent piece is How Hospitals Are Failing Black Mothers:

Researchers have found that women who deliver at these so-called “black-serving” hospitals are more likely to have serious complications — from infections to birth-related embolisms to emergency hysterectomies — than mothers who deliver at institutions that serve fewer black women…

ProPublica did its own analysis …

We, too, found the same broad pattern identified in previous studies — that women who hemorrhage at disproportionately black-serving hospitals are far more likely to wind up with severe complications, from hysterectomies, which are more directly related to hemorrhage, to pulmonary embolisms, which can be indirectly related…

This is not the developing world, and it isn’t the world of rural poverty.

We found, for example, that SUNY Downstate, where 90 percent of the women who give birth are black, has one of the highest complication rates for hemorrhage across all three states. On average, 34 percent of women who hemorrhage while giving birth at New York hospitals experience significant complications. At SUNY Downstate, it’s 62 percent.

Just how f**king strong are those black women suffering hemorrhages, hysterectomies and death?

Oops, I forgot; they don’t count because they’re black and many are poor. In order to be “f**king strong, you must be white, privileged and have easy access to the highest quality medical care.

Many people have professed themselves to be shocked by the ProPublica/NPR series, but there’s nothing new there. Black women have been dying in the US for lack of high risk obstetrical care for decades.

Why has no one been paying attention? Because the provision of obstetric care has been warped by the natural childbirth industry of privileged white women. They believe that when it comes to obstetric care “less is more.” They believe that refusing obstetric care is a sign of power, when, in reality, it is nothing more than a sign of privilege.

Black women don’t fit that narrative. For them, less isn’t more; it isn’t even enough to save their lives.

Their tragedies have been ignored. The public health discussion has been dominated by those who decry the C-section rate and the rate of other interventions, the obsessions of the privileged.

Homebirth is the designer handbag of birth. Owning a designer handbag doesn’t make a woman powerful or accomplished; it simply a sign of status for those women who already have power and privilege. Women like Marissa are not f**king strong, they’re just f**king privileged and they don’t even have the decency to acknowledge it.