The experience of childbirth, is what sets male and female apart. It is the most important event in the life of a person. It is the complementary event to death. And when women give birth, the experience itself, is the closest thing that a person can feel or experience in terms of God-consciousness or God-likeness--you become a giver of life. I have watched it in awe and amazement. And although I am cognizant of the force or forces at work, which are greater than the mother or both of us, it is through her this is all happening. I have to honor that, and by extension or association, I must honor her--the divine feminine! I have seen the look on a woman's face when after labor she sees, touches the child for the first time--it's priceless. And if I was awestruck watching it, I can only imagine her feelings as the active participant. But it is an experience that males were not meant to have. Males have to reason, if we are reasonable, that the Supreme Being designed things the way they are for a reason, and so why would "He/She" make women or females the vessels of life, if they were not the best suited for it. That's a hell of a responsibility. There's got to be something special and unique about their constitution, their very being--the divine feminine.
I remember when I read the early church fathers' justification for women's inferiority. St Jerome said: “Woman is the gate of the devil, the path of wickedness, the sting of the serpent, in a word a perilous object.” St Augustine claimed man, not woman, was made in the image of God. He argued, women though biologically more complex by virtue of the womb alone, were incomplete beings and needed their male counterparts for completion, while men were complete unto themselves. St Thomas Aquinas, a the 13th-century Christian theologian, said woman was “created to be man’s helpmate, but her unique role is in conception . . . since for other purposes men would be better assisted by other men.” The italics are mind. These men are belittling and downplaying the very thing that males cannot do; moreover, how can they devalue the very being and process that got their asses here in the first place--a woman and the experience of childbirth. If ever there was a case to be made for human divinity, what better example or instance exist, other than childbirth? When I step back and further reason, I see that in fact, the entire reproductive process is unequally designed with females having greater responsibility than males. It is her body that houses, feeds, and protects the new life. It is the female that forms a unicity with all new life, both male and female. After the child is born, it is the female that provides the natural nourishment, and culturally she will continue that role as she is the main provider and preparer of foodstuffs, especially in traditional Afrikan cultures. In Afrikan cultures this pivotal or central role is what determined her closeness to God, her divinity even, and it led to the formation of matrifocal societies. Given that a man act reciprocally in the process of childbirth, he sends his seed, provides for the mother-to-be, and he protected the society as a whole, but it is easily and more obviously perceived whose role in childbirth is primary, and whose is secondary.
In Western cultures in the early part of the twentieth century, the allopathic medical community began a campaign against midwifery. This was simultaneously a campaign against the power of women, as most midwives were women, while the vast majority of doctors were men. At the time, 95% of deliveries occurred at home with midwives attendant. So, this was an institution building campaign, as well, as hospitals would replace the home as primary childbirth facilities. The campaign presented midwives as dirty, unclean, and as a poor option; while the allopathic medical establishment presented hospitals as the clean, safe option, with better trained professionals—doctors (and nurses). The truth was that at that time doctors, unlike midwives, received no hands-on training in birthing. Even today the great majority of doctors in the U.S. have never witnessed a natural birth.
Hospitals almost always intervene in the birth process, to make it as fast and profitable as possible. The costs of births in the U.S. are at least twice as high as any other country in the world, yet the results are essentially the worst in every category. The current average prices for different births, without the assistance of insurance are as follows: C-Section - $10,000 - $12,000; Vaginal delivery - $13,000; Home birth with midwife (all expenses) - $2,000 - $4,000. Doctors actually look for excuses to intervene, and unnecessary interventions are always dangerous. And allopathic medicine has a history of intervention with unforeseen consequences. For example, in the 1930's, X-rays were used on pregnant women until it was discovered that they gave the unborn children cancers. In the 1940's-1960's, morphine and scopolamine were administered successively to induce 'Twilight Sleep.' It was believed that this would change the experience of labor forever, by irradiating pain. In fact, it merely produced amnesia, so the women had no recollection of the event, along with producing a lack of self-control. This lead to women being placed in straight jackets and strapped down to beds, in order to stop them from hurting themselves, or the medical staff. It was not unusual for doctors to leave them in that condition for days -- sometimes laying in their own urine and feces. In the 1960s, the drug Thalidomide was given to pregnant women, which resulted in infants being born without arms and legs, or with other deformities. In the early '90s, Cytotec (misoprostol) was used to induce labor in women who had previously had a C-section. This caused thousands of women to suffer from ruptured uterus.' In 1999, this practice was abandoned, and since then Cytotec is used for abortions.
This attacks against midwives continued in the media for the next 30 years after it initially began, in spite of the statistical reality that midwife-assisted births were categorically safer than those conducted in hospitals, and by 1955, only 1% of U.S. births took place in the home. Child-birthing, in a matter of fifty years had changed from a home-based women-centered industry that was relatively uncomplicated and safe, into a hospital based, man-centered industry, that was becoming more and more profitable for doctors, and more and more complicated and dangerous for women, and infants. For example, today the U.S. has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world. The U.S. also has the highest maternal mortality rates.
- Petocin is used to induce the delivery prematurely (for doctor's convenience and golf schedule)
- The Petocin causes exaggerated unnatural pain
- An epidural is needed to reduce the extreme pain caused by the unnecessary pharmaceutical
- The epidural impairs the delivery, so even more Petocin is given
- The Petocin causes contractions to be more severe, and last for longer periods of time
- This combination compromises the oxygen and blood flow to the baby
- Women are placed in the on-the-back, legs-in-stirrups position, making labor even more difficult for women and babies, but most importantly, convenient for the doctors
- As the baby is increasingly stressed by all of these things, sometimes an emergency C-section becomes necessary
- Finally, the doctors then applaud themselves concerning how great their interventions were at saving a child who would have never been in danger in the first place without their "help".
Sarah Cain's article entitled "Why Americans Ought To Reevaluate What They Were (Falsely) Taught about Child Birth," which has served as a source for this blog, says: C-sections continue to rise in popularity for several reasons: 1) Labor has been demonized by Hollywood, and terror has been driven into expectant mothers; 2) Modern women often expect, and even hope for a C-section well before they enter the delivery room; 3) When women show discomfort with the prospect of a C-section, or with any other interventions by the doctors, they are told that the interventions are in the best interest of the baby; and 4) Mothers usually stop questioning the doctors out of concern for their unborn children. But statistically, vaginal births are much less dangerous than caesarian sections. Cain says, that C-sections are a major surgery, which often cause infections that do not respond well to antibiotics. Nevertheless, C-sections are the most common surgery performed on women, because they ironically help doctors to avoid lawsuits. In a lawsuit, the use of a C-section is supposed to prove to a jury that the doctor "did everything he could" to assist the baby and mother. "More often than not, the juries eat it up, and another doctor gets away with murder," says Cain.
Don't believe the hype! Midwifery is the way to go. Let's return to our traditions, even if the rest of the world wants to "make progress" in childbirth.