When Providers Fear Birth

Behind many instances of women abused in childbirth is their provider’s fear of naturally unfolding birth, and their fear of being unnecessary.

Abuse is about control. Simply, it’s boundary violation. Unnecessary c-sections – risky, life-changing surgery on a woman’s womb – are a huge boundary violation. But the way providers go about them, calling them “routine,” checking in on you just once, 6 weeks after, they’re marketed as downright insignificant. Yet, it’s vaginal birth that hospital providers seem scared of. During labor, providers intervene with excessive monitoring, scare-tactics, use of force, tranquilizers (Fentanyl), genital mutilation (episiotomies, the husband stitch).

This environment of controlling women’s wombs is simply fear of birth and fear of women birthing without their help. It comes down to a fear of women’s power, and sometimes an outright contempt for women who acknowledge their bodily autonomy. Fear and misogyny go hand in hand.

But why? Who loses when women lead birth?

Industry. Profit. Patriarchy. Oppression. All those systems will lose, and women will thrive. If women don’t buy into the fear of their own bodies, their own power, then we will stop relying on the paternalistic obstetric system. If we realize most of the time we don’t need help – at least, not unnecessary harm disguised as help – then providers will be much of the time unnecessary. Providers who have sunk thousands in debt to feed the their need to be a part of birth, part of birthing humanity.

So much power to behold.

Somewhere along the line, they likely realize that they are assistants and observers of the power of birth. They are not birthing. They are not doing. They are watching. And when they want to feel more involved, more part of the powerful process, they intervene. They are simply going after what they can’t have. They want the credit, they want to save, they want to “DELIVER” us. All of this, such a paternalistic, outsider’s view of birth. Birth, so powerful, beautiful and monumental.

If this is what a birthing woman can do, where do *I* fit in?

Women have been objectified for so long that a woman birthing by herself must look like a car that self-drives, self-fixes. Terrifying and impossible, especially to the mechanic whose identity is wrapped up in being The Mechanic.

Published by sectionmama

I write about American maternity care, sexism, pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.

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