Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Birth control / controlling birth

Yesterday I was musing on the idea of controlling birth. Along with accusations of being selfish, narcissistic, irresponsible, horribly misinformed, or tragically brainwashed, home birthers also are accused of wanting to control their birth. Women submitting hospital birth plans get accused of this, too. You can't control birth. Birth is [fill in the blank...dangerous, unpredictable, chaotic, messy, etc.] Thinking you can control birth is delusional. Labor & delivery nurses have a common lore that the longer and more detailed the birth plan, the more likely the woman will end up with a cesarean.

Being in control was very important to me. It was probably the primary reason I chose to have all four of my children at home.

But here's what I mean when I speak about being in control:

The control comes in setting up my birth environment and the people who will be with me so that once I am in labor, the only task I have to focus on is working with the contractions. Home birth gave me the freedom to let go entirely during labor and just be in the moment.

I didn't have to fight any battles over monitoring or what I was allowed to eat or drink. I didn't have to wonder if the nurse or doctor would understand, let alone allow, my style of birthing. I didn't have to worry about any strangers coming into my space. I didn't have to be constantly vigilant to be sure my wishes were respected.  I didn't have to argue, negotiate, compromise, refuse, or accept. I just labored in peace. Being in control let me give up control entirely once labor began.

Control => autonomy

Control => freedom of thought, movement, time, and space

Control => the ability to let go entirely and to allow labor to unfold spontaneously


  1. That's nice, until your midwife does a forced exam on you or otherwise abuses you. Then it didn't matter at all. THAT is what it means to not have control over birth- you can't control what other people do or the biological outcome. Period. Its the human condition.

  2. Skeptifem, since that's the case, it seems even more important to control how many people you have to interact with during birth, who those people are, and what environment you birth in based on your own medical issues and comfort. I was abused by a hospital based midwife. No environment can protect you from that. But I did control so much more of my birth than most of my friends who had babies around the same time because I consciously made choices to have that control.


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