Somehow WordPress swallowed this post. Last week the Ohio Families for Safe Birth (see www.safebirthohio.org) held a performance benefit at Aquarius Star books and Cafe. The event was organized by Lauren Wales, and was called “The Yoni Show.”
I attended it with a friend because I support the basic cause passionately.
I fully support mothers’ and families’ legal right to choose natural safe home births. In fact, I have extreme difficulty imagining how any intelligent person wouldn’t support this, unless they just happened not to think the matter through, or were simply not exposed to reliable information on the advantages of natural midwife assisted births.
It should be an available choice for those mothers who want to experience this. Many mothers who have experienced natural home births have nothing but praises for it.
I attended the benefit show with a friend, who herself had a legal home birth in Canada, assisted by an experienced midwife and doula, an experience so positive that she would never trade for anything. It included a range of performances from local dancers, poets, spoken word artists, one scruffy shaman, musicians including one quite good Desi Tabla player, and the overarching theme of it all was the sacredness of birth and motherhood as a foundational aspect of life, and a woman’s absolute right to be able to choose how she wants to birth her baby.
I support this 100%. In the state of Ohio, and increasingly through much of the country, home birth is being outlawed and licensed midwifery is being legally done away with. Birthing, already largely institutionalized, is being restricted to a narrow set of not only expensive, but also violently invasive options that often alienates women from the natural experience of childbirth.
I support the cause the event represented. As to the event itself, it was very sincerely performed in earnest.
While it honestly wasn’t my speed, being somewhat a bit new agey and goddessy, I was able to appreciate some things about it. The MC, who also had one incredible dance piece, was exquisitely and radiantly beautiful. Her dancing had an incredible grace to it. The tabla player, Alok Narayana, was very proficient.
The part I appreciated the most was Lauren Wales’s spoken word piece. My understanding is that in the past she’s had some experience in midwifery, and spoke powerfully from a place colored by the birthing experiences she’d witnessed. It was the only piece that actually moved me.
Being a pedant, I noticed an event announcement mentioned “yoni being the Sanskrit term for vagina“.
Strictly speaking that’s not fully accurate, though the yarn certainly makes its way around neo-Tantric circles. Yoni can designate the vulva, but on a deeper level it often designates the womb, it also can carry the meaning of home place, birthplace, a thing’s derivation or foundation. So the usage of Vulva (not strictly speaking Vagina) is obviously derivative of an older stratum of meaning. The preference of using the word to denote a vagina (and the inability to differentiate between the vulva, and the vagina) is something that puzzles me, among Westerners interested in a sort of neo-Tantric, neo-Hindu spirituality.
In the case of this event, considering the interest in the sacrality of motherhood and birth, it would make more sense if the word’s primary significance as womb was presented. This isn’t a petty point, Western perceptions of Hinduism often loll in the idea that Yoni worship is literally the worship of vaginae, whilst it’s actually the veneration of the female principle itself, en divinis, for which the vulva in some cases can be symbolic.
Of course those awfully fond of worshiping ‘giners sometimes tend to see “amrita” (a Sanskrit word that originally corresponded roughly to the Persian/Indic Haoma/Soma, but that modern Western neo-tantrics have appropriated for the fluid emerging from a woman in her ejaculatory orgasm), as some sort of holy libation or suchlike. Sometimes a good cum is just a good come, and one needed worship it.
Now I mentioned that I support the basic cause.
I’m not being a hippy-dippy flake here. One of my best friends chose to have a home birth, it was painful and for her perhaps the most meaningful and refreshing experience of her life. The pain of a natural childbirth wasn’t something traumatic, it was something soul affirming. The fact that for 40,000 some odd years Homo Sapiens have collectively given birth naturally and somehow things managed to go well isn’t a trivial point. The wanton tendency of doctors to force C-Sections on women who do not need it, out of impatience for the process. Somehow in the last decade or so this has mysteriously become the norm, with roughly 65% of women being subjected to a C-Section. However ‘safe’ the procedure is, it’s not without risks, and is an invasive procedure, and essentially often involves a medical professional making a decision to subject a patient, the mother, to something she did not consent to.
I contend there is a knowing rhetorical blowing smoke up the fanny effect here, in which an attitude of omniscience and superiority is taken.
Look, I know the score about this stuff, and frankly the scare tactics out there on the supposed dangers of natural birth are specious.
I come from a medical family, my father was a doctor, I have physicians among cousins and uncles as well. One was a dean at a rather well known medical school. Many female family members have been nurses. I have several friends who are, or were medical students, and/or who come from medical families. A general awareness of medical matters, thus, sort of floats in the air. I’m not impressed with the anti-natural birth rhetoric.
Some of these people have commented on the fact, that while there are good doctors and nurses, there are also such things as institutional biases. It’s not difficult for a sort of partial blindness to some areas of human life to set in. Many have also noted an increasingly paternalistic and arrogant tendency of some physicians to arbitrarily assume an attitude of superiority over patients. Physician friends of mine have even commented on this, and themselves find it disturbing.
This affects badly the public’s trust on medical practitioners.
Which in turn makes it difficult for the good doctors to have their advice even heeded in the first place.
There is no reason why a woman who wants a natural birth should not get it, the length of time a natural delivery takes is not a valid objection, unless the doctor is utterly morally bankrupt, in which case he/she really ought not be practicing in a field founded upon ethics from the get go.
So I support licensed midwifery, it’s quite common in Canada, has proven to be very safe, and most objections to it seem based on outright ignorance and a willful desire not to look into all aspects of the issue. My own father once told me hospitals were among the most dangerous places he could think of, from medical practitioner mistakes, to strange flesh eating antibiotics resistant infectious bacteria, he honestly – as a very experienced medical practitioner – had somewhat of a fear of hospitals and preferred clinical settings – or at least this I remember him mentioning to me in the months before he died.
Licensed and legal midwifery makes sense, it does not make sense to burden the public already in financial crisis with additional layers of institutionalization of functions that can be, and have been, performed at homes in a loving safe environment.
People who want to join OFSB can go to www.safebirthohio.org, and click the “join” button. They are heavily lobbying the state in Columbus and I’m hopeful the government will see the immense advantages in allowing the legal option of Safe and Certified Natural Home Birth
Shouldn’t people, mothers like yours and mine, have this option if they want it?