Our visit to a home birth gathering

Our home "birthing center"

Image by bbaltimore via Flickr

We went to a home birth gathering yesterday, it was both enlightening and alarming. Hearing people’s stories of their home birth experiences was fantastic and uplifting. The alarming thing was the same people’s accounts of the underhand scare tactics they have suffered at the hand’s of doctors and other so called medical expeerts under the guise of benevolent concern.

Now let me make it clear that this post is not about admonishing the entire medical profession. However judging all these diiferent people accounts and our experience it appears that birth defects are big business in any obstetrician’s practice.

I heard a grim tale of a woman who was forced to have an emergency c-section due to some irregularity with her baby, the c-section took place two days later! Hardly an emergency.

Hearing the stories of midwifes and mother’s alike was really shocking. So many of them had been lied to. I sat in fascination as these people recounted one sly trick after another that we have to be aware of in order to actually have a home birth without interference. The unscrupulous skulduggery these people had endured at the hands of medical experts (which of course all resulted in expensive procedures) was terrifying. Apparently Cape Town has the highest unnecessary C-section rate in South Africa and of course a C-section is most expensive way to give birth.

The most important insight I took from the experience was that being pregnant is not a condition that needs to be treated like some kind of disease and some doctors are rapidly making it so, which of course keeps them firmly in the pound seat. Of course are amazing when there is a problem however problems. The point being being ‘when there is a problem’. They do not appear to be so good at handling a normal healthy pregnancy.

Further more the way people are treated in the current system is inherently infantilizing because we are not really allowed to make any decisions at all. Our babies are not even allowed to decide when they want to be born anymore (a lot of babies are induced these days at convenient times so doctors do not have to get up in the middle of the night to deliver them) and so the chain continues from parent to child. Its no wonder people are struggling to be parents these days its hard to be an adult when your treated like a kid.

From my point of view we live in a culture of obedience and for the most part our obedience ensures survival. We learn through imitation so it was not surprising to me that the majority of home birth advocates at the gathering had all been born at home themselves.

We listen to men in white coats like they are strange gods and everything they say is honest and full of integrity like the blue eyed doctors on TV. The financial reality of a successful medical practice it appears is a different thing entirely, honest advice and integrity evidently don’t always pay for the BMW’s and skiing holidays.

If we probe further it is clear this infantilization of people at large does not stop at doctors. You only have to look at the world of consumerism and the advent of the internet to see that today more than ever we are being told what to do and what to buy. These days everything we look at online is used by companies to make helpful suggestions to us of stuff we might want. Good or bad?

It appears to me that the growth of the global economy is based on the systematic infantilization of people, to the point where we are simply mindless consumers who will buy and do anything we are told to. Unfortunately we are a lot closer to that than we like to think, but hey forget about it go and buy something and you will feel better.

It is no coincidence that as a consequence of this infantilzation,  people for the most part are struggling more than ever with mature, committed, long term relationships and divorce has become increasingly normalized along with infidelity.

Based on my own brief experiences I think that when a man goes through the medical birthing process with a partner he is exposed to numerous experiences that make him feel childish and as a consequence, impotent because he has absolutely no say in anything and it doesn’t really matter how he feels for the most part.

Firstly he is pushed aside by the doctor who immediately begins an exclusive relationship with his partner and all he can do about it is spectate.  The knowledge the doctor has and the power he exerts in his domain make him the clear alpha male. All of this is profoundly emasculating for a man.

Pushed aside no longer needed like a teenager ignored and sent to the kids table, he starts to feel impotent. The easiest way for a man to feel like a man again is of course sexual conquest. So off he goes to find a member of the female species he can hunt and dominate to restore his damaged self-concept as a potent male.

I heard recently that the majority of unfaithful men cheat on their partners in the first year of their kids life’s, I believe this could be the reason why. Whats more once the baby is born the man can again find himself playing third wheel to his wife and child.

Just as  most animals will not nurture their young if tainted by others a man experiences the same thing. His parental instincts are left dormant due to lack of involvement and no paternal bond is created with his child. Furthermore this can force the mother of the child  into a position where the child is to blame for what has happened to her man because everything was fine before it came along.

We have a problem people, it is industrialization of birth.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Steven Grindlay
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 18:55:39

    Michael a worthy post indeed well written as always. I’m not so sure I can agree entirely with your criticism of the medical profession. In truth I have known a great many truly compassionate and honourable physicians…while I agree that there is a medical elite. I think the deification of the medical profession is for a large part brought about by our own unwillingness to accept responsibility for our own health and our own lifestyles. When we abdicate the throne of responsible self-determination, by default we become the vasals of others. When we refuse to make intelligent choices on our own behalf, in whichever facet of our lives, we empower others to make those choices for us. Of course this is a generalisation and has nothing to do with your present circumstances …tell em to “shove it up their jacksie.”


  2. Are You Pregnant
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 21:09:48

    This is a well written post! I know one thing – If you are pregnant then cut down on Caffeine. Research shows that too much caffeine can reduce your ability to absorb iron and increase your risk for stillbirth. Avoid coffee, tea, and colas or switch to decaf to increase your chances of getting pregnant.


  3. dadtobe28
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 07:21:25

    Greetings Steve and thank you for your thought provoking post.

    I totally agree with your not agreeing with what you perceived as my criticism of the entire medical profession. Goodness knows I owe my life and my ability to walk (fractured spine) to some amazing doctors. What I am focusing on specifically is the industrialization of birth.
    It appears to be increasingly difficult to make intelligent choices on our behalf when it comes to what is right for us as families when we are going through the birthing process.
    Unfortunately many people are told they can do what they want and then when its too late to change their minds forced to do things in the medical way.
    So I agree definitely some shoving to do in certain areas. The important thing for me is to be aware of is that if we want to do things differently we need to stay alert.


    Aug 24, 2010 @ 15:07:18

    birthing is natural and free, seems it as going on for along time without the help of the medical proffesion


  5. Trackback: Journal of a 28 year old Dad to be…

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