Here’s a common refrain I’m seeing a lot of these days in the online world: “I’d love to have a home birth, but my husband is against it, so how can I go about having a natural birth in the hospital?” The husbands seem to usually be against it because they’re “afraid of something going wrong.” And the women seem to throw in the towel so easily! What’s going on here?
When did we women allow men to take over birth and birthing decisions? I know the whole history of modern obstetrics becoming medicine’s most lucrative industry and virtually obliterating midwifery and woman-centered birth practices; it’s outrageous enough that we’ve been conditioned as a society to believe that pregnancy and birth are inherently pathological, and best-managed by a male-dominated medical specialty. But it goes beyond that: not only does a mostly male population of doctors control birth in Western culture, husbands and male significant others are apparently dominating the decision-making at home, some even going so far as to push their wives to get epidurals because “it’s not fair to make [him] have to watch her suffer.” Are you fucking kidding me? There’s something really wrong with this.
I understand wanting one’s partner to be on board with whatever big decisions need to be made in the life of a couple or family. I understand having enough respect for one’s co-parent to want him to be part of the decision-making effort. Why in the world, though, would his opinions and fears (which are unfounded, by the way) trump? He is in possession of neither a womb or a vag; he will never grow a baby in his body, and he will never, ever give birth – neither in a hospital nor in a bedroom nor in the woods, with or without drugs.
I’m just going to say it: men need to shut up and let women choose how and where to give birth. Birth is women’s business. Ladies, would you let your husband decide if you use pads or tampons when you get your monthly? We deserve autonomy over our bodies. Isn’t that something we’ve spent years and years fighting for? Assuming we women are in our right minds and have all of our faculties about us, you, Men, need to respect us enough to trust that we won’t make decisions concerning the well-being of our offspring lightly, that we are not being reckless, and that we actually do know best – certainly better than you, oh wombless, vag-less man – about our reproductive and birthing capabilities – about something so intrinsically female.
Before you put the kibosh on how the mother of your offspring wants to give birth, before you make a decision based on fear (and possibly negatively impact what will be a life-altering experience for her, potentially influencing everything from how she sees herself as a woman and mother to how she bonds with her baby), do yourself a favor and do your homework. You are almost certainly basing your feelings on misinformation. Really. And even if it’s still out of your comfort zone, respect her enough to trust her.
Ladies, take back birth. It’s your body that’s going to go through this, not anybody else’s.