When Delivering an Infant, Women Deserve Choice

As American women are well aware, there has been a great deal of controversy lately about birth control and the freedom of women to make decisions about their reproductive health. Ina May Gaskin, founder of the Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee and author of numerous books about how to achieve a safe home birth, argues that womenís choices are limited when they decide to deliver a child, as well.

In†this interview with reporter Amy Goodman, Gaskin explains that, in the United States, nearly two-thirds of maternal deaths are not reported to the CDC. According to the measurement used, Gaskin says, the U.S. ranks fortieth or fiftieth in maternal deaths.† She argues that this is the case because the American medical system views labor as a medical emergency where the goal, she says, is just to get the infant out of the woman.† Mainstream medicine, she says, fails to take into account the profundity of the experience or the emotional and psychological state of the woman.† As a result, doctors approach labor from a cold and distanced perspective that lacks the innate wisdom of someone like a midwife.† Without this wisdom, doctors may overlook signs that could give them insight into the womanís condition.† This leads to mistakes like unnecessary caesarean sections and, in turn, maternal death, Gaskin suggests.

Gaskin makes a powerful argument.† Indeed, the practice of delivering a baby in a hospital equates the experience with illness and injury. Doctors and nurses often approach labor as something dangerous. Of course, medical complications can occur during delivery, but childbirth is a natural, routine part of life.† Unless there are complications, childbirth is nothing to be afraid of, though many women have been taught by our media and our medical system to fear it.

The medical industry often disregards intuitive wisdom and treats healthcare as something coldly scientific. It is for this reason that many natural remedies and relatively minor treatments like changes in diet are often looked down upon by mainstream medicine. Furthermore, many doctors have so little time with their patients that they are unable to discuss the patientís insights, which often reveal an intuitive wisdom that may point to a more effective course of treatment.

To be sure, scientific knowledge and expertise are extremely important when it comes to practicing medicine.† But medical practitioners must understand that they are working with complex human beings, not androids.† Treating an illness should be seen as gaining a holistic understanding of that illnessís root causes, not just prescribing drugs or surgery to treat the symptoms.† Likewise, childbirth should not be seen as simply coaxing the infant out of the womb.† And it certainly should not be equated with a medical emergency.† It should be understood as a wonderful, life-affirming experience that should be celebrated, not feared.

Midwifery, on the other hand, views childbirth not as something frightening, but as a beautiful part of normal life.† Delivering a child at home may also put the woman at ease, as she is in a familiar setting. Finally, taking childbirth out of a medical setting and returning it to the home demonstrates to other women who may be present that the experience is not an emergency.† In turn, those women may be less likely to fear their own childbirth experiences.

Furthermore, many women are now preparing for†orgasmic births. Because delivering a baby stimulates the vagina in a manner similar to sexual stimulation, some women experience orgasm at the moment of delivery Ė if they are not wracked with anxiety.† Bringing a child into the world is a joyous experience, and it is appropriate that it would be accompanied by pleasure.† Certainly, orgasmic births are not always pain-free, but pleasure is experienced at the moment when the infant emerges.† Of course, a woman cannot plan to have an orgasm during delivery.† But she can create an environment that will make it more likely.† This includes delivering in a location that does not feel foreign or frightening and taking steps to create a feeling of calmness, rather than fear.

Childbirth is one of the most natural experiences in life. But by equating it with medical emergencies and treating it as something to be endured rather than celebrated, and plowed through as quickly as possible, we cause women to be irrationally fearful of it and to be emotionally detached from the experience as it happens.

The process of deciding where to deliver oneís child is highly personal. Many women are comforted by the presence of medical professionals. The question, therefore, should not be whether it is better to deliver at home or in a hospital.† Rather, we should be asking medical professionals what they can do to change their perspectives on childbirth and create more natural, comforting environments for women during labor.



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Sheri J.
Sheri J5 years ago

Women should have the right to choose how they want to give birth and who they want present. If people can not respect your decision, don't involve them because they will stress you out during your pregnancy. If you don't want a male doctor, then get a female one. If you want to give birth in a tent, in nature, at home, at birthing center, have a hypnobirth, at the hospital, it is your choice.

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago


Rebecca S.
Rebecca S5 years ago

women having orgasms while giving birth?....sounds a bit strange. @Teresa, actually giving birth can be safer than a c-section, just due to the risk of infection related to surgery. Not to mention women having c-sections take much longer to recover that those giving birth.

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda5 years ago

One does not deliver a baby, one is not a stork. The expression comes from: delivering a woman from her travail.
Caesarean section is sometimes absolutely necessary and as a true emergency to save either the mother's or the baby's life or both. In many obstructed labors the baby can be saved from a lifetime of being "not quite right" and the parents from having children that a trouble to them and to themselves as well to schools and society at large. I have done a quite number of post mortems on babies that should have had caesarean sections. Their brains were full of hemorrhages and often the tentorium cerebelli was torn. That is the membrane that seperates the crebellum from the rest of the brain.
One of the conditions that is often not recognized by midwives is Incoordinated labor. I this the uterus does not contract from the top downwards, but starts in the middle and just squeezes the baby for about three minutes with a very short break before squeezing again. The baby's pulse rate falls to very low as the baby is near death for as long as it takes. The mother's uterus can tear, leading to rapid maternal death and the baby born after such a labor, especially if it is prolonged will certainly be "not quite right". The midwives do not recognize this intensely strong and painful labor as "doing anything" because the cervix does not dilate.
This is one of the reasons that there should be an obstetrician in attendance, or at least someone on whom the midwives could call to

Maggie Kearns
Maggie Kearns5 years ago

I was blessed to deliver my daughter at home with a wonderful midwife. My backup doctor was able to do homebirths in his native Canada,but not here in the US. He was very suppotive. Ina May was one of my heroes.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Male doctors love to call the shots.

Vicky P.
Vicky P5 years ago


Patricia Garcia Ces
Patricia Ces5 years ago

Very interesting!!

a             y m.
g d c5 years ago


paula eaton
paula eaton5 years ago

Women deserve choices with their delivery choices and birth control.