I know you’re out there, those of you who care about birth, but don’t see yourself holding a sign and chanting, “Women do this every day!” You wonder how you can make a difference. How can you make things better when it comes to birth without getting the lobotomy it would require to create such a major personality change? I know this, because in many ways I am like you. I wanted to hide behind the shrubbery at the capitol building during our last rally when my comrades started chanting. And I know this because I’ve met you. I hear you quietly tell your story of why you care and how you try to spread the word and how you fear stepping on toes. So, this is for you my more introverted sisters (and brothers).
How can I improve birth without becoming an activist?
- Continue to inform yourself. Keep reading, researching, and learning. There are many websites, Facebook pages and blogs dedicated to sharing empowering and accurate information about birth. The more you know the more ready you’ll be to improve birth by sharing a resource or encouragement when the time comes. www.evidencebasedbirth.com
- Share your story. What do you have to say about birth? What led you to caring about birth? Mom’s share your birth story. Dads, share your birth story, your experience of your child’s birth. If it was a supported and empowered experience, you will let others know what is possible. If you weren’t treated well, if you weren’t yet informed of your options, you let others know it’s ok to speak up and encourage them to advocate for themselves and inform themselves in advance. You don’t have to stand on a stage, you don’t have to even say it out loud, but you can write it and share it with a friend or two, post it in a Facebook note, share it with a birth blog. If even one person has a second thought about the state of birth in our country, you will have improved birth. www.birthwithoutfearblog.com
- Be the voice of normal birth when media portrays it otherwise. We’ve all been there, with our friends and family, watching a movie or a TV show that portrays birth in inaccurate and unhelpful ways. All we need to say to make a difference in that moment is, “That’s not how it really is” or “It really doesn’t need to be like that.” For whomever is listening, you’ll have planted a tiny seed. A seed of doubt that media’s got this birth thing right and a seed of hope that birth doesn’t mean an embarrassing pool of water under your legs in the line at the supermarket followed by 12 hours of lying on your back and screaming. If one less person believes this to be a ‘normal’ birth experience, you’ve improved birth.
- Educate your children. You’re gonna have to have “the talk” with them and you’ve probably been thinking about since before the first time they noted that mommy and daddy look different, so go ahead and include birth in your conversations about reproduction. Here’s a great time to share their birth stories (and yearly on their birthdays as well:). Share some empowering birth videos. Do what it takes to let them know birth is normal, that it doesn’t need to be scary and that women’s bodies were made to do this. Not just your daughters, but your sons too; their future wives will thank you. We are talking about empowering your family for generations to come. This is some serious work! www.birthinternational.com and www.bradleybirth.com
- Get involved. There are many quiet ways to get involved in the work of a birth activist. You can find them here: www.improvingbirth.com, www.humanizebirth.com, www.facebook.com/iowabirthactivists
I share this list with you, because finally finding my voice in the world of improving birth has been empowering. I hope you will find something above that works for you and that you will soon be rewarded by hearing someone say, “I wouldn’t have… known that was an option/ hired a doula/ taken that class/ trusted birth/ chosen a midwife/ chosen a family friendly hospital/ tried for a VBAC/ shared my fears… if it weren’t for you.”