Say What You Mean

For the sake of birth in our society, for the sake of future generations, to benefit families across America - Recognize the power of language.

How we speak, how we interpret, how we view birth matters. It truly makes a difference for people around us and for future generations.

When we say "I had to" what does this proclaim? 

"I had to have a cesarean."

"I had to be induced."

"I had to ....."

What about "let me"

"My doctor said he'd let me push in whatever position I wanted."

"My midwife said she'd let me decline xyz."

This paradigm teaches future generations, and those around us, that it is not their birth, it is that of the institution. We proclaim that others own our body and give us permission for what we can and cannot do with it. Semantics are incredibly powerful. The more prudent, family-centered, and empowering terminology, to any birth choice would be, "I chose"; "For the health of my baby, I chose"; "What was best for me was electing...."; "My provider supports my choice to follow my body's cues for pushing."; "I plan to accept or decline xyz."

Let's practice

Session One: Induction

For the sake of argument, let's say that induction is medically necessary.

In the case of a suggested medical induction, family-centered semantics might be, "I chose to be induced based on my care provider's recommendation" which replaces the current paradigm of, "I had to be induced"

Session Two: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)

"You've had a cesarean, so you'll always need cesareans." Or "I support VBAC, you'll just need to go into labor by 39 weeks."

The empowering approach might be, "Thanks for your insight, I'm not sure how I feel about that yet." Or, "What is the likelihood of spontaneous labor beginning at that time?" At this point in time, if you recognize that an old idea, which is not evidence-based, might not be the best choice for you, a search for a truly supportive provider might be on your to-do list. Perhaps you're perfectly fine with this approach to childbirth, and so many around you are advocating for VBAC's and care that improves mother-baby outcomes, making your desire for a cesarean feel challenged. In that case, family-centered language might say, "I prefer to elect a repeat cesarean section (RCS). It's the best choice for my family." 

Session Three: Bodily Autonomy

Replace "Can I push in whatever position I want?" with "Are you capable of supporting women who push in a variety of positions?"

Instead of "My provider is letting me......" try "My provider supports my wishes..."

Why is this so important?

The fact remains, that not every person would make the same choice you made, even based on the same recommendation. Each person is empowered upon hearing a recommendation to do their research, look within, seek a second opinion, pray, or whatever their general go-to method is.

Why is this so imperative?

Because it IS your choice to allow or decline a suggested treatment. There is value in informed consent AND refusal. When we "have to" do something with our bodies, the autonomy is stripped away, the respect is amiss, the power is taken away. TAKE BACK responsibility for your birth- after all, it's your body, your baby, your birth, your choice. Birth is not that of the institution, birth belongs to women.