Birth: An Emerging Butterfly

Birth is like an emergence from the life of a caterpillar and into a butterfly. Life as we once knew it changes forever. A new part of ourselves is awakened, wings emerge, and we fly into this world as a changed being. This happens for all who give birth, whether their baby is injured, healthy, or lost. Each birthing person’s experiences impacts their life as the ‘butterfly’ and as such, it’s essential that it’s handled as intricately as an emerging butterfly should be.

Birth in and of itself being treated like a medical event and/or an emergency is a major problem in our over-medicalized/hospitalist culture. Way too many people have been told that their lives, or the lives of their babies, were saved, when in reality the issues were iatrogenic (induced unintentionally by a medical provider).

The reality is that many of these issues where birthing people and their babies are allegedly in danger, it’s due to medical error or unnecessary/routine intervention. Medical error in general, is the third leading cause of death in the US, yet birthing people look to medical providers as the ones to make their health choices for them and this should not be so. We should only seek out medical assistance when we need more information in which to make the decision for ourselves; being willing to seek out second and third opinions. The medical provider would then perform what we decide should be done and we pay them for that service. Many of the issues faced in assisted birth, would not be faced if bodies were allowed to do what they were created to do – both by the birthing person and their medical provider.

There are situations when the need for assistance may arise. In these situations, it is a great that we have the option for those educated in saving lives. In these events where doctors indeed need to save lives, the technology, education, and skills are a great asset to our modern world. It’s a travesty that it’s being used in the way that it is – as a crutch to avoid pain or to feel better in the midst of fear despite the risks. Even worse, it’s often used by medical providers as a form of asserting power and control (which is absolutely abusive and should be criminal in the medical world). Our culture as a whole doesn’t generally support anyone asserting their power and control over another against their will, except for those in the position of medical need many immediately will embrace the concept and even stand by or participate in the abuse. This needs to change.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but medical providers are NOT, nor have they ever been, in any position of authority over our bodies or our health care. WE are. You have the authority over your body. Period.

Allowing unnecessary, routine, and precautionary interventions in the midst of birth serves one purpose and ONLY one purpose: to create a sense of security. Many have accepted these interventions, allowing and embracing them, as It gives people a sense of control where in nature, we can’t control everything. When we try to control the outcome, instead of addressing what comes, this – this is where danger occurs.

In the case of the emergence of a butterfly, if one breaks open the cocoon to assist the butterfly, this can actually be to the detriment of the butterfly. The butterfly needs to break through the cocoon on its own in order to establish the strength it needs to be able to fly. Without flight, the butterfly will surely not be able to live its life to its fullest. It might be alive, but what is its quality of life? Have we actually done it a favor? The butterfly may never know anything other than its experience and believe their life was saved due to the interventions, and accept that it can’t fly, but that absolutely could have been avoided.

Of course, if a butterfly could communicate and knew something wasn’t right, they could say they needed help. In this case, the risks would then be worth it. Save the life, even if one can’t fly… but don’t steal flight from someone who would otherwise have soared beautifully.

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