Monday, December 17, 2007

Watch Your Language

Many midwives talk about the words we use surrounding pregnancy and birth. I am very sensitive to language and how things will be heard and received. I don't like to say "rupture of membranes" for example, it sounds sooo violent. Unless it's one of those burst all over the wall types of ROM. Then it would fit.

I never say I "delivered" someone's baby. I never say a mom delivered her baby either. I say the mom birthed and I caught, or the dad caught, or even better, SHE caught. I hate the term "incompetent cervix". I like Anne Frye's "loose cervix" much better. I also don't say I "did" someone's birth. I say attended. Although, I may say things like "I am not doing doula births in the hospital anymore". But I don't "Do" anyone in particular's birth. They do.

So I was talking with one of the new clients that found me through The Business of Being Born screening. We were discussing how shocked people are when you say you are planning a homebirth. Faerylady was saying that the best way to stop the argument would be to say, "Oh, I hadn't thought about that. Thanks so much for that perspective", when folks ask "isn't that dangerous?"

Then it came to me. We need to turn that on its head! The next time someone tells you that they are having their baby at the hospital, gasp in horror and surprise, and say with great alarm, "Isn't that dangerous???? I'm SO GLAD I was at home when my baby was born because if we had been in the hospital, I would have had to have a cesarean and me and my baby COULD HAVE DIED!" or "Wow, I really admire you. I could never be brave enough to do that."

If enough of us do it, hmmm.... it might make people think!


Morag said...

We're having t-shirts made that read: Pregnant? Who's your Midwife?
Largely in gentle retaliation to the folks who walk up to women and say "who's your doc?", or "what hospital are you gonna deliver at?".
I'm totally going to become someone who says "You aren't having your baby at hospital are you???? Do you have any idea how many babies DIE in hospitals???"
Lets shift this paradigm!!
Great post!

Lowa said...

oh wow! I Love it!

Similar to when people act like it is odd that we home school our kids and WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT!?!? and all this junk??

I have started asking why on earth they send their to public school!

mm said...

I do that... mostly they just huff off in a snit.
WOW! You are so brave going to the hospital!

Yeah, it doesn't go over well, but neither do my two hbacs with most people.

I always ask if women have a midwife, ohhh a doctor? Do you have a doula... no... oh well good luck with that.
If all else fails...
I flash note from NNNeurologist that says in plain handwritten words.
'thank God you had your daughter at home, certainly if you were at __________ hospital. My services would have been for naught.'

I like to think I'm sticking my tongue out for good measure too... behind their backs of course... wink wink.
Can I order a t-shirt morag? PLEASE!?!

Jill said...

*snicker* That's delightfully wicked! I'll see if I can work up the courage to say that to the next person who questions me about homebirth...

Jawndoejah said...

Unless there is truly a scary medical reason (making a pregnancy an actual medical event and not natural) I'm going to try to avoid the hospital in the future. Why hire a surgeon (OB) when you don't need surgery? I have had 6 births in the hospital, and the surgeon (OB) only made it in time to the birth 3 two had nurses catching anyway. Why not just let it happen as naturally as possible. I naively thought I could "teach" the staff this last time or that they would participate in my birth the way I wanted, but the nurse was very controlling. It was awful and intervention happened that wasn't needed.

I'm trying now to open people's eyes to the possibility of other options. I'm thinking midwife in a center next time...

harmony said...

I just said that to a group of ladies this week. I told them I thought it took more courage to birth in a hospital then took to birth at home...I said I have far less chance of a c-section at home, then there...they laughed but I do think it got them to wondering.

Carolyn McIntosh said...

I love this idea. I suppose if I think about it I have actually bought into the cultural norm of hospital birth even though I truly believe that normal birth should take place anywhere but a big hospital. I do accept that hospital birth is our current cultural norm in western society. This is only very recent though. Only 2 or 3 generations ago it was normal to birth at home. Your suggestion is a good way to try to turn it around and I think we desperately need to do that for the good of women, babies and humanity.

Hannah said...

I really like this too. I cant stand pregnant women being called patients. And I really like 'recieved'.

Betsy said...

I love telling people that I would *never* be comfortable birthing in a hospital unless there was a very compelling medical reason :)