Today I am wondering about power. I am thinking about how empowered the American woman claims to be. We have, after all, made huge strides in the workplace, and have brought certain women’s health issues, breast cancer, for example, to the attention of everyone (including the National Football League!) When we compare ourselves to other cultures where things like sex trafficking, female genital mutilation, acid burning and child marriage exist, we feel grateful for our status in this nation. But does that mean we can be comfortable and complacent? The answer is an unequivocal- NO WAY!
Being truly empowered is not only about outward equality, it’s also about living in alignment with our true nature. It is our nature to be connected, to creatively self-express and contribute to the world. Nothing symbolizes our connection, our creative forces and our contribution quite like the birth process. But guess where the Women’s Movement never went? BIRTH. American women have made very little progress around maternity services.
We’ve neglected issues of maternity care, accepting the fate of the ill-informed patient in a system that views childbirth as a medical event requiring a myriad of interventions, rather than a source of female empowerment. It’s ironic that when it comes to our opportunities, our education, our work, we wouldn’t dare relegate ourselves to a low rung on a ladder beneath anyone, but in the uniquely feminine act of childbirth, that’s exactly what we do- we say, “I don’t know how to do this. I need someone who knows what to do to take care of me.” We relinquish all our power, the very power that is asking to be birthed!
As a result, pregnant and birthing women have limited information and therefore limited choices. And outcomes are not good. But we want to tune that part out. We don’t want to know that a woman in California is more likely to die in childbirth than a woman in Bosnia. We don’t want to hear that we have high rates of maternal mortality, the highest of any industrialized nation. We don’t want to believe it because it doesn’t make sense to us- how can a developed, progressive, wealthy nation that seemingly values women have a broken maternity care system? It doesn’t align at all with who we thought we were, as a nation and as women. Powerful. American. Women.
But we cannot ignore what is happening. Because this is an opportunity to birth a new kind of power- not the competitive or dominant power that we’ve used in the past, but a power that emerges through collaboration and connection. So let’s embrace what is before us and use it to shine a spotlight on this nation’s priorities and create change. Let’s pressure the people who sit in seats of power to pass the Maternal Health Accountability Act, so that we will finally have an accurate system for counting, reviewing and preventing maternal deaths. Let’s tell them that our lives are valuable. Let’s call on our society not to fear childbirth, but to be educated about the maternity system and how lack of quality health care and the introduction of interventions during childbirth can put women at risk.
And let’s claim our power in childbirth! Our bodies are not lemons. Our bodies are beautifully and perfectly designed and contain innate birthing wisdom. When we as women begin to value this- our own feminine process and power- the world will follow. And when we ask our nation to rise up and value women, we do it for women everywhere, not just in the US. Just as we can use childbirth as an opportunity to know our incredible capacities, so too can we use the maternal health crisis as an evolutionary driver- not to put more fear in the world, but to reach our higher capacities, toward a better world for everyone, everywhere.