Sunday, November 22, 2009

Counter Culture

As I was reading a birth story today I was impressed by just how hard it can be to chose the unpopular path. I have always been okay with and even enjoyed being different, so once I was converted, it was like anything else--shrug off or maintain awkward truce with people who didn't like it, and surround myself with people who are supportive. But now I see that this is a real struggle for many women: the awkward truce, the having to justify ourselves, rocking the boat. Even though our LDS culture is very different from the world, and we're used to being a little weird, it's more difficult when doing things that are counter even in our own LDS culture, such as natural birth or home birth. This is very sad. Especially when I think of what our ancestors must think as they watch us--how much effort it is to now turn back to the wisdom of the past. But I also know that they are assisting in this important work.

I was telling a friend today in an email that the situation of birthing in our country reminds me of public transportation in Los Angeles. You may not know this, but Los Angeles once had an amazing public transportation system. It was better than New York or Paris--or so the old-timers tell me. (You could get from USC area to a dance club in Venice in less than 20 minutes on two trolleys.) But around the 1930s or 40's when GM and the big automakers started to make secret combinations with everyone, the city literally ripped up all the tracks. Now Los Angeles has so far to go in area of public transit. It is one of the most difficult cities to get around in without a car, and because of all the cars, it is also one of the most difficult cities to get around in. Undoing all the damage of years of poor urban planning is proving near impossible. Though they have added subway lines through parts of Hollywood, Downtown, Pasadena and other areas, they have yet to reach the ocean or the airport (the two most important destinations, if you ask me--but what do I know). They were supposed to reach Culver city by May 2009, but politics and different agendas keep slowing things down.

I think it is the same with the business of birth. Getting America back to basics it once knew is not going to be easy with the college of obstetrics, hospitals, anesthesiologists, politicians, insurance companies and everyone else in the mix. But the one thing that we have as Mormon women, is a community that is better mobilized than any other community of women. Maybe it is the organization. Maybe it's God. However it works, it works.

And it is becoming very clear to me as I receive more and more communications from women that Heavenly Father wants to get back to the way he intended it. Here is a small excerpt from the birth story of another natural birthing mama, Lani, who is fast becoming a good friend of mine.

"... I had the strong impression that God is extremely saddened by the way many women are treated as they give birth in highly medicalized settings. And I also had the impression that He is so pleased when women give birth as He intended them to--free and empowered."

I have been thinking about putting together a childbirth education class that would be basically free or "by donation" to LDS couples. All the money donated would be used to train more LDS childbirth educators. There is a funny thing about inspiration--if it is really God's work, then he doesn't just inspire one person to do something. There are probably hundreds of other people receiving similar inspiration, and being prepared or mobilized to be at the right place at the right time to bring to pass his work. And it is becoming evident to me from the correspondence I am getting, that this is happening. Hooray for organization. It's so exciting. I started this journey hoping to change just one woman's birth experience, but God has bigger plans. He sometimes doesn't tell me them until 10 o'clock the night before, but I'll keep you all updated.


  1. i can so relate to this post! i just started reading your blog recently and am loving it. i am going to be having my first home birth (the first was in a hospital...just a "typical" birth) and i have been facing so much opposition! however, making the decision to have a home birth has been such a spiritually guided decision and one that cannot be "explained" to anyone. it is a feeling. i am truly so excited and i wish that more women could feel that same excitement over taking control of the birth of their baby - rather than just going with the flow and having things turn out the way they do so often in hospitals (nothing against hospitals, just so many women prepare so much for pregnancy and the baby, yet think nothing of the labor and delivery because they rely so heavily on medicine). thanks again for this post!

  2. I love your thoughts. There's something marvelous going on here... I love it!

    Congratulations, Kamille! You're going to love giving birth at home!

  3. I've often thought the same thing. Why are we not more willing to go against mainstream culture when it comes to giving birth, when we are in so many other things? Especially with something so spiritual profound and important as bringing new life into the world.

  4. I think the reason why so many LDS women go along with the medical model is because they don't know any better. The resistance to more natural ways to birth are resisted because of ignorance. I think sometimes when women who have had a medical birth hear stories of natural birth, they almost shut off their ears because they don't want to feel inferior.

    I think I could write a whole post on this correlation, but it makes me think of diet in LDS culture too. We are mostly vegan at our house and encounter a lot of resistance from LDS people. Even though we go against the mainstream by refraining from alcohol and coffee, most members still mostly eat a very "western" unhealthy diet and think nothing of it.

    It all comes down to ignorance in my opinion and a resistance to change.



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