Monday, March 9, 2015
Birth and the Women's Movement
Two forces, so opposite, came into play, when we consider the influence of feminism on childbirth. During the suffrage movement, women advocated for pain free childbirth and welcomed not only birth control but also any new technology that made it less painful. They pushed for hospital births, drug them and drag them out systems. The wealthier women, with more formal education, pushed for twilight sleep and even created twilight societies.
Fast forward twenty to thirty years and the women's movement demanded participation in their own healthcare. Our Bodies Ourselves was written in the late 60's and becomes popular in the 70's. Women learned to do their own gyn exams and with that, begin to teach themselves childbirth. They no longer want to lie on their back, strapped down with no control. Much of the natural and later home or birth center movement came from these early feminists who wanted to take back control of their bodies.
Many of the early home birth study groups emerged from the early feminists health centers. Portland's first midwifery school and Birth Center was an out growth of the Feminist Women's Health Collective. For many years, the two walked hand in hand.