Every woman who has a baby, however that baby is ultimately born, treads the path of the heroine, and yet it’s not always perceived that way.Milli Hill, Give Birth Like a Feminist
Not only should every pregnant person (& their partner) read this book, but anyone who works in maternity services should. Milli Hill’s writing style kept me engaged throughout. She has perfectly articulated how mainstream birth culture and maternity systems disempower women and why.
Too often, assumptions are made that women’s bodies need help to birth their babies, that they are badly designed and need medical intervention to be able to do so. By medicalising birth we have been conditioned to believe that we do not know our own bodies and think that qualified professionals know our bodies better than we do, which takes decision making away from us as mothers. We no longer realise that we have choice. Milli shares her own experiences throughout, but also provides practical tools for women to use when making decisions during labour, including the B.R.A.I.N decision-making tool, which as doulas we often refer to with our clients. For anyone unfamiliar with the B.R.A.I.N tool, I have a post about this over on my Instagram.
This book delves into how and why we have perhaps become too reliant on interventions and have lost the ability to trust our own bodies. Hill highlights how birth is depicted in the media, TV & film – showing women distressed and screaming, lying on their backs in a brightly lit hospital room, hooked up to machines with people coming in and out of their birthing space – no wonder its daunting to so many of us! She also discusses how the censoring of images of birth and breastfeeding on social media also contributes to misrepresentation.
GBLF reaffirms how important it is to know your choices, because without being educated you don’t have any. It doesn’t tell you that there is one right way to birth your baby, but that all preferences are valid, to respect all choices and be informed. Every decision during your birth is yours, but Milli shares some of the coercive language that is all too often used in the birth room and explores why you might come up against it. By being informed you can confidently give your consent (or not) and, no matter what path your birth takes, remain in control. Milli empowers women by recognising birth for the incredibly, primal act that it is and challenges the narrative of women being child-like in labour; clean shaven and often referred to as ‘good girls’.
In a time when there are such strict restrictions within maternity care, it is even more important to remember your rights as a birthing person. Your human rights don’t disappear because you are pregnant. I would highly recommend this book, it empowers the reader to educate themselves on their journey to meeting their baby. By being more aware of the history and how certain language and attitudes still exist today is eye opening, and by opening our eyes and supporting women and families so that they understand their birth rights, enables them to take back control in the birth room.