By Jesse James
You know what I would love?
If more of the Birthing Professional Community would recognize that it is not just cisgendered middle-upper class heterosexual white women who give birth.
That birth happens for any manner of people within a spectrum of diversity; and that each individual’s birth experience will be entirely different based on such.
That families are defined by those that choose to create one together, meaning that there is no *one* vision of what a family should be. This means that we could be working with any number of different family representations and structures (single parent, heterosexual/ LGBTQ couples, poly families etc.) and that it is not okay to make assumptions about a client, their connections, or their situation.
That we should ask if we are interested, and let them tell us, not the other way around.
That a trans man can still fall pregnant, and that those who give birth, are still men. That they don’t suddenly transition to being women, and their respected pronouns as a man, as a non-binary (or however else they identify) still apply.
That this needs to be respected at all times, meaning before. during and after the birth occurs. That there is no reason to justify not doing so. That we should know terms like chestfeeding, and ask what other terms they may prefer to use when discussing their care.
That racism—is disrespect of cultural practices and selective treatment from doctors based on stereotypes—a huge issue that many people of colour have to deal with in navigating their hospital births. That some doctors do use language barriers to their advantage to bully and manipulate the outcome of a birth. That consent is still not a priority in the birthing room and that it is our job as birth workers to be an advocate and a witness to such treatments; to speak out for those within our care. Silence in such situations says we agree, and what does that tell our client about the way they are being treated?
Our job is not to be bystanders.
That support during pregnancy, bereavement, termination, birth and postpartum should not be something that is accessible only to the middle-upper class. That people who fall below the poverty line are often times those who could benefit most from having someone for support. That there are plenty of people that recognize this and are willing to show up for them.
That looking down on and shaming individuals who donate their time and services to support people in such situations; laying claim that they are “ruining the business of birth,” is a bunch of inaccessible classist bullshit.
And it’s not the way I would ever conduct myself.
As someone who has always lived below the poverty line myself, I refuse to turn my back on or to disengage from the communities that supported me to grow into who I am. Do not tell me that I have to in order to benefit you, for I will never agree nor comply.
That it’s unnecessary to do, and not only does it do nothing to help individuals who are experiencing financial drought, but it also does a hell of a lot to harm the Birthing Community as well.
It makes the basic human tradition of birth support—which until recently had always been accessible within human communities over time—a capital good that is now out of reach for a huge majority, and what that says is that the poor should have no place in giving birth. For their births are not the priority.
That we only care about healthy and happy births, when there is a specific dollar amount attached to it. It also says that we are a luxury and not necessary, which puts less priority on what we do.
So do what you want with your business as it is your inherent right to choose, but understand that I will continue to do what I will with mine, too.
Leave it be.
These are just some of the things that I’ve noticed are lacking in the Birthing Community, and I am calling for us collectively to step up our game.
Because it is our job as providers of a support service, to learn and understand how to support the people in our care properly. To ask questions; to seek out knowledge. To educate ourselves so they don’t have to.
I know I still have work to do myself as well and am putting in that extra effort to do so, too.
If you are a birth worker reading this, what I ask is that you do the same. There is a huge shift that needs to happen amongst the Birthing Community.
And it all starts within our own practice as one.
Jesse James (pronouns she/her or they/them) has been called an old soul living in a young body. At 24 she is a storyteller and Creatrix of many things; an equal blend of mystical, myth & science. As an activist and advocate, they work with groups like Food Not Bombs and make a point of speaking out about the causes they care about; poverty, full-spectrum equity, environmentalism, as well as the violence/politics of Birth. Jesse takes on the role of Reiki Practitioner, Tarot Reader, Placenta Alchemist, Birthkeeper (labor, postpartum & abortion support), Sexual Health Advocate, Artist & Writer (among others) through their business Artemisian Artes. She loves working with herbs in making natural remedies and concocting up delicious kitchen alchemy is a second nature after breath. They worship the Earth, thrive on art, and on forming meaningful connections with others. Their mission is to make that around them more beautiful, or at the very least, to help others see things that already were, in that way. Connect with Jesse here.
Editor: Dana Gornall