Journey to a sustainable future

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Embrace your biology

Since I last wrote a blog post (um, one year ago!) we have added a sweet new daughter to our family.  "A" was born at a freestanding birth center, just like her older sister, into the loving hands of a midwife after a spontaneous, drug-free labor.  This used to be unremarkable.  This used to be normal.  This used to be the way all humans were born, and then scooped into the arms of their euphoric, exhausted, exalting mothers who immediately nursed and cuddled them.

The Caesarean section rate in our county is over 40%.  VBACs (vaginal birth after caesarean) are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.  Inductions at 39 weeks are common.  I am not decrying the existence of C sections.  They save lives.  Just like formula instead of breastmilk, sometimes C sections are the smoothest way to a safe delivery. The WHO insists that this is only 10% of the time. 

What I am decrying is that women are being cheated.  We are being told that our bodies are incapable of birthing, incapable of breastfeeding.  Incapable of biology.  We are told that the highest biological act we can do--create--nurture--sustain--and can be done better by technology.  We are told that our bodies no longer know how to do these basic things, things that no other mammal on the planet has a 40% failure rate of doing.

Women have a RIGHT to exhilaration and power and all-surpassing, immediate love.  Babies have a RIGHT to the hormones and immune system advantages of a normal, natural birth followed by normal, natural breastfeeding.  Our technocratic model of life tells women that they are not capable, not worthy, of that power and that emotional charge.

Part of it is that our society is scared of women with power.  But I think more than that, our society is scared of biology.  I have heard various midwives and birth activists call birth a "sexual act" and it is that, but it is more purely a biological act.  Our society is uncomfortable with biology.  Just look at our views of death, antibiotics, breastfeeding, eating iceberg lettuce in January, and giving preschoolers their own "age appropriate" iPads.

We are doing more and more and more to set ourselves away from our "ecological umbilical" as Joel Salatin calls our connection to the Earth.  We are so desperate to divide ourselves from Nature.  And it is going to kill us.

Those most affected by all of this disconnect are the ones without a voice.  The poor people in Los Angeles who live and (try to) breathe in the inescapable smog.  The tribes in Africa, now environmental refugees, displaced by drought and famine.  The children of migrant farm workers, horribly exposed to pesticides so that we can have cheap tomatoes.  The babies who want to breastfeed.

Not that we should worship the Earth, and not that we don't get to use it.  Humans are the pinnacle of Creation.  But we still are a part of Creation.

Nothing is going to change with birth, with carbon emissions, or with sustainability until we admit that we are dependent on the Earth.  Part of being human in our world today is bearing the burden of civilization's wrong decisions, and the responsibility of rectifying them.  Let's embrace biology.  Let's be human.  Let's start changing our corner of the world NOW.

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