Wednesday, 31 October 2012

choosing a place to give birth

"A caribou skull, cleaved in half, holds a carving that portrays a woman giving birth"
Nunatsiaq News, a story about tupilak (Greenlandic art)

“When you look at our history, as women, regardless of our culture, it’s terrible what’s been taken away from us.” 

Maria Campbell

You Have to Own Yourself”:  

An Interview with Maria Campbell (Doris Hillis)

  "Throwing Away Prized Possessions," completed by Napachie Pootoogook in 1998, described the arrival of Christianity. In this drawing, women are throwing away their beaded embroidery against their wishes. (PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE FEHELEY FINE ARTS GALLERY) Nunatsiaq News

I have given birth six times, in Canada, in the urban south. Each time I had midwives' care, and planned for a homebirth. I have been in airplanes, and a woman's shelter, and in the newspaper, but I haven't given birth in any of those places. 



Qulliq with Abraham Tagalik~ Natural birth rates in Nunavut, Martine Dupont, CBC North

I've never given birth in Nunavut, but the family-centered birthing experience described by Kerstin Gåfvels is basically what I experienced, six different times. 

I have never given birth with a doctor, I have never given birth without the father of my child.  

I have never given birth in a birthing centre, I felt safest at home, surrounded by family members. Five out of six times, the midwives were there for the birth. Six times out of six, the midwives provided support and respectful guidance, to all family members, before and after birth.

I have never given birth in Greenland, but, the need for a safe space, the needs for privacy and support-- the need to bear birth in mind-- are vivid to me. Birth is integral to life.

Returning birth and birthing women to the central rather than the contemptuous peripheral, and the celebrated rather than the hidden and suppressed realms, this is a profoundly important task across communities. 

Ending the control and subjugation of women is a big task"Bringing Birth Back" is important, in our lives, and in our arts and communities. Remembering how to support, in a society set upon control, is a journey of return.

Here's a few more institutional options I haven't myself explored:

birthing in jail

birthing in hospital 


I have never given birth in the skull of a caribou

(but i might)


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