Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why are homebirth advocates obsessed with trust?

The second most overused word in homebirth advocacy (after "empowered") is trust. Trust your body. Trust birth. Trust, trust, trust. Why? Why are homebirth advocates so obsessed with the functions of their own bodies? Why do they adamantly insist that bodies will work perfectly all the time?

I suspect that it's a form of magical thinking. If you just wish hard enough, you can make it so. You never have to confront the fear that comes from the reality that birth goes wrong often and that neonatal and maternal death are common. You can simply accuse those people of not "trusting" enough.

The whole notion of "trusting" birth is simplistic, immature and self aggrandizing. It is predicated on a desperate insistence of an individual that her body is perfect (as opposed to acceptable in its imperfections) and that her mind can control anything (as opposed to accepting the limitation of human existence). What is especially ironic is that homebirth advocates appear to be more fearful than most people. They are afraid of technology, they are afraid of loss of control, they are afraid "risks" that they fabricate in their own minds. To control this outsize fear, they proclaim loudly and often that they are not afraid, they are actually "trusting".

When I hear a woman say, "I trust birth", I suspect that she is actually afraid, so afraid that she literally cannot consciously acknowledge it and instead mentally defends against her fears by proclaiming the perfection of her body and the power of her mind to control events.

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