Language matters. Words, when spoken, have weight and a certain power. As birth workers we know this; the birthing person delivers the baby NOT the provider, midwives “catch” babies. The difference between “my care provider supported me through my VBAC” versus “my care provider allowed me to VBAC” is a very important one. As long as I have been involved in birth, I have felt very uneasy with the phrase “out of hospital birth”. In my mind, it makes the hospital the norm and centralizes the focus on the hospital as the standard location for birth. This is wrong! If we plan to take back birth from the dominant hospital based paradigm then we must move the focus from the hospital and put it back on the birthing family as the center of the process.
Recently, I attended the 2015 MANA Conference in Albuquerque, NM. One night, I attended a benefit dinner for FAM and I heard a phrase that struck a powerful cord within my heart and soul. This phrase has continued to grow in my subconscious and is taking root. I think that we need to start a language revolution and begin to use this phrase in place of “out of hospital birth”. The history and philosophy of midwifery is based in the community; midwives view pregnancy and birth as a normal part of the life cycle. We see the Mother-Baby unit as a whole being in the context of their holistic framework. These things cannot be separated from the community; the entire family and the support circles that surround that family.
I work at a free standing birth center and as such my clients and midwives are often inadvertently left out of the conversation. Our current culture uses “home birth” and “hospital birth” and of course the above mentioned “out of hospital birth”…which often is only associated with homebirth. All of these terms fail to recognize birth center birth and maintain a marginalization of all the options. So, what is this phrase?….
Community Birthing can encompass all the options that families may choose outside of the hospital. It does not utilize the hospital as the focus and therefor the norm. I plan to start using this term exclusively when referring to any birth that happens outside the hospital. No more “out of hospital” birth for me! What do you think? Care to join on this language revolution?….
Image credit to Crowned Photography