Although women in our community have access to midwives, there are still not enough midwives and moms are being turned away from the care providers they want. We are still hearing horrific stories of birth trauma, and especially as it transfers to breastfeeding outcomes. Our induction rate is high. C-sections are 1 in 4. On the positive side our group of doulas have been successful in lifting the ban of only two people to a room, a doula is now considered part of the birthing team. This came into effect last October which was a direct outcome of our BOLD production of the play BIRTH and our BOLD red tent event....yes! Since last September we have been working towards a collaborative approach with the Ob's, Midwifes and community members. I do feel a change happening. The family medicine residents have agreed to let us present at their rounds to teach about Doulas, what women want during birth, basically what ever we would like to teach - this is great as these are the doctors of our future and they need to be informed now!
It's amazing how the actors are commited to this project. They are all a professional actor's but this project changed their lives. They all say to me : "my life before BIRTH and my life after BIRTH", isn't that great?!!
Maude Poulin, Producer BOLD Quebec
Our community of St. Louis, Missouri chose to organize BOLD events - BIRTH and the BOLD Red Tent because we saw the power of women coming together to share their stories. The stories shared at our Red Tent event were diverse and rich. The event demonstrated how much birth really does matter. I love the oral history tradition not just in birth but in local and family history. This oral tradition is being lost.
This loss contributes to the culture of fear around child birth. By talking about childbirth in this type of intimate setting, we are validating mother's experiences - the challenges and the triumphs. We are acknowledging that childbirth matters. It matters not just to those chosing an umedicated birth, a homebirth, or a midwife attended birth. Birth and maternity care matters to all babies and moms.
Local groups in our area collaborated to organize BIRTH because we saw it as a way to attract a different type of audience. A way to start a dialogue about childbirth in a manner that is fresh and different. The audience in our location loved the play because it combined entertainment and education in a thought provoking manner. It brought to light some of the issues with the current maternity care system.
As the playwright, Karen, pointed out, these issues include the high cesarean rate. Cesareans like all obstetrical interventions have a place where the risks outweigh the benefits. However, women are living in a culture where almost one third of their peers are having babies surgically and a high percentages are being induced - often for nonmedical reasons. Cesarean Sections often mean a longer recovery time. Induced labors can be longer, harder, and more painful.
Vaginal births after Cesareans (VBACs) are being discouraged and banned by hospitals, even though this practice isn't supported by research. Women are being strong-armed into repeat cesareans, dropped by their doctors, or even worse having their children taken away because they are choosing different childbirth options.
The message reinforced by these actions is that childbirth is something to be feared and saved from. The play serves to open a dialogue about talking about women's childbirth experiences. It puts words to feelings that women often have but don't always receive validation for. It questions assumptions on what is defined as "normal" birth. The underlying hope for our group in performing the play Birth is that it encourages women to go out and do their own research, make their own choices, and acknowledge that one day can make a difference.
BOLD St Louis
I work as a doula in Manitoba Canada. We performed the play Birth last spring and the response was spectacular. Many here assume that because I'm a doula, I expect all my clients to give birth naturally. Not the case. My role is to inform women of their choices and options, to remind them that their job is to labour and birth their baby while their care providers ensure that mom and baby are safe. I encourage women to make the choices that are right for them, whether they labour naturally or with an epidural and to be flexible with the labour and birth process.
The audience's response was that it did not push an agenda. It made the audience think about a woman's experience and everyone was able to gain from the performance, whether they were a man, woman, single, young, old or grandparents. This play was a wonderful blend of truth, activism and entertainment. I would encourage more communities to be brave enough to talk about our birth experiences. I would love to hear more women sharing positive stories, whether they birthed at hospital, home or elsewhere. Women deserve to be supported during labour and birth. It is an experience we will remember for the rest of our lives.
I am grateful to Karen Brody for creating a brilliant piece of art that, if we're lucky will encourage more families to become active in their communities and improve maternity care.
Without pushing an agenda of midwife vs. physician or medicated vs. unmedicated BOLD seeks to inform, empower and heal women, as well as the state of childbirth in the world today.
I have repeatedly seen audiences moved to laughter, tears and outrage by this play.
As a woman who suffered two hideous and deeply traumatizing hospital births, I feel compelled to point to the previously unheard of rates of Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Psychosis in this country and in others where medicalized birth has taken over as the new 'norm.' When birth is allowed to unfold as the complex physiological and mental process that it is, without being artificially rushed by drugs and other interventions, when it isn't interrupted constantly by unfamiliar people, when it is allowed to remain a peaceful, private event, rates of PD and PP become almost nonexistent. That cannot be a coincidence and those of us that have been there and back again have learned the truth of it.
When I became pregnant a third time, I was informed by an MD who is actually supportive of VBACs that if I intended to deliver in a hospital, I would have to arrive as late in labor as possible or be forced to succumb to myriad restrictive hospital policies that invariably end in c-sections. I further learned that if I refused to allow a perfectly healthy baby to be parted from me and my husband by arbitrary and scientifically unfounded hospital policies, that child protective services would be called and our child could be removed from our custody. After exhaustive, extensive research, we safely, peacefully and joyfully birthed our new baby in the privacy of our home, with a birth attendant more comprehensively trained in physiological birth than any OB. Not only was it far less painful and faster than previous hospital experiences, there was no risk of or subsequent infection, no unnecessary and painful procedures inflicted upon our healthy son and no fear, no postpartum depression. This baby came naturally into this world after I banished the sneering, patronizing words of a former OB from my mind--in an effort to validate the unnecessary surgical birth that he forced upon me, he subsequently informed me that my pelvis was far too small to deliver a baby larger than several pounds.
My son weighed nine pounds.
I was blatantly lied to. There is nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with modern women in the US and elsewhere. We can give birth. It is what we are born to do. I thank Karen Brody and all of the other strong, informed women striving to return sanity, safety and life to the process of birth in the world today. We must not let greed and complacency continue to kill and traumatize women and babies. Education and compassion will do more good than any other tools in this fight. Kudos to Karen for wielding them so mightily and to BOLD for bringing such a deeply affecting, balanced portrayal of the true state of modern birth to the attention of us all. Please don't let those trapped in fear and ignorance rob you of the opportunity to experience the play. Please don't let anyone else dictate your choices to you--only you can inform yourself and make the best choices, for yourself, for your families, for your childrens' futures. For that is above all, what mothers do and for most, that journey truly begins with birth.
Comment by BOLD Organizer (who wishes to remain anonymous).