Guest post by Alethea Boulet
The Indie Birth Podcast between Maryn’s husband, Jason, and OBGYN,and expectant father, Nathan, is a must listen and a refreshing male conversation about the journey and roles of fathers and the masculine energy at birth.
So often we hear about women making decisions about their births based on their partners wants. In fact very recently at a seminar for Doulas hosted by Flagstaff Doulas I was talking to a woman, who had been a doula for many years and was newly pregnant with her first baby, about homebirth. She said that she loved the idea of homebirth and would someday like to have one but that she was going to birth her first at the Birth Center because it made her husband more comfortable.
In the face of birth the fear men experience is natural. Unfortunately this fear is not often talked about amongst men or by men to their partners but is very much felt by birthing women when male-partners express their fear by means of control, which tends to be the most common masculine response to fear. This way of expressing fear has real consequences for women during labor and birth.
It is the masculine need for control that has shaped modern technocratic birth into what it is today.
Despite the very scary history of masculine-centered birth, there are definite benefits for the very small percent of women and babies who need medical interventions during birth. However it has become common-place for healthy pregnant women with healthy babies to accept the “masculine model” as normal, sacrificing their complete feminine power, that we were once worshiped for, for a controlled, technology-centered, or hero-centered birth (in a hero centered birth, the care provider is hero.) In an effort to incorporate their male-partners into their pregnancies and birth women will often sacrifice their own desires for their births to appease their mans fear and discomfort.
To men, who will never physiologically experience pregnancy, labor or birth, the event of labor and birth can look extremely, intense, powerful, and even terrifying. To witness “the suffering” of someone they love can feel overwhelming and the masculine energy says “there must be something to be done, some way to fix this.” This is especially true in cultures like my own that view women’s bodies as broken and disgusting already, and that condition men to be the “heros of women.”
In a society where the masculine (note: masculine does not equal all men, just as feminine does not equal all women) aims to disconnect women from their biological power (their power to birth, their power in menstruation, their power to breastfeed etc.) through “innovative” solutions (cesarean/epidurals, birthcontrol pills, formula etc.) so that they can be more “productive” in the patriarchal world, this podcast (Jason) defines masculinity as it relates to feminine power as “developing the emotional maturity to stand a silent witness to that power.”
When a man has the power to hold his fear of that which he has no control over and introspectively process it without attempting to control it or apply it by means of control to the situation then he will be able to witness the true power of birth.
I want to see more men take this definition of masculinity and “manliness” on, I want more women to experience the full trust of their male-partners in birth. I want men to be able to not only see but appreciate the beauty of labor and birth and the goddess-like grace and power that it takes for women to grow their babies, bring them earthside and nourish them with their breasts.
“To sit in a car that you are not driving, remembering to look out the window and say ‘this is fucking magical’”(Jason)
All of this to say I am beyond happy that men are having these conversations. That men are fearlessly claiming their fear and deciding not to respond with methods of feminine control. It is beyond refreshing.
To listen to this podcast or to read the PDF transcription, go here.