A lot of the responses (including my neighbour’s) was that Denis Walsh has no right to comment on women’s experiences. Apparently, it is a woman’s domain, and men aren’t qualified to comment. So how come they are qualified to intervene, into delicate womanly parts with needles, tongs, machines, and all sorts of other paraphernalia. We don’t question that! Is that because they are “rescuing” women from the drama and pain of this cursed condition called childbirth?
Both men and women can believe that childbirth is something we should feel slightly uneasy or disgusted about, very fearful about, that we should work to numb the experience as far as possible, and that it is yet another example of how a woman’s body basically lets her down! (along with hormones, periods, breastfeeding and the menopause). She cannot birth without extreme pain or danger of death.
On the flip side, both men and women can believe that childbirth is something we should celebrate and admire, be proud of and in awe of. Isn’t the ability to create a perfect new life something quite amazing? Shouldn’t women be empowered and revered for that? And it doesn’t stop there. As well as bring forth new life, women can sustain it, with their ability to produce life-sustaining milk, which is in fact perfect nutrition, comfort, medicine, vitamins, in a way which nothing else can!
If we were to adopt the latter viewpoint in our society, this might sit slightly uncomfortably for some people. I have had a few fathers in our classes come to me after and say “do you know what? It almost makes me feel a little like I’m missing out”. To be able to celebrate womanhood and the wonder of birthing with due respect and admiration, rather than pity and mistrust, is, I believe, not easy for men or women in our society.
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