On Memorial Day, I shared a “birth warrior” quote on Facebook (I was making a thematic connection). It prompted some interesting comments regarding the appropriateness or not of associating “war” or “fighting” with birth. I shared my personal reasons for enjoying the quote in a FB comment and decided to share those thoughts via my blog as well:
I recognize that not everyone connects with the “birth warrior” imagery and I have some personal thoughts to share about its relevance in my own experiences. I was surprised to find myself connect with the birth warrior metaphor in labor. Shortly after my first baby was born, I turned to my dear friend who had been present and said, “I feel like I’ve been in a war.” I distinctly recall my sense of vulnerability, amazement, and weariness in saying that. It was my fundamental and deep, heart assessment of how I felt at the time—I mostly associated it with the blood. I tend to have extremely bloody births and there was blood all over my arms, belly, etc. I felt like one of those bloody, battle-weary soldiers staggering off the battlefield. This is interesting imagery for me, because I tend towards the pacifist/antiwar type of mentality. The second birth also involved lots of blood—I had it streaked on my face, the bottoms of my feet, EVERYWHERE. In that birth and with my third as well, I connected with the “hero’s journey” type of metaphor. Like I had journeyed to my personal threshold and successfully, powerfully crossed it.
So, to me, the “birth warrior” image represents that experience of focusing and channeling and “riding” the waves of intense energy and the feeling of having climbed my mountain, run my marathon, swum my ocean, crossed my threshold, faced my self-doubt, taken my journey, felt my personal POWER, and brought home my prize.
I agree with Carla Hartley wholeheartedly that birth is not a time when a woman should have to *fight* for anything. I also feel like there is a place for the “warrior” archetype in the birthroom. To me, it represents the active nature of birth and dispels any sense of a passive “patient” lying in a bed accepting her “fate.”
And, as I often note, I think it is critical that each woman define her OWN experience—and likewise not try to put limits on other peoples’ experiences/descriptions of their feelings.
I love these thoughts. While my births haven’t been all that bloody (or even all that messy mostly-still baffles me), and I tend to draw strength from being solitary and quiet as opposed to the strength that many women find from making noise, I can very much agree that “birth warrior” is an appropriate label. To me being a “warrior” isn’t necessarily being in the fray of battle, but in finding inner strength and fighting for something that is of the utmost importance to you. But I also agree that after my more challenging labors/births, “I feel like I’ve been in a war” is super accurate! 🙂 And for sure a hero’s journey is applicable to each of my birth experiences! There is an amazing empowerment involved in the entire process for me.
I always have to laugh when I see questions online about homebirth–“but what about the mess?” and all of the responses saying, “it really isn’t all that messy!”–because I know my own blood-streaked births would probably horrify some of the people asking about “the mess”! ;-D
Best wishes with your upcoming birth!
1. Isn’t that just a cultural thing? Turning everything into antagonist versus protagonists. How everything becomes a struggle, a fight, a battle, just as a way to sweet talk the fact that dominant countries such as the US are in fact constantly at wars of their own choosing. A sort of opium for the population: let them all feel at war with everything and our violence and invasions go unnoticed or at least are accepted.
(I am apparently very philosophical today)
2. I believe the term birth warrior should be maintained, however, not in the context you write off, but in the sense that we women should really take up virtual and passifist arms against the way women are treated in birth all over the globe. In the way our births are stolen from us
For #2–As in, it isn’t women in labor who are “birth warriors” necessarily, but those who are fighting for birth rights ARE birth warriors? I think that makes sense.
yes, that is indeed what I was pointing at
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