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Thread: Changing our language - better ways to empower ourselves

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia
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    Exclamation Changing our language - better ways to empower ourselves

    I'm starting up a sticky about language we commonly use for pregnancy and birth right through to parenting. The way we say things, or the way things are said to us can disempower us, instead of empowering us, making us feel great and in control of our journey.

    We are not just a vessel. Not just another person. We are gorgeous, nurturing women, who have hidden inner strength and naturally given birthing power and wisdom, even if we do not think it. By changing the way we talk about birth, we can take back our power. This is especially important when we are birthing in a time where organisations and establishments are trying and take that from us, to control us, to make us that passive vessel. So please feel free to suggest things for this list and hopefully we can take on more terms and make a change to society by spreading the word.

    1. Delivered/deliver (as in birth)

    Firstly, the MOTHER does all the work. I have a rant in my head when I hear the doctor take credit for 'delivering' the baby or the person who says, 'the doctor delivered my baby.' Um HELLO! YOU BIRTHED your own baby. You did it. Just you and no-one else. Pizzas or parcels are delivered. But babies are born, and you birthed your own baby, no matter who else had part in it. In the matter of the midwife or doctor who was present - then they caught the baby. Thats why you may hear 'baby catcher' titles or descriptions of midwives. This gives the power back to the woman. The medical person present only caught the baby and was a guardian of your safety.

    2. Sweeping the membranes

    For this one, I am going to leave the explanation to wellknown international birth guru, Gloria Lemay:

    This a.m., a young woman asks if she should allow her physician to ?sweep her membranes? at 37 weeks gestational age. (Sometimes I think that people just want to get my blood boiling first thing in the a.m. and so they post questions like this that will inflame me! It is all about me, isn?t it?)

    Here?s my response to the question:

    Could we please go back to describing this procedure in language more accurately, it?s a stripping of the membranes. This whole, positive-thinking, ?sweeping? nonsense is a euphemism that dumbs us down to the damage of this aggressive behaviour.

    If you took a healthy young man and reefed around on his foreskin until you made it bleed, he would call the police and charge you with assault. Our young women need to do the same thing when practitioners ?strip? their membranes.
    3. Overdue

    How do you know you're overdue? How do you know your due date was for today? Post-dates is a much better description, because you are past the dates which a MACHINE or mathematical average worked out for your baby. Its not your baby's date, because your baby's due date is the one he or she chooses - and for very good reason.



    4. Immunisation

    We all know that you will not be guaranteed 100% immunisation from anything. You are not being successfully immunised. Vaccination is a more appropriate/accurate word.

    5. Demand Feeding

    This makes the baby sound demanding and trying to explain to a family member you demand feed no doubt conjures up images in their mind that you're a slave to the baby. Just the word demand... urgh. Infant-led or baby-led feeding is a great alternative.

    [I will add more shortly!]
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    Follow me in 2015 as I go Around The World + Kids!
    Forever grateful to my incredible Mod Team

  2. #2

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    Do you have alternative phrases for "failure to progress" and "incompetent cervix"? I hate them both, they suggest the woman has somehow failed her baby.

  3. #3

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    Failure to wait I'm sure I have heard alternatives for both these two... I will get back to you!
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    Follow me in 2015 as I go Around The World + Kids!
    Forever grateful to my incredible Mod Team

  4. #4

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    YES YES YES!!!

    With the "over due" I'd also add that EDD stands for EXPECTED DUE DATE .... however as soon as you go past that it becomes the most crucial thing, and the EXPECTED is all but forgotten.

    Failure to wait DEFINITELY!

    Demand feeding ... I say feeding on cue so it doesn't make the baby sound evil

    Also the whole "girls" thing when describing grown women. It's a bit patronising to call a 20 or 30 something woman a girl when she is pregnant or in labour or whatever. I also think it perpetuates societies obsession with youth, rather than acknowledging the natural aging process.

    And C/sec birth. It's not a birth (not to offend anyone, i've had two c/secs) it's surgery. The way doctors refer to it as a birth allows society to continue accepting the rising c/sec rate without question. This is dangerous to women and babies, and enables doctors to keep making money from doing MAJOR SURGERY on perfectly healthy women and babies.

    I also hate hearing about doctors who will "allow a trial of labour" in vbac. Footballers don't have trials of hamstring and football isn't a natural bodily function like birth. The doctor who said "once a c/sec, always a c/sec" said it in 1911 and it's pretty obvious that surgical techniques have improved somewhat since then.

    As for incompetent cervix, I would remove incompetent and use a proper description, like "thin cervix"

  5. #5

    Join Date
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    I don't have an issue with the word delivered. I say "i delivered my girls at so and so hospital". I take it to mean the baby was on the inside and then arrived on the outside. And i feel powerful knowing i delivered my baby. I don't think it has anything to do with who's there in my mind. But i will happily use birthed, just wanted to say how i felt!

    I am right there with the demand feeding though. I don't like that term much.

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