I conveniently finished Milli Hill’s first book – The Positive Birth Book – approximately 18 seconds before the release of her latest ‘Give Birth Like a Feminist’ so I was already buzzing from the positivity oozing out of Milli’s writing. So much so that when I saw the publishers asking for bloggers to review the book I literally sent a begging email asking for the opportunity to do so. I’m no Instagram influencer and I’m certainly not averse to begging!
Being 35 weeks pregnant with my first baby at the time of said begging email, I was the perfect candidate! Just about to jump into the unknown that is childbirth with months of anxiety around the topic, too many ‘helpful’ birth stories thrown at me to count and a Hypnobirthing course under my belt, I felt ready to delve deeper into this ‘Fourth Phase’ of Feminism.
Feminism you say! Am I a feminist? I’ve always used this word quite carefully, eager not to jump on the bandwagon of raging women who feel utterly shafted by the patriarchy whilst maintaining respect for those that literally fight for women’s equal rights, equal pay, equal everything (which I am of course grateful for). Why don’t I feel shafted by the patriarchy I hear you ask? Probably because I’m a privileged, educated, middle class white woman … but let’s save that discussion for another day because, believe it or not, none of that really gives me the edge in the birth room. The title of this book did make me wonder if it would be a bit too much of the bandwagon version but in short, if you are passionate about positive birth and not just rolling over and accepting the version with which you are presented, then give it a go because the feminism part is pretty bloody important in shaping the future of birth.
Let me start by saying this is not a light read. I don’t mean that it’s necessarily heavy but it’s meaty and really digs into the history of birth to help you, the reader, shape up and understand how we got to this highly medicalised birth ‘norm’ that we are seeing in the western world. Milli talks about every type of birth with equal respect from the most natural free birth, where the mother has decided to give birth without any health care professionals in attendance to the planned Cesarean section where for whatever reason, the right choice for Mum was to have elective surgery to give birth to her baby.
The important bit is that her focus isn’t on the how baby arrived, it’s on how the mother felt about the birth, whether she felt she had choices, a voice, empowered enough to ask for evidence when recommended interventions were suggested. Did the mother feel the experience was positive regardless of the journey?
Challenging the old adage of ‘A healthy baby is all the matters’ and championing a change to maternity care, and all those ‘that’s just how it is’ that your mother might have told you about when you announced you were expecting (that’ll be an enema, pubic shaving and an episiotomy as standard procedure for every birthing mother by the way), are no more. For years, midwives and birth professionals who trust and champion birth as a physiological process, have fought to challenge the ‘guidance’ set out by the medical model. To stop the media scaremongering with horror headlines which instill fear and to promote and talk about the most common most natural of births that actually do happen.
I can honestly say that this book did nothing but further empower me to seek out a positive birth experience, to go into labour land with my eyes wide open (but under a cosy blanket with some lavender pillow spray of course), to do my own research and reading so that when faced with decisions, I can make choices, ask for more information or evidence and not just succumb to the recommendations of the birth attendant that I have been allotted.
- Plan A – Have the best possible birth experience.
- Plan B – See Plan A
Thank you Milli, it’s evident how much work went into putting this book together and I hope that it reaches as many people as possible and keeps The Positive Birth Movement evolving and for our future generations to have a wholly different view of birth.
Mrs G x