I have an article up at Essential Baby – “In Defence of the Mothers You Hate”.
However, there’s one mother for whom we reserve a special place at the Table of Hatred, and she is the ‘militant mother’. A woman proud of her intervention-free birth makes us feel … what? Guilty, less-than, unwomanly, judged? One thing I know for sure: the militant mother makes us angry. She was recently derided by Mamamia’s Mia Freedman as a “birthzilla”, someone who cares about her birth more than her baby. Except Freedman set the benchmark curiously low for a militant mother; she was anyone with a birth plan. Consequently, a whole bunch of us were forced to consider ourselves “birthzillas” and wonder whether other militant mothers were similarly misunderstood.
The militant mother feels strongly about what happens to her body during birth – and to her baby’s – and she wants women to know about their options. She’s also readily marginalised by powerful institutions. In pro-choice circles we otherwise call the women fighting for rights like these ‘activists’. As a feminist, it concerns me that we’re so intolerant towards birth activism when abortion activism is core to our understanding of bodily autonomy. The activist mother’s beliefs are dismissed as inflexibility, but I’ve had just as many mothers recommend an epidural to me as I’ve had women recommend drug-free births, and they all did so with equal enthusiasm.