I think both times I gave birth I fell in love with the midwife.
I had my second son at home. He was born in an inflatable pool in the corner of my living room and it was actually quite a wonderful experience. So, although I'm not some great propagandist for the home birth movement, when a few days ago I saw, with a small audience, mainly of midwives and other birth professionals, the film Freedom For Birth, I was moved.
The campaigning documentary looks at Agnes Gereb, a woman who has spent time in jail in Hungary, her home country, and remains under house arrest for helping women give birth at home. This woman is not a midwife, but an obstetrician who from within the medical profession had tried to fight the increasing medicalisation of birth, and also the way midwives were treated as "servants".
She is also at the centre of a birth rights movement that is gaining momentum, and attempting to counter some of the "unnecessary interventions" that have become commonplace in birth.
Because she was jailed, another Hungarian woman who had been helped by Ms Gereb to have her first baby at home went to the European Court of Human Rights to fight for her right to have her next child at home, challenging the hospital monopoly on birth as an infringement of her right to privacy. She won. And in its own quiet way (actually there has been very little publicity about this) this means something very dramatic for women, something that follows the right to have an abortion and other aspects of our ownership of our bodies.
It means women have a right to choose to give birth how and where we want. For most this will still be a hospital, but for others it will be elsewhere: most likely, their home.
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