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Fashion and Fad

It seems extraordinary that something as fundamental as birth could be subject to fashion and fads, yet you need only look to Brazil, where c-section rates are a mind-boggling 80% in some urban areas, to see that trends can take hold in the strangest of settings. This flippancy with regard to birth is usually something I lament. Surely, I argue, we should make decisions about the way we bring a child into the world with a little more intelligence?

But I have a confession to make. How loud I lament depends a little on what exactly is on fashion. When women were opting for major abdominal surgery because others were, I heaved a great big sigh of disappointment and disbelief. When I hear the latest fashion is for home birth and the natural way, I have to confess I lament a little less. (observer.guardian.co.uk/woman/story/0,,2237776,00.html)

This is not, however, because I am one of those natural birth teachers who believes in natural birth at all costs. As the grateful beneficiary of an emergency caesarean I have had first-hand experience of the perils of nature and the blessing that is major abdominal surgery. I do not believe a woman has failed if she does not give birth naturally. I do not believe a woman should be cajoled into a particular birth- natural or otherwise- by anyone or anything.

The reason I confess to a small quiet internal celebration, is that when something is in fashion, the general public become more open to it. Whereas the great voices in the world of birth found themselves knocking their heads against a wall 30 years ago when they questioned hospital protocol, now the debate is loosening up. We actually have debate. People are thinking once more about what it means to be born, and questioning the predominance of technology in the birth place. Only 2% of births take place at home now, but ‘home birth’ is beginning to take up a disproportionate amount of column inches. And best of all, instead of being bombarded with horror stories, these zealous celebrities speak of celebration and empowerment and positivity. Just the language we need to begin to develop a more balanced and measured view of birth in our culture. Hail to the fashionistas!

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