Ani DiFranco on 'Club Sacrifice' and her homebirth

04/22/2008 at 10:47 AM ET

Anidifranco_petahnapolitano2Motherhood seems to open the door to a secret society, and celebrity mothers are no exception. Singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco shared that she felt the shift in how the world sees her and her relation to other parents with the start of her pregnancy with daughter Petah Lucia, now 15 months.

Being a mom seems to have changed the way the world sees me more than the other way around. Being pregnant really shifts your relationship to society, and then walking around with a baby shifts it again.

I love the feeling that I get from other parents — women in particular — of being a part of the club. Club Sacrifice, you might call it. It’s cool to have camaraderie, warmth, and openness with strangers. I wish that dynamic was more prevalent in general, but I am grateful to have it now.

Having chosen a homebirth for the arrival of Petah in January 2007, Ani discussed her experience. She previously said that she believes birth is "the epicenter of a woman’s power;" here, Ani, 37, expounded on her statements and delved deeper into an explanation of her beliefs.

I was in labor for 43 hours. Pushed for five hours. It was brutal andscary and prolonged, and if I was in a hospital, they would havedefinitely cut the baby out of me. I thank the goddesses that I was athome with patient midwives who knew how to go the distance. The memoryof pain always recedes. The memory of triumph does not.

Click below for more on Ani’s homebirth experience and her thoughts on ‘performance anxiety.’

I would definitely choose a homebirth again despite the fear mongeringof this patriarchal society, which convinces women that they areincapable of having babies without the intervention of men and theirmachines. I look at societies where women are marginalized andoppressed their whole lives (even covered head to toe in tarps!) butare still in control of birthing practice, in a whole new way now. Imean, who is really more advanced?

To take birthing out of women’s hands and deny us the continuum ofeons of wisdom and experience is to eject us from the very seat of ourpower. I believe that women in hospitals are prevented from being ableto have normal, healthy birthing experiences because of theintimidation of being on the clock, being pressured to take drugs tomake it quicker, being inhibited in their movement and activities, andalienated by a sterile, fluorescent lit, feet-in-the-air typeenvironment.

You know the classic “performance anxiety” of not being able to peeor poo because somebody’s watching you? Multiply that by a million! Acervix is a sphincter after all!

Then to add tragic insult to injury women are numbed through theirgreat moment of revelation. I believe the act of giving birth to be thesingle most miraculous thing a human being can do and it is surely themoment when a lot of women finally understand the depth of their powerand connection to all of nature. You think it can’t possibly be done,you think you can’t possibly take the pain, and then you do — andafterward you look at yourself in a whole new way. If you can do that,you can do anything.

Check out the books on this subject by Ina MayGaskin. She’s one of my great heroes.

Source: Venus Zine

Thanks to CBB reader Stacy.

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Showing 79 comments

tami on

THANK YOU for posting more Ani. She is such a real, genuine person. She also puts on a hell of a show!

Debbie on

43 hours and 5 hours of pushing
God Bless her!!!
I dont know if i would have held out that long. (My whining would have kicked in) :)

Power to her and Kudos for getting exactly the Birthing Plan she wanted.
and of course the end result is Happy Baby which is the most important, not matter which way the baby enters the world.

Kristy on

AMEN! to everything Ani said! I had my first homebirth 3 months ago and it was the most amazing experience of my life.

lauren on

wow! 43 hours?! yikes!

i love her beautiful description of homebirth. i don’t have any kids yet, but a homebirth is appealing to me.

momtoone on

I am SO happy to hear celebrities discuss the beauty and reality of homebirth! I’m having my first homebirth this June, after having my first baby at a hospital. I can only hope mine goes as beautifully as hers did and that I can look back on it with such wonderment. Congrats!

Rachel on

That gave me chills. I have had a homebirth first and a hospital birth second, both natural deliveries – but the homebirth was world’s better than delivering in a hospital. What she said is so so true.

Joy on

I had a homebirth 5 months ago, following a 2 1/2 day (yes, you read that right!) labor. Like Ani, I definitely would’ve been sectioned if I were in a hospital. My daughter was over 9 pounds.

It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done! And it’s really true: after doing this, I believe I can do absolutely anything!

Candice on

I love Ani so much. I completely agree with her views on homebirth.

Holly on

I’ve given birth in a hospital, birthing center and twice at home. I agree with EVERYTHING she said.

growan on

She forgot about women and their machines too! Doctors, OB/GYN, scientists, and neo-natal life-saving WOMEN are also present in a hospital setting. She forgot about all the serious risks that can happen during childbirth to both the mother and child. And if something did happen, then everyone depends on those “flouescent lit” hospitals and equipment that saves thousands of babies lives AND their mothers. Millions of women have babies in the hospital every year and are thankful and surrounded by loved ones the entire time! Birthing is always in the women hands and many doctors today in hospitals give many, many options to women. And it is the women themselves who prefer a sterile, healthy, setting, like a hospital, just to have the SAFEST environment for their new children.

Cassandra on

Wow, 43 hours, OOWWW! I would love to have a home birth though. I hate the thought of spending the happiest moment of my life tied to a hospital bed by wires and IV’s.

I can’t help but feel proud of her that she stuck to what she wanted to do through 43 hours of labor and 5 hours of pushing. That is determination.

Joy on

growan, if you actually look at the statistics, it becomes clear that hospitals are not the “safest” option for birth.

When Ani mentions men in the birthing process, I believe she’s referring to the era in which our present understanding of birth was crafted. During the early 20th century, the medical profession was dominated by men, and many of today’s decisions about birth were made by men. Of course, today there are loads of women in the medical profession, and that’s as it should be. But there are still many holdovers from that era.

Medical technology is a fantastic thing, but the reality is that the vast majority of women (at least 90%, I think) have relatively uncomplicated pregnancies and are great candidates for homebirth, if they choose. If a woman feels most comfortable in a hospital, more power to her. But it is myths like hospitals being inherently more “safe” that limits those choices.

Cassandra on

Growan – You have a point. But I hate hospitals. My family is always in and out of them and every time I go, I have anxiety and panic attacks. If I HAD to have my baby in a hospital, I would. But just having the baby in a hospital because of all the ‘safe’ choices, I would be under a lot of stress from my anxiety.

We all have choices that are best for us. Some women prefer the hospital. I would prefer having my baby in my home, with the man I love and a few select people I want.

Besides, the only doctor I trust is my sport medicine doctor, I doubt he would deliver my baby. :P

It’s all about what is comfortable for the mother and really no one should discriminate women for their choices. Women who have home birth’s and women who have hospital birth’s shouldn’t be against each other.

Jaclyn on

Women should birth wherever they feel most comfortable as this will lead to the best results for both Mama & babe.

Midwives and homebirths are a wonderful option for healthy and uncomplicated pregnancies and doctors are a much needed component to ensure the safety of high risk situations.

I have to comment on this, “And it is the women themselves who prefer a sterile, healthy, setting, like a hospital, just to have the SAFEST environment for their new children.” Of course many women prefer hospitals, but how much of this is in relation to the culture of fear associated with childbirth? Also, your home (as any doctor will attest too) is a more sterile environment than a hospital filled with sick people as its filled with your germs which the baby has been exposed to throughout pregnancy.

It’s fine to argue for home or hospital birth, but include relevant and accurate facts.

Becky Gallegos on

Wow! I give her credit! I don’t know if I could have done that, BUT, if I was at home and didn’t have drugs down the hall…I would have to. After watching Rikki Lake’s documentary, “The Business of Being Born” I am seriously considering a home birth for my second. If you haven’t seen that movie yet, you should! It is an eye opener. If you have Netflix, you can watch it on your computer. Has anyone else seen it? What do you think?

KellyC on

I completely agree with Ani. I gave birth med-free at a freestanding birth center, but will give birth at home if I become pregnant again. A home birth is much safer than a germy hospital.

Not a fan. on

It really infuriates me when anyone preaches a “one size fits all” form of birthing. Some of us have perfect pregnancies and had something go suddenly wrong during delivery that would have cost us our lives or the babies, and we NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. That’s what it’s there for– that’s why we have modern medicine. I’ve been through it personally. I would be one child less right now if I’d delivered at home with a midwife– my baby had a rare type of stroke that usually manifests as SIDS until autopsy (the machines caught the lowering oxygen count, she was perfectly fine to the naked eye). It’s offensive to women everywhere to say that they– choosing what was best for them and their family with all the knowledge they had– did it wrong. We all got a baby here, however it happened, and that’s something to celebrate, not judge.

Stephanie on

i dont know her very well, but i applaud her for having a home birth! that is my plan for my second.
Becky, i saw the documentry too. it makes so much sense. i didnt even know it was an option until i saw it.

Kristin on

“The memory of pain always recedes. The memory of triumph does not.” I love that! I had my first homebirth experience 7 weeks ago–it was amazing for both me and my husband. I know it isn’t for everyone, but it was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Heather on

I’ve had two homebirths and they were the most amazing, empowering experiences of my life. The first went very quickly. Like Ani, I was in labor for close to 48 hours with my second. It was exhausting, but I would not have done it any other way. I loved that I knew who was going to be catching my baby and that I was able to develop a friendship with my midwife that still carries on today.

MB on

I thought it was a beautiful description. However, there is no one right way to do things! I wish I could do a natural water birth for my future child, but due to medical issues I have to give birth in a hospital and use an epidural. People like me aren’t archaic in our views or believe we “are incapable of having babies without the intervention of men and their machines.” We just have to do what is safest for us!

MB on

Also, one other thought, many more women used to die in childbirth before modern medicine. Of course women still die in hospitals and a home may very well be more sterile, but having a natural birth is not necessarily the safest way.

tara on

I am always disappointed with some of the comments on this site that are so very black and white. There are several hospitals in my area that have a totally separate labor/delivery/postpartum hospital. That means a different building from all of the “sick people”. In addition, if you choose NOT to have an epidural or an IV, you can move, walk around, shower, get in the bath, go for a walk and sometimes even have a snack. It is ok to have a home birth and it is ok to have a hospital birth. It is also ok to have pain management and women should not be judged on these things. It is often a personal choice, not always something forced on a woman by her Dr. I am in control of my birth. My birthplan states clearly that I will ask for pain management if and when I want it. It was respected with my first birth and hopefully it will be respected with my second. Each birth is different and I have known several woman who intended on a natural unmedicated birth, but had complications during labor and had to be rushed to the hospital. That is certainly not an everyday scenario, but scary for them. They went through hours and hours of labor, hours of trying to push and then had to be rushed to the hospial for a c-section. Their efforts should not be discounted just because they ended up having a c-section. In the same regard, I know of several women that had successful unmedicated births at home, in a hospital or in a birthing center. Birth should be celebrated regardless of the womans choice.

Gabrielle on

Not a fan:

The point of home birthing is not to NEVER go to the hospital – – it is to have a trained, wise midwife there who recognizes when a hospital is necessary, and only going there when it is necessary.

And it does matter how a child comes into the world – – those first few minutes and hours give the child a sense of what the world is like. It matters if a child is welcomed into their mother’s loving arms (either at a hospital or at home), or taken away for an hour of tests and not allowed to breastfeed, which still does happen in hospitals, though it is improving.

I plan to have every prenatal test offered, and I plan on birthing at home if possible.

And as for your child – – I’m glad you were in the right place for your child to be helped medically.

But, just FYI, many midwives do carry oxygen counters.

patricia on

yeah, everything she said is great for her and all, but um..lets see, how do I put this… I love the drugs for pain..somebody invented those and i don’t care if it was a man or woman. I’m glad women have such a proud attitude of pushing for 5 hours and overcoming pain but let it be known it has no impact on how i feel about you. I love the fact that i did not feel a bit of pain and had my child in a hospital.

Kate on

I just don’t get the appeal of a homebirth. I don’t find the idea needless pain empowering.

fuzibuni on

take it from someone who just lost a loved one due to bacterial hygiene problems at a hospital…

HOSPITALS ARE NOT ALWAYS SAFER AND STERILE!

remember that your body has acclimated to your home… it has ‘homeostasis’ there, meaning that yes, there maybe dirt and bacteria, but it’s YOUR dirt and bacteria.

A hospital is a completely foreign environment to your body and your baby. While it may offer many birthing ‘technologies” and pain reduction options, it also is host to hundreds of sick people and their families. Do not underestimate this.

each person needs to assess their own situation and decide for themselves if it is best for them and their unborn child to labor at home or in a hospital.

Melissa on

Well if it wasn’t for those men and their machines my sister and her twin babies would be dead. I know it’s just her opinion but what is good for some people is not good for everyone. She just sounds too preachy.

Kelly on

Homebirths are great for those who have uncomplicated deliveries and healthy babies. However, I think it’s foolish to forget that some babies (looking beyond the mothers, for a moment) have difficult deliveries. A lot can go wrong for a baby in the process of delivery, and to give birth without pediatricians nearby is not only risky, it borders on selfish. It’s wonderful for a mother to experience the magic and empowerment of childbirth without intervention, but I would advocate doing it in a birthing center, within a hospital. Don’t forget that we’re lucky to have the resources in this country to save mothers and babies who may have died otherwise.

eBirdie on

As a woman who struggled with fertility while women all around me in my social circle were getting pregnant and having babies, I heard the whole “universal mom club” idea a LOT. It always made me sad. It’s the kind of comment that I can understand (having eventually had a child myself) but that I’m always very careful not to use out of consideration for the women I know who want so badly to have a child and just can’t seem to achieve it. I think women who struggle with fertility already feel excluded enough, I guess.

As for Ani’s home birth – good for her! I think it’s great when women get to have the birth experience they want. I also think it’s great that we have the freedom to decide for ourselves what kind of birth experience we want. I mean, if we are all part of the same (ahem) “club”, why do we have to be so preachy and down on the moms who had their baby somewhere else or by some other means? Like they’ve just been brainwashed to want something different, as one commenter here implied? People can consider all the facts and STILL choose differently. That’s what makes us individuals.

And this comment seems a little off to me. Freedom in the birthing process is a basic women’s right, to be sure. But, “I look at societies where women are marginalized and oppressed their whole lives (even covered head to toe in tarps!) but are still in control of birthing practice, in a whole new way now. I mean, who is really more advanced?” I don’t think that makes up for the rest of the injustices many women in those types of societies face. I think it’s ridiculous to say that a single detail like that makes them more advanced.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m happy for Ani, I admire her for the strength she had to make her own birthing choice a reality in her life, and I love her daughter’s name!, but…I feel that some of what she says here, where it regards other women and their circumstances or their choice, is quite a bit off.

ToyGeek on

When the time comes for me to have my first child, I plan to have a water birth at a natural birthing center, providing that the pregnancy is normal and that there are no forseeable problems with this option. For me, this is the choice that seems best, in accordance with my own beliefs and opinions. But I certainly would never tell another woman how she should have her own babies. And I don’t think that’s what DiFranco was trying to do, either.

The way I see it, she was merely stating an opinion and justifying her decision based on her beliefs; she wasn’t pointing fingers or insinuating that women who DO choose hospital births are unintelligent, or that they are intentionally jeopardizing their babies’ health.

It seems to me that people are reading too much into it and trying to find insinuations that aren’t meant to be there. Just take it as her stating her opinion, with which you are, of course, entitled to disagree.

Cara on

I think Ani di Franco “hit the nail on the head” with her assessment of the culture of birth in the US today. In talking about the pervading culture, she is not speaking to individuals who had to have a c-section, had complications, had high risk pregnancies,etc which are all dealt with appropriately at the hospital. And neither is she saying that homebirth is for everyone. But she speaks to the growing medicalization of childbirth, the all-time high cesarean rate and the loss of the inherent value of natural childbirth in our wider culture. It is refreshing to see her comments when so many of the celebrities shown on CBB choose to have their babies cut out of them for no valid medical reason. Thanks for posting this.

Homebirth with a trained midwife (whether CNM or CM), for healthy,low-risk women is just as safe as hospital birth and is associated with a significantly lower risk of medical intervention per a well-done recent study. So, to say that homebirth is not as safe is just patently untrue.

Asiram on

Wow, she’s got pretty strident views, doesn’t she?

I say good for her for doing what was right FOR HER. The way she comes across describing it, however, sounds pretty damn condescending to those who don’t share her beliefs or those who by necessity/history/pattern/desire ended up having their just as blessed babies in a hospital. That doesn’t make those women any less women or any less connected to the power of giving birth.

I believe she is trying to describe how great it was for her, but she comes across sounding really judgemental toward women who don’t share her beliefs. That’s pretty sad from a woman who sounds all about “woman power.”

Cassandra on

I do think Ani was a bit ‘preachy’ and I think she was aimed more toward women who choose to have epidurals in hospitals for the convenience, rather than the people who have to have their babies in hospitals.

I do understand why women have their babies in hospitals (I hate hospitals and don’t trust them.) and if I had to have my baby in a hospital I would do it in a heartbeat.

Two of my younger brothers were in the NICU and the hospital helped them get over the disabilities they had at birth.

I accept everyone’s choice of where they decided to have their babies, and so should everyone else.

I think it’s all about people’s situation. If you are blessed enough to have a normal pregnancy and are able to have a home birth, all the better. But if you’re not, people should still support your choices.

Not a fan. on

Gabrielle,

My case was a rare one– I’d had other healthy textbook-perfect pregnancies, done all prenatal testing, delivered easily, baby had high APGAR scores, nursed successfully, and then appeared to go to sleep. She was having brain seizures which caused apnea. I’m not doubting that midwives are well-trained or attentive; it’s just that she was in every visible way a healthy baby. I can’t imagine they would have thought to pump her with oxygen. The doctors only noticed her becoming comatose by watching the machines during her first hour of life. I had one who had been working in the NICU for over 20 years (in a major metro hospital) and hadn’t seen anything like it.

I’m sorry to come off rude about this. It’s not that I’m anti-homebirth: I’m pro ALL kinds of birth. It just frustrates me to hear the hospital option dismissed as unwomanly or archaic. Some of us are extremely grateful for our experiences there, and the lovely children we got out of them.

Kayla on

For Toy Geek and ANY OTHER woman contemplating a water birth or has had one. How do I go about finding a center near me and does insurance cover this?

You can email me at emismom97@yahoo.com

thanks

momof4 on

I have to agree that I find this woman’s comments strident and condescending. There seems to be little recognition of the fact that there are risks involved in home births. After three routine deliveries I would have been a perfect candidate for a home birth for my fourth baby, by anyone’s standards. Once again I had a routine labor and delivery with a healthy baby born…then after the placenta was delivered I began to hemorrhage uncontrollably. I thank God I was in a hospital. If I had been at home I would have died and left my four children without a mother.

Lauren on

I find it hilarious how Ani drones on and on about how natural birth is the way to go and completely looks down on women who use epidurals and other drugs during childbirth yet goes on to advocate smoking marajuana as a means of enhancing creativity. Hypocrite much?

This article is so condescending I really don’t know where to begin. The fact that she made the best choice for her is great; the fact that she obviously gets her pleasure and power out of completely demeaning men as well as women who dare to do things differently is pathetic. Articles like these like act like it’s their way or the highway are what turns the general public off of ideas like natural home/water births. Obviously Ani’s a step up too far on her soapbox to realize that.

If this is what goes on in her “club,” I’ll happily stay out of it.

chris on

I agree with her about hospitals but I also recognize that every person is different. Sometimes there are complications, and being in a hospital is safest. I wonder what she would’ve done if she or her baby had developed a life-threatening condition during the birth? Would she just let nature take its course, or would she go to a hospital and take advantage of medical technology (or the machines as she calls them)?

Just because you don’t want to give birth at a hospital doesn’t mean no one should or needs to. After all the goal is to have healthy babies and moms when all is said and done.

christy on

i felt very “triumphant” in my c-section. besides, i don’t remember my friends that went natural and had a home birth having a trophy to show for it… i on the other hand, will always have my scar and am extremely proud of it.

Joy on

Several have mentioned difficult deliveries, mentioning that they needed to be in a hospital for safety reasons. In many situations, this is true. But I just wanted to share another side of it.

After a completely uncomplicated pregnancy, I had a “difficult” delivery: shoulder dystocia (my baby’s shoulder got stuck behind my pelvic bone), followed by a massive hemmorhage. My midwives performed a procedure that most doctors aren’t trained in, or cannot perform because the mother has had an epidural. In a hospital, I would’ve had an emergency cesarean, but it might not have happened in time to save the baby (babies die of this in hospitals sometimes–sadly, it’s not always preventable). In this particular case, my baby was statistically safer at home than she would have been in a hospital.

The hemmorhage (which is usually better handled in a hospital) was stopped with a few shots of pitocin, which all midwives carry.

Again, if a woman wants a hospital birth, I support her decision 100%! But an unexpectedly difficult situation doesn’t always mean losing a baby or a mother.

tara on

Another note from me.. I choose to give birth in a hospital for my child not so much for myself. I felt pretty much in control of my birth and I made my own decisions. Fortunately, my first birthing experience was a breeze. Hopefully my second will be just as easy. I want to make sure that if there is a problem with my baby that medical staff is on hand. Just my choice because of the way I feel. I don’t feel like anyone is endangering themselves or their child by birthing at home. I am admittedly a little on the paranoid side.

Mousie on

I think the “empowering” part of being a mother is in raising children from birth to adulthood, not in the act of giving birth.

It’s not a competition on who gives birth in which way.

I have no idea of the details of my own birth, but I can tell you what kind of a mother I have.

Katie on

As a (junior) obstetric doctor, I’d like to add my 2cents.

Congratulations to her for achieving what she wanted, and doing it in a way that empowered her.

However, there are many reasons we don’t allow women to push for more than 2 hours in a hospital. Prolonged 2nd stage labour (pushing) has a great number of complications both for mother and baby, and this has been known since early 1900s.

Maternal complications include:
– haemorrhage
– post delivery fevers and infections
– bladder trouble, difficulty urinating, pelvic floor abnormalities
– deep tears and lacerations extending to the rectum

Babies can also become distressed with prolonged pushing, and if this distress continues they can be at risk for hypoxia, acidosis and brain damage.

Obviously, not EVERY woman who pushes for >2hrs WILL have complications, but most midwives and obstetricians would agree that the risks involved are unacceptably high. It’s all well and good to be a hero saying I pushed for 5 hours and in hospital they would have cut it out… but what if you ended up with a dead baby?

I’m not anti homebirth and I’m not anti choice for women. But I think that there should be a back up plan if things aren’t going right.

Oh, and here’s one more thing you should watch if you’re not convinced that labouring at home for days without visiting a hospital may not be the best idea (NB this doesn’t just happen in Africa!):

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6Kca-btAEOw

Aneeda on

I love Ani, but I consider these views incredibly close minded and judgemental.

I had my son in a hospital in a birthing “suite” that was very comfortable and homey, I had a midwife and access to pain medication if I chose to have it. I did. My son was born into the arms of my midwife handed to me, and never left my side. It was a wonderful experience and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I think an informed choice is empowering, unfortunately Ani doesn’t sound very informed.

madam pince on

I’m with everyone who isn’t comfortable with Ani’s tone. Sometimes a hospital birth is the only safe option, as in my case: my daughter was five weeks early and very ill. She wouldn’t have fared well in a home birth, nor did I have the emotional strength for one. A very close friend gave birth to preemie twins and was hospitalized for three months before giving birth to them. While I applaud women who can have a home birth, there will always be circumstances in which they’re not possible, and we should all be glad that medical assistance is available.

Monique on

It’s an interesting analogy, but a cervix is not a “sphincter” actually. It’s not muscular in it’s make-up, more of a soft, cartilage type organ that does not “tighten up” the way your rectum does. Now, the uterus is another story..stress can cause the blood flow to lesson to the uterus and prolong labor, but your cervix can’t get “performance anxiety”. I know because I have a weak cervix that dilated with no contractions when I was 24wks along with my oldest son, and no amount of “control” by me was going to keep him in me. He died 3 days later. Sometimes it just goes wrong, no matter how much you don’t want it to. I’ve had 3 more beautiful miracles, by c-section (my cervix was sewn shut to keep my babies in longer)…..I consider myself a “goddess” in every sense of the word for bringing them into the world healthy. I know very few women who don’t want the very best outcome for their babies, no matter how they come into the world…one size doesn’t fit all!

charsmom on

Anyone who is surprised by these comments from Ani obviously hasn’t thought about who they are coming from. I think that Ani DiFranco is a pretty intense person in general and I am not surprised that she is so extreme and blatant about her views on childbearing or her anti-hospital comments.

Good for her that she had the birth experience she wanted … it is all we can hope for all women. And if things don’t turn out like we wanted, that is okay to!

finnaryn on

To say that a woman should have the right to have the birth that she wants, but then to come back with the thought that c-sections and inductions are somehow a cop-out, just strips those women who do choose them of their rights. It is a personal choice of the birthing mother, her partner, if there is one and her doctor/midwife.

My second child was induced for medical reasons. My doctor and I decided to induce my third child after two atempts of stripping the membranes and because we were expecting a large baby. I also have increasingly shorter labors. My first was 6 hours, my second was 3 hours and my third was 1.5 hours. Because of this and because I tend to tear, my doctor and I decided early on that the fourth pregnancy would be also be induced once the lungs were mature enough. Once my water breaks, odds are that the baby will come within 45 minutes and neither I nor my doctor want to risk a birth in the car. I want to also add that my doctor is a woman and that I brought up the induction talks.

My body, my baby, my birthing choice.

Renee on

Some of you are just being irrational. You don’t know Ani personally so how can you judge that she was being preachy or putting down women who go to hospitals, etc. Don’t want a home birth, don’t have one. She was just expressing her opinions on her experience during giving birth. Women are allowed to do that without fear of being attacked. Women are way too mean to each other. Can’t we just agree that we all have different ideas about birthing and child raising without jumping on people who have different ideas

Nancy on

Renee-I think that is exactly why some women are bristling at Ani’s comments. Her stance seems to be that if a woman does not choose to have a home birth, she is not living up to her ability of being a strong woman. She doesn’t seem to be saying that a home birth was the perfet choice for herself, but instead that a home birth is the best choice for all women. Her anti-‘male and society’ statements sound like she has issues that she is foisting upon all women. I think her comments would have been better recieved if she had acknowledged that women revel in the power of making the best choices for themselves regardless of what those choices are. A woman is not less than a woman if she gives birth in a hospital or needs medication during labor, just as she is not less than a woman if she decides to give birth at home.

Heather on

I love Ani, however, I’m not that crazy about her black and white comments in this interview. I did have a hospital birth with my daughter, however, I had a great experience. I chose to have a natural delivery with no drugs or epidural and the doctors and nurses not only respected my choice, but applauded and supported me. They let me have additional support personnel in the delivery room above and beyond what was allowed and were so supportive, always checking on me and telling me I was doing great. I’m not saying that homebirths are not good, just that if feel you are in control and have supportive people behind you wherever you are, you’ll have a great experience.

Kate on

Renee, we can agree that women all have different ideas of birthing child raising, but I don’t think Ani can.

Reread her statements and tell me she doesn’t look down upon the medical establishment or the doctors and nurses that provide care to women while laboring. To me, she implies that women who choose a hospital birth are not really empowered and are someone being influenced by the “male” medical establishment and all their “machines”. She doesn’t appear willing or able to accept that women are capable of making the right choies for themselves and their families and that that choice might be different from hers and informed. She’s preachy and judgemental and frankly, I’m not surprised.

Sheila on

“And it does matter how a child comes into the world – – those first few minutes and hours give the child a sense of what the world is like. It matters if a child is welcomed into their mother’s loving arms (either at a hospital or at home), or taken away for an hour of tests and not allowed to breastfeed, which still does happen in hospitals, though it is improving.”

Are you implying that I traumatized my child by giving birth to her in a hospital and allowing doctors to handle her after she was born because she has having some breathing trouble? That somehow she’s irreparably affected in some negative way as a result?

How dare you? Watch what you say, seriously.

Aneeda on

@ Renee

I think when you make “preachy and judgmental” statements to a publication you leave yourself open to deserved criticism. Just ask Tom Cruise… It has nothing to do with women attacking women.

Rebecca on

I think I have a bit of a girl crush now.

Leslie on

~~~~~ Mousie you said it right!:~~~~~

I think the “empowering” part of being a mother is in raising children from birth to adulthood, not in the act of giving birth.

Being the Mommy to 4 children, 3 biological (ages 15,13,9)and one beautiful baby we adopted from Guatemala (2 years old)

We should feel so blessed that God gave us our children!No matter HOw they came into our lives!!!

So maybe some of us shouldnt take Ani’s comments as “preachy”…

Peppermint on

CBB WHY OH WHY DO YOU ALLOW THESE MESSAGES TO BE POSTED. This site has been around for long enough and you know very well that arguments concerning such topics awake the “holier then thou” comments from posters. I thought there were guidlines to post on these boards, then why is ist that there are always arguments? I enjoy reading nice discussions but they rarely appear here, sometimes I think these comments features ruin the experience.
I know you wont post this letter, but it makes alot of sense

Sue on

I have been a neonatal intensive care nurse for 21 years and attended hundreds of deliveries.
I have seen mothers with no complications during pregnancy deliver a baby with no heart rate, not breathing and the only reason the baby lived was the immediate response of inserting a breathing tube, giving medications and CPR. I have also seen mothers deliver and bleed out and the only reason they lived was because they were able to do an emergency c-section. So, I ask you, who will the midwife save, if she can save either one at all. Is it worth it to take the risk of losing a baby or mom or both.

Renee on

Leslie, I’m glad someone gets ir. I doubt Ani meant to offend anyone.She has a myspace page that she responds to people I think. If some of you are so offended by her, send her a message. Also, maybe some of you are being way too sensitive.

Carmen on

I agree with much of what she said, and I don’t think anyone is implying that ALL births should occur outside of hospitals. There are a small percentage of births that absolutely need medical intervention. I am grateful that we have that technology so readily available. However, for the vast majority of women, birth can be uncomplicated and safe at home. There is certainly evidence to suggest it is indeed safer to not be in a hospital if you are in that large percentage.

And to say that how birth occurs is unimportant is preposterous! The birth itself is an incredibly important event. It is a spiritual experience, not a collection of protocols. We are being told however that we are NOT capable of normal birth, that we should NOT trust our bodies and minds. Normal birth is disappearing in the US, it is sad and scary.

The maternal death rate is higher in the US than Canada, Japan, Australia and the whole of Western Europe. We are doing something very wrong. It is time that was changed. I am glad more and more woman in the public spotlight are bringing attention to that.

Marie on

Carmen, well put. Of course the birth process is important and of course raising the beautiful child is as well- why try to rank them? Too often the mantra “as long as the baby is healthy…..” is used by the medical establishment. No one is going to risk the life of their child. Jeez, talk about unfair. Can a woman in the middle of labor actually give informed consent? Why IS our C-section rate so high? The vast majority of women who have had them will swear they were in the percentage that absolutely needed them (head was too big, baby’s heartrate was irregular, etc). If this is true then something very wrong is going on with pregnancy in the US- different than anywhere else in the world. C-section rates should NOT be at 30%+. We should not have such a high rate of maternal deaths, let alone the stats for infant mortality. How about the statistic that pregnancy and childbirth make up 25% of hospital/healthcare revenue- follow the money trail. Speaking from experience, physicians are TRAINED to see complications and difficulty. They are there to save lives; in that world, “normal” is never just that. But, let’s waste our time pitting women against one another, that’s a great use of our collective intelligence and a great tool of distraction. Also, women dying in childbirth before the medicalization of birth had a significant amt (not exclusive) to do with the lack of antenatal care. We have certainly improved on it. Females are the only ones who can give birth- it’s insulting to say it’s not special and doesn’t matter.

Mindola on

As a long time fan of Ani’s I was thrilled when we had our babies in the same year, some sort of connection. And now I see we have even more in common by way of labour, I too had 43 hours of labour with many hours of pushing.

I delivered in a rural hospital with the most compassionate, encouraging and wonderful staff.
I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

I wish that all hospitals wouldn’t get such a bum rap all the time, they aren’t all the same.
They are what you make it.

Cara on

In response to the posting by the medical student….Since when is it “not allowed” that women push for more than 2 hours? Where is the evidence?

I have worked as a nurse in maternal child health and have attended births both in hospital and at home (including my own homebirths). I have seen many women, especially primipara women, push for longer than two hours with no negative outcomes to mom or baby. This is both in the hospital and at home. While in hospital women are certainly subjected to a more stringent timeline, I have never seen a CNM or OB say “oh, your two hours are up! Time for a c-section!”. If mom and baby are fine, they are allowed to continue pushing. There is more to assessment than just the clock. In fact, it is understood that the pushing stage for primips will most likely be longer than for a multiparous woman. We must remember that upwards of 70% of what is done in obstetrics practice is not based in solid medical evidence, especially here in the US. If we were following what current evidence we do have, our c-section rates would not be at an all time high and our maternal and infant mortality rates would not be some of the highest in the industrialized world. Putting an arbitrary time limit on the laboring and pushing stages of childbirth is one of the interventions that has gotten us a sky-high (and sky-rocketing) c-section rate. And it is far higher than 30% in most hospitals- at my hospital the rate is easily 50%.

And to address another misinformed statement- Homebirth midwives do frequent fetal monitoring and constantly assess mom and baby for well-being. If there is sign of distress, off mom and baby go to hospital. There is ALWAYS a backup plan and to suggest otherwise shows the misinformation that the larger medical community has about homebirth. Homebirth midiwives are trained to deal with postpartum hemmorhage, tears of the perineum, a baby who is not breathing, etc. To assume otherwise is irresponsible.

And one other point- Ani Di Franco is a songwriter and poet. Her comments are very much in that spirited, songwriter “tone” but what she is talking about is true about birthing culture in the US. Again, she is not suggesting, as many other posters have said, that ALL women should birth at home. There are clear medical indications for hospital attended births in addition to the fact that many women feel that the hospital is a more comfortable place for them to birth. She is writing and talking about a CULTURE and not individuals per se.

KellyC on

Carmen, Marie, Cara – thank you! Exactly what I wanted to say but you ladies are so much better with words.

lauraellis on

I come into this with lots of thoughts, being a female physician with four children, one with congenital heart disease, and having suffered five pregnancy losses. I am so happy that Ani was blessed with her child and a positive birthing experience and I think she just wants to encourage other women. But some women don’t get to have their ideal experience due to complications that come up and they are often very sad and her comments might hit a sore spot for them. Sometimes what has been an uncomplicated pregnancy can become a troubled delivery especially with cord problems. The cervix is not a sphincter in the way she describes it. I was interested in Joy’s account of shoulder dystocia. The first baby I delivered was 10-8 and had this and I was taught how to handle it and my first child also was born with it and the doctor performed several manuevers to get him out safely. I am wondering what this procedure is that most doctors aren’t trained in, I would like to learn it. I have delivered my babies with a wonderful midwife-OB team in our hospital, held and breastfed right away, and had great experiences. I am partial to hospital care, not because I wouldn’t LOVE to have my baby at home but because I have seen rare but devastating turns of events where seconds can make the difference in the outcome and never wanted to have to look back and wonder. I am double paranoid, a mom and a doc who has seen a lot. But please know that most of us that care for you just want to be able to hand mommies healthy babies and feel honored to do so, even if it means a Csection, monitors, machines, whatever is felt necessary to keep everyone safe, so as not to have anyone’s heart broken, including our own.

bugaboo on

i’m a big fan.

there’s a reason why our country ranks so poorly in maternal & infant mortality & morbidity!!! there are 3rd world countries that have less deaths than we do. it really is sad.

every intervention has associated risks. there are risks from rupturing membranes, risks from epidurals, and risks from c-sections.

i’d ask every pregnant mom to ask herself what is most important, my comfort or my baby. that should be all it takes.

(a different) Sasha on

Alice Park wrote a pretty balanced article about the U.S.’s rising elective C-Section rate in Time magazine from 4/17. It does state that more malpractice claims are made in vaginal births vs. C-sections.

Lisa on

I also agree with some of the opinions stated here. I am a pretty progressive person, and openminded to homebirths and midwives, in fact,I want one w/my next pregnancy. It is true that the hospital births and dr’s mentality toward birth is not spiritual or client centered. But her comments were so condescending. Its all about choice. I had a hospital birth and so what if I had pain meds. I wanted it.It was a choice. She shouldnt put others down with her self-righteous attitude becasue SHE did it naturally. Youre not better than anyone else Ani.

Whocares on

Ani sounds like a lot of new mothers I know, they have a baby naturally or a home birth (which is something to be proud of) but they then think they automaticaly think they know everything about childbirth and motherhood. I think in time, Ani may grow some perspective on the situation and realize that a homebirth isn’t for everyone and that the situation is differnt for every mother and every pregnancy.

Colleen on

Wouldn’t a real feminist embrace another womans right to choose? As if women who choose medicated, hospital births are like cows, or Stepford Wives? I am a well read person, and researched my options initially not wanting an epidural for fear of becoming paralyzed or separared from the whole birthing process. An unmedicated birth certainly isnt for everyone, esp a homebirth. Thats great Ani was able to manage and endure the pain, but it certainly does not make her a saint. I find it sad when women who have had natural births put other women down for wanting meds. Thats not what this is about. Its about those women feeling they lack power and needing someone or something to blame. I loved my nurses and had an empowering experience w/epidural. I was treated w/respect and was able to enjoy the moment when my daughter was born not feeling guilty because I decided to have meds. I am more concerned about how mothers choose to parent than what kind of birth they choose. Thats what matters. I am also sick and tired of supposed “liberated” women such as Ani make such hateful anti-male comments. Thank you to all the wonderful FEMALE (no male nurses tended to me) nurses @ Rose Med Ctr in Denver who encouraged me and treated me like a goddess in the “hospital”.

Renee on

Colleen,I doubt Ani meant for the statements to sound anti-male. I didn’t even see anti-male statements.Maybe instead of judging her, we can put ourselves in her shoes instead. We all probably say something that would be offensive to other people everyday but we don’t realize it. I thin Ani thought she was saying something to motivate other women who want to do home birthing.

mf on

i think it’s sad how judgemental some women are of other’s experiences.
that’s where i really think we’re eons behind.
when women can value each other and their position as “good” mothers regardless of choices or experiences whether they be IVF or epidural or c-section, then we’ll know we’ve come far.
but i don’t think we need men to oppress us when so many of the women who judge our experiences are happy to do so.

Lauren on

“Colleen,I doubt Ani meant for the statements to sound anti-male. I didn’t even see anti-male statements.”

You’re joking, right? Please tell me you’re kidding. This act of acting like nobody but yourself has any valid points is seriously stale.

“I would definitely choose a homebirth again despite the fear mongering of this patriarchal society, which convinces women that they are incapable of having babies without the intervention of men and their machines.”-Ani DiFranco

Does that make it easier for you to understand?

Eva Gavin on

Th last two of my four children have been born at home. One was a quick peaceful waterbirth. The other was a long grueling painful birth. It would have been a cesarean anywhere else. It’s only been a couple months and I’m still processing it all. But, I completely identify with what Ani said, “The memory
of pain always recedes. The memory of triumph does not.”

dani on

A lot of new mom’s get in to a phase – almost a doctrine of how all things “Mother” must be done. I am reminded of the crazy hippie mom in the movie ‘Away we Go”. I just think you should listen to what everyone has to say, because boy does everyone have something to say as soon as they know you are pregnant or have kids, and do a combination of what ever works best for you, your situation and your family’s best interest. I love Ani, I bet she is an amazing mother. No doubt about it.

Andrea on

As Ani puts it, my son was “cut out” of me, due to the concern of his life, and that was my main concern. I had wanted a vaginal delivery and the c-section devestated me. I not only have scar from his birth but also permanent discoloration of my stomach. I am beginning to be okay about all of this. My son is here and that is all that matters; he still came from me. But as she was my high school and college era hero and feminist role model, it does not surprise me that she would insult women who must have c-sections. I didn’t desire to risk his life. He would have died had I not had my c-section but I guess that is what she thinks should have happened. The memory of the pain of his death would never have receded. My triumph is his life.

Kate on

I think that it is common for women who have only had things one way to think that their way is the best. New mom syndrome. Our kids and our choices are prefect until they are not.

I am truly glad her birth experience worked for her. I have been through it 4 times, on my own terms, in the hospital and I have to be honest that I would probably also feel that hospitals aren’t cool if not for my 3rd birth. After delivering my son naturally, I found out he was really, really sick. Had I been at home, he might have died. There is always the “what if”.

We need to empower ourselves and demand what is our right- to have our babies as we see fit. We also need to recognize that part of the awesomeness of being a woman is knowing that we are free to make different choices in life and it is okay. I have a feeling that Ani will get that as her baby girl ages… at least by her puberty for sure.

Still love Ani… but I think that for once in my life I have surpassed her understanding of something. Wow.

Sarah Rene on

hah…yeah. homebirth definitely would not have worked for me – if my mother had done homebirth, I would not be here (my umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, suffocating me and it was only because of the machine she was hooked up to that the nurse and doctor could tell); if I had not been in the hospital for my daughter’s birth, who knows if she would ever have been born alive (come to find out, I have a tilted pelvis that was undetected by my midwife and there was no way Fiona was coming out on her own; ended up with an emergency c-section).

I agree that midwives are much preferred to obgyn’s – mine was amazing; I wasn’t restricted at all and, while the hospital room is not the most inviting place, it’s really not that big of a deal. I was glad that the nurses, on-call obgyn and machines were all there.

and yeah, I totally had an epidermal because the pain was so incredible (and I have a very high pain threshold). it didn’t hurt my baby, she was able to nurse just fine afterward and the only regret I have is the traumatic birth – pushing on her for 2 1/2 hours was pretty traumatic for her and I wish I had done the c-section as soon as the midwife realized there was an issue with delivery.

I’m all for women’s empowerment and natural methods, but I’ll tell you what…when it comes to my babies, I am not taking anything to chance.

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