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Is 'Birth Feminism' a New Movement?

When Mariah Sixkiller hadn't gone into labor days after her due date, the first-time pregnant mom agreed to be induced. Her doctor told her it was the best option. He's the expert, right?

After nearly a day of little to no progress in labor, she eventually wound up in surgery and delivered her daughter via C-section. She recovered, loved her baby, and settled into life as a mom.

But, as she writes in the Daily Beast, submitting to the cesarean was Sixkiller "choosing not to choose." From that experience, she said she became a "birth feminist."

Sixkiller went on to have two more babies, both vaginal births after Cesareans, but she's not an advocate against C-sections or trying to fan the wars among women and how they give birth. What she wants her birth feminism to do is empower all pregnant women to be allowed to make choices on their own behalf, without being manipulated, punished, undermined or shamed.

"Birth feminists simply believe in a woman's right to make empowered choices about her birth experience," she writes. "We believe a mom should have evidence-based information about all her birth options, which all too often does not happen. We believe a mom should be supported through her decision-making process and into the birth experience itself, which all too often does not happen. And we believe every mom is entitled to her own choice, without judgment, whatever it may be, which all too often does not happen."

Sixkiller and a number of other women are featured in a new documentary by "The Business of Being Born" producers Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein called "The Mamma Sherpas." Directed by Brigit Maher, the film explores the way in which midwives are helping improve outcomes for women giving birth in hospitals around the U.S.

Sixkiller, a former Capitol Hill aide, is now a VBAC advocate. Her organization, Build a Better Birth, launches later this year.

Image by The Mamma Sherpas

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