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The Problem with the Word Delivery

The word delivery is deeply ingrained into maternity care. In many hospitals the maternity unit is called the Labour and Delivery Ward and it is staffed with labour and delivery nurses. Whether it was a vaginal or cesarean birth, is referred to as the mode of delivery. I hear moms refer to hospitals as the place where they delivered their baby. I myself have been asked where I plan to deliver. On one website for an obstetric doctor group I found variations of the word deliver 36 times.

So what's the big deal?

When someone says "I delivered the baby" they are taking full credit for the birth. When someone says "They delivered my baby" or "They delivered me" they are giving someone else the credit for their birth, and ultimately giving their power away.

The word delivery gives all of the credit to the person who is assisting with the birth, and none to the person who grew and birthed the baby.

It's not delivery, it's birth, and it's birth regardless of the how. The person who is helping in the room is assisting with the birth, not delivering the baby. Even in the event of a cesarean section, the person who grew a tiny human, is birthing new life into the world, just out a different hole. The surgeon in this case, is the one assisting with the birth. As a cesarean mom myself, I know exactly how disempowering a cesarean birth can be, and how important it is to take that power back.

I recently saw a news story about a woman who birthed on an airplane. Like many news stories of this kind, the reporter interviewed the person who assisted with the birth. In this case it was a doctor, a travel physician, who was on the same flight and responded to the call from the flight attendant. When the doctor arrived at the scene of the birth, the baby was already on her way out.

In the interview the doctor says "the last time I delivered a baby was in 2012," She says "I cut the cord, clamped it, you know, quickly checked her over, um, and wrapped her up and passed her over to the pediatrician" who was also on the flight. Then afterwards she says "I still had to deliver the placenta". She describes the woman multiple times as calm and focused. The mother was already birthing the baby when she arrived on the scene and yet throughout the interview she positions herself as the hero, never giving the mother any credit.

And like many news stories about birth, a very important perspective is missing, that of the person who gave birth. That is the only perspective that is important in a birth story and, I don't know about you, but it's the only story that I am interested in hearing.

The word delivery is incredibly disempowering. It's time to take your power back. Stop giving someone else credit for your birth.

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