Just sharing a really random thought that came to me recently. I totally appreciate that this will be seen by some people as pedantic, but I get a bit naffed off when I read the word ‘bedside’ in research papers that are referring to women who have had or may be expecting to have normal births. It’s great that people want to develop better bedside manner, or look at how babies who need a bit of help can be resuscitated at the bedside rather than across the room and so on, but all of this implies and reinforces the notion that women give birth in beds.
And I know that a lot of them do, but is that because it’s what they really want? Or is it in some cases because it is what they expect, because it is a part of most depictions of birth in modern Western culture? Is it what women want or what woman think their caregivers want? In some cases could it be because, as soon as you walk into a birth room, the bed is the first, the biggest and the most prominent thing you see, so there’s no real way of avoiding it? The idea that you need to be on a bed to give birth is reinforced everywhere, including on TV and even in research papers, which are often written by the very people who, in reality, urge women not to use beds for labour except as a last resort.
How about a different word to use in such situations? One which reflects how our understanding has changed, and which doesn’t make any assumptions about where the woman is, but simply acknowledges that we need (or her baby needs) to be with or near her?
How about womanside?
Or can you think of something better?
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