It comes in waves it seems, every twenty years or so, a period of revolt followed by a period
of acquiescence. But it seems in the area of natural birthing a little of the gain is retained
each time. Still, over the past twenty years or so, natural birthing has been increasingly
suppressed by the medical community. Somehow normal childbirth became risky, requiring medical
intervention. Obstetricians pushed Caesarean sections to the point that today more than one-third
of all births are C-sections.
Now, in the 21st century, Karen Brody’s play, Birth, has fomented another revolt; one
that recognizes and honors the intrinsic wisdom of women’s bodies throughout the birth process.
Birth is not a statistical review of studies conducted by scientific researchers. Rather,
the play was drawn from numerous interviews Brody held with birth mothers. It is a play of
experiences, eight women relating their birth stories. "There are too many... mothers who are
injured from their birth experiences," Brody says. "While I never set out to write a play that
was against the medical community, my one commitment when I wrote the play was to tell the truth.
It became difficult to tell the truth... and not find at the end a negative picture was being
painted of the medical establishment."
Birth is not merely a play; it is a phenomenon with the force to change business-as-usual
within the medical community. The point clearly made is: Birthing should be woman-centered; normal
birth is a joyful experience to be embraced. This powerful, epiphany-inducing play is being
performed all over the world to packed houses.
The well-crafted play is beautiful in its simplicity, itself a motif of the exquisite simplicity
of natural birth. The play’s unobtrusive framework acts as a setting for the jewel-like experiences
of the eight women characters. That this is Karen Brody’s first play is astonishing. That its message
is so exceedingly welcome, less so. Brody’s insightful work is excruciatingly unbiased, a work of
refreshing honesty and clarity. I urge you to read it; see it; embrace it.