The purpose of this project, Strenuous Labor: Agnes Geréb and the Home Birth Movement in Hungary, 1977-2010, is to analyze and illuminate the broken maternity system in the former Soviet satellite state and the rise of the home birth movement.
Despite the relative newness of hospital birth against a background of thousands of years of pregnant people giving birth without the assistance of a doctor, the medicalization of birth is nonetheless accepted in modern societies with little criticism. Modernity, as it is viewed, is best. This is especially true in Western states, where home births are taboo and believed to be unsafe compared to hospital births. Yet, there is evidence to support the idea that mainstream birthing practices are more beneficial for the individual assisting with the birth, rather than for the individual giving birth. For example, it is believed that upright birthing positions are more beneficial to the person giving birth than laying down for labor would be.1 This particular movement is especially important to expose not only because it is not widely known and celebrated, but because it involves a demographic not often involved in protest.
A note on the content in this exhibit: Although this exhibit examines birthing practices, it is done so without the inclusion of details that may cause some to feel uncomfortable.
A note on the language used within this exhibit: Although birth is gendered, the author recognizes not all people who give birth are women, and despite the awkward or clunky nature of such phases there has been an effort made by the author to employ gender-neutral language used in place of "mothers" and "women," unless not possible given the context or when discussing an individual who is a woman. Gender-neutral terms are important to use when discussing pregnancy and birth to subvert gender essentialism and the gender binary; such phrases sound unnatural only because they are not commonly used, even in feminist writings and circles. Although this stylistic choice influences the flow of the exhibit, the author has nonetheless decided to make use of gender-neutral language.
1 “ACOG Committee Opinion No. 766: Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth,” Obstetrics and Gynecology 133, no. 2 (February 2019): 164–73, doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000003074.