If you do, make sure you have your wallet handy. Recently,[a horrifying article exposing one hospital’s extreme ‘fining’ of women in labor](http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/07/11/a-hospital-in-zimbabwe-charged-women-5-for-each-scream-during-childbirth/) has caused quite a clenching of the collective fists for women in Zimbabwe.
Let’s take a quick look at the economic impact this policy could have potentially had. The average annual wage for Zimbabwe citizens is roughly $150.00 annually. When we consider the average labor per woman for a first child is 12-18 hours , one scream per hour will cost a family $90 or more than half of their income. For the courtesy of giving birth indoors, the hospital assesses a $50 fee in addition to the screaming charge. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize bringing life into the world is extremely costly for Zimbabwean families. What if you’re poor and can’t pay your bill? You get to remain at the hospital while your family scrambles to come up with what would now seem more like bail money.
Is it possible to women to endure the pain of childbirth in silence? Many say yes. Other cultures emphasize silence as a way to best herald in new life. Is it realistic? No. More importantly, would men be able to handle the indescribable pain without making a peep? Stalwart men around the world have begun to subject themselves to simulated labor pain via electrodes. Bursting with bravado and an inflated sense of self control, the videos have quickly gone viral and become [comedic fodder](http://tinyurl.com/nonbn8w). The results are unanimous, screaming is normal **BECAUSE GIVING BIRTH HURTS!**
Why this type of a policy is dangerous in addition to being completely absurd: women in many countries have little to no rights, or can advocate of their own behalf. A Zimbabwean woman many be completely reliant on her spouse to bring her to a hospital for her best chance at a safe delivery. Will this type of policy prove to be an economic deterrent for families? The likely answer is yes. As a result of this misguided rule, more women will be left to give birth away from medical care. The immediate outrage over this draconian and cruel attempt at making the delivery ward more acoustically pleasing for the staff, and the policy has been ‘lifted’.
There are many things to worry about when a woman gives birth; preeclampsia, infection, hemorrhage, fistula are just a few. Screaming seems like one more attempt to control women in their most vulnerable state. Had they succeeded, I’m sure it would have been awfully quiet. No one can hear you scream if you’re dead. Our heartfelt thanks to the group Transparency International and others who responded so loudly in defense of women.