The Belly Mapping Workbook – enlarging readership

The Belly Mapping Workbook: How Kicks and Wiggles Reveal Your Baby’s Position was written by the American midwife Gail Tully, who is also the author of the well-known book and website Spinning Babies (2010).24 The original was a 45-page-long A4

spiral-brochure targeted mainly at ‘pregnant women’, according to the title, but also at ‘maternity care providers’ (Tully 2010: 1). The workbook was translated as Guiaprático de Belly Mapping: descobrindo a posiyao do bebé na barriga pelo tato (Practical Guide to Belly Mapping: Finding the Baby’s Position Through Touch; Tully 2015).25 The translation, in square back binding, 21 x 21cm, has 126 pages. This expansion is due to the objective of the translation project, which was to appeal to a wider audience in the target language. This was achieved by enlarging all the photos; rewording the title to address midwives as well as mothers; changing the front cover;26 adding an entire chapter on belly painting; and, whenever possible, replacing the photographs in the original with those of Brazilian women and birth professionals - not only doulas and midwives, but also physicians - so that they could see themselves represented in the book and thus perceive woman-centred pregnancy and birth as tangible and possible in their own culture.

As a result, the book has become popular among doulas and young or in-training nurses and doctors. Doulas use it to teach their clients how to feel their baby in the womb, and by doing this, they encourage expecting women to touch, feel and know their body. Mothers who use the Belly Mapping techniques become less alienated from their pregnancy, gain confidence in their ability to give birth, and begin to value women’s knowledge about their own bodies. Enabling women to (re)gain this knowledge about themselves is subversive because ‘science’ and the medicalisation of birth have undermined women’s knowledge for centuries (Federici 2004; Schiebinger 1999).

This translation project holds ‘translating and editing as a mutually implicated process whose points of divergence are also points of contact’(Emmerich 2017: 13). The‘original’ workbook was translated into an expanded version to fulfil the feminist agenda of both the original author and the editor in the target culture. By enlarging readership, the editor instrumentalised a wider range of birth professionals and activists, who can then attend to expecting women and empower them. At the same time, these professionals gain visibility in the process, through belly painting and birth photographing - two activities which celebrate women’s bodies.

Finally, in terms of the discourse of translation, which ‘has consistently served to express the difference in value between the original and its “reproduction”’ (von Flotow 1991: 81), this feminist approach to editing subverts traditional hierarchies and power relations by making the work of ‘reproduction’ fruitful and valuable. Feminist translation in women’s health challenges the static notion of the ‘original’; every interpretation is guided by the present context and its current struggles and challenges.

Un bebé nace naturalmente / Nasce um bebé… naturalmente/ A baby is born… naturally – memory in the making

The first edition of this multilingual book was written in Spanish and illustrated by the Mexican midwife Naoli Vinaver, translated into English and Brazilian Portuguese,27 and published in 2005 (retranslated in 2015). The book has also been published in another trilingual edition since then (Italian, German and French; Vinaver 2009).28

A Baby is Born... Naturally is a birth story told by Alelí, the older sister of a soon-to-be-born baby. Although the book is primarily for older siblings in families planning a home birth and conveys Vinaver’s experience as a midwife, it is a book Brazilian doulas and midwives carry with them to show to pregnant women, due to the lack of available home-birth imagery. It is lavishly illustrated by the author in bright colours and in marked Latin American aesthetics. The drawings depict scenes which may be considered taboo in children’s books, such as the baby crowning, Alelí kneeling facing her mother’s open legs, and the naked mother catching her baby. In the story, Alelí learns to wait, helps the midwife prepare the house for the birth, watches her mother labour, witnesses the intimacy and cooperation between her parents, and more: 'she looks in wonder as her mother’s vagina opens, widens, and slowly makes room for the baby’s head’ (Vinaver 2015: 14).

As stated in the section on birth stories, this story in the form of a children’s book aims at building and strengthening individual and collective memory pools, for both children and adults. These memories will be accessed by older siblings, partners and birthing women when the time comes. The book goes against the countless images inflicted by the mainstream media, which feed into the interventionist and medicalised birth culture. By making the imagery in Vinaver’s book available to its target readers, the feminist translation aims at compensating for the lack of observational experience related to childbirth.

In the book and its translation, the term ‘naturally’ takes on two meanings: the natural birth of Aleli’s brother is not only free from intervention, but is also experienced as a natural part of life, with ease and without fear. ‘Just as birth should be: a remarkable event, but at the same time common and constant in any growing family. Some may think it is a miracle, but it is simply life as it is’ (Vinaver 2015: 15).

This book, seemingly addressing children, is intertextually connected to the previously discussed translations. As in Heart and Hands, it depicts the work and role of midwives, the bodily expressions of women during birth, and the process of childbirth. It is linked to the Belly Mapping book, as the midwife feels the baby to determine the foetal position and draws the baby on the mother’s belly. The three translations discussed in this section so far reinforce each other, value the birth attendants, and encourage the mother so that she can find material support to educate those in her social and family circles, who, in turn, will be key supporters for her to birth on her own terms.

K Bun in the Oven: how the food and birth movements resist industrialization - connecting the dots

Unlike the authors above - all midwives - Barbara Katz Rothman is Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York. Having penned a number of other books about birth (Katz Rothman 1986, 1991, 2000), in A Bun in the Oven (2016) Katz Rothman takes the leap and provides women with the opportunity to connect the dots, encouraging them to identify - and fight - patriarchal domination and capitalist exploitation beyond birth:

[...] Birth and food are a lot alike: they became institutionalized, industrialized. As did pretty much everything else in America. Prisons, schools, childcare, disease, dinner (and maybe especially breakfast), transportation, housing, clothing production - you name it. It all came under the rational, systematic gaze of science. [...] Things that used to be in the realm of the lay world become subject to medical definition [...] in a world that recognizes only medical knowledge about the body as legitimate knowledge.

Kat: Rothman 2016: 75

Because Katz Rothman writes about the United States in particular, to achieve the same eye-opening effect in the target culture, the myriad of both evidence-based and anecdotal examples of scientification and médicalisation of both food and birth were adapted whenever possible, with the agreement of the author. Adaptation took place first in the title. Translated as Comer, parir e pensar: como os movimentos do parto humanizado e da alimentando saudávelresistem á industrializando (Eat, Birth and Think: How the Humanised Birth and Healthy Food Movements Resist Industrialization),29 the title replaces the culturally-marked idiom of the source language - ‘a bun in the oven’ - with the trinomial ‘Eat, Birth and Think’, which intertextually resonates with Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat Pray Love (2006) and its Brazilian Portuguese translation. Further adaptations were introduced, for instance, when food brands unknown to the target audience were referred to (brands were replaced with local examples) or scientific studies by government agencies were mentioned (similar Brazilian studies were included). Adaptation is a common -and necessary - practice in feminist translation, especially in women’s health (Davis 2009; Sánchez 2020; see also Bessaih in this volume), which is a culturally marked area affected by local laws and policies. In the case of A Bun in the Oven, adaptation provides a continuum with the previously discussed translations and attempts to create a sinuous path towards emancipation. It offers readers quality information so that they can establish connections, identify implications, deconstruct the ideologies behind both modern food and birth processes, and subsequently, transfer this knowledge to other aspects of their lives.

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