I had the opportunity to go to a birth worker workshop recently led by Karen Brody. I’d already been doing a lot of thinking about the state of birth in the US and Karen said something that really resonated:
“It’s easy to blame the doctors and insurance companies for the crisis we see in birth today. But the heart of the problem lies within the fact that women don’t know how to put themselves, (their hearts!) at the center of their own births!
“No one can do it for birthing women – not us, not doulas, or even midwives. They must look for the answers inside themselves.” Karen Brody
I have been teaching childbirth classes for about 8 years. I took a break about 5 years in and am now nearing the beginning of another break. I love teaching pregnant women and their support people about birth almost more than anything. It is in my heart and my soul, it’s something I do because I am passionate about safe, healthy, happy mothers and babies. But I need to clear out some brain space for other things right now.
As I near the end of this phase of my involvement with birthing women, I’ve been pondering the insights I gleaned from Karen at the workshop she led here in Albuquerque. She had me think about my vision for me as a birth worker. My birth vision is deeply personal, but it also is the basis for my teaching style.
I want to help women and their families be open to the possibility of natural, normal, unmedicated birth. I am thrilled when a woman is open to the fullness of the idea that she can and will birth. It’s not “maybe I can” or even “this is something I need to learn”, rather something that is, that happens, she goes with it, because birth is, it just is.
I want a woman to be in birth, to experience it as a possibility, a potential for greatness, her birth into motherhood. Not just something she will try to see if she can manage. Because the baby will come and birth will BE. I want a woman to see the fear and the uncertainty and then just do it, because there is nothing but forward momentum, however slow it may appear in the moment.
I’m saddened because despite all the work of the birth worker community, all the birth activism, the pioneers like Ina Mae, the research, the passion and the commitment to healthy, safe, happy moms and babies, we seem to still be at square one with unnecessary inductions and c-sections at an all time high.
Maybe the missing piece is really truly being open and aware. Really truly seeing the possibility of birthing in awareness. Seeing the possibilities of the mom, the baby, and the partner. Shutting out the suggestions and possibilities of others. Forgetting the rest, even the midwife, but as we say, “You can do this, you ARE doing this.” Basically, you have to do it, right? I mean, there is no going back 🙂
My message to pregnant women: trust your body, do not fear birth, journey through it, tap into your femininity, because it is possible, it will be possible, you can do it. You are strong, powerful, and aware of your body. You and your baby are at the center of your birth!
One of the first books I read about childbirth, when I was pregnant for the first time was Childbirth Without Fear. It was a game changer for me. Grantley Dick-Reade said,
“Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware … To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory. She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”
And this, from Sarah Buckley, one of my favorite birth workers,
“Women’s bodies have their own wisdom, and a system of birth refined over 100,000 generations is not so easily overpowered.”
And last, but not least, the excellent Ina May, from Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth:
“It is important to keep in mind that our bodies must work pretty well, or there wouldn’t be so many humans on the planet.”
Gotta love Ina May 🙂 I couldn’t have said it better myself.