BIRTH IS BIRTH, HOWEVER IT HAPPENS…
And the birth was her story…
The collective, matricentric (mother centred), birth culture that over many many years, had been built and nurtured by women for women, upon foundations of generational, invaluable hands on experience and knowledge. It has over an equally lengthy period of time, been challenged and gradually phased out by being made less acceptable and accessible. Over time the safety culture within hospitals and the availability of pain relief for example meant that on top of it often being a sign of social status to access a doctor or man or male midwife for labour and birth care, it became increasingly appealing to birth in a hospital.
Seemingly Growing And Changing Birth Needs…
The need for an ever growing and providing maternity service grew and with that came bigger boots to fill. Boots soon to be filled by men, making history of course. A need fueled by women being heavily perceived as the lesser gender, the flawed, good for one thing, but still not able to do this correctly. Furthermore, coupled with men dominating the medical field due to them being deemed more mechanically minded and better suited to studying and learning about and understanding the complex mechanism of the human body. Man soon became very acceptably ‘proficient’ in the previously female dominated ‘field’ of midwifery (and all things related) and they redefined it completely.
Machines Who Birth…
Women’s bodies were machines that needed controlling and childbirth well, this was just another mechanism performed by the machine. This machine with flaws, ultimately lead to the increase in the perceived need for interventions, instruments to assist or fix. All of this and more (which I am sure I will cover in another post) was instrumental in the up-rise in challenges faced by midwifery services still today.
RE Birth Of The Midwife…
Core midwives, as they originally came, whether it be as a wise woman, gossips or women ‘with – woman’, are not so prevalent these days. However, the many important and empowering concepts attached to the original breathtaking Midwife prevail. And the very fact that these concepts prevail and are making a comeback, despite all the above, I think speaks wonders about true heart and soul, mother centred midwifery care. Value clearly remains and hopefully with strong drive and good direction, we can see that the original midwife is reincarnated.
Changing The Way We View Birth
The pivotal point at which I changed the way in which I view birth was not so long ago and I always think what a shame. What a shame that it took so long for me to appreciate the following incredible and life changing ideas. However all is not lost as I am really hoping that I can reach a few people through this blog post. One by one, together we can spread the word and the ideas to bring back pregnancy, birth and beyond, as we should all see it and experience it.
What influenced this change in the way you view birth? One influential woman, one incredible book and a few intense core labour and birth related experiences. The one influential woman – Rachel Reed, a midwife, author, educator and much more. An incredible book by the one influential woman – Reclaiming Childbirth as a Right of Passage. Those intense core labour and birth experiences – well they are for another blog post in itself.
A Better Way Of Viewing Birth…
We need to look at birth as it being the entire process the mother or birthing person navigates and goes through to birth their baby earth side. The noticeable changes, but also the more subtle yet powerful and often invisible changes. Some of the navigation may be prepared for or guided through, but a lot of it involves resigning to absolute trust in oneself and letting go or going with the flow of birth in its rawest form for each self.
Cultivating Self Trust And Self Belief For Better Birth
Changes that occur on a physical level during labour and birth are indeed vast. They are often obvious or can be observed or kept track of, and are seemingly more reliable in terms of ‘monitoring’ birth as a textbook process, something we have come to do so readily. All too often the birthing person has not been empowered to trust in themself, or to recognise they are able to birth however birth happens for them. The next best thing for this person is to instead place this trust in the professional who is caring for them. The professional who has their best interest in mind, who can stay level headed at a time when they cannot, and who has been present at or assisted at many births so must surely be trusted. They resign and hand over a lot of power and control and seemingly rightly so. They then go with the flow of birth but under very different circumstances, and with different expectations and often consequences.
But What About The Physical Changes Of Birth?
Many of the physical changes along this universal journey of birth, does make each birth unique and it seems that this is what we should focus on when looking back and reflecting. But, there are so many more significant and powerful parts to birth, especially those that are spiritual, or transitions of the mind and soul, that if we focus on, most will find uniting, empowering and maybe even healing.
Focusing on birth as a powerful transformation and rite of passage rather than a vaginal birth or a caesarean section for example, where their baby seen to be delivered or handed to them safely, or where they could not have done it without the help of a health professional or someone more experienced than them. Reframing birth this way brings the truly miraculous and special feel of birth to the forefront.
Birth as a rite of passage…
Viewing Birth as a period of transformation or rite of passage between significant life stages, that is beyond our conscious control, encourages a pressure free and universalised visualisation and experience of birth. It also encourages us to embrace the biological elements of the incredible transformation that are beyond any person’s control, rather than attempt to control, manipulate or predict them.
Instead of trying to influence or manage women / birthing people, we should instead guide them, support them, lift them up, empower them and witness them. We should focus on the amazing things that happen, the powerful feelings felt and the often inconceivable limits pushed through in order to achieve the miracle that is birth. Coming away from the nitty gritty details of how a birth was achieved, the steps or stages, procedures and all the ‘mechanics’ involved in order to safely ‘deliver’ a baby to the mother or birthing person, and what or who helped it happen, is birth-changing.
Birth will be birth no matter what…
Humans have birthed, birth their babies and will continue to do so, no matter what inventions, interventions or different means of birth arise or may be needed. Birth is in the least part a physical process and in the most part a powerful spiritual transformation that no one can touch or change.
I shall end this blog post with a quote I wrote, that I think summarises things nicely, thanks for reading!
‘Know yourself, Trust yourself
Know your body and baby, trust your body and baby
Know your strength, trust your strength ’.
– Sophie Robinson – Founder of The Nurture Mama Ltd –
For more info on this topic, why not visit any of the following website pages:
Additionally, I highly recommend reading this book yourself, it really is every bit amazing that I make it out to be!
Reclaiming Childbirth as a Right of Passage by Rachel Reed
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The Nurture Mama Ltd is a fully insured (through ZEST Health Innovation Consultancy Ltd), independent midwife service that offers Antenatal, Postnatal, Combined and Complete packages. Caring, supporting and empowering people throughout pregnancy, labour, childbirth and after birth – giving families complete continuity of care.