It is the end of April. I have just attended a most glorious home birth with the medical midwives at Malachite in Kelowna. They were fantastic as far as medical midwives go. It was really amazing to bare witness to their work in a new light, with new understanding.
You see, I am currently taking the Wise Woman Way Doula Certification with Gloria Lemay out of Vancouver, BC, and she pretty much lays it all out on the line. Her claim that obstetrics is backwards and has stolen midwifery from women, struck me as a lofty one in the beginning of class. The more I read though, the more articles I continue to peruse, the more people I meet, the more I am realizing that she is holding a torch to what all witches and indigenous healers have been faced with for centuries - something that we all most definitely know now, whether or not we wish to own up to our respective contributions: An aggressive dominant system built by the pens of power-hungry people, who are so blinded by greed, that they are incapable of owning up to their mistakes, their own faults, and their own failures in fear of losing everything they value.
This system is on a constant infinite race to obliterate traditional wisdom once and for all, to make way for progress, for development, for the overconsumption and overuse of the Western Empire. With so many past and present examples of genocide, it is almost redundant to reference any at all. I mean, really. And all in the name of more power and more money. All in the name of taking something natural, nay, essential for life, that - unless we all get faced with mass extinction - will be a constant "niche industry" of infinitely surmounting wealth.
So how did we wind up here, today, in BC, with the highest cesarean rate in all of Canada at a whopping 40%, in arguably, one of the healthiest most beautiful fresh resource-full provinces, on Earth?
For that we'll have to dig just a little deeper:
No one really seems to point out that what we know about birth is technically written down and recorded by a system developed outside of women's wisdoms. In fact, what we "know" of birth, is "gifted" to us by a paradigm pitted directly against women's wisdom, one whose entire perception is based on an outside perspective - being that of Christian men. As these early men began meddling with what they saw as something that wished to control, they made mistakes. Big ones. And they started covering for their mistakes, and they continue to make mistakes, and cover them up to this day.
For example, they continue to issue what is called internal fetal monitoring. Do you know what internal fetal monitoring is? It is a small screw that they screw into an unborn baby's skull to monitor heart rate.
Just read that again and take a deep breath.
What in the actual F#%@?!
Because tender tissues have the chance of not clotting after being touched and poked and pinched and sucked by of this kind of medical "instrument" (forceps or a vaccuum included), a baby can suffer neo-natal bleeding and death. The doctor's realized they could reduce the chances of neo-natal death due to instrument misuse, by administering a shot of Vitamin K, and now, Vitamin K is normalized as the recommended practice.
This is but one example of interventions that have been created in response to the mishaps of previous interventions.
Wouldn't it be more wise to just stop intervening?
And here we have it: to generate power and dominance in a fledgling Western medical system these men began making horrible mistakes in attempts to control what they saw as a women's "painful," "chaotic" experience. First, it was simply Fear of the Mother. As they meddled, and made mistakes, it became Fear of Meddling. But like with any classic pharmaceutical enterprise, when you take one pill, you wind up taking a million.
They began accidentally killing women and children in the process of all of their medieval studies. Their meddlesome attempts to dominate and control the middle class and simultaneously cover up their mishaps and lack of wisdom, includes the current witch hunt, the present indigenous genocide, the attempts to eradicate the value of folk medicine and old wives tales, and harming mothers, children, and their children for generations to come.
Their meddling wound up reeling the medical system into a never-ending cycle of picking up the pieces of fear-induced care. Practitioners of obstetrics started being afraid of their own hands. Their own actions or potentially unknown should could would didn't's actions. They will be the first to tell you that obstetrics is the number one most sued licensed profession in our institutionalized system.
And unfortunately, licensed midwifery has taken a resurgence of natural birth advocacy in the 60s and 70s, and subdued them all by transforming the wisdom whispers into subservient fear-based help to the great system of "modern obstetrics" - a field mind you that has only been around for 120 years.
The number one question in protest to even thinking about birth outside the medical system is often: "But what about the risks of a mother dying?"
In reply, I ask them: "How do we actually know the real numbers of any birth-based generational trauma and indoctrinated fear when we only started collecting these numbers after we began meddling in birth?"
A growing number of people are open to broadening their understanding of our birth processes, and learning more to actively engage in their own body, their own process.
It is a choice. And I honour that.
But without horrifying media representations of birth, without the constant jargon of over-dramatized birth stories seeking approval in terms of one's efficiency, timing, and success; without all of the doctor's who scare young women into listening to their every bit of "knowledge"; without the separation of our communities and especially our sacred communities created by and for women to honour our wombs, our sacred blood, our sacred selves as forces of Creation...
Without all this, our birth rate could be much like the mammals that live beside us: Cats have 97% success rate with multiple kittens, and I'd say that's pretty good.
Having said all this, and shared a bit of what is to come here in this blog, I figured I'd better start this adventure by beginning with the most important thing a person can ever learn about pregnancy, birth, baby, and beyond:
Above all else, learn patience.
My teacher Gloria, she says her 3 P's are Patience, Patience, Patience when it comes to birthwork. I offer that Patience is by far the best quality to practice during pregnancy, birth, and life with baby as a new parent.
Patience during pregnancy will encourage you to walk that extra mile, forgive the little inevitable panty pees and incessant hunger, and embrace the need sit a while to rest when you can.
Patience will help you nod your head gracefully through lectures by inlaws and parents alike on your birth choices, your birth experience, the way you wish to raise your children.
Patience will help you give your partner the time they need to fully realize their fatherhood or motherhood.
Patience will help you hear advice and decide how you wish to use or discard it.
Patience will help you move slowly through your birth process without the modern pressure of linear timeliness, without words like "progress" and "failure."
Patience can help you breathe through any difficult sensation. It can stop fear in its tracks. It can help us embrace every moment and arrive with intention at every step.
Patience will allow your baby the time it needs to get to the know the world, and the time you will need to re-know yourself as you reclaim your own body after birth, and get to know your baby in the outside realm.
Patience can help calm nerves about baby not eating enough, peeing enough, pooping enough, laughing enough, and even crying enough.
Patience will help you remember that you can always assert your parenting wisdom without anger nor argument, and that tears are worth attention, no matter how small.
Patience is key.
It is patience that keeps witches like myself carrying onward the lit hearths of my grandmother's grandmother's grandmothers, who stirred the pots of herbs to share amongst their sistren of bleeding, birthing, nursing women.
It is patience that will see this medical birth system crumble as more and more women choose to reclaim their bodies, their babies, and their experiences.
It is patience that will support us all toward great abundance and peace, fertility and purpose, Motherhood, Grandmother-hood, death, and finally rebirth, over and over again.
I look forward to writing so much more in the coming moons. Please leave your comments below and add any topics you wish to hear me rant about.
Leila - firstname.lastname@example.org
I am currently in a certificate training course to refine my skills as a holistic doula in Gloria Lemay's Wise Woman Way Doula Certification. Training includes attending just over 10 births in all kinds of different settings. I am very interested in free birth, unassisted home births, non-medical holistic wellness from youth through cronedom.