There are two types of birth workers.
-Birth workers who choose this profession
-Birth workers who's profession has chosen them.
Some people get into birth because they have an interest in the mechanics of birth, or because they imagine catching babies and caring for happy mothers. Some people get into birth because they are skilled in it, because it pays well (sometimes) or because they enjoy the high that comes from working in a birth space. None of these reasons are wrong, But when they are the only reasons, when the driving force behind your profession in birth stems from a self-view or a detached emotion, we run into problems. This is when we see people taking control of birth spaces, pushing their birth views, making the birth about them. Unfortunately I have seen this first hand countless times.
Sometimes though, often even, I get to meet other birth workers who started here the same way I did. Often, they ended up in this field accidentally. Often, they have a deep personal story that pushed them here.
There are birth workers who are in it for the birth, and there are birth workers who are in it for the people. For the mothers. For the souls of the new children.
Maybe we need both of these types of people. Maybe the balance is nessisary. ...Maybe it's not. Maybe we should all be finding our path as birth workers, in a place where love grows. Among the wildflowers instead of among the sterile fields.
I believe birth work requires love. It requires deep connections. It requires trust.
When there is no love, there is disconnection. When there is no connection, there can not be trust. Where there is no trust, there is fear. And fear is the worst ingredient to add to any birth space. Truly.
Birth isn't happy mothers, or catching babies. Birth is spiritual. Birth itself, is an act of love. A mother, or birthing person, must surrender everything. Their life, their choices, their body. They must surrender everything, but here's where it goes astray so often. Instead of surrendering to the child, our culture has learned to surrender to the doctor. To the hospital. To the protocols. We operate in a way in which protocol trumps instinct. Where precaution prevents the bodies natural process from flowing. Where the very tools we see used to prevent trauma, to prevent bad outcomes- are often the same things causing them.
I believe in every type of birth. I am as passionate about home birth as I am about cesarean birth. When I say this is a wildwood journey or a natural process, I absolutely mean it. Regardless of where or how you birth. I live in this place. This wildwood. Because at its root, that's where birth starts. Every single mothers heart beats, every single child has an echo of that heartbeat. That in itself is wild, and natural, and sacred. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are of the earth. Of the wildwood. It feels more intuitive to embrace that then fight it. I do not believe we need to remove the medicine, or remove the options. I believe we need to expand them, make them accessible to all. I believe that we need to remove the hierarchy.
I have seen every type of birth happen in a way that was respected, in a way that put the mother in the leading role. Where her instincts are honored, her process is the one we follow, where protocols are thrown out the window when the situation deems it necessary.
I have also seen every type of birth happen in a way that violently rips the power away from the mother, typically for severely underwhelming reasons. In doing so, they tear not just her hands or her womb, but her very soul. They wound her spirit, her mind, her body, and they insult her instincts. They insult her culture. They insult her humanity, her autonomy, her wisdom.
Birth, should be centered first and foremost around the mental health, culture, and safety of the mother. That means listening to her. That means honoring every trauma she has ever been through, honoring every journey she has taken, and looking at how they are going to affect her birth space. That means holding space for her life in every way possible. Spiritually, physically, mentally. That means respecting her space, her consent, her family, and her practices. That means letting go of what makes you comfortable as a birth worker- to prioritize what makes her comfortable. I have seen even the most ridgid doctors change the way they do something to honor a mother- it is ALWAYS possible. However, in our birthing systems, we have it backwards. We expect mothers of every culture and history, to come to our hospitals and birth our ways. And if she dare to speak out against this model of care, she is labeled with unfair and untrue sentiments.
Knowing what I know, and seeing what I have seen first hand- it blows my mind that the majority do not treat birth in a way that would benefit our humanity, our mothers, our families, and our futures.
Birth is an act of love when it is allowed to be so. It takes love to sleep between moments, in long demanding birth hours. It takes love to reach for a mothers hand in an emergency cesarean birth- and whisper the words she needs to hear, to hold the presence she needs you to hold. It takes love to pray over the babies you don't know are okay yet.
It takes love as a doula, a birthkeeper, a doctor, or a nurse, or a midwife. Where there is love their is possibility. Where there is dissociation there is potential for trauma, neglect, and fear. It takes love to look into her eyes. To brush her hair. To honor her journey. To listen to her fears, her concerns, her dreams, her loves!
To document the moments in a loss birth where a woman is keening.
To let the tears flow in a birth space where everyone is crying in joy. To honor the power that roars through at those vital moments where a woman becomes a mother. It takes love to protect the soul that enters this world.
Babies who's spirit is protected, in spaces that are honored- they feel different. I can't explain it but there is always something different about a baby who looks into your eyes, when their mothers birth and space has been respected.
I recently visited with a child who's home birth I attended. It was the most supported birth I had ever been at. This child, though he was very much a mamas boy, reached for me the moment he saw me. The mother was shocked, I was shocked, but it was apparent that he remembered me. Or just connected with my spirit. We talked about culture, ancient wisdom of birth mothers before us. We talked about the beliefs that center around honoring the placenta, the baby, and the space in ways that our culture is foreign to. In some places and times, it is considered taboo to touch a child that has been born, even during delivery, unless you are going to be a part of that child's life. Midwifes would catch the babies in blankets, or rebozo wraps, careful not to touch them. They thought anyone who touched a baby that day, would imprint a part of their soul on them. As someone who lives in a world of dissociated, traumatized, and terrified adults- I wonder at this possibility.
Regardless of who you are, it is hard to deny the mysteries that surround birth. The infinite things we don't know yet about birth. Even a doctor knows when he can not control what is going to happen next, though they try. There is mystery. There is spirituality and mythology. Birth is the place where the wildwood and the real world meet, forever in a dance. We mourn the precious wisdoms that we have tragically lost over the years, especially in America. But oh, there is hope. Peace on earth begins at birth. And I can see a shift happening. As we realize these things, and start to change the narrative. As empathetic birth workers rise up from their own tragic beginnings in effort to do better, to make a better way for their mothers they serve, for their children, and for our future.
I believe the best way forward, is to remember the roots of love in every birth space we enter. To bridge the gap between society and birth. To bring them back together, to bring everyone back to birth- to our origin and our soul space. It desperately needs our nourshing, our attention, our tenderness. We must tend to this part of ourselves, this part of our culture and bring it healing. One birth at a time. <3 May that healing become as solid as stone, to build upon.
Birth is an act of love. And birth work requires love. Once you understand this, and the epicness of how vast the concept of love can become if we remove our narrow social views of it- then anything is possible.