Recently I had a life changing experience that has left my heart open wide in awe and love for life! In this state, I have been able to sit still and contemplate our current state of birth and Midwifery.
The following statement arose in me – “That today’s birthing environment is devoid of love” and that “the only ‘skill’ a midwife truly needs is her capacity to LOVE”. Sounds lovely and I am sure most die-hard birth advocates would agree with this statement. Right? of course birth is about love, and loving the mother, loving the baby, and loving birth! Of course, those of us who are adamant that birth be “natural” or “undisturbed” or at home and away from the dominating force of the hospital would agree, that their motivation came from a deep love for humanity? right? Or rather, that most of the midwives who began their journey into midwifery choose it because of “love” and wanting to be in loving service at births. So, one would think why am I writing about something, that we would agree, is already the motivating factor for so many?
The answer is because I don’t believe it to be true! I think it is all talk but not truth. I have been deeply invested, passionate about the politics of birth and midwifery, and some have even called me a natural birth whore & junkie, for the past decade… and what I am noticing is that most of the births that I have attended (those that have not been free births) lacked the essence, the energy, the presence of deep love. So how could I know that you might ask? What would depict a loving birth versus an unloving birth environment? And why does it matter?
Well, the other day, I was speaking with a pregnant friend of mine who shared with me her sadness that she and her partner were experiencing regarding their up and coming birth. She told me that they did not want their midwife present because bottom line, “she does not love us” and “she is not nurturing, actually, it feels like she is annoyed with us”. This situation lacks trust between caregiver and family. Without trust and connection, you cannot have love!
And, why as women (and families) are we choosing to by-pass the need for the presence of love at our births in replacement for security and “no other options”? This baffles me. Why is it that we have not evolved to the point where we declare enough… We, today’s women, no longer want to give birth in fear or helplessness nor in the presence of caregivers that do not know us, trust us, or care enough to love “our journey” because we are bringing forth life! I believe, that although the unassisted birthing movement focuses mostly on this choice as a women’s rights issue and empowering choice, that in actuality it is steaming from a deep-seated place within that is craving for love to be present at these births!
In a book that I recently read called, “All about Love” – by Bell Hooks, she speaks so powerfully about living from a place of “Love ethic”. She states: ”to live our lives based on the principles of a love ethic (showing care, respect, knowledge, integrity, and the will to cooperate), we have to be courageous. I question how many caregivers are actually taught this “tenant” and what would happen to the foundation of “technocracy” if it shifted its focus of attention towards a love ethic rather than a love for “machine” ethic?
I found the following quote to be so fitting: “I am always amazed by how much courageous trust we offer strangers. We get sick and enter hospitals where we put our trust in a collective body of people we don’t know, who we hope will make us well. Yet we often fear placing our emotional trust in caring individuals who may have been faithful friends all our lives. This is simply misguided thinking. And it must be overcome if we are to be transformed by love.” (B Hooks) I couldn’t help but think of our current birthing trends. How we as women (and families), place our total trust (without question for some) in the hands of Doctors and Midwives, who for the most part are NOT invested in our hearts, nor are they TRUSTING in our ability to give birth! This is huge! What are we doing? I think we are an insane creature, if someone or something was watching us from outside our atmosphere, I think that they would think that we make some really strange choices! And for the most part they are all motivated by fear, not love.
Why would we, as pregnant women, choose to hand our power over to another person who is not invested in our heart nor are they invested in truly trusting our ability to give birth in its fullest expression? I don’t care where we choose to give birth (this is not about one ideology being better then the other), what I care about is that we as both birthing women, caregivers, and fathers, start making choices that are governed from a presence of heart rather than fear!
Furthermore, I believe it is imperative that today’s caregivers (Obgyn, Midwife, Doula etc) recognize that every time a choice is made from “protocol and fear” over “heart and trust”, that they are disempowering another woman’s birth experience! That they are misusing their power and allowing fear to dictate and motivate. Of course one will see birth complications when coming from this place, of course one will inhibit the mothers ability to birth instinctively.
This needs to be a collaborative effort, shifting the deep-seated fear that is permeating our culture of birth, because as birthing women and fathers/partners supporting this, you too, need to find that inner wisdom, that inner knowing and that inner love for thyself and your baby that declares NO MORE! I will not birth my child from this place of fear, I will only allow those who are invested in my heart and trustworthy, into my birthing environment!
So what I am proposing is that the art of loving has been lost with the rise of “technocracy”. In today’s midwifery education, we are mostly taught about birth physiology, how to handle complications, how to follow guidelines and protocols, and how to fear something going wrong (because sometimes things go “wrong”) rather than, how to follow the labor, how to create soul relations with the families, how to meet their needs, how to come from a place of heart and trust, how to be of humble service and how to use discernment as a “protocol”.
The midwifery “skill” to trust and follow a love ethic, in my opinion, needs to be first and foremost… and when fear dominates, council should be held! Rather, look at what are we doing? We are shunning those “hippie” “new age” midwives or care givers who give too much from the heart, trust TOO MUCH, and are naive to the fact that birth can be “dangerous” at times, all in the guise of fear of making a bad reputation for those who have studied from the place of the intellect and are wanting to be deemed as a professional, valuable and as “safe” as Obgyn’s. I am concerned that we are replacing “professionalism” with “lack of heart”!
All I know is that when I am at a birth or apprenticing in an environment in which the “heart” is lost and the “mind” is all that there is, I feel a deep sense of sadness an emptiness. Not even anger, just sadness that we have allowed this “trend” to go on for so long. That we, as humans, have allowed ourselves to live from a place that is devoid of love and full of pain.
I wouldn’t even know how to begin to “teach” the “art of loving” for birthing caregivers. Because in the beginning one would need to completely deconstruct its ideologies and beliefs that have bound them for so long. And then, we would rebuild a new way perhaps that was founded upon a love ethic. And from that place, I am curious what would happen to the state of our planet?
This is not only a birthing issue, this is a Global issue. Nothing is separate here. Because when we are witnessed in the energy of Love, when we are held and trusted in our total greatness; we, as women, can give birth in love and that ripples into our family, our community, our country, our planet, and our cosmos. And, I also believe, that the men who witness the miracle of birth from a place of trust and love, also become transformed and they too, become the healers of the planet.
And so it is, I offer this in prayer for the state of our planet and that we may find our way towards living from this place of Love.