We must remember the past, define the future, and challenge the present – wherever and however we can. ~ Jane O’Reilly
It is asked of us to remember the past, the past that involved oppression and violence against women, midwives, home birth, sexuality, power, and freedom of choice. We are called to remember that midwives were burned alive and murdered, for serving women in childbirth, for knowing the mystery of our womanly bodies, for understanding the nature of life and death, for learning the wisdom of the plants and the sacred teachings that birth brought with every child born alive or dead.
These wise and wild Women, killed at the hands of church and country men, knew something so powerful, that I believe, it was woven into their DNA. This knowledge was never lost (as much as ‘they’ may have wanted it to be) it has been passed along in our blood and cells. Those of us who have heard the call, have the ancient wisdom deep within our souls. Those hu/mans, so frightened by the power that those women possessed, perhaps believed they could kill the knowledge; yet Truth (with a capital T) can never be destroyed.
Remember the past, we are told, of the women of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s who trusted in the doctors to take care of them in labor and birth. The women who died because of ‘childbed fever’; the women who were knocked out cold because they were told it would be better for them and their babies; the women who were strapped down all arms and legs, while in labor and told to birth; the women who were so frightened because they did not understand what was happening to their bodies (the knowledge had been lost and the language of birth untold); and the women who knew not to question the ‘authority figures’ for fear of challenging the status quo.
Remember the past, when a small percentage of women began to hear the call within their souls. Those Women who said ‘no’ to those authority figures of doctors; those women who reclaimed childbirth as theirs; those women who risked jail to attend births; those women who fought for their child to be born at home; those women who challenged the status quo; those women who stood up and let their voices be heard and said ENOUGH… There is another way.
Remember the past, we are asked… What do you remember?
Define the Future!
We are visionaries, scholars, activists, socialists, humanists, environmentalists, r/evolutionaries, birth keepers, birth workers, midwives, doulas, and birth attendants. We are coming together, joining voices, and re-defining our futures. A future no longer governed by medical authority figures (predominantly a patriarchal male fear based system) who are deciding the rules, regulations, laws, and liability around birth and midwifery.
We believe that birth belongs to the family, period; not a governing state or institution. We believe that true freedom of choice, occurs when a pregnant woman is self-directed, without fear, to choose where she gives birth and with whom. That she and her family claim responsibility for their choices, are fully informed, and work in collaboration with their chosen ‘care giver’ (if any).
A future that holds a vision for healing both birth and midwifery, must include a voice, pathway, and access to all paradigms of care. A vision of a future, in which Midwives appreciate one another (no matter what paradigm they choose to practice in) and learn to listen, support, and nurture one another as care givers of birth.
We are asked to define the future…what would you define as the future?
Challenge the present!
Oh my god/dess, the work involved with doing such an arduous and often frightening task. You see, it is of no service to challenge the already established birth and midwifery communities, we are wasting vital energy in doing so. We must do more, if we are going to truly challenge the present.
This present includes global and enviornmental devastation, need alone, fear based tactics to maintain power over; liability insurance that has sky rocketed; laws that are restricting Midwives to practice within their communities; regulations that have made it challenging to become lisenced or registered; rules and ‘guidelines’ that tell us how we must give birth or serve as a care giver; authority figures that still only want to have power over; a midwifery that now belongs to the state/country and has taken on tones of patriarchy, fear, and lack of trust; not to mention, a high burnout rate amongst midwives. Of course, we must mention, that midwives are still under paid, under valued, and over demanded with high expectations and very little tolerance for mistake or error. Most of these care givers are women and mother’s themeselves.
Our present situation is that ‘midwifery’ has changed; of course it has and will continue to do so. We have seen some huge forward momentum (thanks to those midwives who have pioneered) such as coverage under health care in some countries. Numerous states and provinces now recognize a midwife as a ‘health care provider’; thus increasing popularity and demand.
However, within this current movement, an expected backlash has surfaced: Women no longer being able to access midwives, unassisted birth movement, women handing their power over to their midwives instead of OBGYN, midwives going underground and fearing prosecution, midwives fighting against one another or prosecuting another, states threatening midwives to stop practicing, laws governing how to learn midwifery, fights between independent midwives vs registered midwives on a global scale, the medicalization of midwifery, and an increase in hospital transfers and fears amongst midwives. All of this and then some, has presented itself because the ‘governing bodies’, ‘insurance companies’, and ‘regulating institutions’ continue to want to have power and control over midwifery and birth-over humans.
There seems to be a similar theme here; power over during the ‘Inquisition’ or power over during the ‘Institutionalization’; not much as changed. The problem is, the essence of midwifery becomes lost. Let us challenge the present, and become self-directed Midwives, in the same way we want Women to have self-directed births.
This means we say no to the systems that dictate, say no to the institutions that govern how we learn, say no to the insurers who tell us how we are to practice (and how many of ‘them’ know anything about the sacredness of birth)! Let us join together, as visionaries, scholars, activists, socialists, humanists, environmentalists, r/evolutionaries, birth keepers, birth workers, midwives, doulas, and birth attendants as we start to say NO to the powers that bind us. Let us collectively face the fears (both internally and externally) and stand up for one another, as courageous humans that we are.
Let’s teach one another what we have learned, so that our medicine bags become so filled with collective wisdom that no one could take it away from us; and let’s agree that we will protect this knowledge, the art of midwifery, and share it with only those who will take care of it with heart and soul.
For it is in my humble opinion, that no one deserves the right to own the term midwife, unless they have sat in the fire and transformation of birth and death. And although I cannot know for a fact, whether or not those who create laws and policy know the essence and sacredness of birth, based on the management of midwifery I would take an educated guess that they know NOTHING about it.
It is our right to reclaim midwifery, to own the term, and to choose a learning path that serves our heart and soul. This is how I would challenge the present so that we can define the future of birth and midwifery on this planet.
How would you challenge the present?
We have decided to challenge the present by gathering information from those who have given birth or have been a witness to birth. We want to know how informed you were, whether or not you might be interested in a different paradigm of care, and if a birthing center that teaches and trains midwives outside of our current system is of interest to you… please answer a brief 10 question survey.