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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How WIDE are the gates of normal

Just woke up from doula-ing at an amazing birth. A long fought for baby. This mama truly dug down deep and found those inner reservoirs of strength, and opened her body and spirit wide to bring a new human (a very adorable little human, I must say), into the world.
I love that when she was pushing, the midwife said "you are being initiated. From Maidenhood to Motherhood." And truly, this mama was.
Of course, EVERY birth is amazing. And every birth is so, so incredibly different. Even as I'm reading and studying my midwifery textbooks, the reality of birth makes me see that we play a losing game when we try to fit birth into a narrow time-limit, protocol, box. The gates of normal pregnancy and labor are WIDE. Because each mama, each baby, is different.
Each woman's birth is unique to her own body, and mental and emotional state.
I truly believe that labor is largely mental and emotional. Who truly knows or can tap into what each individual women needs to work through,
open up to,
fight for,
get past,
move towards,
let go of
in her labor. In her whole childbearing year!
And how much do we as care-providers strip away from a woman when we try to control her birth?
Even as a doula, I try to be aware of when I need to change the vibe. Back off. Get closer. Leave the room. Maybe I can be too encouraging. Too calm. Maybe this mama needs a kick in the butt (figuratively speaking) to really get serious about birthing this kid!
It's such intuitive work, birthing and being a part of birth. When do I counsel and when do I just stay quiet? Am I comfortable with silence? Am I comfortable with crying?
Maybe a mama just needs a good long, hard cry to let that wall that's holding her back crumple to the ground.
I've seen that happen.
No, birth is not packaged up neat and tidy in a textbook, class, or box.
Nothing will really prepare you for the raw, hilly, maybe mountainous journey that is birth.
Like life, birth takes trust, caring supporters, faith, intuition, and openness to what may come.


Anonymous said...

I really liked this essay! I think this is one of the most important functions of a doula or midwife--expecting a wide, wide range of normal. Many times things don't go by the book, but they are still good.

Stephanie Williams said...

Such a great reminder! I agree. Wide are the gates of normal. So beautifully wide! ~SW

Midwife International said...

Beautifully written! Your passion really shines through in this piece. Thank you for all the work that you do to make childbirth both natural and empowering.

We work toward the same goal of reducing maternal and infant mortality around the world, at Midwife International. Our solution is to train midwives who are equipped to work in resource-constrained regions where maternal and child mortality is high and the need for professional midwives is greatest. For more information, please visit: http://midwifeinternational.org/midwife-training/.

Thank you for all that you do and best wishes in your studies and practice in midwifery!