Freebirth, Every Mother a Midwife
Building a Bridge to the Future
by Jeannine Parvati Baker
Copyright © Jeannine Parvati Baker, originally appearing in "Living in Balance"- Vol.4, No.1. This is the first article in a series about Jeannine’s vision of a freebirth community. The others are Fear of Birth and Vision of a Freebirth Community.
Women encounter the creative power of mothering in a multitude of ways. The most primal of these ways is being born and giving birth. Yet this major life event is rarely given the freedom to express itself in our dominant culture. My vision of women building a mothering community would make it a priority to turn every woman into a midwife. Birth seems like the best place to start raising future mothers.
Much to my chagrin, the feminist or women’s liberation movement hasn’t been too effective in empowering women in becoming mothers. This article will briefly look at some of the reasons why, before sharing the vision of full birthing empowerment, which I now call FREEBIRTH. As Hygieia (the Greek Goddess of healing) says, "The wound reveals the cure." So we commence this exploration looking at the body politic of dominance, the enemy of freedom.
I see two major reasons why 75% of women walking into the hospital in the 90’s ask for drugs to not feel their experience, thus turning themselves into dependent patients rather than co-creators of the birth. From their own births on, women’s power has been repressed. Most mothers giving birth nowadays were drugged at their own deliveries 20 to 40 years or so ago. How each of us was born impacts us all our lives to more or lesser degrees. Especially when we give birth, the tendency is to re-create whatever unconscious material lies beneath the surface of our psyches.
If women don’t get the lesson at their own births, that being born is a natural process, it is tricky, though not impossible, to learn this later. It is like missing the beginning of a movie: a bit more confusing, yet with some study we can figure out the plot. My vision of a freebirth community would be to shift our attention to conscious conception, educating our daughters about fertility and the empowering nature of birth, and letting the second oldest profession on this earth, midwifery, become a relic of the past as each woman reclaims her power in freebirth.
The second reason so many women ask for these drugs in labor, is that many modern women who have heard the call to be midwives, have unconsciously identified with the oppressor, and are engaging in obstetrics, or medical practices. There is a shift of power from birthing mother to expert when the midwife tells her that she is indispensable for a safe birth and is even willing to go along with her fear of pain.
Well, as Artemis says, birth is about as safe as life gets. With no blame, I cite my sister midwives in holding up evolution. After all, we learn what we live. Women have been disempowered for millennia on this planet. So when we get a little power over someone else, it is hard to give up. This is what I see many medical midwives doing, finally having some power, that is hard to surrender. Some midwives MANage births, dominate the scene and mimic doctors in trying to control, rather than assist, natural birth.
What I am proposing is an evolutionary leap of faith. What if every woman became a midwife? For one thing, we would effectively limit the "helping hand strikes again syndrome."
Most all other mammals know to move away from the herd or pack when giving birth because it is members of one’s own species as well as other predators, which can be dangerous during delivery. It is only domesticated humans (an rare exceptions from other mammals like dolphins, elephants, bats) who think we need expert assistance. We are so far estranged from women’s mysteries of fertility and our natural world that almost every family believes that they must give birth surrounded by others.
From the baby’s cellular experience, all that is needed for inner/outer integrity is to be greeted by the lovers, which called the baby earthside.Everyone else is a potential "predator." Examination of perinatal rituals the world over, especially in the violet cultures, always shows extensive birth practices to distract the birthing mother from receiving her own baby and bonding with her babe. Why? Because if mothers birth their own babies, and their bonding is intact, they won’t let anyone hurt their child. It is harder to make warriors when mother protect their children.
How else would it help society to empower mothers to protect their babies? We might eradicate genital mutilation/circumcision in one generation if mothers were empowered to give birth to their own babies. I have suspected that when mothers’ genitals are cut (episiotomy), the wounded women are less likely to protect her own babies from genital trauma.
We’d also help bring an end to drug addiction, the pattern which is given at birth by the mother’s own example. The baby learns to avoid feeling through anesthetizing agents. I believe that mothers wouldn’t take drugs during delivery if there were not so many rescuers/experts (read drug pushers) in control of birth.
Here I am not talking about the psychic quest to remember the Mind behind nature, which has sometimes led to the taking of psychedelic drugs but the mind-numbing usage of pharmaceutical and legal drugs, which deaden consciousness. Birth on its own, without intervention, is the original altered state of consciousness. I suspect that drug addiction is in part fueled by an unconscious regret for having missed the natural high of being born in ecstasy, rather than in a drugged stupor.
How would empowered mothers contribute to the healing of our planet?We’d stop the most dangerous of addictions, from the Earth’s perspective – consumerism – if mothers gave birth without experts. A mother who gives birth without interference more than likely nurses her baby, rather than using a bottle which sets a pattern to use things to fill up hungers rather than turning to another human for a loving, intimate exchange. Being breastfed creates an imprint of abundance, rather than the scarcity which using a bottle that is measured, perhaps disposable, can imprint. Breastfeeding teaches subject-subject relationship: bottle-feeding teaches manipulation or the subject-object relationship to gratify needs.
Finally, freebirth serves mothering as it breaks the root addiction – the addiction to ego. This addiction to believing that we are separate, skin-encapsulated egos, independent beings who can control, or MANage our bodies, lies beneath all of the above symptomatic addictions – being a victim (object), drug addictions, consumerism.
We need a new body parable here, sisters. I propose that we are interdependent beings and not "in control" or our bodies. We don’t "own" our bodies – that is the language of economics, taken from the dominator culture. We ARE our bodies. Birth, without the experts in attendance, teaches us to surrender to what-is. We learn core response-ability for our natural female experience. We learn trust in women’s power in its mothering expression.
The moment for us to be change agents for evolution is now. Let us remember that conception is more often than not an intimate and sacred communion of three beings – mother, father and baby – so can be birth. If we need no experts at conception, we need no experts at birth. Let us free ourselves from the cult of the expert, reclaim our primal responsibility and contribute to a new species of humanity "with liberty and justice for all."
by Jeannine Parvati Baker
Author of Conscious Conception