Saturday, June 23, 2007

Freebirth on Richard & Judy



Today's Cuppa: Raspberry leaf tea, especially for birthing mothers!


*Childbirth ~ if you want the job done properly, do it yourself!
(from Laura Shanley's unassisted childbirth website ~
www.unassistedchildbirth.com)

Funny, I don't watch Richard and Judy, but when Bethany asked me yesterday if I felt like watching it, I thought, 'what the heck, ok.' I'd been out all day and was shattered, so thought a blob on the couch was no great sin, even though I'm always making dinner at that time.

In hindsight, it must have been my intuition which answered 'yes'. I was so thrilled to discover my gorgeous friend Laura Kaplan Shanley (author of Unassisted Childbirth) as a guest during a segment on Freebirth (unassisted birth). A massive bouquet to you Laura, you were FANTASTIC!!!!

There were also two mums, Natalie Dorchester and Julia Wilson, who'd given birth unassisted, and I thought they were wonderful and brave putting their sacred experience under the harsh media spotlight. They were wise, passionate and intuitive. Intuition may have been dismissed by Richard as 'airy fairy', but quite frankly, it's the most powerful tool a person has. Unfortunately our left-brain dominated society has learnt to dismiss this life-enhancing inner voice.

It was wonderful to see Laura speak so eloquently and articulately on such an emotive topic. But why is it emotive? For but a blip in human history, women 'have' given birth unassisted. In some cultures they still do. Being supported by other women, either relatives or midwives, is a very recent 'intervention'. And having birth managed by doctors and obstetricians is but half a blink in human history.

Richard led to the segment with the question, "How long till a baby dies?" Such a fear-based and negative introduction didn't surprise me, but it did sadden me. Richard and Judy are held up as gods by an adoring public. What they so goes…so even if he's only asking the question and acting like a journalist, putting the thought out there before even commencing the interview is deliberately leading the viewer down a particular path, rather than trusting their intelligence and heart to come to their own conclusion.

They also issued a statement from the Department of Health which said "There are risks involved and we do not recommend freebirth." No surprise there, but what ignorance! There are risks in every aspect of life. I risk my life every time I walk down my stairs, or plug in an electrical appliance, or put food in my mouth. The DoH don't issue statements telling us that to 'live' is dangerous!

To use a government body as the 'authoritative' voice of childbirth is ludicrous. The only true expert of birth is the woman who is in labour.

My disappointment with the show was with the line of questioning, no doubt created by very young researchers and producers. I know that it has to appeal to a particular audience, and let's face it, it is channel four!!, but tv is such an incredibly powerful medium that to waste ten precious minutes evoking fear rather than trying to enlighten and educate, always disappoints me.

Our society doesn't acknowledge the high mortality rate, or damage, which occur during medically induced and attended births. Very rarely do such deaths appear in the mainstream media, even though the consequences are tragic and life-long for the families involved.

People always fear what they don't understand ~ flat earth syndrome…. They're so horrified at the thought of people taking responsibility for their health, well-being and child's birth that they simply can't adjust their limited frame of reference, and so they denounce Freebirth as 'irresponsible'. Were all our ancestress irresponsible for birthing their babies unassisted in the time before scans, forceps, and obstetricians? Hardly! They were awesome wombyn! And as Laura said on the show, anthropologists who've studied cultures where women were nurtured, well-fed and watered had no incidence of death in childbirth.

Why doesn't anyone tell a mother who opts for scans, drugs, forceps, ventouse or a medically unnecessary caesarean, that she is potentially putting herself and her baby in 'grave' danger? Why isn't she warned that the risks greatly outweigh the benefits? Why are these women not seen as irresponsible? For two very simple reasons:

1.) They are in the majority. But just because most people do something it doesn't mean it's right!

2.) There's no money for birth professionals when a woman gives birth unassisted. The more intervention in a birth, the more the doctor or obstetrician makes.


We've become so far removed from our biological design that we can't even recognise nature's perfection. We need to stop looking for what's wrong and look for what's right.

It's absolutely fascinating (if not soul destroying) to see the studies into the common, significant factors shared by autistic children. Although there are more than 20 factors, these children often have at least four or five in common, including:

. Deep forceps delivery
. Separation of mother and child at birth (always happens after birth problems)
. Being hospitalised in early life
. Being exposed to too many strange faces in the early years

Every invention that a mother accepts as normal, such as ~

* A pregnancy test (rather than listening to her body tell her that she's pregnant)
* Scan to tell her that baby is growing and is ok (rather than intuition)
* Antenatal tests (usual barrage ~ urine, blood, heart)
* Drugs to 'mask' her fear
* Fake milk for babe (this topic is so huge and fundamentally explosive to humans, personally and collectively, and humanity's future, that it takes a book to discuss it)
* Cots, cribs, prams, day care, early institutional learning

~ all separate mother from child. They put a physical, emotional and spiritual distance between them. The trouble is that this numbing-out becomes the 'norm' and our detachment is not questioned. Rather, those with a strong mothering instinct are made to look abnormal.

I would say that almost all women who choose an unassisted birth have done so knowing that they had to take 100% responsibility for their actions. In doing so they've taken great care with their health and well-being, possibly doing so from before conception. These women nurture mind, body and soul. For them it's a priority to surround themselves with positive influences and uplifting birth stories. And if women are honest, there's nothing encouraging or supportive about hearing women's horrific birth stories! Why do we keep perpetuating them? And why does the media keep showing women flat on their backs in birth? It's the worst possible position.

If you choose the medical system and eat rubbish, drink alcohol, smoke, don't rest adequately, work throughout your pregnancy, stay in a negative relationship, etc., you're ok aren’t you? The system will take care of you and pick up the pieces. Nobody ever questions it.

I am firmly in the pro-freebirth camp. (Freebirth was a term coined by the late, great Jeannine Parvati Baker). And for the record it IS legal in the UK. Just because the vast majority of professionals in the birthing field and social workers are unaware of it, doesn't mean it's not true! What the law states is that someone not trained in birth 'care' can not 'deliver' the baby. The mother has every right to birth her own baby without assistance or supervision.

At The Mother magazine our ethos regarding birth is that we don't wish to perpetuate the belief that birth is 'dangerous or painful', but rather, that birth can be beautiful, ecstatic and indeed, orgasmic, just as nature intended.

I don't buy the often touted biblical stuff about childbirth pain being the legacy of sin.

That we suffer pain is a direct reflection of our fear of birth and our body, as well as 'taking on' ancestral stuff from recent times. We carry cellular memories from when matriarchal societies were over-ruled and nine million 'witches' (aka wise women!) were burned for knowing about women's power (birth, menstruation, herbs, dreams, etc.) That's a rather heavy burden for us girls to carry. It doesn't mean we need to create invasive, violent or disrespectful births. We can change the pattern. And it is women such as Freebirthers who are taking this in their hands. All praise to them, because for each woman who brings a baby into this world gently, peacefully and magically, they are helping to change the collective energy around birth. I have nothing but pure admiration for them.

My mother had her last three children at home, unassisted. And I suppose for me, it was this normal and natural event that allows me to see Freebirth for what it is, rather than what the media and many birth professionals suggest. I've known of far more babies die or be brain-injured in medically-managed births than I have ever heard of in home or unassisted births.

On Richard and Judy, Laura used the making love analogy. I often cite this in media interviews, 'hoping' that it might just make sense to people…but then making love/sex has become yet another desensitised experience in our modern world.

When we make love, because we're mammals, we do so best in the dark or semi-dark, in an atmosphere conducive to our hormones working well. We need comforting smells and touch, whispered voices. In essence, we need to be 'wooed'.

If you were about to make love to your partner and he suddenly stopped to turn on the tv for cricket results, or raced out of the room to stop the toast burning, or just when you were ready to orgasm, your mum phoned…well, it won't be a great experience! The flow will be interrupted.

The SAME hormones are used in birth and breastfeeding. We're simply not designed to have strangers watching us when we give birth…any more than we're designed to have our blood pressure or heart checked, fingers checking cervix, etc. It's wrong, wrong, wrong!

Most hospital births, by their very nature, involve fluorescent lightning, metal dishes being banged around, staff talking to each other, the bloody clock on the wall ticking!!, machines beeping. What sort of an environment is that in which to welcome a sacred being Earthside? Reeks to me of something rather barbaric, actually. Start life with a violent birth, and odds are greatly in your favour that violence will be part of your life later on.

Muck with birth and you ask for trouble. Period. Every intervention is an intervention on the pathway to more intervention. Accept it at your own risk. Don't worry though, because no one will call you irresponsible…even if you've never given it any thought or your informed consent. No-one will call you irresponsible when your baby is handled like a lump of meat, rather than the exquisitely sensitive being she is.

People often evangelise doctors and say they 'saved' their baby. I will always disagree with that. If a baby survives birth (or any other life/death event) the doctor or midwife is a catalyst, not a life saver. It is incredibly egoic and arrogant to think that a human has the ability to keep a body and soul connected. It's simply not possible. This world we see is but a mere shadow of an unseen REAL world. None of us has control over when the Light goes out, or indeed begins.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting
The soul that rises with us
Our life's Star
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar
Not in entire forgetfulness
And not in utter nakedness
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.

~ William Wordsworth

When we can understand at the deepest level that birth and death are one and the same, then we'll have unlocked one of life's deepest mysteries…and then we'll let go of birth management. Society will inevitably change (for the better) as a result. I think, at the deepest level, that most Freebirth women have made the birth/death connection.

Natural birth is a place which invites nurturing and love…words and a practice not part of the obstetrical thesaurus! Birth 'care' as conducted by obstetricians is aggressive by the very nature of it being controlling. To reclaim birth as the sacred experience gifted to us by the Goddess, we need to let go of this obsession with judging a birthing woman by her age, size of her pelvis, previous birth history, urine samples and so on. These are irrelevant to how she'll give birth. What we really need to look at is how she was born. How did her mother bring her into the world? Our own birth has a huge impact on how we approach bringing children into the world ~ conscious or otherwise.

The reason our culture advocates medically supervised birth is because it wants women controlled…for surely there is nothing more primal (or beautiful) than an empowered birthing woman.

It's inevitable, this blog being available to anyone, that some, perhaps many, will read this and disagree wholeheartedly. That's fine. I ask you this, though. If your faith in medical birth is so strong, how would you face birth if you had to take 100% responsibility for it without help, supervision or intervention? What would you do to ensure you and your baby's safety?

Not having a conscious conception is like missing the beginning of a good movie!
~ Thomas Darling

How is it that most modern women manage to conceive without interference but can't give birth without 'help'? Both conception and birth are sacred and otherworldly miracles made manifest in the physical. Perhaps if more people started witnessing their conception as a conscious, creative, selfless act of intimacy in which they first discovered themselves, we'd see it mirrored in an easy, pain-free, spontaneous birth also.

Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth. ~ Katherine Mansfield

7 comments:

Harmonious Living said...

Sacred - your words are a catechism of freedom and celebration.
Passion moves, the will merely dictates.
To plug our daughters and grandaughters back into their primordial passion and worth is the greatest gift and the salvation of our mother planet.

We need to clasp back the media imagary and illusory nonsence of the 'word' love - and lift 'love' back to its sacred itimacy and joy that all wimmin know in their being.

Bless you - your daughters are blessed, as your mother blessed you.
What greater gift can we give to life than to remind each other of the sacred.
Thankyou.
x

Alison said...

I had an (almost!) orgasmic birth (first baby, in hospital but with relatively little intervention). I was in hospital to humour husband and mum-in-law (I myself was a homebirth - thanks Mum! She was 41 at the time, shocking in 1982 in the US). Anyway, I had almost no fear, and no pain (discomfort yes, pain no). I had no pain relief, the labour was fast and intense, but I wanted it to go on and on. The midwife was freaking out (barely concealed panic) because I wasn't! I could hear a woman down the hall screaming for an epidural - turns out she was a GP! I had total faith in God's design of women's bodies and the birth process. My only 'doubts' came in response to the fear and doubt of those around me. The biggest stain on the experience was the forced episiotomy, which was the worst pain I've ever felt (never again).
I hope to give birth at home in the future.
I know many will disagree with my Biblical worldview, but I believe that the world system (including medical/health system) is ruled largely by the evil force (Satan), who comes to steal, kill and destroy. He hates humankind, especially children. He uses people and their 'worldly ways' to destroy us, body mind and soul. Much of the 'playing God' stuff that is done by authorities (health, education, media) is inspired by him. I believe that unnatural living is often sinful, as it suggests that human wisdom trumps divine wisdom. It takes courage and faith to break away from the world's ways, even in small steps. I compromised by going to hospital, and I suffered for it. Heaven help us.

Laura McIntyre said...

I read your blog with curisousity and wonder each week, you have a wonderful way with words and your daughters are incredibly lucky. While A freebirth may not be my thing i can understand some women loving it. I dream of a homebirth some day but due to problems my first born had im not even sure it would ever be possible.
I love your views on everything and think its amazing your still breastfeeding , im tandem feeding my two year old and 7 month old and have no plans to stop.

Veronika said...

Thanks for all the comments coming into my inbox...google is playing silly thing again with my password and I can't access blogger. sorry! veronika

Jenny Hatch said...

Thanks for your amazing words Veronika!

I am attempting to keep track of everything that is being said in the media and on blogs in a new catagory on my blog called DIY Homebirth Debate found here:

http://www.naturalfamilyblog.com/archives/cat_diy_homebirth_debate.html

Thansk for all you are doing to normalize birth!

Love, Jenny Hatch

Mia said...

I'm a midwife and would agree entirely with what you're saying. Despite working for the NHS, I'm privileged enough to work with a caseload, which means I've known my women for around 6 months by the time they give birth; this means they're not giving birth with strangers and can give birth with confidence. Some at home, some at my hospital's birth centre, very occasionally on our labour ward, according to circumstances and their own choices. Either way, dim lighting, inactive vigilance and minimal intervention is always my goal.

And if it were me? I'm lucky enough to have plenty of fantastic friends/midwives who would come to my home and watch me labour in peace, providing only the support I felt I needed. If that weren't the case, I would still need to have breech twins and fulminating pre-eclampsia before you got me near a hospital to give birth. Even then, I'd have to think hard about it...

Even though it try my hardest to provide the best care I possibly can within the NHS, I despair daily at the pointless - or at worst destructive - interventions perpetrated by my medical colleagues, as well as, sadly, my more medically-minded midwifery colleagues. It is truly staggering that these self-proclaimed experts in childbirth have such little understanding as to the physiology of birth. Trust me, if you could witness what I see on an almost daily basis you would weep for what we are doing to women. I do frequently. But I keep on, trying to buck the system and help my women to birth as they should, because even if I'm not changing the system, I hope I'm helping to slowly subvert it from within.

Mia said...

I'm a midwife and would agree entirely with what you're saying. Despite working for the NHS, I'm privileged enough to work with a caseload, which means I've known my women for around 6 months by the time they give birth; this means they're not giving birth with strangers and can give birth with confidence. Some at home, some at my hospital's birth centre, very occasionally on our labour ward, according to circumstances and their own choices. Either way, dim lighting, inactive vigilance and minimal intervention is always my goal.

And if it were me? I'm lucky enough to have plenty of fantastic friends/midwives who would come to my home and watch me labour in peace, providing only the support I felt I needed. If that weren't the case, I would still need to have breech twins and fulminating pre-eclampsia before you got me near a hospital to give birth. Even then, I'd have to think hard about it...

Even though it try my hardest to provide the best care I possibly can within the NHS, I despair daily at the pointless - or at worst destructive - interventions perpetrated by my medical colleagues, as well as, sadly, my more medically-minded midwifery colleagues. It is truly staggering that these self-proclaimed experts in childbirth have such little understanding as to the physiology of birth. Trust me, if you could witness what I see on an almost daily basis you would weep for what we are doing to women. I do frequently. But I keep on, trying to buck the system and help my women to birth as they should, because even if I'm not changing the system, I hope I'm helping to slowly subvert it from within.