When a mother embraces her newborn baby, her third child to her chest with deep loving affection and relief, a few minutes old and you witness THE MOST precious time in a life….and she says “this is the first time I am seeing a newborn”..you wander…. what is so wrong with the system that she did not have this with her first 2 children?
Why is she and many other mothers AND babies being robbed of this important and integral moment.
THIS is why I will keep doing what I do and speaking what I speak…and writing what I write…..
This is the birth right of every mother and baby.
PLEASE DO NOT let anyone take THIS moment away from you without valid medical reason.
This mom got to discover the unknown sex of her baby by her own hands and eyes. The baby was not cleaned, weighed, injected minutes after being born and then adorned in nappy and towel and shown to the mom. She asked “Is it a boy or a girl?” and we helped her have a look herself and she said “it’s a Boy!” It makes a crucial difference. This beautiful newborn baby lay on his mom’s chest adjusting to the outside world, still hearing the familiar heartbeat and familiar smells. You could see on his face that he was peaceful, nurtured and curious about life in the safety of his mother’s chest and closeness.
Make it known before you give birth this is what you expect.
This moment can never happen again. And it DOES make a difference. That baby’s world perceptions are being formed….what he knows and feels as normal and acceptable. Love, trust, security.
We owe it to ourselves.
Peace on Earth begins with Birth.
Enjoy other posts like this one: https://gaurilowe.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/dignity-is-a-basic-human-right-in-childbirth-too/
As a women’s holistic doctor I firmly believe that if a woman is feeling supported. loved, honoured and nurtured – her physical and emotional health will have a power for remarkable healing and well-being. So I do red tent style women’s gatherings and circles.
Today my husband was graciously playing with my young son and off I went. Backpack on my back with posters, beads, herbal teas, silk cloths, milk sweets, pens, papers and signs!
I cycled down the packed and busy village road in India. I live at a pilgrimage site and being Sunday it was packed! Buses come and drop off people there from near and far villages and towns. I mazed my way through the throngs of small Bengali’s and their bright red and yellow saris. Cycling in public roads in India definitely takes practice- and I am still practicing! I drilled my little bell hoping they would stay to the side as I dodged buses and their loud elaborate song horns, motorbikes whisked past me with their deep incessant and very urgent hooters making them seem far more close and menacing than they really are. Bicycles, rickshaws, people, Indian spitting…smells of fried puris, the odd beedie being smoked, car fumes and incense. Shops playing their Krishna dance videos with children singing Krishna bhajans on the small screens for all the shopping pilgrims.
Then it opened up and their was a relief from the intensity! The shops were left in the distance and the roadside revealed the nature. Cows walked slowly, the air felt fresher, cars and buses became less and I could see the rice paddies on the left, still soaked from when the river Ganges flooded last month. Green, blue..space and beautiful. I appreciated the rhythm of my bicycle peddling round and round. Passing the rickshaw bicycle also cycling round and round with its regular squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Strangely reassuring and lulling.
I started enjoying my ride and appreciating the village atmosphere here. I put up my sign saying “Women’s Gathering Here” at the turnoff from the main road. Directions in India can be very confusing – “Carry on until you see a road on your left…don’t turn there! Turn at the small lane 8 metres after that road!” So I placed some signs so people would know!
And again at the nameless apartment block.
Inside the beautifully decorated Spa – a perfect space to honour and nurture women – I set up a small altar with rich pink silk scarf I had bought in Jaipur. Some beautiful women figures, beads, incense in my lotus incense holder from Bali and my African Sage and Lavender smudgestick from my Chinese doctor friend in Cape Town.
Some soft music, some Rooibos and Mint tea on the boil.
We chatted, we shared, we shed a tear, we laughed, we loved and appreciated and respected and learnt. We discovered this is ImPOrtANt! Every young and old girl and woman should have this opportunity as a human right. It should be part of the community script that every woman has the opportunity to feel part of a caring community of women. Where she can share her fears, doubts and learn from her older mothers, sisters about her body, her fertility, her mooncycle, her sexuality, childmaking, childrearing, pregnancy, birth…. in a circle of non-judgemental, caring and loving others.
We are an international community and we were internationally represented this afternoon.
I left touched, grateful and appreciated!
I want to do more! I want to honour women so much for the role and significance they play in society.
I have so much planned to share and to nurture our Sacred Ladies!
I rode home eager to embrace my sons, listening to their excited time with his dad and the cows; and cycling with friends.
There is not much more to say about it….read this and reflect. We take our own baggage in all sorts to all of life….especially important life events. We may not even be aware. It is one of the most important aspects I believe need to be addressed in harnessing and spreading a Sacred Model of Birth. The power of transference. It is not volountary.
From the outstanding and revolutionary book “Birth Without Violence” by Frederick Leboyer
“Will the baby breathe?
Everyone is holding their breath. Identifying with the baby unconsciously. We have all returned from our own births – fighting for breath just like this newborn baby; on the verge of suffocation.
We have no umbilicus to supply us with oxygen. So things soon become unbearable, and we must take some action.
The easiest, the most sensible, the most obvious thing for the onlooker to do would simply be to breathe.
Instead of which, he cuts the baby’s cord.
His own emotional involvement has made him quite irrational.
Naturally the baby shrieks.
Everyone present exclaims in relief: Its breathing.
But, in fact, it is just they themselves who have found relief.
What they really should be saying is ‘I am breathing’.
Because the truth is that the baby was in no hurry – its umbilicus gives it plenty of time.
Under the pretext of helping this new foreign being, the obstetrician has considered only himself.
Without knowing it, he has made a transference. He has rid himself of his own anguish by projecting it on to the child.
And so the victim, deprived of its umbilicus, finds himself choking for breath.
So that we can breath freely.
This process of transference will be endlessly repeated. And the sum of these repetitions is what we, in our ignorance, call education.”
Birth without Violence – Frederick Leboyer.
This photo was posted on my timeline, in a private message and I posted it on my page. It kept being removed. It was removed by other people who posted it too on their pages.
It’s not a new story but this photo carries an important message.It normalises normal birth. It normalises unassisted family welcoming a baby into the world.
We all know that if it was a picture of a mother in a sterile gown having her baby shown to her wrapped up with a clamped cord by similar sterile strangers with gloves it would not be removed.
BUT THIS is the picture that needs to come into our heads when we consider birth. When we consider welcoming a new baby into the world, a new member of our family, a child to mother and father.
THIS IS NORMAL.
This is statistically how over 75% of women can have babies. Yes! Babies come out of vaginas! And yes fathers and mothers can welcome their babies with love like this!! Share in whatever way you can – this is the important message we need to get out!
THIS IS THE NORMAL!!
(PS – If you are interested in reading more about Sacred birth here is a wonderful talk to read or listen to… https://gaurilowe.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/a-sacred-model-of-birth/ )
If you are interested in viewing this graphic but beautiful picture with honour, respect and sacredness – please find the picture here https://www.pinterest.com/pin/57069120254950471/ . or here https://gaurilowe.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/2015-03-16-22-05-44.jpg.
My first experience of being with laboring women was in the local referral hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. I was a first year medical school student and wide-eyed and excited about spending a few hours there one night. There were a few ladies laboring but nothing too exciting until we were invited to watch a caeserian section.
So there I was in my green pyjama-like scrubs with my mask and hat, standing close enough to see and far enough to be healthily safe. My only memory of the caeserian was that the lady was flapping her arms uncontrollably. They were secured onto arm boards but due to the spinal she was shaking violently and could not control it. Her right arm kept hitting the assistant surgeon (probably an intern) on the buttocks. And she said “Stop coming onto me and hitting me on the bum.” And they all laughed and laughed and continued the joke. I was horrified, ashamed, embarrassed and shocked. I just hoped the young lady having her first baby could not understand English enough to know what was going on, as her baby was being born.
That deeply impacted me. Two years later I chose to have my baby at home and NOT in a hospital (for so many reasons.) And my birth experience equally impacted me. Probably more. I experienced empowerment, love, connection, nature, support and all the other good things that swerved my career path to supporting other mothers to have THAT kind of birth experience.
But I had to complete my studies and internship. I was in and out of maternity obstetric units, secondary hospitals, tertiary hospitals across the Western Cape. What I saw deeply disturbed me. The verbal physical and emotional abuse ravaged me. As a student I wrote letters of complaints. I noted down staff’s names and reported them. I summoned a meeting with the heads of obstetrics and requested answers, reactions, prevention of the incidents I had witnessed.
I reported a 16 year old girl getting severe fundal pressure, episiotomy without anaesthesia and being shown her baby hanging upside down after birth. I was told that I did not spend enough time at that hospital to comment.
I told of incidents at local hospitals – incidents that were not only abusive but broke protocol. Not allowing laboring women a partner with them. Mothers being shouted at “Your baby is going to die. It is your fault. You have made your baby sick.” Not being allowed to move around. During a vaginal examination of a young teenager – “you let him put it in there, now this is what we have to do.”
I have seen racism, rudeness and force by the head of departments. I have seen disregard for consent. I have seen midwives joke and poke and stare at various vulva’s when the mother is conscious and her head is behind the screen in preparation for a caeserian section.
I have seen caeserian sections done on mothers for social reasons (the doctors); I have seen caeserian sections done on mothers for a breech baby that wasn’t actually breech.
I have been helpless – waiting for a logbook to be signed; and not said anything until afterwards.
I have also seen tired, hard-working midwives and doctors that are really trying their best to manage under very difficult circumstances.
The problem is that the birth experience has a hugely profound effect on the mother and baby, individually and their relationship. It is not only “nice” – it really does matter how a mother and baby are treated during this time. The imprints and sequalae have far-reaching effects in terms of psychology, neurology, sociology and psychiatry. So we need to pay attention!
We are speaking about basic human rights. And human rights in childbirth is really really important. The way we treat our laboring and pregnant mothers and newborn babies matters. There is an organization that is ralleyed to support, inform and educate mothers and their care-givers. And they give conferences around the world – inviting ethics professionals, lawyers, obstetricians, midwives and anthropologists (to name a few). Soon there is one in South Africa, my home land, and then one in India – where I stay now.
To go even one step further and encourage an awareness – of the sacredness of being pregnant, giving birth and being born – and remember THIS in each interaction – in antenatal clinics, in labour rooms, delivery suites, emergency runs, theatre, postnatal wards, nicu – homevisits… It invites a very different balanced, conscious and embracing paradigm of birth that works too.
Because being rude, raising voices, using harsh words, forcing, lying does not help anything anyway – in any situation. We do not have that right. It will catch up with us. It seldom works for the desired affect anyway.
Thank you to the midwives and birthworkers that take the time and patience to hold someone’s hand when she needs reassurance, to be kind and gentle and understanding when performing a vaginal
examination, to look into a woman’s eyes and speak to her with soft and gentle words, to respect her wishes, to explain things to her, to handle her newborn with gentle care and attention.
Please be kind to the next pregnant woman you meet – no matter how she pushes, how old she is, how overweight or underweight she is, how her vulva looks, whether you agree or not with her birth choices, her postures.
This is her right. It is called the right to dignity. And if you cross it you are contravening a basic human right.
Women – please claim your right back. It is yours.