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.
Some of my reflections on being Sacred – in writing or in real daily life?
I really love writing. I have so many ideas and I often lie down staring into the darkness, while breastfeeding a baby back to sleep, with a blog reeling away in my mind – with nowhere to put it down. Audio recording would disturb the silence, I have tried a notebook in the park, just really too tired to do extra late nights – and anyway they get disturbed.
Actually there are so many blogs out there now saying the same and important things about life, love and living – babies and growing. But I find writing healing for me and a gut creativity I like to do. Still I would love if my experiences and real-life stories that have impacted me and grown me – even the everyday beings and then the bigger ones too – could perhaps inspire, touch, remind someone else too about – the importance of being You or just remembering that we are so much of Being Sacred in just that……. Being.
But my life keeps me humble.
Actually the point of this blog was intended to highlight my thoughts of how much time I could spend reading articles, blogposts, status’, how much time I could spend doing and creating and producing something at the end of the day to validate my value, to have something to show for all my day’s efforts – but in truth I am finding that that is all taking away valuable time from being exquisitely present in being my truth – and standing in my sacred realm in relating and maintaining my tribelet at home. I am expressing this to take any of this illusory pressure off myself – and for the ego it pursuits – and give myself permission to honour those moments each and every moment – daily – in being so finely present in sacred gratitude with my loved ones. With really nothing much at all to show for it – well, with physical eyes that is.
I want to write and share my thoughts, my studies and my experiences with women, saints, babies and life which lead me to have deep connections and celebrations and challenges of living an authentic heart-led life.
I want to write about the beautiful and incredible women who touch me and need to be written about – including my beloved mother, who left this world over 2 years ago during my pregnancy; about the special couple who I have been so privileged to walk with as we faced a stillbirth and recovery afterwards; about the mother saint who came into our lives and left so many deep impressions that have altered my daily life profoundly – deepening my practical and philosophical understanding of what truly being a Sacred mother and woman is – and how profoundly important it is to our communities!
I read about the sisterhood of motherhood and the vaccine wars…..I spend my days watching my 2 year old grow, complain and love life; I get a snippet of my 9 years old growths and changes as he becomes older and wiser! I go through all the emotions and frustrations of being at home and not “achieving” anything – and then I remember – and then I hear bits of a webinar of conscious parenting – and I remember again!!!
I spent my government service in the hospital writing the stories of my daily interactions with life and death, patients and their loved ones – in my head – driving home on the curves of beautiful Garden Route mountains or alongside the township of Khayelitsha. So profoundly moving – such real life – too much real life everyday.
I want to write about the amazing herbs and holistic approaches to healing that I am learning more and more about ; so many of our women face challenges and dis-eases.
Then I miss medicine….oh yes! Even that emergency red trauma resuscitation! And I miss those night calls – and then I remember how much I missed my family those nights…. I want to be more! I want to do less! I want to be…
So I don’t get to write those posts, I don’t get to teach the most beautiful connecting with your baby meditation process, I don’t get to do the profound and deep sacred postpartum binding and mother healing I have also studied since – as much as I would love to.
Because … I am too busy being. Being mother, being wife, being woman, being. And at the same time trying to remember and deeply honour the spiritual purpose for all of this and connect with this at every moment.
So I can’t offer a regular post – though I would love to! And I don’t do much else either – because I am giving my energy and time to my growing family. Finally. It doesn’t make me better. This is just my path. But I love that feeling when you are following your heart – and it feels so right.
Yip – most of that means getting down and playing dirty with an incredible blessing in a body of a 2 year old!! And some deep philosophical debates and basic arguments with a strong willed 9 year old!
I think I would like to include – “Mountain Retreat Getaway” – as a prescription for all women or people for that matter. To make the decision to get away into the nature and stop or leave behind the duties, work, admin and daily routine.
The power of nature is incredibly helpful to recentre ourselves – almost giving an absolutely refreshing blank template to our lives. And inviting us to start filling it in as we would like to – with a very fresh, simplified vision. At the same time a break in the nature has the ability to make it very clear – what are priorities are.
I think it is because inherently our rhythms and being as we are – a pulse of nature; and we tend to get very unnaturally busy beyond our natural resources and therefore we simply get over stimulated and exhausted.
Nature refocuses us, re-aligns us, refreshes us and recharges us.
A wonderful gift so accessible. I experience it every time I take the time to walk in the nature, look at a beautiful flower, dark starry night, powerful waves in the sea and being in the mountains.
The power of aligning ourselves with what gives us strength, peace and calm inner satisfaction is so important. To step out of the pessaries and bustle of what we think defines us in our daily survival and activities. Thereby connecting with our inner truth and needs. Whether it be nature in the form of mountains, water, oceans, fields, space, animals, family, knitting, meditating, surfing – it is so lovely and self-investing to spend time with that intermittently as we decide to keep us balanced, fulfilled and happy.
So here we are spending two nights in a remote mountain chalet – happily absorbing the natural elements with my son looking for fossils in the rocks and fish in the rivers – and I am moved at the abundance of perfect beauty – of its perfectly designed flowers and plants. Shyam (my baby) experiences new sights, touch and smells. And I pray to the Divine Personality behind it all – to give me the wisdom and pure intention as I start my first steps to being me as doctor, healer, mother and midwife.
I wonder, do you know what fulfills this need for you and how do you go about incorporating it into your life?
Today my little one really surprised me. We were going for a walk, well a ride – he rode his scooter bike and I walked/rode my bicycle. He stopped and examined the large leaves and picked one up to take with him. He stopped every time some one walked or rode pass him and waited for them to pass. He shrieked in delight at the butterflies and the “Ucks” (ducks). And then he would ride furiously again. And then he would get incredible distracted and side-tracked moment to moment.
At one point I needed him to park his bike and put him onto his seat on my bicycle so we could go on the busy road. He didn’t want to and sat on his bike moving away up the other path. And when I asked him to come and park he would say “Nooooo” and scrunch up his nose and shake his head.
So eventually after waiting a fair bit, I got off my bicycle and went to him. I knelt down in front of him at his height and said very gently, while looking into his eyes, that I really need him to park his bike because it is not safe to take it out on the road. And I know he really wants to ride it but we can ride when we get back. So please will he park it nicely and come on my bicycle with me.
And he turned around, took his bike with him and parked it perfectly between the other motorbikes and happily got on my bicycle.
I had successfully averted forcing him, bribing him, just picking him up and just putting him on my bike with him crying…I was quite impressed with his level of understanding and communication.
I realised how valuable this way of communicating is and was so grateful to have come across this! It became so evident to me that we can speak to our children with respect and understanding, without expecting them to know what and why we are thinking and to just obey, that they have will and motives and feelings too and if we acknowledge them and explain things – even from so young, it goes far further.
I mean it could have been a situation where I picked him up, pulled him off his bike, put the bike in a corner and moved on with him crying for a bit and then settling down. But it wasn’t. We were both happy and respected.