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Birth-y Women

  (L to R) Jen "VBAC Facts" Kamel; Lorell Bentley; Me!; Joni Nichols ("Plenitud"); Jill "Unnecesarean" 

On March 17, 2011, at a book signing for J.D. Kleinke's "Catching Babies," a happenstance group of birthy women gathered and, as the evening unfolded, it seemed the reason for our being there was not really the book reading and signing, but to touch each other in ways we haven't been able to do through our online interactions. While we've all seen each other off and on at events (how lucky I am to be in San Diego where a slew of birth activists live!), this evening was different, almost transforming. Was transforming for me.

Moving around the backyard and inside the rooms, floating, really... it was if I held my empty, then filling, cup outstretched and with each step, I grew strength to stand up, taller than the step before. 

I've vowed to speak up about ways to improve the safety of homebirth and my belief in the need to increase the education process for homebirth midwives, speaking in earnest starting on my 50th birthday (which is a week from today). It wouldn't take but a day in the Natural Birth World to know I'm going to take serious hell for my thoughts and beliefs, so having allies, even if they don't 100% agree with my message, definitely helps me to withstand the upcoming onslaught of sticks, stones and pelting words I see gathering over there in the corner. I cannot let them break me.

I. Cannot. Let. Them. Break. Me.

Each of the women above was supportive of my speaking up, even if they didn't totally agree. It was their love and support, their respect, that filled my cup that evening. I know our mutual blog readings have laid a foundation of that trust and respect.

In that space on that mid-March night, I felt a sisterhood of midwifery and natural birth I have not felt in a very, very long time. And it felt amazing. 

I will hold tight to that memory. And keep moving forward.

Reader Comments (8)

Yes...you must speak up. I don't want to die or lose a baby because of my pride and control seeking. I also don't want to come out of births (or want other women including my daughters) with the emotional trauma women can face when we're treated like children with no say whatsoever in birth in a hospital setting. The only way to improve outcomes and the process to the outcomes is to offer an alternative. The alternative needs to be a viable and safe alternative, or it's just a thing to do that makes a woman look stupid, ignorant, or prideful. So, yes, fight for training and safety in homebirth. It seems to me that the ones who make hospital birth bad for women and babies forget the emotional safety and sometimes even do unneeded things to assure a quick and predictable outcome, wheras the ones who make home birth bad for women and babies forget the physical safety to a point because they place the spiritual and emotional needs over the physical needs...there should be a balance. So I'm for balanced care in the hospital and in the home in birth.



March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Great seeing you Barb! Only wish we had more time to visit!

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen Kamel

I'll be listening and excited to hear your thoughts!

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNora

I totally agree with Dawn.

And while we've never met in person, I totally support you and enjoying hearing from someone with similar views on birth (both home and hospital). Don't let them break you!!!


March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCatie

I certainly don't have any authority in the birth world, but I'm glad you're speaking out. I feel torn between wanting to support homebirth midwives and wanting to make sure that pregnant women are able to get the best information so they can make the best decisions. Just telling women to "trust birth" as if all they need to do is eat the right diet and birth at home and everything will be fine is dishonest, and it doesn't serve pregnant women or their midwives.

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Thorson, Doula

Well, you know *I* agree with you, even though I'm on the other coast. My state has some of THE strictest requirements for DEMs and when I finished 3 years of school/apprenticeship with well over 150 births/managements (state requirement is 75), I took a breath and thought, "The state thinks I'm qualified to do this on my own? REALLY?!?!??!"
It took another 2 years of practice with a 30 year veteran midwife before I finally felt adequately trained enough to go solo.
I do believe we need some standardization of MW training and experience for all 50 states, especially if we are going to continue to reference the Dutch and UK stats for safety. THEY have standard training and share pretty much the same experience level before they are allowed to practice solo. I certainly don't think that the student MW who goes to Bogota or Mexico for several weeks and keeps 40 or 50 babies from hitting the floor in some teaching hospital is going to have the MIDWIFERY experience that the SMW who attends all her required births locally and in homes and birth centers. It's impossible. It's not midwifery, it's developing-world obstetrics.
I could go on and on about that, but just know that I agree and wish others on their path to midwifery were willing to make the sacrifices necessary to become as educated as possible.

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterColleen, LM

Awesome! I am SO with you on this! I was part of a circle of women recently that was creating a community vision board. My contribution was the words "SPEAK OUT". I too am trying to commit to speaking my mind and speaking out in support of others this year. Know that you have at least one supporter here on the East Coast!

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen B

Colleen: I thank the Universe every day I got to hug you for real. You are my soul sister, for sure. Thank you for your support and you are right Right RIGHT!

SPEAK OUT! Wow... that's a blog title if I ever heard one! LOVE IT!

March 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

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