On 7-9 December, over the Dark and then New Moon, I with five Sisters from the School of Shamanic Womancraft,
held the first With Woman Retreat for birth workers, in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.
(The next one in Australia is planned for December 2019 in Brisbane, Queensland.)
It was an epic three days of sisterhood, solidarity, letting go, connecting with Nature, learning, crafting, laughing and crying and magnificent feasting with Emerald (our mermaid caterer!).
The preparation invitation for the participants (44 women ~ doulas, midwives, mamatoto women’s circle holders and pre- and post-natal yoga teachers and 3 babies!) was this:
It is well known (through the process of imprinting) that our experiences of our own rites of passage (for women: menarche, childbirth and menopause; for men: puberty, childbirth, midlife) – and our early childhood experiences shape and influence who we are, how we think, feel, act, and what we take into our relationships with others and particularly to our work.
In order to be aware of what we bring to our birth work we need to fully understand our own stories and how they have shaped us. This starts by identifying any repeating themes or patterns from our own birth, our early childhood experiences, our experience of menarche/puberty, childbirth and menopause/midlife and the effects these have had on us, i.e. patterned behaviour, beliefs, fears, etc. that actually play out in our life now.
This information helps us understand what lies beneath our feelings and experiences and ultimately offers the opportunity for reflective choices, rather than reactions, in any given situation ….. especially in our birth work.
We used this information to process, journey with and heal our Red Threads, therefore being able to bring ourselves to our birth work more like a ‘hollow bone’, in other words, aware of our personal agendas and not unconsciously playing them out.
LIKE A MIDWIFE
Being ‘Like a Midwife’ according to the Tao:
“You are a midwife, assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge. When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say, “We did it ourselves!”
(More words following the photos, and a call to activism!)
(More photos below!)
I came away from the With Woman Retreat with several important plans:
FREE THE MIDWIVES
Midwives in their power are one of the greatest threats to the patriarchy.
Midwives have been captured, tamed, domesticated and are controlled.
Independent midwives are a threatened species, nearing extinction.
Doulas are free (for now).
Free the midwives, rescue them from captivity, help them recover and heal and re-wild them.
Re-wild the midwives before birth is totally subsumed by the System and abnormal is the new normal.
SAVE OUR PERINEUMS
I can barely believe the new rules around episiotomy!
It has been decided that there are ’too many’ third and fourth degree tears and that increasing the episiotomy rate will reduce them. Not a question about what practices are causing the tears, eg. directed pushing, woman lying on her back etc etc, and changing that!
Just a new tool/machine (new $800 scissors) and fines if the hospital does not reduce the tear rate and increase the episiotomy rate.
And the thing that hasn’t been brought into this is that the mediolateral episiotomy that is being ordered here and for which the new $800 scissors have been designed is that the cut goes straight through the woman’s clitoris. We don’t even know the effect that will have on her sexually and there is NO information available or being collected to check the long term effects of this practice on a woman’s sexual pleasure and function.
The only info available, a small study, revealed this:
Vaginal delivery with mediolateral episiotomy is not associated with urinary and/or fecal incontinence and sexual dysfunction but associated with a decreased sexual functioning as well as sexual desire, arousal and orgasm within postpartum five years. (see report here)
And this practice is increasing or else the hospitals will be fined!
A similar thing is happening in the UK.
And in the USA the treatment a woman receives from a doctor is determined by whether she meets the insurance companies’ criteria. The doctor will not be covered by their insurance if the woman doesn’t do what the insurance companies say.
AND THEN JUST TODAY…
Queensland Health and the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital have introduced a new policy whereby NO photography of births will be allowed in either their birth centre or the birth suite.
They have confirmed that photography is permitted before the birth and after the birth but no photography will be allowed of the actual birth itself. Anyone taking photos or filming during the birth will be told to stop or to leave the room.
The question that comes to my mind is what are ’they’ trying to hide?
Perhaps the new policy for more episiotomies/clitorotomies and the new $800 scissors all the hospital have to have.
I know I’m not the only one that is noticing what’s going on in the birth system…
Midwife control is getting tighter and tighter.
Homebirth is disappearing
and now episiotomy is on the rise..
and so is circumcision
and now no photos ….
As Rachel Reed says:
It is about time that midwives said ‘enough’ to the bombardment of non-evidence-based medicalisation of birth. Solidarity (with each other and women) and activism is long overdue in maternity care.
One of the greatest threats to the patriarchy is that women connect and align in solidarity and demand change.
Mothers, Midwives, Doulas, Grandmothers, GreatGrandmothers COME ON!
But what can I do to help? you may ask ….
so many things, here’s one right now: