We live in a culture that puts technology and material wealth very high on the list of the revered and desirable. The first principle in my life is to honor all living beings. Protect and preserve all life. What about babies? We have the seeds of love within but if they are not nourished they can wither and die. Women and children are often considered second-class citizens yet don’t boys become men? Without mothers we would have no children?! We live in a power over system. It is a man’s world for the most part. This is changing slowly. Women often adopt the same patriarchal beliefs and attitudes as men when put in positions of power. Women in westernized cultures do have more freedom than many countries. It was only 100 (1913) years ago that women in the US got the right to vote!
The greatest evidence of a power over system can be witnessed in the medical community with regard to childbirth. Midwives have been attending births since the beginning of human development. Since medical schools came into existence, and women were barred from attendance, the medical community has been trying to stop midwives from practicing. During the early years in America, any doctors who did cooperate, and there were some, were punished or pressured by peers to join the club and discredit midwives. Many midwives were burned or tortured as they were believed to be witches.
In spite of centuries of repression midwifery is making a comeback! It is one of the fastest growing professions. In America there are many kinds of midwives. I hope that most of them also honor life. The typical birth in a Westernized country does not. Sadly, institutional efficiency, medical training, fear of law suits, and profit making all take their toll on the birth process. Women also play into this by expecting pain-free childbirth. There are always trade offs. Babies can’t speak up or protect themselves. It is a parent’s job to make choices that protect the health and well-being of a baby.
Short-term pain for long-term gain is the way I look at it. A few hours of labor pain — which is manageable for most women, if they are not being induced — is a gift for a baby. The best possible beginning is what every baby deserves. Without making informed decisions parents often blindly follow the advice or demands of a medical practitioner who has been trained to view birth as dangerous and needing to be managed. The truth is medical assistance is only needed in about ten to fifteen percent of cases. I am guessing these numbers could be reduced if labor support was offered to each and every family. Midwives have better outcomes and cost less money. Who can argue with that?
Until families demand to have support for normal physiological birth mothers and babies will be harmed and die unnecessarily. Parents must educate themselves about their birth options. The effort will be well worth the time spent. We remember our birth for our entire lives. This experience informs everything we do going forward. It will affect our parents ability to love and protect us. Love is the glue that keeps us human. Without love what kind of society are we creating?