Continuing professional development is important in our work with women as doulas, midwives and birth professionals. We expand our knowledge but also challenge our perceptions too, to explore new ways of being and working.
A few years ago I studied with Kara Maria Ananda on her Conscious Birth Emissary online learning course. It helped me expand my thoughts and awareness, and consolidate how I was feeling at the time about my work. I have long walked a rocky path between the belief in holistic midwifery and the experience of working within a medicalised system, I feel grateful that I have been on the inside and on the out, supporting women, and finding sisterhood in both spaces.
Here are some thoughts I explored during the course…
Why do you feel that conscious birth and parenting are important for women, men, babies and families?
At the beginning of a new life on earth I feel we are at our most open and receptive to becoming more conscious in all areas of their lives. Across all walks of life women are prepared to change their daily habits to nurture their growing baby, and their partners and families are preparing to support them, ready to welcome the new baby into the family.
We can feel empowered through making truly informed choices that recognise the sanctity of birth and new life. It can be the start of a transformative process as individuals that affects all areas of our lives and those we come into contact with. It not only heals us as individuals but helps heal society and the earth as we each pass on that empowerment and knowledge to those around us. As each baby is born into a family that is making conscious choices in birth and parenting, a new consciousness is being born into that community as the child grows, and shares and educates those around them.
Growing a consious birthing community
A conscious midwife or doula I believe needs to be able to recognise the culture of birth in the community in which she lives. In the UK we are fortunate not to have as medicalised a system as the US, and all women have access to midwives. However the overriding approach is often based on a medical model, focussing on risk, and most women are then approaching pregnancy and birth with fear and anxiety. Women are often not connected to their own body or baby, and can go on to suffer negative or traumatic births, disconnection from themselves, their partners and postnatal depression is growing.
However I truly believe that we can inspire, educate, inform and encourage women to find their own way through their journey of pregnancy, birth and mothering, discovering their own innate power and resources within. This is not I feel just about natural birth but being empowered to make the choices that are right for them and their baby, whether that be birthing at home after a caesarean, declining induction at 42 weeks or requesting a caesarean. Being non-judgmental and accepting of the individual and the choice she is making is vital.
Each woman comes to birth with her own story of being born, and mothered, hearing the stories of those around her and subsequently taking on those beliefs on as her own. There is no right or wrong way to birth I believe, but as a birth emissary we can share positivity and passion for birth, for physiology and the journey we take as we become mothers. To educate where fear abounds due to misinformation, and encourage women to actively participate in celebrating this rite of passage is key.
Recognising that birth is more than a medical event is so vital, and sadly still so lacking in our society.
I feel that a creative spirit is invaluable to find new ways to help women and their community to discover and believe in the power of birth and motherhood. I am also learning that we need to focus on what is good and positive in our communities and within our healthcare system. There can be a lot of negativity around how ‘bad’ the system of maternity care is, and we can easily become focused on this. I often felt I was working ‘against’ the system as a ‘young’ midwife. I now feel that a sense of positivity and love towards those that may not yet be open to birthing in conscious awareness may have so much more of an impact, than perpetuating anger or anxiety.
As we love those around us, our colleagues, fellow birthworkers and all whom we come into contact with, I believe we can truly help people open their hearts to change.