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Pat's Birth Philosophy

by Pat Jones, CNM

Birth is a spiritual event for me which I experience as a miracle every time.

I believe that women are empowered through the pain and joy of childbirth. Birth is a mirror inside a woman, allowing her to see her vastness and her limits as no other experience can. When the event is not mediated by the priesthood of obstetrics and by hospital ritual, a woman can experience directly her own strength, her power, her courage, her determination, as well as her ability to surrender, as she lets herself adapt to the rhythm and demands of this particular birth. Homebirth is a way to restore to women the fullness of this self- knowledge. The midwife can guide women to view the birth process as life in miniature, going through the stages of struggle, grief, hope, despair, acceptance, surrender, and joy, "As a woman lives so does she birth" (Thank you, Gayle Peterson); so each birth is an expression of herself and a mini-process of herself. The wisdom and growth available to women is blocked in a hospital birth "managed" to provide painlessness (if not oblivion) while encouraging dependency.

As my understanding of natural birth deepens with experience, I am more in awe of the miraculous and more acutely aware of just how illusory is "managed birth". Birth is a spiritual event for me which I experience as a miracle every time. Over and over I am involved in situations which seem to be following a predictable pattern and suddenly change course. I am constantly reminded that we are in charge of nothing and that everything happens truly in divine order. The respect which we treat newborns comes in part from our humility in the face of this divine order and in our service to the great unknowable rhythms of life.

Surely this first knowledge of the world will influence a child's life. To have felt a powerful flow of love, never abating, for those critical first hours and days must give one's character an underpinning of confidence and self-worth. Does not society also benefit? I believe that as more people are born with such harmony and deep sense of value in themselves, so the chances for harmony among people and nations will improve. I believe the work I do contributes to world peace.

To summarize the midwife puts the family back in charge, instead of leaving them feeling that something has been done for them or to them, something they could never have done alone. A woman must believe that she has all the wisdom and know-how to birth the baby by herself. The midwife must be a healer as well as a facilitator, dispelling modern man's misinformation and helping people get in touch with the core of knowledge and being inside themselves. Her first job may be to persuade them that this power has been within themselves all along. Within herself, the midwife must learn to trust that she knows the truth about birth in order to encourage, empower, and support others. She must learn to trust her own knowledge and gifts and come to see that mutual trust is at the core of the gift she is giving her clients. This gift is a healthy baby who arrives through unity and self-discovery into a loving world, a baby about whom deliberate, empowering choices have been made from the beginning.

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