Micromanagement and increased medicalization of birth in the Australian maternity system leaves me wondering how the student midwife, their clinical experience existing predominantly in this environment, ever learns about their own knowledge; their own innate wisdom which is rational information and gut instinct? How do they connect with intuition, learn to know and trust it? Within the hospital system a student midwife will learn to practice according to the policies and procedures, not evidenced based practice. What happens to the future of normal birth if our future midwives never experience normal birth in a non medicalised environment? What happens to normal birth if midwives are afraid to advocate for women against the system? It becomes more controlled, more micromanaged, and women become more separated from their power within.
In preparing to care for women throughout their pregnancy and birth, I believe its important for a midwife to cultivate a balance between the three ways of knowing – intuitive, medical and personal. It’s important to identify and explore how you know what you know and how to know when to follow your intuition or the medical knowledge you have. Just as a plant is composed of seeds, roots, stems and leaves in addition to the flower, knowing about birth is derived from many sources. Teaching about birth involves many sources if women are to transform into the strong, powerful, gentle, loving mothers the earth needs to survive.
Holistic preparation of a woman in pregnancy goes far beyond teaching her about the normal course of labour, birth physiology, nutrition, how to prepare for all possible outcomes, including inductions and caesarean birth, and navigating post partum issues. Holistic preparation involves (often) reconnecting women with their innate wisdom and intuition; letting them know that inside their womb, their deepest primal centre, lives the most powerful voice that can guide and transform them. The womb operates as the feminine feeling dimension, not the logical, linear world of reason of the current extreme (medical) masculine consciousness. Currently, women and midwives live in a birthing world that is in tune with fear.
The feminine body feels and records everything. She is the keeper of truth as she holds the imprint of every memory, thought, feeling and every event. She bears witness to our deepest traumas and feelings that have shaped and defined our lives, especially those memories and truths the mental self is denying and disassociating from because of pain.
Over the years women have taught me this and I am in tune with my own feminine instincts, my own innate wisdom. As a midwife, I teach this to other women, many of whom live in the misconception that birth is painful and a medical event. Many other women are in tune but want more of the tools to reach this innate power. I believe that all the sources we can possibly draw upon to understand and connect with the mystery, the miraculous and science of birthing is paramount if birth is to change on earth.
For me, as a mother and midwife, the journey into what normal birth really is, has evolved over a lifetime …from what I experienced in my mother’s womb, my birth, my training as a nurse and midwife, my daughter’s birth…..and attending over 1000 births both in hospital and at home …….and the understanding and acceptance of love, sexuality, the voice of the womb and the consciousness of the unborn child.
And so I ask, how, where and when are we teaching student midwives the knowledge that can’t be found in text books, that women teach us, that experience teaches us, that we know intuitively? Who mentors the student midwife so she can practice as she dreams and believes midwifery to be? Who challenges her beliefs, experiences, fears and courage so she can be the best midwife for women and be an advocate for changing birth on earth?