My husband suddenly said to me the other night, "Remember when you were in labor and you asked the midwife if she thought you could birth vaginally"?
I though back to that afternoon. I was working hard at a VBAC. I was in the birth pool, and fast approaching a milestone in my labor.
"No, I don't remember that. What did she say?"
My husband looked at me. "She said, "No." Just like that. No."
"Well", I said, "that's where I learned midwifery. That's where I learned what NOT to say. That birth and many, many other births where I have been the witness of what NOT to do or say to or with a birthing woman."
Last week we went for a run together. He had a heart attack two months ago and you could not imagine a less likely person to have one ... fit, energetic, athletic, and all that ... anyway it happened, so he is slowly getting back into his exercise routine. He was wearing a heart rate monitor. I was running next to him and he couldn't get his heart beat lower than 140, unless he slowed to a walk. I ran ahead. His heart rate slowed down. I ran back to be next to him. His heart rate speeded up.
I ran a few blocks ahead of him the whole way and he kept his heart rate level. That means ... like the Kinks song - "you make my heart sing..." which is nice, after thirty years.
But it also means, as described so beautifully in the Secret Teachings of Plants, that the heart itself produces messages and hormones that we still do not understand.
And that's where the presence of a doula makes such a difference to the birthing woman. Because she understands that there are reasons for and reasons why that we cannot understand. She sees that most of the time - not all, but most - the body, mind and soul work perfectly well together - or as perfectly as we are used to, which ends up being that raggle-taggle, patched together, immensely beautiful way we call being alive. She sees that a woman who is left alone, within a bubble of her own labor, surrounded by people who love her - and this does not exclude the attending physician, if that is what she desires - will bring forth a child in her own sweet time, using whatever means we understand or do not understand.
And that is also why we have to be so careful when we are attending a birthing woman. Careful with our words, with our bodies, with our thoughts and emotions. Because who knows how sensitive she is to the slightest nuance? And who know how your own heart is acting? What are you communicating to the birthing woman under the surface of your public presence?
I have an assortment of interesting classes, workshops and get-togethers happening at my cafe over the next few months. Here's...
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