Thursday, 22 March 2012

Conception 2012 and World Doula Week

Thank you all so much for sticking with me through my wobble. The Spring energy has charged my batteries with life, my friends have charged me up with their generous love, hugs, words, and thoughtfulness. Yesterday I was the lucky recipient of some home-made jam tarts with little hand-cut hearts on, and a fluffy pink dressing-gown from another friend, who knew how much I loved it. Its as pinky pink as my pink hair. Asking for help and receiving it in abundance has been a mega blessing, and I no longer feel like I'm treading water but rather, that I'm at the fun pool, frolicking with friends, with tequilas on the side waiting for me when I'm ready!


And so, lifted up by my friends, who continually give me strength and hope and support, who have faith in me even when I have lost faith in myself, I am grateful tonight for all the love in my life both at home and beyond.


Now then, let me explain the title of this post. The two things are interlinked a little. The idea of Conception 2012 was introduced to me by Lucy Pearce, my lovely soul sister across the Irish sea:

The idea is to dream and imagine the future you want for the world and to help affect this change by focusing on it, and putting positive energy towards that goal. I do really believe the words of Mahatma Gandhi "Be the change you want to see in the world".

This week is World Doula Week and I am continually reflecting on my own capacity to do a bit of good in the world. I think for me, birth work may just be one of the most meaningful mediums to share a bit of my own light in the world, and bring it to others. I believe everyone has light in them, a higher self which we can listen to or ignore - we can try to dull it and mask it and cover it up but it just makes us sad. I know cos I've done it to my own light enough times. I think my recent funk has been to do with being afraid of my light. No more!

Helping Mamas and Papas to release fears, to trust in nature, to have faith in themselves is my dearest hope - to help return power back to individuals and away from institutions who may not have their best interests at heart. Helping others to reclaim their power, their voice, their birth rights, their pleasure and joy, is something I feel called to do. Helping them to have experiences where their own inner light can shine with all its strength feel like a good thing to do!

I am not alone in thinking that we have become so very afraid of birth, afraid of our own bodies, enculturated to believe that it is inherently dangerous and messy and that we have become broken. When the business of deciding how, when and where birth was to take place was taken over by men, a revolution in birth was set in place where women's wisdom was undermined, women's confidence in birth and their bodies was chipped away at until we have the situation we are in now, where we are supersticious and terrified of it, and ourselves. We say "oh but childbirth is much safer nowadays - women used to die...." This is true. Women died in their thousands in the 1700-1800's because physicians refused to accept that they introduced putrid particles into their patients vaginas by not washing their hands properly after performing earlier surgeries - and even autopsies. Those who tried to speak up were ridiculed. Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen, discovered the cause of cause of fatal birth infections by unwashed hands, as early as 1795. He was ignored. In 1847, a man named Ignaz Semmelweis, ordered staff at his Allemagne Krankenhaus in Vienna (once the world's largest lying-in hospital) to wash their hands in chlorinated water, which brought fever mortality rates post birth down from an astonishing 20% to 1%. Sadly, the ignorant staff ridiculed and privately flouted the new 'rules' behind his back, thinking his hand-washing regimes a nuisance and he ended up dying in a state run mental asylum in 1865. It wasn't until Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister argued the case for microscopic germs being the cause of fever mortality in mothers that women started to be spared these un-necassary deaths.

Life saving discoveries and procedures could have changed the birthing lot of women for the better, yet their rampant over- and mis-use means that sadly, with each new technological 'advance', women all over the world are increasingly forced into quite unnecessary procedures, inductions, caesarians, and general mal-handling as a matter of course, and are sometimes not given enough accurate information to reflect the genuine risks and dangers. When women are informed of their rights they often say "I had no idea I could do things any other way." I didn't know I could refuse x, y and z. They don't know because they are not told. They are not told sometimes quite simply because it is inconvenient for the system to have women not playing along.

As I have discovered through reading books such as those of the wonderful Birth Activist and anthropolgist Sheila Kitzinger, natural birth scares the bejeezus out of an ever growing populus on the planet, as a generally safe, natural process. Traditional and indigenous methods get replaced by technical births that remove a woman from her local support network of wise women (and men) and traditional lay caregivers who are so precious. We are getting so spooked out by birth that as a result, we are having a ridiculous amount of unnecessary interventions and procedures. Have our bodies really changed that much in the last few hundred years? Or is it the cultural mentality and the organisation and handling of birth that has changed beyond recognition?

Women used to have painless births before the christian concepts of shame, suffering and sin were brought to the birthing table. Women in indigenous cultures still experience low-fuss, easy births, since they are free from fear-mongering, and they remain physically active and in tune with their bodies. They think of birth from a spiritual perspective, not simply a clinical one, they know the many ways that babies come instead of trying to make all babies come in one of a small menu of ways, according to a schedule dictated by others.

Their safe and easy birthing is not a fluke. Their bodies are not built differently from us. What is different is the lack of social conditioning that complicates something which is essentially mostly straightforward. We are just forgetting. We are forgetting that there is a rhythm to our bodies that knows how to flow. We are forgetting our own power, because we don't WANT to own it. Because we are scared of it.

In the amazing book, The Mama Bamba Way by the Birth Educator Robyn Sheldon, is this brilliant quote

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkeness that most frightens us."

-Marianne Williamson, Author, lecturer, and spiritual activist.

Could this be the truth of it? That we are actually scared of our own power, because we now believe it when we are told not to trust ourselves?

Whether we believe in a god or whether we believe in the gods of machinery and men, mother nature has a rhythm and a power that we can embrace or turn our backs on. In the moment of our birthing, however we do it, we become the chain in history, the link that is forged in that moment. We are reminded of our place in the thread of our ancestral line, of our connection to our mothers and grandmothers, the generations who will follow us, the other mothers all birthing in that moment and who ever birthed and those who will birth in future.

We can reclaim our power and our pleasure and our bodies. We have the power to use technology wisely, when it is truly needed, to return to a more sensible way of birthing.

I hope to play my part in a revolution which empowers women and their families, the community and the wider world.

Check out this wonderful resource to find out more about the movement which is helping to effect change in the way we see birth! It is called One World Birth.

What part will you play in re-imagining life for yourself and others? Will you let your light shine, or hide it under a bushel?

Xx MF xX


  1. :-) so glad you are feeling happier. xx

  2. Your mega hug yesterday was magic :-) xxx

  3. i can perfectly picture you all pink and cosy and fluffy walking out to the shop or another place it would not normally be considered appropriate to wear a dressing gown! fantastic! x

  4. Super post, always love your birth stuff. You are so the right woman to be writing your book.

    Thx for the link. And glad the clouds have lifted for you xxxx

  5. Thanks chickadees, pink fluffy gown worn most of the weekend, and your faith in me helps me keep on track too. Love, love, love and thanks x