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August 11, 2014

What Birth Goddesses Have Taught Me About Life. ~ Maggie Genthner

baby/motherhood

In my early twenties I was certain that I would be a mother by now.

I saw my friends get pregnant—first, second and then fifth child and somewhere along the way I just figured they could take over for awhile. I told myself that I would pick it up somewhere in my early to mid-thirties. While this may be too much information but, I am definitely looking forward to several months of baby-making sex with my man when the time is right.

I have always been very open about wanting to become a mother and that it is going to be fantastic! I have, perhaps, devilishly brought the subject up as a test in the early stages of a few relationships. It is good to know where you both stand on the issues of baby-making. If you can talk about this and he doesn’t run then he’s a keeper. (It can save a lady a lot of time to get this conversation out of the way, early on.)

My favorite book and what initiated my work with birth is Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. In all honesty what initially got me hooked were the pictures. There was something about the bearded hippie men helping their women in labor—it seemed ideal and very sexy (this book also simultaneously started my fetish for beards).

The women looked like they were in such a deep and intoxicating dance with their inner selves—they were goddesses and radiant. The notion that love could create life and men and women could find harmony in that dance really blew my mind.

Why wasn’t everybody hopping onto buses, traveling the country, and looking for land to have babies on?

The birth room is such a holy sanctuary and it feels so good to remind mamas that they are beautiful and strong when they are stretching the capabilities of what they think they can do. The intensity of birth is like nothing else that occurs in our life. It is the most raw and illuminated use of our creative energy. There is a power that comes through a woman when she is bringing a little one into our world that feels so ancient and real.

While it is only a matter of time before I am going to have my own baby I have been thinking about birth and what birth has taught me.

These are the top three pieces of wisdom that I have learned as a birth attendant:

1)  We can trust the rhythms of our bodies.

Ina May Gaskin says, “Your body is not a lemon.” What she’s talking about is that we don’t just squeeze babies out. There is a process of navigating different states of consciousness that positively affects physiology. A woman’s body births best in an alpha state where she is relaxed and able to open with each contraction.

How do animals give birth? Have you ever seen any other mammal give birth under artificial lights with people pressuring them to make progress? No.

The most conducive atmosphere for birth is where there is calm, gentle support and quiet. I am going to add that there needs to be a solid belief in the woman because as a culture we have strayed so far from our instinctual selves.

Have you ever had the experience of creating anything beautiful—be it art, music or dance while you were being stressed out and rushed? The juices don’t flow when there’s anxiety. Babies don’t come out when there are stress hormones pumping through our systems. When the body can relax it knows what to do.

2)  Creation needs space, nourishment, and patience.

We create babies from our bodies. That’s insane! Who can explain this?

I mean, yes, there are cell divisions and all of the rest of it which can be biologically explained but that doesn’t explain the mystery of how there can be an autonomous, living and breathing being that then grows up to make its own babies.

Thinking about this alone is pretty empowering. We can create humans (and then feed them from our body). I don’t know about anyone else but something in me feels pretty strongly when I think about my mammalian gifts. I can create a human in my womb and push it out into world through my vagina—bam! If I can do that then I can do anything I put my heart and soul into. While nothing happens over night (the holy respect of incubation) everything under the sun is pretty darn possible.

3)  Women are most beautiful when they are loved and adored.

I have images of women in labor imprinted in my memory forever and this is an amazing gift. I have never seen a woman more radiant than when she’s either:

1) In labor surrendering with her partner or coach.

2) Digging deep and pushing.

3) Holding her new baby in her arms.

Just tell a woman in labor (or any other time) that she is beautiful and watch her light up.

Amazing emotional states come out of a woman when she feels love and support. Also, one needn’t look any further for a transformational self-help program—just have a baby! That’ll do it—the skin glows, the heart softens and the soul has a new purpose.

I have seen it over and over again. Birth is a rite of passage. I just wish we cared for and honored our mamas in this culture. What would happen if we improved maternity health to offer wellness care in this country? What would happen if mothers were supported so that they could raise healthy and strong people that positively influenced the world? Until this is a reality I just don’t feel like we’re doing the best that we can as people.

For me birth is not a business.

It is sad to me that mothers and babies are often prey to corporate interest and doctors’ convenience. I wish women knew that they didn’t need to buy a bunch of plastic junk to have a baby—just the basics will do.

Many people are making a lot of money off of mothers at the expense of the health and wellbeing of families. The best thing we can do for mothers is to support their instincts, choices and beliefs in themselves (as a woman and as a mother) in the birth process and beyond. This basically comes down to encouraging women to eat clean food, drink good water, take care of their bodies and emotional experience throughout her pregnancy and life, and ask for community support when she needs it.

There is no reason mothers need to be isolated when they are giving so much to the world by brining in new life and possibilities.

Thank you to all the mamas in the world! Deep bow of gratitude to you.

 

 

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Image: Storyvillegirl/Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

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Maggie Genthner