When we are in community with midwives or healers with similar value systems, we find many opportunities arise.
As global colonization has limited, persecuted, and attempted to eradicate many cultures around the world, so has it had its lasting effects on midwifery. This is true for the cutting and splicing and editing of healing in general. I’m interested in finding the possibilities of an integrated model of midwifery through basic resources and tools that are old and new. They would include skills and values of empowerment in language, story, relationship, touch, suggestion, embodiment, sensorial awareness, intuition, witnessing and so much more. It will always be in community that these are developed and known.
Much of what we learn is from those birthing when we truly witness them with all of our senses. This is where our deepest learning occurs, where we find solutions and skills that were never taught in school. I am by no means beyond falling into certain patterns or mainstreamed practices for I, too, am a product of modern midwifery training no matter how much I strive towards traditional means. I am living in a modern world which itself is an intervention. However, even with these experiences, we can begin to deconstruct or rebuild sensorial awareness, touch and massage, instinctual movement, ways of counseling from places of not knowing or inner knowing, and more.
For those of you wondering, “Wait, what’s new?” I get that. These have always been basic tenets of midwifery, but sometimes the things that have not been said aloud, get lost. So I am saying them now. As I learn more with my hands, I wonder, why wasn’t I taught this before? Who else has known this? There is more than just palpating a baby and learning its positioning (even that is disappearing from some communities) when using our hands.
How we truly witness people is part of a model that has been overshadowed by modern information. Witnessing and true presence without judgment is midwifery after all. When we truly witness, we know it is not our birth. We may have our own babies, and this influences who we are, but we are there to use our experiences and knowledge and information to inform ourselves in how we can assist as best we can, guiding if needed or asked. This is where we learn to move and listen and be humble. This includes us listening to ourselves and our instincts and what comes from within ourselves. This is midwifery from within.
New models can be complex and simple at the same time. Right now I’m working with how to interact with being informed and educated and listening and helping others find their own answers. I know I influence them, but at least I can leave purposeful doorways open encouraging autonomy and self-determination. This is what drew me to midwifery as a young radical kid hoping to save the world. There are times we return and now is it.
As a storyteller, I also see how legacy in the craft of midwifery must also be healed as we engage in these new autonomous spaces. This includes looking deep at societal and historical oppression. I keep working in this craft while keeping in mind Aurora Morales’s work as a guide towards an ethical place of healing the past (which is here, with us now). In Morales’s writing on “Historian as Currendera”, she presents a process focused map for working with the history of fractured and colonized communities. For it is also in midwifery’s and healer’s legacies that we also draw upon wounds. These wounds can be destructive, but they also have much power. These wounds must be acknowledged and witnessed, if not even kissed and tasted, for us to meet that whole part of ourselves as a community. Yes, this is part of moving forth with a different model as well. We must weave and take note of the midwifery fabric like a time traveler and see the importance of the past, the future and the present altogether.
Aurora Morales outlines the importance of “Historian as Currendera”, paying attention to the following guidelines: 1. Tell Untold or Undertold Histories; 2. Centering Childbearers (updated for the sake of this work) or Women Changes the Landscape; 3. Identify Strategic Pieces of Misinformation and Contradict Them; 4. Make Absences Visible; 5. Asking Questions Can Be as Good as Answering Them; 6. (Asking) What Constitutes Evidence?; 7. Show Agency; 8. Show Complexity and Embrace Ambiguity and Contradiction; 9. Reveal Hidden Power Relationships; 10. Personalize; 11. Show Connection and Context; 12. Restore Global Context; 13. (Remember to create) Access and Digestibility; 14. Show Yourself in Yourself in Your Work; 15. Cross Borders.
And as we take the past and pull it forth on the knitting needle, new stories or paradigms of birth work from the present can be knitted in as well. So now I will dream and look forward to hearing of other’s dreams and be changed by a collective dream of this craft. Here I will begin as I must start somewhere. Again, I recognize that these have been part of midwifery, but these values seem to be able to be thrown out at a whim when they really must be held with the utmost importance. This is off the top of my head :
- Supporting autonomy of the child-bearer and individualized visions for care while presenting the spectrum of choices.
- Using models that involve solution focused and non-hierarchical counseling which still involves eduction yet applies to the context of people living their life.
- Focusing on process-oriented care and support while maintaining safety.
- Using and developing traditional tools like touch, massage, bodywork, and all of the senses for tracking pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
- Developing and naming the skills of instinct and witnessing ourselves.
- Honoring the baby’s process and experience and providing resources for parents and families to stay connected in all pregnancies, births, and postpartums.
- Taking constant steps towards cultural awareness of the past, present, future, local and global context so that we can tend to the wounds of legacy which are quite alive right now.
- Standing in humility and truth as to what we know and that we have no guarantees and nor does anyone else. Midwives must stay humble in this work.
I’m not sure what I will weave for the future for that is for a community to decide or source. These are just thoughts that are on my mind, as I sit in the heat of San Diego, excited about a future of what has become, is becoming, and will become.