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Joyous Kwanzaa…Joyous Birth UNITY

 Source: ICTC

Today is the first day of the 46th annual Kwanzaa Celebrations. There are seven principals of Kwanzaa and being a birth activist of colour I’m taking it upon myself to dedicate a week of blog posts to bringing the principals of Kwanzaa into the birth community.  I have a deeply rooted desire to see a change in the culture of birth.  There are many reasons for this desire but the deepest is to see women rise up! Take back! Be empowered by the births that are ours! My own births allowed me to do just that and since the crowning of my first born son I have been working towards sharing this power with other mothers to be. I have only recently started celebrating Kwanzaa, but I am already completely enamored by these principals and in the realm of birth…even more so. Let’s Get Started!
UMOJA~UNITY
To strive for a principled and harmonious togetherness in the family, community, national, and world Birth community.
When I think of the principal of Unity in terms of Birth the word TRIBE comes to mind. There are so many ways a tribe can better birth today. First, lets think about a woman with child. She has her husband or partner and her own family and her partner’s family. She has her sisters-maybe blood related maybe not. The women in her life who know her the best, and whom she loves and trusts. She has her care providers, doula, labour & delivery nurse, doctor, OB, Midwife. She has her prenatal classes, yoga classes, women’s resource providers. Then she also has this worldly feeling of belonging…with all other pregnant women, her culture. All of these people have preconceived beliefs about birth and most likely those beliefs will reach our woman. In her brief experience of pregnancy she will be bombarded by ideas, thoughts and beliefs by a culture that primarily fears birth.  All of these groups are different tribes for her, but what she needs is ONE tribe in UNITY. Why? Because deep within each and every woman there is a knowing. A spark of trust, curiosity, & desire to give birth the way God intended. Pure, undisturbed, primal birth. In some woman it is more than a spark, it is innate wisdom. She knows she will give birth naturally and she makes choices from this place of knowing. In some women the spark merely flickers beneath layers of smouldering doubts and fears. When a woman has a tribe of people who all believe natural birth is the way birth is meant to happen, her spark is fueled, and a burning desire grows and grows, until its burning so hot and so high that inevitably a ring of fire births her child into her arms!
The question is…how is a woman suppose to find her tribe? Hopefully she learns to feed that spark of desire, for it leads the way. That spark is her intuition, and it will lead no woman astray. When she is confident in her intuition it is easy to make sure the people around her share her beliefs about birth. If they do not share them, she can easily communicate her need to remove their beliefs or if needed remove them from her tribe.
But why do women today have to make such drastic choices to have a tribe around them that believes in birth? Let’s look at UNITY in the culture of birth…how about care providers? I am a doula and child birth educator and often I feel very alone. I want to work with doctors, obstetricians, nurses and midwives who just let birth happen. It’s a really beautiful process to witness. A women moving through all that energy, emotion, fear, vulnerability, until her internal fire ignites and she knows it is only her and her baby that can do this work. It is at that moment, a mother is born she will give more than she ever knew she could to birth her baby earth side. She becomes incredibly determined, strength fills her very being, and when left to it…she does it. So here’s another question…how do we promote undisturbed birth in medical settings? It has to start with mothers…what pregnant women demand, is what they will receive. I’d like to go back to the definition of UNITY for Kwanzaa…to strive for principled, harmonious, togetherness…WOW. I want that with my birth co-workers. What birth principals can we teach mothers to strive for? UNDISTURBED. FEARLESS. PRIMAL. TRUSTED come to mind for me. Comment below if you have more to add. How can we expect women to have strong enough voices to change the culture of birth when within the birth community there are such varying approaches to birth? Back to UNITY. Somehow Midwives, Doctors, Nurses, Doulas and anyone else attending birth need to come together…BECOME A TRIBE and strive for principled, harmonious togetherness…In 2013 I intend to be in this Tribe!
Joyous Kwanzaa