Bringing Good Birth to the Light
by Jan Tritten

[Editor's Note: This editorial originally appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 75, Autumn 2005.]

photo of Jan TrittenWe are in a profession that can give the greatest joy humankind has known—birth. In Spanish, birth is termed a more poetic "dar a luz," bring to the light. We, as midwives, need to bring to the light the truth about what childbirth can be.

Do you remember when you were first called to midwifery? That first love? We need to somehow get beyond the politics of birth and remember and carry out our first love of the joy of childbirth. We need to do that in order to make the huge changes necessary to claim birth for motherbaby and society all around the world.

The culture of birth has changed throughout the world, yet few citizens realize the proportion and effects of this pandemic. These changes have been spread on the wave of imperialism. Now nearly every nation has absorbed and entrenched this dangerous form of birth into its own medical culture so much that everyone thinks this is the only way to conduct birth. It is so ingrained that each country seems to think they invented it. This is one of the nasty effects of globalization and it took place long before the economic globalization we are enduring now.

Well-nourished, healthy women whose minds are not filled with fear birth easily. Though knowledge is power in our culture, it seems to get in the way in birth, which requires getting out of the thinking brain and into the primal brain. To cure this epidemic of dangerous medicalized birth we somehow need to create a movement while changing birth one birth at a time.

There is a place for everyone interested in helping. One can join or even start a variety of movements. As we all work together and separately, but with cooperation, we can change the world. This change depends on our helping and supporting each other in our respective efforts. It depends on each of us quietly or loudly, depending on our personality, doing what we are called to do.

I recently had the opportunity to work with one of our quieter and more humble sisters. Angelina Martinez Miranda is the daughter of a midwife whose grandmother and great-grandmother were also midwives. She opened her home to three traveling US midwives and already had three aspiring midwives at her home. Her hospitality overwhelmed me. Her sweet and encouraging way with women in labor empowered them. I was privileged to attend three births with her in the week Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos and I visited. She let Eneyda catch all three babies but was present with her help, support and incredible knowledge. I saw the hard work of bringing forth one's baby along with the unsurpassed joy of having him/her in mother's arms. Witnessing this contrast reminded me again of the joyous possibility that birth contains in its unknown package. We transported a fourth woman to the hospital, which also reminded me of our need to work toward good relations with the medical community while reaching for the seemingly impossible—their acceptance. All over the world hopes are working into reality. Only by dreaming, imagining and doing can we reach our goals for motherbaby.

I want to tell you about one more practice of a friend of mine who dreamed a dream, imagined a practice and worked hard to achieve it. It is now a reality. It is called Homestyle Midwifery™. Yeshi Neuman spent the last five years fine tuning her concept of enabling a woman to have a home-style birth in the hospital. She and her partner do prenatal visits as well as postpartum visits in the mother's home. When the woman goes into labor a homebirth midwife or doula gives early labor support in the home of the woman and brings her to the hospital when she is in active labor. The hospital midwife meets the laboring woman at the door and stays with her until several hours after the birth. At the hospital a homestyle birthing environment is created: the bed and other hospital paraphernalia are moved aside and a waterbirth tub, large futon on the floor, birth stool and all of the great tools of the midwives' trade are brought in so the laboring woman can labor and birth in her own way. This practice was designed for the 98% of women who don't want to or can't afford to have an out-of-hospital birth but still want a natural birth and a personal relationship of trust with their midwife. I am just imagining the huge change that could take place if these true "homestyle" births could happen anywhere in our country.

Here are two examples of the thousands of women and some men with ideas and ideals that have been put into practice. What is your dream? Why are you here on earth? What are you going to do about it? If you do what you are called to in helping motherbaby and the dangerous birth situation the world is now in, we won't fail. Love never fails. What the world needs now is love and commitment to change birth ways. You are the change agent.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Midwifery Today. If Midwifery Today has helped you in your education, goals or practice, if she has inspired you, please let us know.

Toward Better Birth,

Jan Tritten

Jan Tritten is the founder and editor-in-chief of Midwifery Today magazine and a midwife who was in active practice from 1977 to 1989. She became a midwife in 1977 after the powerful homebirth of one of her daughters. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world! [ PHOTO BY ANDREA NOLL ]

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