The Power Belongs to Motherbaby
by Jan Tritten

[Editor's Note: This editorial originally appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 87, Autumn 2008.]

One of our goals at Midwifery Today is to bring you as many ideas as possible from around the world to help you with your birth practices. Our focus is ideas that help but don't harm. In this issue we focus on natural remedies, such as herbs, massage, chiropractic and even humor. But we don't want to lose sight of the fact that the power needs to go to the mother. She must be ready to care for her baby and herself, though family and friends help.

The word remedy indicates that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum are not states of being that indicate that something is wrong and needs to be fixed or remedied. A danger in the concept of natural remedies (or any “remedy”) in pregnancy is that we may begin to interfere in what is a foundationally a normal, healthy state and a normal, healthy process.

I'm referring to moms crediting one technique or method or another for their birth and parenting. As we know, many small ailments can be solved safely with natural remedies.

Some huge problems can be helped by them, as well. But, essentially everything most women need to birth is within them. They can do it. We just provide help in this amazing area we have studied and love.

Pregnancy is a beautiful, healthy spiritual state of being. Birth is a healthy, normal and spiritual process. Women have within them the grace and power not only to conceive, but to carry and birth their babies. Hypnobirthing, herbs, acupuncture or chiropractic don't get the baby born. The woman and her baby are responsible for this special and powerful yet everyday miracle. These extremely helpful modalities can ease our time as pregnant or birthing women, but shouldn't be given the credit that mother deserves for this passage.

Natural remedies can help make pregnancy and birth more comfortable, but mustn't be allowed to steal the essential power and credit that go to the momma. She will birth without any of these. Her body was designed by God to work. There is real danger in taking this power from her. She can do it. “Birth is safe, interference is risky,” as Carla Hartley says, but natural interference is still interference. We need to use even natural remedies only when necessary and recognize what we are doing and why.

As midwives and doulas, we not only are protectors of normal birth, we're protectors from all that would take mother's power and essence. The grace and the joy are hers. This is a huge change in the world of the child and a huge change in mother's world. We need to use remedies and interventions—whether natural or human-made—only when needed. Otherwise, we need to recognize and affirm motherhood by standing back in quiet awe of the miracle that we are privileged to be part of.

As midwives and birth practitioners we have the precarious but rewarding dance of helping without taking the power from the mother. Complications may change the process, but ultimately they shouldn't change the power that mom can do it/did it. Natural remedies can make the birth year easier and more joyful and can even heal our ailments in this time, but they can never replace the motherbaby. So let's always give the credit where it's due and make sure mom does, too.

If all is well, and it usually is, let's welcome the baby by being quiet and letting the motherbaby use the highest degree of oxytocin they'll have in their lives for what it was designed for —to greet and bond with each other. What an honor it is to be a midwife or doula or a sweet loving doctor. We get to be there in the first moments of birth. How awesome is that?

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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