Welcome to Childbirth Today's 2012 Blog Carnival - honoring the busy month of May and all of the celebrations of midwives, nurses, doulas and childbirth educators...AND mothers! Today's blog carnival entry features a post from Amy Chavez, a holistic birth practitioner in Yellow Springs Ohio!
To venerate means to revere, to regard with heartfelt respect, to hold as sacred. Although the modern cultural characterization of vulnerability is usually synonymous with weakness, I would assert that vulnerability is an important aspect of our inherent need for human connection. We are, in fact, neurologically wired for love, connection and belonging; to be seen, heard, and accepted. Vulnerability could be described as the emotional risk intrinsically entwined in that need for connection. When vulnerability is met with compassion or empathy, the result is confidence, empowerment and a sense of self worth. When vulnerability is met with discomfort or resistance, the result is shame, a feeling of disconnection. As labor and birth care providers, how we regard and react to vulnerability in ourselves, and the women we work with, directly informs our effectiveness, no matter what our role in the birth environment is. The inherent vulnerable nature of the labor/ birth experience calls for our deepest courage, compassion, and empathy.
The original meaning of the word courage, coming from the Latin root word cur- “heart”, is to tell one’s story with one’s whole heart; in other words, to be vulnerable enough to be truly authentic. In a culture that values efficiency, uniformity, and impossible standards of perfection, it can be challenging to be truly authentic; this is particularly evident in the culture of birth and motherhood. Whereas courage is to be authentically who we are, compassion is to see another with wholehearted acceptance.
In terms of supporting women through the transformative work of labor and birth, this means to really see each woman as unique and important in giving birth to the next generation. It means to hear her stories, appreciate her unique needs for safety and support with an open heart; even, and perhaps especially, if they trigger discomfort or resistance within our own heart. A woman in labor/ birth experiences incredible vulnerability to allow herself to really let go of her controlling rational mind, and allow the wisdom of her primal knowing to prevail. Research shows that this can only happen if she perceives that she is safe and completely supported. When a woman is touching into that primal place of vulnerability and power in labor and birth and is met with criticism, judgment, harsh agendas, or fear she is likely to react by feeling shame, an internalized feeling of disconnection and lack of self worth; or blame, the externalized version of that projected on her birth care support team or even her baby.
It is my deep belief that when women experience shame during their labor, birth, or early motherhood experience, that this greatly informs their ability to bond effectively, trust their instincts, parent confidently, and may lead to symptoms of PTSD(post traumatic stress disorder). However, when a woman in labor/ birth feels safe, seen, held, and heard in her vulnerability there is incredible potential for her to transform into a strong, compassionate, and powerfully intuitive mother. With that support, she is free to tap into her wild nature, her primal power, her authentic self to BE open, and Do the work of birthing her child with fierce love. As birth care providers, we have an opportunity to role model to new mothers the power inherent in venerating vulnerably, simply by offering our open hearted, non judgmental, patient presence. It is my humble opinion that women who birth into motherhood with confidence instead of shame will contribute to a new culture of courageous, connected, and loving human beings.
About the Author:
Amy Rebekah Chavez is a holistic healthcare practitioner who has woven her passions together to create an integrated practice; Bhakti House: Bodywork, Birth Support, Botanicals. She is a licensed massage therapist, somatic trauma resolution practitioner, birth doula, childbirth educator, pediatric cranio sacral therapist, yoga practitioner and herbalist. In this space she offers individual bodywork, with a strong focus in women’s health, perinatal and newborn care, and trauma healing. Since the start of 2010 she is working as an apprentice midwife serving an Amish community in rural Indiana. She has studied and trained with renowned practitioners and teachers Rosemary Gladstar, David Hoffman, Ina May Gaskin, Penny Simkin, Barbara Harper, Hugh Milne, Benjamin Shield, Sharon Porter, as well as many inspiring mothers, women, and children. She is deeply impassioned by the strength of spirit in the women and children that she works with, as well as the inherent wisdom in the natural world, both inner and outer.