Every midwife knows what it feels like to return home after a long, challenging birth. The moment your home comes into view, the soft creak of the porch steps, the hushed house, the deep sigh as you finally sink into bed. I am experiencing that right now, as I return to my much beloved midwifery practice after 20 years away.
Not long before the outbreak of the coronavirus and Governor Newsom’s order to Californians to shelter in place, I visited the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. It is a small museum with an extraordinary collection, which includes a seventeenth-century oil painting by Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo, entitled “The Birth of St. John the Baptist” (ca. 1655). The canvas, strikingly large at more than four foot by six foot (146.7 x 188.3 cm), caught my attention as a midwife.
Like a number of midwives I know, as I have gotten older I’ve gone from attending births to attending the dying in some way, such as working with hospice, attending the dying as a doula, or helping families reclaim natural after-death care and holding vigils. The similarities between this sacred work at both ends of life are obvious, and both have traditionally been the realm of the sage femme/wise woman/midwife. The first time I provided natural after-death care was both a revelation and a revolution for me—one that seemed to bring my midwifery work full circle.
Wisdom of the Midwives: Tear Prevention – Issue 138
Tricks of the Trade Issue 138
Some 25 years ago, two pregnant women asked me the same question within weeks of each other. This is perhaps not that remarkable a statement from a midwife. We do, after all, answer questions and offer information for a living.
Photo Album – Issue 138
Photographer and videographer: Eva Diana Iguaran—evadiana.com
The story of a homeborn baby who dies of SIDS two months later, in a local hospital after attempts at resuscitation. The homebirth midwife shares her story.
Too few wimyn spiraling through maidenhood, motherhood, cronehood hear of the innate powerhouse of sacred feminine energy that is their very nature. Sheroic stories perk the ears of all such wimyn. I am a lover and preserver of stories.
The thousands-of-years-old practice of acupuncture is a perfect integrative complement to midwifery care. The practice involves the insertion of fine, stainless steel, filiform needles at acupuncture points along the body.
Working with women in a very difficult period as a doula and counsellor, I see it as integral to not neglect the unresolved effects of the past on the needs, behaviour, and emotions of my clients. While some of my clients are open, have a positive view of the future, and are filled with joy, others are tied to their old traumatic experiences and belief systems.