Lately I have been concerned with how each of us will carry out our visions and dreams for midwifery and birth. Perhaps this is a function of approaching the age of 60 (though I feel 25), but I want to make sure that we are successful in turning the tide of childbirth. By the grace of God I have been able to do more than I ever thought possible with my life and the activities of Midwifery Today. I do not take credit for this because truly, by the grace of God, Midwifery Today is—against all odds—still around.
One of my most important roles in my midwifery life is that of encourager. My desire is that you carry out the dreams given to you—and I know you have them. I delight in telling about people carrying out their dreams as a way, hopefully, to inspire you. “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men (and women) will see visions, your old men (and women) will dream dreams.” Acts 2: 17.
I was invited to Chile to speak at a conference there by midwife Monica Guitart. This natural birth conference, held on March 8 and 9, 2007, was her dream. She invited Dr. Marsden Wagner, Jesus Sanz, a male homebirth midwife from Spain, and me, along with local doctors and a few midwives. Before I left for Chile I was e-mailing with my friend, a midwife who has lived in Chile for a long time. She had felt really unhopeful about the situation in Chile. Hospitals there reported a nearly 100% epidural rate and somewhere between a 40–70% cesarean rate. We visited two hospitals. In one I saw a small room with eight women in it, all getting or having gotten epidurals. The rest were laboring, hooked up to monitors and looking like something in a science fiction movie like “Star Trek: The Borg,” an ultimate man/machine. To a homebirth midwife this is a horror scene with real mother and babies involved.
Monica’s dream of having this conference seemed to unleash a movement as we taught, listened and planned. All of the major talks worked together in a synergistic way that propelled us toward making intense birth change plans for Chile. Visionary midwives were there to work on and foment change.
Birth change is my other passion. In our lunch and dinner breaks we talked about what can be done now that we know that enough unhappy people are ready to work on the change. The “to do” list is one any country or community can work on; many already are. Some of the things that we decided on for Chile and that you can do to help bring about such a change include:
- Writing articles for the newspapers and magazines.
- Appearing on TV, radio or Internet.
- Using the Internet. Making informational Web sites and blogs.
- Starting homebirth practices and birth centers.
- Finding a couple of lawyers who are willing to help in times of trouble.
- Getting doula and childbirth education instituted.
- Starting an organization.
- Having study days and conferences around the country, even small ones to expand the movement and find more players.
My friend said, “How can we put on a conference without money?” Look for a school, a community center or a church that will let you use their facility at no charge, or for very little. Local resources can be tapped to put together a great event. Meanwhile, gather more interested people while educating and stimulating change. If people balk at what you are charging, give away some spots or offer half-price spots. This all works to make birth change.
I would like to return in November, if possible, with a few teachers to keep encouraging this project. A couple of speakers are interested in going. If you speak Spanish, like to teach and can pay your own way, consider joining us. Seeds planted and nurtured will surely grow, because we all know how birth can transform lives. Changes are brewing for Monica; here is an edited e-mail of what is happening in her world just a few weeks after the conference:
I hope that all of your projects are going well. After the conference I have lived intense experiences. Some pregnant women called to ask me if I could attend them at home; some want me to be their midwife. Some magazines have written about natural delivery and our conference. I attended a natural birth last week, in the Clinica; it was an amazing experience and I feel very strong doing all the techniques I learned from your teaching. I am very happy; we are planning to have Jacuzzi in some birthing rooms.
The seeds we plant will bear fruit. We must keep watering those fragile plants of change as we ready ourselves for the huge changes that can be made. We need to keep in mind some important nuances of human interaction. I tell people when they have an important dream not to tell negative people about it. The negative comments can steal your energy. Here are a few positive thoughts to help motivate you:
Put encouraging people around you.
Take the first step and then the next….
Draw strength from those pioneers around the world who have carried out their dreams.
Never give up; fathers, mothers and babies are counting on you.
Dare to dream, dare to do. Jeremiah 1: 5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart….” That means you. You were born for a time such as this.
Toward Better Birth,