Inspiration from Sister MorningStar

Midwifery Today, Issue 133, Spring 2020.
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Ever the Faithful, Calm, and Capable World Community,

It has been six days now since 3/11. Everyone who wishes should feel more prepared and informed and aware and maybe even feel a surge of health from starting all the healing foods, fluids, immune support, and extra time for rest. I know I wake up, taking a deep-down-in-the-bones grateful breath and humbly marvel at how extra good I feel. Given the anxiety some have felt—if you still have an appetite—put on that healthy extra 5–10 pounds with broccoli, leafy greens, and wild garlic. Let’s keep it up. Bump it up. Slow down. Calm down. Look up. Look around and see who we can help now that we are prepared and well.

Physical isolation does not have to include emotional isolation. Stay connected. Many of my students and I have already started phone sessions. My daughters check on me daily and I continue to take calls day and night in the service of the global sisterhood.

Like many animals, especially mammals, facial expression telegraphs emotion. Use your eyes—even if you are wearing a mask—to look at your clients or family members to convey connection, affection, devotion, confidence, well wishes, love. We are still building a one-world family.

Maybe this will help, too…

  • Snail mail letters now: word medicine of information and encouragement needed by your at-distance loved ones. Mail a ziplock baggie of surgical gloves or handmade masks or pictures the children made to the elders. Help where you can, how you can.
  • Make a list of those you are going to check on each day. If you have a big family or community, alternate who does what and alternate who calls who.
  • Make several face masks/shields out of a thick cotton t-shirt or old-fashioned tea towel muslin. You can also use doubled up cotton handkerchiefs or bandanas. Make sure the fabric is breathable. Place a few drops of essential oil of lemon, citrus, clove, lavender, or your favorite antiseptic, anti-viral EO on the cloth, or make a spray with water and witch hazel that you can reapply every half hour. This is something I do with a cloth in my hand any time I travel internationally or on a long flight. That is on a good day. This is not a good day.
  • Keep some healthy hand sanitizer near you in case you can’t wash your hands. If you are near others, in home or elsewhere, wipe the door knobs you touch that they may touch. Take this concept from there and do the next right thing … toilet handles, etc.
  • Keep hand written copies of phone numbers of those you love and other needed numbers.
  • Stay calm and capable as you assist your family with alternative plans for what you “normally” do to handle your everyday problems. This is not just a new normal. This is an important opportunity to bring out the best of our individual and collective intelligence and humanity.
  • Keep your spirit clean and your thoughts positive. We were once a world/nation of many tribes. Now we are a tribe of many nations.
  • Just do the best you can with what you have. Remember all that we have learned together. Being calm and capable allows whatever is happening to happen in the best way possible.

Wisdom from the New Earth

From one of our sisters in Russia: “The great mother let the whole world rest. Stay home. In all levels of meaning. I feel it for good. May it be so … schools are closed. The education is back in the home. In real life experience. I would love to see birth back home as well. The work is back home. No reason to rush anymore. We are home.”

Social Concern and Act of Kindness

It is an act of peace during this time to have an attitude of respect toward each and all others who are making choices to respond to the declamation of a global pandemic and the changing WHO and CDC recommendations. Practice this act of peace when you disagree with the way others are responding differently than your choices. This is true whether toward individuals or nations. We have our hands full right now figuring out what is our own next wisest action.

A Gem for the Best of Times, the Worst of Times and All Times

This is an important time to practice gratitude. The Queen’s Jewel is a way to self-reflect and self-assess and put into your day what you want in your life. It is simple and I do it every day with my daughter. It has three parts: Gratitude, Undermining, and Visioning. If you have a companion, take turns sharing what you are grateful for that happened in the last 24 hours. Second, take turns speaking about what has been undermining or robbed you of peace in the last 24 hours. Third, take turns decreeing your highest vision of what you wish, need, hold dear, call into being. Don’t interrupt one another. Don’t comment. Let it be a stream of consciousness when you are speaking. Don’t over think it. Let it come from a deep, honest place. If you are not the one speaking, listen. Have fun. This reminds me of our tribal council meetings, which usually begin with the stating of the rules. Rule number 1. When you speak, speak your Truth and not with a lot of words. Rule number 2. When you are not speaking, listen. And that is enough rules.

Special Circumstances—Birth (many of these suggestions are good for all of us)

It is time to give special attention to birth, birthing mothers, and birthkeepers worldwide, especially those working in homebirth settings. The most important thing I wish to iterate here is that there is no one right answer. There are still so many unknowns about who, how, when, and for how long this pandemic will affect individuals or collectives. Please trust your own instinct and do what makes the most instinctual sense to you each time you make a decision during these uncertain and changing times. If you are a professional with special disaster preparedness equipment or working in a hospital then you have your protocols and your team. But if you are otherwise, and are trying to bring your baby into this world in the most gentle and protected way, you need support and information. If you are helping a birthing mother, you need the same.

Many of you know that one of my vows is about you. It is my sixth vow. My vow of service. “I promise to commit my life to the preservation of sacred simple birth, primarily among the poor; and to honor, respect, support, and protect the midwives who serve them.” So, here we go together.

What can we do? This is only a beginning…

Download the free EmerGently brochure and the NewBorn First Breaths brochure and make copies to give to all pregnant mothers and their support team. Carry copies in your car. Read them twice. These brochures give clear guidance in the support of a natural birth in disaster circumstances. Healthy mothers may be safer at home than trying to reach an overcrowded, understaffed, overworked medical team and facility where potentially infected people are seeking help. Be the calm and capable helper if they are your loved one or neighbor, in a time of lockdown when skilled help cannot arrive in time. When we survive this crisis, consider scheduling a training in Basic Disaster Birth Support and NewBorn First Breaths. I have taught these around the world. You don’t have to be a professional to help birth in a disaster. It is more likely that a healthy baby is born than someone has a heart attack needing your current CPR.

If you must watch a birth video, watch this chimp birth. She births like she-bear and has an amazing chimp midwife.

This is a stressful time for everyone, but especially for expectant mothers. Find out what her greatest needs and worries are. Does she have the people around that her she wants? Is she a refugee? You may be the only continuous support person for her. Does she have the provisions, supplies, personal items that she needs? Does she have a community? A postpartum support team? Does she have a way to stay in communication with those she loves and needs? Help her find solutions and make solid, clear, simple plans. We are in a global-level disaster.

This virus is thought to affect elders, more than youngers, and the vulnerable. When you attend a birth, you and the mother may be young, but the grandmother who plans to help postpartum may not be. Think of all the people you might be able to protect by simply abiding by a few health precautions.

If you are a midwife or doula attending births, pack two changes of clothes and wear a fresh set of clothing to the birth. Bring a bag to put your birth clothes in before you leave the birth house. If you have not needed to change twice, put that extra clothing in the bag, also. When you get home, do not hug your loved ones. Wipe the door knobs you touch and go straight to the bathroom and remove your clothes and put them in the bag with the clothes you wore in the birth for immediately laundering. Bathe and put on fresh clothes from your home. (The three sets of clothing are because at a birth we always need another set when we don’t have it.) Launder all three sets even if you only used two of them.

Use some of the tips above, such as homemade masks and hand sanitizer, and these:

  • Protect yourself with EO-freshened air, including freshening the air around you. If the mother is willing, bring cotton balls and place a few drops on the cotton balls and place around the room and bathroom.
  • When you get home, either launder your homemade masks in hot water or burn them.
  • Pack snacks, but don’t share them. Eat them yourself. You need more energy right now than you realize.
  • Use plastic gloves to clean the toilet, bathroom sink, kitchen sink and counter, etc. with a healthy cleaning solution after every use.
  • Stay back. Let her loved ones be the ones up close and personal. Encourage them with your word medicine. Hold the sacred space. Light a candle and smile with your eyes. Maybe you are best attending the birth through a Skype call. I have helped many a womyn across the big waters this way.
  • You can’t check the cervix of a tiger. She shouldn’t have to growl to get you to back up.

Okay, I am going out on a limb here but I am a believer in this and have used these same “wise” practices for decades in low resource settings, with no water and pigs or urine-soaked sofas sharing the room, so, I think now is the time to share them with you.

  • Don’t do internal exams.
  • Don’t support the perineum.
  • Don’t catch the baby. Let the mother do that.
  • Don’t touch the baby.
  • Talk the mother or a grandmother or partner through the newborn exam.
  • Stay back. The mother and the baby have a better chance with their microbiota than yours.
  • Insist on breastfeeding until we are out of this mess. By then the mother may have fallen in love with the ease and beauty of it all while keeping her and her baby healthy as possible. That has been my experience in disaster circumstances 100% of the time.
  • Don’t cut the cord before the placenta is born. It is the baby’s lifeline. Don’t interrupt or rush severing the cord. It can wait. Consider using candles to burn the cord after it is limp and white and cold. Leave six inches of length and then make a spiral out of it. Make a belly belt out of cotton strips or sterile gauze to hold the spiraled end in place. Make sure the cord can breathe. Talk the mother and her family through all of this.
  • Stay back. Sing some lovely songs. She has her baby. They need your shared happiness. Food and rest.
  • Placentas can save lives. Once it births naturally just like the baby, consider giving the mother a little piece with a cracker or make a smoothie. It isn’t a gross or weird thing to do. Every other mammal stabilizes and regains her strength with a bit or all of her placenta. Even the herbivores.
  • Birthing mothers are the most sentient, instinctual creatures on the planet. They know how to poop, burp, throw-up, pant, and howl out a baby without lying back and giving up. They know how to look at them, touch them, call to them, pick them up and cover them with their breathing kisses. These are universal maternal behaviors and it is our highest responsibility in disaster circumstances to protect the environment so that they are safe to be their most instinctual selves. Talk to the ancestors or creator or whatever you believe in, but most of all, believe in her.
  • Transport only in a true emergency. The hospitals and clinics are overrun in a pandemics. With sick folks.
  • Put all her burnables in one bag and all the soiled linens in another. If there is a way to wash them, do so, in hot water. Wear gloves. If anyone in the home was sick, consider burning the gloves and linens.
  • Keep a detailed journal of what goes in and comes out of the mother and what she does and says. Keep notes about the baby’s poop, urine, sleep, nursing, and cord. This is their herstory from your point of experience. She will have her own narrative and the two will be treasures to her.
  • Stay the night if you can. She and you will feel so much more peace. You will take fewer calls and you will be able to do 24-hour care and education. By the time you go home you the whole team will be humming with the right healthy rhythm and all critical initial questions will have been answered.
  • Follow up every six hours for the first 48. Then every 12 hours the next three days, and then every day the first week.
  • Seek help if you need it. No one needs to feel alone right now. Just do the best you can with what you have. Remember all we have learned together. Being calm and capable allows whatever is happening to happen in the best way possible.

Humbly, I offer these messages with a prayer for the highest protection and wisdom to be with you each,

Under the same sky, Sister Morningstar and the Wild Garlic Council

About Author: Sister MorningStar

Sister MorningStar has dedicated a lifetime to the preservation of instinctual birth. She birthed her own daughters at home and has helped thousands of other women find empowerment through instinctual birth. She is the founder of a spiritual retreat center and author of books related to instinctual and spiritual living. She lives as a Cherokee hermitess and Catholic mystic in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Visit her on the web at: www.sistermorningstar.com.

The Power of Women: Instinctual Birth Stories: When women embarked on their journey into womanhood and motherhood, stories from their grandmothers, great-grandmothers and ancestors came forth through songs, stories and what appeared as mythological tales. Upon hearing these stories, women became empowered to do what all women from which they came were able to do: give birth instinctually.

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