Saturday, September 10, 2011

Latham's Blog on Crazy Sexy Life: Slow Birth

Slow Birth is ecologically attuned midwifery/doula care with respect to the balance of nature.

Over the years, the Slow Food movement has benefitted from a lot of traction in the sustainable food community. Everyone speaks about slow food, the ecology of mother Earth, where our sacred food comes from, how it’s been cultivated, even the soil composition. The food justice and sustainable food movement prides itself on preserving just food for all.

Because I’m in the birth business, it got me thinking about how this concept applied to a new type of birthing model, one that is ages old but getting lost in the fast-paced world we live in. That concept is slow birth.

Slow Birth references labor and maternal care practices that are respectful and honor the inner ecology of the woman, her sacred anatomy, her innate wild wisdom and her attuned rhythms. It respects that birth can take time.

Like Slow Food, slow birth is about going back to the basics, celebrating what’s natural. That doesn’t mean without sophistication. It does, however, mean listening to the sophisticated rhythms of the body and acknowledging that you don’t always need technological support. The body is highly sophisticated and undergoes a host of processes to bring forth a baby.

The time of birth cannot be predicted, and this phenomenon of uncertainty leaves medical practitioners uneasy. So many women have the experience of being encouraged to take medications to “move things along.” With their haste to speed up their labor via drugs, they alter the woman’s internal hormonal ecology, and she can become disconnected to what is happening in her body and start to mistrust. No one can govern the female body but the woman who lives in that body. When practitioners take a position to modulate the normal course of a woman’s labor (without good reason to do so) they perform an act against nature. The connection to the Slow Food movement is strong here: The widespread use of agro-chemicals in farming are also an act against mother nature.

There is also the issue of unnecessary medical waste that is accumulated as a result of the technocratic birth model (which mirrors the inorganic waste, chemical compounds and natural resources wasted from industrial farming methods). Midwifery care is less expensive and less invasive, and midwives respect the mother/baby dyad. Organic farming is less expensive, uses less energy and the produce tastes better. We have a lot to say about this when it comes to our food, but what about when it comes to our wombs? We have to work with women and their bodies, not against them. We have to work with mother nature’s rhythms, not against them.

In my labor support work as a doula (Greek for “one who serves”), I strive to work with the mother and keep her in the hormonal flow and in a rhythm with her baby. We use breathing techniques, visualization, sound, movement, essential oils and therapeutic touch to help her labor comfortably. When a woman trusts her body and has proper support, she can have an empowering birth – no matter what the outcome. If Slow Food is a movement that takes us back to the land with respect and honor for sustainable food, then Slow Birth takes us back to the womb with respect and honor for the sacred process of birth.

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