So much has unfolded and changed in the last few weeks, and while MY life feels mostly the same (albeit busier) I wanted to share some of the reflections and perspectives that I have had stewing, just waiting for the right time to share.
The are strange and wonderful things happening in the world right now.
For starters, doctors are recommending that pregnant women skip their prenatal appointments or do them virtually because (WAIT FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!) there is dubious evidence that they actually do anything. Things MUST be bad (or perceived to be bad) in the health care world for them to finally let that long known but well hidden secret slip. (This book was written 20 years ago)
We also have mainstream midwives realizing this perhaps for the first time, and they are scrambling to figure out how to teach pregnant women how to do their own clinical prenatal care. They have largely missed the point though that we need to question each piece of it and see if women even want it in the first place. Many are missing the opportunity to frame this is an empowering and exciting thing, as opposed to a scary pandemic thing.
All of this is hilarious, since it has been at least 8 years since we taught our first DIY Prenatal Care class here at Indie Birth, with the spirit of questioning the necessity of all of it, and centered on the practice of radical consent (do you even WANT me to feel your belly today?). There were also midwives before us who were privy to the baselessness of cookie cutter, routine, pee-on-a-stick, “I’m going to take your blood pressure now” prenatal care. But whoa, it is sure exciting to see people being stretched to consider these things, and we are more than happy to be leaders right now since we have been doing this all along. Our 13 Moons course is an incredible resource for any pregnant women looking for education, support and inspiration right now.
This pandemic is also exposing how, when shit hits the fan, people give zero effs about you being certified or licensed. I actually find that people don’t care in general during non-pandemic times either but that’s for another day. If things were to get worse (which they still might) and laboring women literally aren’t going to be allowed into the hospital to give birth because THERE ARE NO BEDS AVAILABLE, do you really think they will ask to see my license or certification when I show up ready to help them? When we are stripped of all the usual surface level living we do, and get out of our heads, we can see what REALLY matters, and make choices from that place instead.
This global experience of Covid-19 is exposing all the fictions that make up our daily lives. That pregnancy and birth are medical and need to happen in the hospital. That we have to send our kids to school. That it would be hard to stop destroying our environment. That money has any inherent value. That we can’t give everyone a living wage and a shelter to live in. That we are incapable of slowing down. That we need to work 9-5, or that we need to “work” in the traditional sense of the word at all. That we are all on our own. That community is dead. That we need someone in authority to save us.
I am seeing people right before my own eyes (and even myself!) grapple with what it means when we give up these fictions and embrace the possibility that we could actually create something really amazing if we all worked together. This is something I have felt and known my entire life. For the first time, I don’t feel like such a weirdo. I don’t have all the answers, but I know that I am meant to bring my medicine to these times, and my guess is, so are you.
But what I am wondering right now is this – are we, as a birth culture, going to have collective amnesia next year? Are women going to remember this moving forward? How can we capture the radical, revolutionary potential of this moment – when women are being told BY THEIR DOCTORS that prenatal care, and even hospital birth itself in some cases, IS NOT NECESSARY!!! Will women experience a worldwide shift and finally start considering home birth en masse? Even 5% more? Heck, even 2% more? Let that sink in for a minute. What if 2-5% more women want to choose home birth going forward? Is your community ready to handle that influx? Where I live, that would be double or triple the amount of home births. And if we hit that critical mass, I would be shocked if it didn’t snowball further.
If you have been waiting to become a midwife, or gain midwifery knowledge, you should really jump in now. We are making some late admissions exceptions for the midwifery school cohort that begins in July – if you are WILDLY interested, feel free to check out the website, the virtual tour and shoot me an email at email@example.com.
My deepest desire is that I do not want us to return to business as usual. And I do not want mainstream midwifery to co-opt this current potential. The way we can ensure that our communities stay open to autonomous, independent midwives and birth workers is to make ourselves indispensable. To love our community so hard that no one will forget.
What do you think are some ways we can do this? Let’s inspire each other.
I have already thought of some of the ways that I’m going to try to keep this all fresh in peoples’ minds. A year from now, when I’m teaching in a post-pandemic world, I’m going to just ask people. “Do you know what it was like for the pregnant women during the era of Covid-19?”. I will tell them how I had calls pouring in about switching from hospital to home birth. I will invite them to consider how they would have felt, acted, and made choices.
And I will ask them if things are really that different now….and if they should perhaps consider home birth just as deeply instead of waiting for a global pandemic to face their own fears and dig into their true desires.
I will tell them that when something novel forced women to ACTUALLY consider home birth, many of them found that they actually thought it sounded pretty good. So let’s all capture evidence of this time so people will believe us! If you’re a birth worker, consider documenting this time in detail, including what questions came up for people, what aha moments people had, and the number of people who reconsidered, switched, and birthed at home instead, all because of a) the potential of contracting a virus in the hospital (literally always a possibility) and b) the potential or actual crumbling of the hospital infrastructure that would restrict their labor support and possibly lead to poor care from the staff (also always a possibility, especially as long as we have randomized labor support instead of continuity of care).
That’s it for now. I see us all moving forward in greater truth, greater intention – a slowness and thoughtfulness like we have never experienced before. Let’s all hold the hope for a new normal, and each do what we can to maintain these amazing insights that this experience has given humanity.
Cheers to a new reality, and no more business as usual.
With so much love,