Photo source: www.thebirthhour.com
We are starting to wake up to the reality that most of the systems that we live in — patriarchy, capitalism, misogyny, racism — work to disempower birthing families on many levels. We must move forward with compassion and awareness in order to break harmful patterns, and create new and healthy pathways for future generations.
Currently there is a blatant disregard for the feminine — natural reproductive cycles, the intelligence of the body, the need for holistic community care, and the role of the Earth itself — which some say is linked to the high rates of reproductive system disease, sexual and birth trauma that is experienced in our culture.
The power struggle and mistrust in the feminine can be traced back through centuries of both very public and undercover witch hunts and continue in various forms around the world today.
The beauty is that we all hold within us the power to heal, transform and create. A sacred power that continues to be a threat to the systems that oppress us, which is the reason this energy that exists in all our bodies has been shamed, suppressed, controlled, and even condemned to death throughout history. People with a female body, and especially a Black and Brown female body and feminine expression have received the brunt of it.
These power dynamics come up blatantly in the birth and reproductive health medical model of care in Bermuda. The health care system is abound with medical interventions that are overly prescribed for convenience, profit and fear, many of which only lead to further complications, and affect the well-being of parents and babies. These include unnecessary hysterectomies and invasive procedures for reproductive disease that could be treated holistically, and induction and cesarean sections for low-risk pregnancies that are progressing normally.
It’s clear that modern medical practices are necessary and can be supportive, but we need to ensure that the science is validating what is being suggested and use discernment when choosing practices that go against the nature of our body’s intelligence.
Many of us have internalized the mistrust and shame of our bodies and natural cycles, so it’s understandable that we experience disconnection, self-doubt, fear, and a belief that we are inadequate, needing someone else to decide what’s best for us.
To reestablish our power and authority, we could also acknowledge the other kinds of knowing that are available to us. The one that comes from our gut — an intuitive and instinctual knowing— and another that comes from our heart, through life experiences and personal values.
Creating a community and support team that are aligned with our values is important to help us trust our inner guidance, make sense of our options, and advocate for our desires and well being in a world where they are not usually considered. Local midwives and doulas are available to help us with this.
To shift the paradigm towards one that is balanced and respectful of both the feminine and the masculine, we could harness the wisdom inherent in the natural cycles of the Earth, the moon and menstruation while trusting in the rhythms of birth, life and death, just as our ancestors did.
Though it may take time and effort to explore and develop, these suggestions are available to all of us, and necessary for our own empowerment, prevention of trauma, and to ensure the well-being of ourselves and our children.
Ashley is a trauma informed movement and embodiment coach offering private sessions and small group workshops for pelvic and reproductive health, and supporting people in preparing and healing from the journey of birth and life on Earth. Find her at www.birthingbodyandsoul.com