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Internal Peace ~ External Chaos

Dearest Friends, Family, and Birthworkers,

 

I am recently home from our first scouting trip to India, where I am happy to share that we have an exciting new program in the works! However, there was palpable pain echoing through all of us as we would open our phones and see the horrors of the world unfolding in the palms of our hands. So, before telling you more about our trip, I just want to extend a collective breath. I hope everyone is able to keep their hearts soft as we collectively navigate this deeply traumatic world. Even amidst the cacophony of a world in distress, we can practice mindfulness to find a sanctuary of peace within ourselves.

 

Internal peace, external chaos.

 

This thought of collective trauma also echoed as we learned about India’s birth culture. We were primarily in Kerala, in the southern, tropical part of the country. I realized how once again, systems everywhere are failing mothers and women because these systems are designed more for the convenience of those who govern them than those who birth within their walls.

 

What would maternity clinics look like if the birthers were the architects?

 

We learned how, like in many other countries in the world, medical colonization shifted birth from home to hospitals, driving midwives out of practice. We had the pleasure of visiting with Priyanka Idicula, the co-founder of the Birth Village, one of two freestanding birth centers in India. She shed incredible light on how English influence killed the midwives. What does that mean? Similarly to how granny midwives in the West were led to extinction by the medicalization of birth, the influence of western medicine on India’s massive population led to many women who practiced the art of birth support being ostracized. Priyanka shared how home births are illegal in the state of Kerala, and how there is no educational path for midwifery.




However, we did learn about how during the postpartum period, new mothers are PAMPERED. Kerala is the birthplace of Ayurveda, and we had the opportunity to learn about various postpartum care treatments that all women, regardless of income, routinely receive. Some only get a week's worth of treatment, others six weeks. Treatments include medicinal oil massages, hair treatments, special food, belly wrapping, and so much more!

 

Future Wombs of the World programs will continue to explore how to culturally appreciate, not appropriate, practices from the East like this. We will go to the roots of ancestral Ayurvedic practices, deepen our relationships to our wombs through traditional yoga practices, and learn how we can pamper our clients, while also nurturing ourselves.

 

We will also learn how to be better advocates in this world. The power of storytelling, the power of sharing what positive birth outcomes can look like.

 

The first time I traveled to India I was 15 years old and joined a youth group. We spent the first week of our trip deep in the slums of Mumbai playing at school with young children. I remember having some of my formative “eye-opening” moments when I tried to wrap my mind around how the people surrounding us lived with 10 people in a small shack with no running water - yet had cell phones to take pictures of us. I realized then that it is a lot easier to add a new technology (such as a phone) than to rip up the entirety of the slum to install a sewer system. I also realized that my preconceived notions of humanity (at 15) were going to be brutally deconstructed. It is this curiosity about our shared humanity yet distinctive cultures that continues to drive me today.

 

I feel that this is how birthwork can be. Doulas and midwives can be the addition to a broken system, to bring it up to speed with evidence-based care practices. If we cannot change hospital policy around the world and make every birthing space comfortable and safe, then we can add the care of a professional support person to keep them feeling safe, seen, and supported.

 

Birth keepers are a cutting-edge, yet ancient technology.




Birth trauma should not be normalized. Obstetric violence should not be normalized. Seeing bombs drop on civilians should not be normalized.

 

I was joined in Kerala by some of our amazing facilitators, Madi du Pont, Hannah Gray, and Kelli Harper. We regularly discussed how we should elect grandmothers and crones to rule the world. We shared in our collective pain and our collective passion.

 

Once again, there is such power to be found in connecting with other birthworkers around the world. And what fuels us as birthworkers is that we know the POWER, the MAGIC, the TRANSFORMATION that is birth. We’ve seen our clients open sacred portals and connect worlds. We’ve seen love like no other. We’ve seen a person experience the most challenging and vulnerable moment of their life and come out the other side a freaking queen, empowered birthing goddess! I bow down to all you birthing mamas out there. All over the world. Thank you for your love. Your sacrifice. Your devotion.

 

And thank you to the Birthworkers. Thank you to the powerhouse women like Priyanka (@birthvillageindia) and Marta (@parteradianaku) for pioneering midwifery in your communities.




I am so deeply grateful for Wombs of the World, and this network that keeps on growing. The renaissance (rebirth) of maternal health is now. Let’s rise together. Together we change policy. Together we elect the crones that will guide us to peace. I hope you hear the call.

 

With Gratitude,

Charlotte and the WotW Team



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