Birth Quotes Update

Time for my semi-regular re-sharing of birth quotes I’ve shared on my Talk Birth Facebook page in the last several months (there are also a few grief/miscarriage quotes mixed in as well as some activism quotes too). While I realize that I don’t “own” these quotes—other people said them, not me!—I do have quite a bit of legwork invested in seeking and sharing these quotes (I mostly get them from my own reading) and if you re-post one or more of them on your own Facebook page, blog post, or book, I really appreciate acknowledgement and/or link back to this site or to my FB page, that this is where you originally got the quote!

“…in not disturbing the laboring woman you’re not handing over all control to her…it’s not a question of handing control to the laboring woman, it’s a question of *not controlling* her…while she’s in labor and giving birth physiologically, she’s going to seem well and truly out of control–totally wild!–so the issue of control seems a pretty irrelevant one really.” –Sylvie Donna (Optimal Birth)

“I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament.” ~Alanis Morissette, quoted in Reader’s Digest, March 2000 via Denver Doula

‎”Expectant mothers need to be mothered; their hearts need to be infused with love, confidence, and determination. I now see myself as ‘midwife’ to the gestation and birth of women as mothers.” –Pam England (Birthing from Within)

‎[re: “surrender” during labor] “…She may refer to this as the feeling of surrender; but this kind of surrender is a gift, not something she herself did with her mind. At this point the body truly takes over and the thinking mind recedes into the background. This may be how women historically and presently, are able to labor without mental suffering and without pain medication.” –Pam England (Labyrinth of Birth)

This feels true from my personal experiences–I feel like the most important thing anyone can know about birth is to welcome that surrender (to let go of control) and also about the value of *freedom* in enabling the surrender to happen (freedom in the physical space–i.e. no one “letting” you drink or not drink or labor in bed or out of bed).

“[re: ecstatic birth] This exquisite hormonal orchestration unfolds optimally when birth is undisturbed, enhancing safety for both mother and baby. Science is also increasingly discovering what we realise as mothers – that our way of birth affects us life-long, both mother and baby, and that an ecstatic birth —
a birth that takes us beyond our self — is the gift of a life-time.” –Sarah Buckley

“When you don’t follow your nature there is a hole in the universe where you were supposed to be.” –Dane Rudhyar (via Marian Thompson, LLL Founder)

‎”Birth is what women do. Women are privileged to stand in such power! Birth stretches a woman’s limits in every sense. To allow such stretching of one’s limits is the challenge of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. The challenge is to be fully present and to allow the process because of inner trust. How can women find their power, claim it, and stand firm in it throughout?” –Elizabeth Noble

(Her answer: “vertical birth”–thus, to quite literally STAND in one’s birth power!)

‎”…it is not easy for women to lay claim to our life-giving power. How are we to reclaim that which has been declared fearful, polluting and yet unimportant? How are women to name as sacred the actual physical birth, which comes with no sacred ritual…?” –Elizabeth Dodson Gray

‎”A woman’s path to power is more like engaging life’s energies in a swirling movement filling us up, out, into wholeness.” –Lois Stovall

“The body has its own way of knowing, a knowing that has little to do with logic, and much to do with truth, little to do with control, and much to do with acceptance…” –Marilyn Sewell (via Mothering Magazine‘s pregnancy e-newsletters)

“…much of what passes for childbirth education and preparation today actually increases women’s fears by giving them too much concrete information to hang their anxiety on, and too many names for all the bad things they already fear will happen. In the course of trying to calm the higher brain by giving it lots of data, we can end up defeating our purpose by feeding our fears.” –Suzanne Arms (Immaculate Deception II)

“We take for granted in the United States that childbirth is a multi-million dollar industry. It’s as simple as that–women’s bodies and the act of creation are intertwined with the economy. What if our relationship with body and womb and birth was in every sense of the word FREE? What if we didn’t need managed care? Literally or figuratively?” –Baraka Bethany Elihu (Birthing Ourselves into Being)

Reader responded with a question about, “how do we teach our children about birth?” and this was my short answer:

I think by talking about is as something that is a “normal” as can be–i.e. not scary and dangerous–and by not “hiding” birth from them like it is a secret. My kids have seen all kinds of natural birth videos, pictures in books, etc. When …my older son was only 3 1/2 he drew me a picture with the baby attached to the mom with an umbilical cord (both with big smiles on their faces) and the placenta in bowl next to them (which of course couldn’t actually be there unless the baby was not still attached to the mom with the cord). 🙂

“I am starting to see that a woman’s strength in birth is also in the letting go and allowing herself to tumble fearlessly with the current, never losing sight of the belief that, when the energy of the tide is through, she will find herself upright again on the shore.” –Maria (at the blog A Mom is Born)

“Because parents are transients in the maternity care system, there is little cumulative birth experience over successive generations of mothers. Women giving birth don’t make the same mistakes as their mothers or grandmothers–they make new ones.” –Elizabeth Noble (Childbirth with Insight)

‎”Those who push themselves to climb the last hill, cross the finish line, or conquer a challenging dance routine often report feelings of euphoria and increased self-esteem…women who experience natural birth often describe similar feelings of exaltation and increased self-esteem. These feelings of accomplishment, confidence, and strength have the potential to transform women’s lives…In many cultures, the runner who completes the long race is admired, but it is not acknowledged that the laboring woman may experience the same life-altering feelings…” -Giving Birth with Confidence (Lamaze International)

“Fathers’ sharing in the birth experience can be a stimulus for men’s freedom to nurture, and a sign of changing relationships between men and women. In the same way, women’s freedom to give birth at home is a political decision, an assertion of determination to reclaim the experience of birth. Birth at home is about changing society.” –Sheila Kitzinger

(Emphasis mine.) Posted in honor of Independence Day!

I’ve noted that many women (including myself) cite “freedom” as one of the main reasons they choose out-of-hospital birth…

‎”Labor is not a time to judge ourselves but a period for reflecting on our movement through life at a given moment. It is not possible to control labor, it is only possible to follow the process and to meet whatever it may offer.” –Gayle Peterson (An Easier Childbirth)

“There is an urgent need for childbirth education for doctors and nurses so that, instead of superimposing a medical perception of birth, professional helpers listen to, learn from, and respect women’s experiences. Only in this way shall we be able to humanize the culture of birth.” –Sheila Kitzinger (forward in An …Easier Childbirth by Gayle Peterson)

The book was written in 1993 and I think we still haven’t figured that out yet…:(

‎”The absolute miracle of a birth and the emergence of a new human being into the world catapults both mother and father into the realm of awe and wonder. They are flooded with non-ordinary feelings and energies that support a deep connection not only with the newborn and each other, but also with the mystery and power of life itself.” –John & Cher Franklin

‎”A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong.”

“A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything, but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear.” (from the same “Woman of Strength” poem as above quote, author unknown, many internet versions floating around)

“When I dare to be powerful–to use my strength in the service of my vision–then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” –Audre Lorde

“Despite hundreds of years of negative programming, labor and birth can be a soul-stirring experience!” —Christiane Northrup, MD

“The labor and birth experience itself is a microcosmic slice of what fathering asks of a man.” –John Franklin (FatherBirth)

‎”…an experience of the phenomenal capacity of our birthing body can give us an enduring sense of our own power as women. Birth is the beginning of life; the beginning of mothering, and of fathering. We all deserve a good beginning.” –Sarah J. Buckley

“Birth privacy is important because it fosters FREEDOM and that sense of freedom is fundamental to birthing unhindered and with joy.” –Molly Remer (my contribution to the book/DVD giveaway on Orgasmic Birth: The Best Kept Secret (fan page))

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform.” Susan B. Anthony

“When I say painless, please understand, I don’t mean you will not feel anything. What you will feel is a lot of pressure; you will feel the might of creation move through you. Pain, however, is associated with something gone wrong. Childbirth is a lot of hard work, and the sensations that accompany it are very strong, but there is nothing wrong with labor.” –Giuditta Tornetta

Love this –the “might of creation.” How true!

“Day by day, month by month, year by year we are confronted with all that we do not know, that we do not understand, that we do not grasp. Sometimes we are humbled by this knowledge and say: God, it is too wonderful for me to comprehend but I know this universe is more grand and more beautiful than I ever could have imagined and I give thanks for the blessing of being here and seeing, hearing, experiencing, and sensing all that is so wonderful around and in me…” –Susan L. Suchocki

“Life is full and overflowing with the new. But it is necessary to empty out the old to make room for the new to enter.” —Eileen Caddy

“Once the baby is born, your life will change forever. It will change in so many ways, and until you get there you simply can’t be told. The joys, the sorrows, the excitement, the fear, the frustrations–in fact, I think all the adjectives in the world couldn’t describe what is in store for you.” –Giuditta Tornetta

‎”I love to think that the day you’re born, you’re given to the world as a birthday present.” –Leo Buscaglia (shared on my second son’s fourth birthday)

“Wherever women gather together failure is impossible.” –Susan B. Anthony

“I believe with all my heart that women’s birth noises are often the seat of their power. It’s like a primal birth song, meeting the pain with sound, singing their babies forth. I’ve had my eardrums roared out on
occasions, but I love it. Every time. Never let anyone tell you not to make noise in labor. Roar your babies out, Mamas. Roar.” –Louisa Wales

“…The motherhood mosaic has pieces that are dark and dull, but it’s a work that shines.” –Carol Weston

“Women’s bodies have near-perfect knowledge of childbirth; it’s when their brains get involved that things can go wrong.” –Peggy Vincent (via Sweet Miracles

“A child strips away our illusions that we are perfect, that we have it all figured out, that we are all grown up. In fact, we grow up with our children if we are willing to remain open to their innate goodness as well as our own.” –Peggy O’Mara

“The suckling relationship is one of the sources of real sweetness that we have in human existence…The suckling baby can teach adults about the expression of sweet love and gratitude in a way no words can.”
–Ina May Gaskin

“Unfortunately, birthing woman has not only lost touch with her body and with her ancient female lineage. She has also lost her voice to speak up, to question intervention, to ask for support, to demand respect for the work of giving birth and caring for her infant. When she finds that voice, she will regain a vital part of her creativity and power as a woman.” –Suzanne Arms (Immaculate Deception II)

“Pregnancy is a time of being in touch with the power of creation itself.” –Rahima Baldwin & Terra Richardson

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” –Mother Teresa

‎”Childbirth calls into question our very existence, requiring an expectant couple to confront not only new life but death, pain, fear, and, most of all, change.” –Elizabeth Noble (quoting a new mother)

“Hope is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all…” –Emily Dickinson

‎”We may tell ourselves that birth is a natural and safe process and recall our childbirth teacher’s emphasis that a woman’s body is designed for giving birth, but our own bodies may hold a different truth. It is essential to honor body memory, as it wields far more influence than the intellect during labor.” –Gayle Peterson (in An Easier Childbirth re: working through birth memories in preparation for future births)

“If a community values its children, it must cherish its mothers.” -John Bowlby

“Just as a tree grows best when anchored firmly in the earth, so can a pregnant mother feel strong and capable when supported by a sisterhood of nurturing friends.” -April Lussier

“Planning for birth is like getting ready for an athletic event…You can’t predict exactly what is going to happen; the events of the game will unfold according to their own particular logic, and not necessarily
according to your plan.” –Adrienne Lieberman

“If we don’t take care of mothers, they can’t take care of their babies.” –Jeanne Driscoll

“And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your own hands and your own head…” –Christopher McCandless

‎”When you are drawing up your list of life’s miracles, you might place near the top the first moment your baby smiles at you.” –Bob Greene

I have crystal clear memories of my second baby’s first smile (the day of birth–looking into my eyes) and of my first baby’s first laugh. Less clear memories of the FIRST smile for my firstborn and first laugh for my second. I guess it is good that they each get one of the special, miracle moments!

“Midwives do NOT empower women. Only women can empower themselves. If you’ve been empowered through birth, thank your midwife for holding the space – but know that it was surely YOU that created and walked the journey” -Pamela Hines (via Barbara Herrera)

“Though we have lost a petal, we are still flowers, lush and full together in a garden of hope.” -Angie M. Yingst

‎”Once her endorphins have kicked in, a woman may actually enjoy labor or may even find it an ecstatic experience. I have many times told the story of one of my clients who was crying and desperate in early labor, only to be smiling and dancing around the room at nine centimeters’ dilation.”–Elizabeth Davis

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” –Anais Nin

“Giving birth requires an honest surrendering of your body and soul. You need to be in a relaxed state of love. Love has a way of overpowering fear. The more energy-draining feelings you can unload, the more room you will have for bliss and simplicity. Birth can be an unfolding and emergence like something you’ve never experienced before.” –Lynn Griesemer

“Labor is like mothering: you prepare and do the best you can, but finally, most of it is out of your hands. Birth is a great mystery. Yet we live in a rational, scientific world that doesn’t allow for mystery…” –Jennifer Louden

‎”Although the popularly desired outcome is ‘Healthy mother, healthy baby,’ I think there is room in that equation for ‘Happy, non-traumatized, empowered and elated mother and baby.’” –Ashley Booth Youn

[in reference to before she had her baby] “…I thought the only thing that was important…was to have a healthy baby. Now I recognize that while this is the primary goal, it is not the only goal. Birth is such an emotional experience; it can give or take away so much more than I ever realized…it will change you in such a wonderful and powerful way. It gave me more strength than I ever imagined. Since then, whenever I become overwhelmed, all I have do to is say, ‘I had a baby in my home!’ I am instantly empowered.”–Jody Niekamp (in Journey into Motherhood)

‎”10% of births needfully culminate in intervention. Self-esteem depends on salvaging the most important truth from your experience: Birth cannot be controlled. It is a mystery.” –Karen Fisk

“As doulas, midwives, nurses, and doctors, it’s important to never underestimate how deeply entrusted we are with someone’s most vulnerable, raw, authentic self. We witness their heroic journeys, see them emerge with their babies, hearts wide open…” –Lesley Everest (MotherWit Doula)

“Not every woman experiences unaided, natural childbirth, yet many women hope for it. To strive for birth as a peak experience—to withstand this ‘trial by fire’–a woman must learn what labor pain is and be prepared to accept and work with it. And she must also prepare for the unexpected.” –Karen Fisk

‎”It is so easy to close down to risk, to protect ourselves against change and growth. But no baby bird emerges without first destroying the perfect egg sheltering it. We must risk being raw and fresh and awkward. For without such openness, life will not penetrate us anew. Unless we are open, we will not be filled.” –Patricia Monaghan

“A Life may last for just a moment…. but a memory can make that moment last forever…” (Unknown)

“Birth is an experience that demonstrates that life is not merely function and utility, but form and beauty.” –Christopher Largen

“Birth matters. It brings us into being, on many levels.” –Ananda Lowe

‎”The way a society views a pregnant and birthing woman, reflects how that society views women as a whole. If women are considered weak in their most powerful moments, what does that mean?” –Marcie Macari

“Shrouding information about birth in silence hides the fact that labor and birthing pain is a positive key to transformation. Preparation for and expectation of that pain leads to self-awareness. Thus, birth becomes not only a passage for your child, but a passage for you into instinctual and effective parenting.” –Karen Fisk

2 thoughts on “Birth Quotes Update

  1. Have you given any thought at all with converting your main blog in to French? I know a small number of translaters here that will might help you do it for no cost if you wanna make contact with me personally.

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