“In discussions of reproduction, women do not centralize themselves in the creative act, other than in the rare circumstances of unmedicated home-births. The idea of women as goddess or creative force is disparaged by doctors, by Western society, and even by childbearing women themselves; contemporary Western women often credit their doctor with producing the child.” –Elly Teman
From the book Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body & The Pregnant Self.
I recognize that not all women connect with the “birth goddess” image, but I think most women who give birth under their own power can identify with the “creative force” moving through them. Guiditta Tornetta describes it as the “might of creation moving through you,” which I think is absolutely beautiful.
“The preference for unnatural childbirth practices, which seems to be spreading across the world, despite countermovements to tune into the natural process, has led birth, in many places, to be a major psychological disaster zone, in which almost everything is done the exact opposite from how it would happen if allowed to.” –R. D. Laing (quoted in Childbirth with Insight by Elizabeth Noble)
“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)
“Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware. To such a woman, childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory. She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.” ~Grantly Dick Read, Childbirth Without Fear
”Birth goes best if it is not intruded upon by strange people and strange events. It goes best when a woman feels safe enough and free enough to abandon herself to the process.” – Penny Armstrong and Sheryl Feldman, A Midwife’s Story
“Women have millions of years of genetically-encoded intelligences, intuitions, capacities, knowledges, powers, and cellular knowings of exactly what to do with the infant.” –Joseph Chilton Pearce
“It may be that the first stage in an effective global revolution for peace will be when male doctors accept progressively to retire from obstetrics and return childbirth to women.” –Michel Odent, MD
Another Michel quote that generated some more debate on my FB page. Several people made the point that sex of the medical provider doesn’t mean much and that many, many female OBs treat women poorly as well (or, likewise, there are male OBs who treat them well). I get the feeling he means return childbirth to *birthing women* (and midwives), rather than to any OBs, regardless of gender. A reader made the point that female care providers are perhaps no better because they are fully socialized into a male, medical model and I agree—the system needs to be returned to the midwives model of care (with occasional OBs available as specialists, not standard).
“Birth is not painless, whether it is a physical birth, an emotional one, or a spiritual one. But it is not exactly painful either. Any creative process takes intense concentration and furious labor. It strains us to our very core. But is that pain? Many birthing mothers experience something like ecstasy when they give birth…” –Patricia Monaghan
(more thoughts about this one to follow)