“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” –Barbara Katz Rothman
This classic quote from Barbara Katz Rothman sums up the potent impact of the birth experience on women’s lives and it seemed like perfect quote to kick off the website of the Rolla Birth Network that I founded with my birth advocate friends and colleagues. We believe that strong, healthy babies, vibrant families and resourceful communities begin with strong mothers. We chose Strong Mothers, Strong Babies, and Strong Community as our tagline because we believe that when women dig deep into their inner strength, everything else follows. We also chose this as our tagline because it reflects the conviction that women have already got it. They have the inner wisdom and the strength they need. While outside professionals and resources can be tremendously helpful, she’s already got what it takes within her, we may just be a part of helping her to access the strength she already possesses.
We agree with doula and birth educator Heather McCue who said: “The whole point of woman-centered birth is the knowledge that a woman is the birth power source. She may need, and deserve, help, but in essence, she always had, currently has, and will have the power.”
On a related note, Holly Kennedy raises this question in her guest editorial in the spring 2011 issue of The Journal of Perinatal Education:
What “matters” in birth is complex, extremely hard to quantify, and will vary from one person to the next…I found myself contemplating what matted most in my ability to support women in birth so they could emerge from the process as strong, healthy mothers. I believe we have collectively lost our way over time about this outcome—the strong mother. The mother’s experience of childbearing, which will affect her forever, can directly influence her future as a mother. How do we address this as a discipline?“
Yes, the strong mother. This is what is about. The strong mother who feels capable and competent in the mothering of her newborn and of her infant as it grows.
Another favorite quote about the strength of women:
“Women are strong, strong, terribly strong. We don’t know how strong until we are pushing out our babies. We are too often treated like babies having babies when we should be in training, like acolytes, novices to high priestesshood, like serious applicants for the space program.”
–Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay’s Dance
It is also important to note that we believe that strength is found in all kinds of birth experiences from the triumphantly empowered to the extraordinarily taxing and even traumatic. (Previous post about Birth Strength and the quote above.)
So, speaking of birth networks. One of the things that I’ve been excited about working on now that I am not actively teaching birth classes is on projects for our local Birth Network. I’ve wanted to do something like this for ages, feeling excited about the potential and momentum created by bringing multiple people together to collaborate on projects that make a difference in our community. We have some great ideas planned and I feel rejuvenated and enthusiastic after every meeting.
Here are some resources on forming a birth network in your own community:
Tools, Tips and Resources for Birth Networks
Birth Network National Resources
Programs from Athens Birth Circle
Some time ago a follower of this page, Nora from Happy Within, posted to let me know that she hosts a virtual birth circle for mothers. She describes it thusly: “the birthcircle is a virtual community which is a sacred women´s circle about conscious pregnancy and birth and its free. You can get details here: http://happywithin.wordpress.com/your-birthcircle/.” You can also keep up with her work on Facebook.