From the Editor: Birth Communities
by Jan Tritten
© 2000 Midwifery Today, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
[Editor's Note: This editorial originally appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 56 (Winter 2000): Building
a Birth Community.]
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Community changed radically during the century of the car and the airplane. Whereas
we once lived in tribes, then in small villages where we knew everyone, we now are
called together in community formed from mutual interests, work and experiences.
Each one of us belongs to many communities, including many separate birth communities.
You might, for example, have a separate sense of community with your clients than
you do with your colleagues.
In the past nine years, I have put together 30 Midwifery Today conferences. The
people involved at different levels of conference participation have become an important
community for me. Indeed, by attending our conferences, as well as many other conferences
all around the world, I have become a member of a rich global community of wonderful
Midwifery is one of God's most important callings. The strength and depth of the
bonds we form with one another are testimony to the miracle work we get to do.
When we are together all day and late into the night singing, dancing or sharing
birth stories, tricks, classes and insight, we revitalize and fill our birth souls
with love and understanding of one another. We are knit together as mothers are knit
with their children, or as sisters and brothers one to another. In the Bible, the
apostle Paul says of the body, or community of believers, "If one part suffers,
every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it"
(1 Corinthians 12:26).
This binding together was brought home deeply to me through the grievous personal
tragedy of my conference sister and dear friend Robbie Davis-Floyd. Robbie lost
her beautiful 21-year-old daughter, Peyton, in a car accident shortly after the
Midwifery Today New York conference in September. I couldn't stop hurting. Every
birth sister I spoke to was feeling the same pain. Although we couldn't truly know
the deep suffering of our sweet sister, our own pain was still very real, and our
prayers were prayers of deep mourning and moaning. In suffering and in rejoicing,
we are one "body" in our birth souls, a level of community at its deepest.
Community bonds become so strong they begin to resemble family bonds.
In celebration of the life of Peyton Floyd, we dedicate this issue of Midwifery
Today. See page 2 (of issue 56) for our tribute.
We are knit into many birth communities, and often their strength depends on our
time and commitment. We share community with the families we serve. At some birth
homes in Japan, weekly potlucks are held for all pregnant and birthed mothers. About
98 percent of the mothers in Japanese birth homes have natural births, outcomes
are excellent and just about every mother chooses to breastfeed, so these gatherings
are a great opportunity not only for building community, but also for setting a good example
for the pregnant mothers who attend. They learn that they too can have natural
births and breastfeed their babies.
Community is where culture is taught. In Western society, members typically are
socialized in a cradle-to-grave medical culture, and our high epidural, induction
and cesarean rates demonstrate clearly that birth practices have changed for the
worse. At childbirth reunions where most of the women have been induced or otherwise
experienced medicalized births, the medical model of birth is passed on.
Midwifery Today is creating an online birth community to help counter this negative
birth culture and keep practitioners meeting, learning and sharing. The Web site
we've developed is bursting with information and depth. With more than 2,000 visitors
a day coming to our site, we expect it to help change birth. We hope that www.midwiferytoday.com
will be a place where you, the practitioner, are able to find all the information
you need surrounding birth and midwifery, as well as a place where you can meet each
other in the forums, on chats and through our newsletter. Our Birth
Market and Find-a-Midwife, Find-a-Doula sections let you put your practice and
products into a directory, which enables us to market for you by bringing Web traffic
to your business. You can find contacts there as well as be a contact. By subscribing
to the Midwifery Today E-News, our free, weekly e-mail newsletter, you will receive
a wonderful publication that is packed with information, as well as with questions and
answers that come from the community of more than 5,600 subscribers. We use a hotlink
to announce which articles we've put on the Web. Our new HTML version is beautiful
and features art and photographs as well as text. Please visit and let us know if
you have ideas on how we can better serve you in your community needs.
My heart is also intensely committed to the global community of midwives and birth
practitioners. I hope you will join us at one of our yearly international
conferences. I have looked for ways to knit the world's birth practitioners together, thereby allowing
us to keep the kind of energy going that is built when we are physically together
at these conferences. Transformational energy needs a container. So in addition to meeting
one another at conferences, the container we've come up with is an online birth community
called the International Alliance of Midwives (IAM), which we hope you will join.
Even though we don't live in the connected little villages we used to live in,
we have all found ways to build and join wonderful communities. I love our birth
communities and all of you who share them with me and with each other. Keep up
the great work you do. We will change the world one birth at a time and one community
at a time.
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