What If, What For and What Now?: Human Rights and Cultural Rights in Childbirth
by Sister MorningStar
© 2016 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.
[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of an article which appears in Midwifery Today, Issue 119, Autumn 2016. View other great articles and columns in the table of contents. To read the rest of this article, order your copy of Midwifery Today, Issue 119.]
One of the most tragic destructions of indigenous sacred female knowledge is the false superiority and medicalization of childbirth by professionals among native peoples.
The aboriginal of Australia; the Inuit of Northern Canada; the multifarious tribes of the United States; the indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central and South America; and the Genus peoples of Africa have but few remains of their great wisdom and ways to preserve life at birth. The infiltration and globalization of the Western model for resuscitation is the most harmful of all. Traditional midwives who had a wide variety of methods for assisting first breaths, primarily leaving the cord intact and then leaving length when severing the cord, have been made to feel dangerous, stupid and useless to the very people they love and seek to help.
The various trainings of professionals to bring medical resuscitation programs to indigenous and deeply skilled and widely experienced traditional midwives do not recognize the harm they leave behind. When confident women follow orders and learn and repeat the ways of foreigners due to social, economic, cultural or personal pressures, the loss is immeasurable. Personal confidence is destroyed. Knowledge is destroyed. Culture is destroyed. Lives can be destroyed. More than once has a midwife after such “skilled training courses” felt paralyzed in the face of a depressed baby, looking frightened and bewildered, unable to do what she knew from her traditions and unable to do the new, foreign and unfamiliar techniques. The clean mannequin and the ready testing site look nothing like the wet baby on a common hut floor.
Sister MorningStar has dedicated a lifetime to the preservation of instinctual birth. She birthed her own daughters at home and has helped thousands of other women find empowerment through instinctual birth. She is the founder of a spiritual retreat center and author of books related to instinctual and spiritual living. She lives as a Cherokee hermitess and Catholic mystic in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Visit her on the web at: www.sistermorningstar.com.
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