We Two Form a Multitude
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 58, Summer 2001.
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We two form a multitude. Yes, there are couplings that make us feel that strong. The mamatoto—the motherbaby—is that kind of coupling.
One of the most cherished experiences of my own pregnancies was the fact that I was never alone. Someone was with me—from within. Extraordinary.
The very fact that we must define motherbaby, that we must explain and defend and protect motherbaby, is an indication that something has gone terribly wrong with the way we look at pregnancy and provide maternity care in our culture. We have lost sight of the obvious: why?
I believe that the motherbaby unit is so strong that the only way to control women—and the money that they bring to the maternity care system—is to “break” that motherbaby bond. If anything to protect the motherbaby, then society not a pregnancy-friendly, baby-friendly culture. For all the advances that feminism has achieved, women still come to maturity abused in body and soul. In a million subtle and not-so-subtle ways, women are urged to detach themselves from their own bodies and their preborn children before they have even conceived!
But, oh, how strong is the ancient wisdom of the female body! Millennia upon millennia of instinct and intuition flows in our veins. And so—when the first stirrings of a new life are manifest within her—wonder and joy and the sense of the motherbaby will overtake a woman, despite the fears and the warnings, the brainwashing and the abuse.
Yet throughout the pregnancy, the forced division of the motherbaby continues. It begins when maternity care providers horde knowledge, won’t answer questions, and don’t acknowledge a woman’s intuition and common sense. Every word and action that undermines the wisdom and power of the pregnant woman divides the motherbaby. Every word and action that empowers her strengthens and supports the motherbaby. Every practitioner must therefore make a choice.
It should be the from the start our society promotes estrangement and violence.
Do we—as midwives, mothers, healers, wise women—believe it when we say that we are out to change the world, one birth at a time? I believe the power of the motherbaby is that strong. Life itself begins with the motherbaby. The preservation and promotion of motherbaby is worth examining the details of our own practices. It is worth the politics and the activism. It is worth our all.