The Big Three (Actually, Four): Part II

The Midwife: Whapio Diane Bartlett
Website: http://www.thematrona.com/
Authored Books: N/A
Biography/History: Whapio has been a midwife for over 30 years. In the 1990s she was teaching classes about childbirth and midwifery and in the early years of 2000 she put together all of the information she had learned over the years and created her program, The Matrona. “As a young midwife I knew that my approach to childbirth was different than many of my peers. I apprenticed for three years with the midwife who helped me birth my two children. I adored her and learned incredible amounts from the births I attended with her. But my real apprenticeship began when I was called to assist women who were having large families and these intrepid women allowed me to sit at their feet and really see how birth unfolds when women are acting in accordance with their own authority and birthing in their organic rhythms. They invited me to apprentice with them and with birth itself.” (3) Whapio studied Quantum Physics and applied it to midwifery and birth and has integrated it into her teachings of “Quantum Midwifery”.

Beliefs:
Ability to Birth: “…these intrepid women allowed me to sit at their feet and really see how birth unfolds when women are acting in accordance with their own authority and birthing in their organic rhythms. They invited me to apprentice with them and with birth itself.” (3)…… “Over the years, countless women taught me that they don’t want or need to be managed. They were wise and capable even when I thought they weren’t. They were patient and caring with me and I was respectful and integral with them and we collaborated in birth. They taught me that as women we can call into question that idea that we NEED someone to assist us in birthing our babies. They explained that they want to be attended through childbirth, they prefer companionship and witnessing but that they were capable of birth without management, unnecessary support and interference, no matter how loving and compassionate the interference seemed.” (3)
Licensure, Accreditation: “I’ve been an independent midwife through all my years and I never felt it was necessary to belong to any particular organization as a midwife or as a midwifery education program. MEAC is good for those who want it, but to me it feels like a linear, left-brained way of supporting the age-old tradition of midwifery that is steeped in an intuitive and non-linear mode of expression as well as a practical model. Naturally there is a blending of the academic and the intuitive in midwifery and I would prefer to support organizations that facilitate mystical intelligence.” (3)……
“Trust Birth”/Unassisted Birth: “Paramount to communication and collaboration among midwives is the willingness to set aside our ideologies concerning what’s right and wrong and realize that there is a place for everything. There is a place for drugs, for unassisted birth, for yoni exams and for no yoni exams. For me, the key is that each of us finds our own self-directed way to accessing what can facilitate birth and consciousness in this world.” (3)
• “I feel that the fear we see surrounding birth that effects young midwives during their education is created by political and societal concerns rather than a fear of birth itself. It’s an artificially created fear because it’s based on responsibility for outcomes. As caregivers, I believe that we are responsible for the process and not the outcome. We are responsible for the time we spend, the nurturing we offer, the integrity we bring – all the aspects of unfolding the birth process with a woman and family. But it is not my privilege to know the destiny of another human being or to control or be responsible for the outcome. Birth, like healing, is a relationship between mother, child and the greater powers. Naturally, we endeavor to facilitate fulfillment and subsequently safety for mother and baby but we cannot mandate the outcome. When we try to do that we get the practice of defensive medicine. We also need to address the temptation to practice defensive midwifery.

Read the full interview here: http://www.thematrona.com/#!__literature – Interview with Whapio

My Take:
Whapio is another midwife that I look up to and adore. Her thoughts, her past, her beliefs. Her “Holistic Stages of Labor” is a must read (and can be found on her website). Her school, the Matrona, offers Holistic Doula and Quantum Midwifery training which I will be attending. One of my current mentors, Krista Joy Arias, bases a lot of her teachings and beliefs off of those of Whapio and her style and beliefs feel that they mesh very well with my own. But it is up to each woman and midwife to find their way, who they look up to, etc.

Sources:

(1) http://www.thematrona.com/#!__literature
– Interview with Whapio

Note: As I come across further information, this may be updated.

Safety in Birth

As I was traversing Pinterest I came across a blog here on WordPress called “Outlaw Midwives” and while skimming the articles, I found this one: http://outlawmidwife.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/on-safety-and-consent/; shortly there after I re-read an article also touching on “safe birth” by my mentor, Krista Joy Arias over at MamaMuse: http://www.mamamuse.com/2011/05/trust-love/.

They sparked a thought process in my head that I hadn’t considered before. An idea, a philosophy, that so many mainstream midwives, pro-homebirth (*cough* midwife-attended homebirth) campaigners, etc. would be furious at. Especially when it challenges their biggest ideal: “trusting birth”, that birth is “safe”. My thought process was similar to that of the Outlaw Midwife’s, supported by Ms. Arias’s points.

What is “safety in birth”? Why do we seek “safe birth”? Is it just a ploy by pro-midwifery-licensure campaigners to gain more support? They are trying to not “scare” anyone. “See, look! Birth IS safe if you don’t receive interventions!” But that’s just it. We find comfort in “safety”, even if it is just perceived– which can be dangerous in itself. Our culture, our society, fears death. It fears it, and it is taboo to not fear it, to accept it as an every-day Right of Passage. We fear it, so we fight it with medication and technology. We fight it down to our very cores, though there is a place in our souls, in each of us, that knows Death, and accepts it. But we fear letting that part of ourselves, that part of our humanity, out into the light of day.

To me, Death is a part of Midwifery. It is a part of Motherhood. It is a part of Life. There is no escaping it (though we like to think as much). And the rituals and chants, the songs and whails surrounding the Rite of Passage that is Death (and all other Rites as well, really) are being forgotten. But there are those Rogues who are grasping at the slipping rope, trying desperately to pull it back up to the surface before all is lost to the sea of modernization and technological advancement.

Consider the following taken from the blog over at Outlaw Midwives:

“this idea of safety is so ubiquitous that even the controversial ‘trust birth‘ movement says, birth is safe, interference is risky, as if the question on the table is, how do we have the safest birth possible?  do we follow medical protocol, mainstream midwifery protocol, more ‘hands off’ protocol…which one is safer?

but i want to question, why is safety the goal?  why do we first tout how safe a procedure, before we talk about whether the mama has given informed consent?  and why when we talk about informed consent, we often boil down to whether or not the mama consented to this procedure, despite or because of the risk or safety of the said action?  feel me?

what is safety?  being alive?  fitting into the normative ideas of healthy and average?

and how do we determine safety?  through clinical studies?  medical tradition?  anecdotal evidence?  expert opinion?”

Really consider that for a minute…. “What IS safety?” ….. “WHY is safety the goal?”

In the words of Krista Arias:

“So, when I hear someone say, Birth is safe or Trust Birth –your body knows how to give birth, something in me rebels.

“That’s not true,” it says.

“Birth is anything but safe.”

Birth may not be a medical emergency, but that does not mean it is safe. It is a serious and intense rite of passage that can shake us to our depths. Persephone’s trip to the underworld was not safe. Safe is a cop-out in life, and in birth.”

Let me repeat that: Safe is a cop-out in life, and in birth.

I feel that women, midwives, mothers… that they should not focus on “safety” and “what-if” and “Where did we go wrong” or “What could have been done to make it safer”. Instead, they should focus on allowing what is to be, allowing the birth to unfold in the manner of which it is meant to. Even if you attempt to do what you can with what skills and knowledge you have, and the “best outcome” doesn’t happen, accept that. Accept it as it is. Be present, be responsible, and own the part of the story that is yours. Meet mothers where they’re at. Do not hold judgement. Know the rites, know the rituals, know the words and the way of life and death and you can accept it as it comes, and help mothers and families to do so as well.

Another thought from the Outlaw Midwife:

“i guess it is because i think of safety/security as an illusion.  there  are no guarantees in life.  and playing the statistics game (deciding  ones protocol based on what has proven to be statistically safest or  most effective) is a fools errand.  because you can easily find yourself  in a situation where you do all the right things and the outcome is  horrible.  and you can do all the wrong things and in the end everything  turns out just how you wanted.
and if something is 99 percent  effective, and you turn out to be that 1 percent, do you really care  that 99 other people had difft outcomes?  and what if you are the mama  and you lose your babe, because you are the 1 percent?  is your grief  any less? probably not.
but yr grief probably is harder if you were told to go against your own motherwit, because the stats said xyz.
and  if you did follow your intuition, and the outcome is not what you  expected, then at least you can take responsibility for what happened.   rather than blaming mw’s and obgyns etc, ppl who have little  accountability to you, and will go on doing their jobs barely  remembering you existed a couple of weeks or months later.
i dont  know.  i tell mamas, look, everything will not be perfect.  but if you  follow your own sense of what to do, then you are taking responsibility  for your own life and choices.  everybody has to be who they are.
and  from what i have seen if you follow your own sense of what to do, then  you will have more self-respect, self-love, self-empowerment.  and the  more that we value ourselves, the more we are able to value others  around us, including/especially our children.”