Childbirth Today

Preg woman mendhi PLUMIt is a universal truth that if we give something the space to exist, and put our energy into it, then it has a good chance of becoming a reality. Sadly, we live in a fear-based culture. While pregnant, we train to handle the worst-case scenarios—testing for every possible defect, preparing to heal from tears and cuts that may never happen. We familiarize ourselves with the machinery and the mechanics that will save us or our babies in case something goes wrong. 

We learn that birth is a medical emergency, one that we could not possibly handle by ourselves, and that it will take a team of green-swathed surgeons to protect us from the many risks and the imminent harm. Our failure is impending. C-sections are the norm. The baby formula is standing by because we might not have it in us,we alone might not be enough.

A blessingway ritual offers a space for women to release the fears, let go of the worries, and set aside the worst-case scenario training. It creates a positive environment where we can think about the birth process in a different frame of mind. Emphasis is placed on our strengths rather than our inadequacies, and sitting in this place of power,we are affirmed.

During a blessingway ceremony, we get the opportunity to connect to our intuitive selves—the instinctive part of us that hasn’t read the books and doesn’t know about all the things that might go wrong, the part of us that is simply waiting for the moment when we can finally hold and greet our baby.

By investing some time in the powerful and positive visions of birth as a “blessed event,” the reality of it being marvelous begins to grow into being. Cultural habits are strong, so it takes time for new patterns and pathways to emerge. As more women work to create a new vision of birth, one in which we are fully present, the cultural habits around pregnancy and childbirth will eventually shift with us and new traditions will be made. 

Co-creating a Cultural Shift

At one time, it was common for women to gather together to empower and support one another as women who kept the hearth, raised the food, prepared the meals, and reared the children. These women shared food, combined child care, and helped each other when someone became ill. 
As common practice, older women helped to prepare the young women for marriage and then for childbirth. They continued to support new mothers for many months after giving birth—by providing food, medicinals, and care for older children and by keeping house. Some cultures today still drop everything to carry out the proper rituals for weddings, births, and funerals as a community—and it is often women who are at the center of the preparations for these events.
Today, our American culture as a whole lacks connection to deep tradition. We are such diverse people with such diverse practices that we share few common rituals for honoring meaningful life events. As we move from one stage of life to the next, many of us discover that we have lost our personal connection to the traditions that once guided us. In addition, the few traditions in which we do participate have become obscured to the point that they have lost their meaning and no longer fulfill their original purpose.
As a result, we’ve become a culture of individuals who do not understand the value of supporting one another. We have no rituals that serve to carry us through our sometimes difficult life passages.
Living our modern lives, we women often find ourselves giving birth without the personal support of our mothers, our sisters, or our closest friends.We may not live near one another. Some of us are choosing to give birth when we are older—which means that our parents are older, too, and may not be able to be of much help to us.
We can, however, create our own personal communities by bringing into our lives the habit of reaching out to support—and be supported by—those women around us. One way to practice this is by learning to create meaningful rituals. 
As women, we really do have a culture of our own, for we hold in common the life peaks of womanhood: childbirth, mothering, and honored elderhood. With respect and care, we can offer opportunities to one another for deeply felt transformation as we pass through the gateways of our lives.
"Everything connects to everything; therefore, as we change,
the world cannot but change with us."

—Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace