viernes, 20 de noviembre de 2009

Babies experience of Birth

I just finished reading Wendy Ann McCarty's book, "Welcoming Consciousness, Supporting Babies Wholeness from the Beginning of Life". I first heard her speak at a conference three years ago and she deeply moved my approach to birth and babies.

The book stands for the experience of the baby. Please note as you read this that I am clear about the fact that the baby emerges from the mother and that supporting a healthy mother is essential to babies well being.

At the end of the book she describes specific therapy cases where she has worked with babies who have had difficult gestation, birth and immediate postpartum experiences. She describes how she listens to the baby react and re-enact their experiences. As I read this I think about the fact that most births completely disregard the woman's experience, thus clearly there is absolutely no context for understanding the baby's experience.

The way I see it, your birth, which is recorded in your implicit memory is your introduction to your parents, your world and your country. We are now aware of the long term impact of this on babies mental and physical health. I used to teach a workshop where someone was asked to leave the room and told to come back in. Upon entry we would treat them the way babies are taught in traditional Mexican hospitals. As beings with no feelings, no capacity and on the brink of death. We would rub them, aspirate their mouths with a bulb syringe, move them from place to place measuring body parts, etc. It was a traumatic experience for all involved. We would then ask the person to describe how they wanted to be greeted upon entry and we would participate in enacting this for them.

We often ask parents in our practice, how do you think your baby wants to be received? This is a very useful question for moving beyond the fear of "Will the baby actually breathe f there is no doctor to stimulate that?".

I challenge you then to ask yourself, as a parent or as a midwife, if I were to be born, what would be really important to me, and what would not? What would make me feel welcome and safe? What would help me breathe and encourage me to want to stay in this place?

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