Suzanne Arms stands at the forefront of birth advocacy, which is why we are thrilled to share our chat with her as this week’s guest blog! She recognizes the importance (and beauty) of the mother/baby bond, knows that planning for natural birth is key to a safe, healthy, satisfying labor and delivery, and to put it simply — she inspires us.
MA: Can you speak to the importance of letting labor begin on its own, therefore allowing mother and baby to begin to work through labor and birth naturally?
SA: The most important thing to remember is that birth is a series of interlocking processes that are highly sophisticated and designed to work together. If you intervene in any way, the flow of labor will be disrupted, and the mother-baby relationship can be harmed. Induction is the first thing not to do. 99.9 percent of labors will begin on their own, when they’re supposed to. When the entire process of labor and birth are forced to begin, a woman’s contractions aren’t the same — they don’t have natural rhythm, which means there’s no rest in between. The peaks and valleys are off, leaving a lot of women yelling for drugs because they can’t cope with the pain. You want a labor that follows biology and protects the sacred, natural process. Always look at normal (natural) birth as the model. It has incredible wisdom and value.
MA: How does planning for a safe, healthy, natural childbirth strengthen the relationship between mother and baby?
SA: Birth is a mystery, and you never know what’s really going to happen — but if you don’t reach for the stars and plan to have the very best, you’re unlikely to get it. It’s important to have a vision for your birth and to work toward that vision. Birth is a huge transformative experience, and can potentially be incredible. For baby, it’s his or her first experience in the world. For mother, it’s the moment she accepts baby and herself as a mother. If you have a happy, nurtured, supported baby, you’ll have a happy, nurtured mother and partner. When birth happens as it’s supposed to, it’s like mother and baby are dancing together beautifully — they’re thriving, and the rest of their whole lives will be incredibly wonderful.
MA: You have been on the forefront of birth advocacy since 1975, and your latest endeavor is your nonprofit organization, “Birthing the Future.” Can you tell me a little bit about Birthing the Future? What are your goals?
It’s a tiny nonprofit organization with very big goals. We want to help shift people’s lives from surviving and coping to thriving, and the key to that lies in how we bring humans into the world. It all begins with a healthy, healed (physically and emotionally) woman. It continues in consciousness to conceive a baby, moves through a supported, low-stress pregnancy, and transitions into a calm, peaceful, natural birth.
The mother-baby bond (beginning at conception and developing intensely through baby’s first year) needs to become a priority in order to create a strong family unit. A strong family unit is complete with a mother’s support person — whether that is baby’s father or baby’s grandmother. The support person bonds with the baby, and provides the mother respect and love. When a woman is nourished, her baby is nourished and a new, trusting, loving, confident, stable human being begins to flourish. These healthy, happy, stable babies are the future of the world.
Birthing the Future advocates for all of the above, along with paid childbirth education and doulas, for midwives to be paid the same as doctors, and for extended paid maternity and paternity leave. We train birth advocates to raise money for their own communities and provide resources for those communities. We also create ideal models for single mother living situations, resource centers, camps/retreats for parents, and healing places for mothers and babies who have been through trauma.
Suzanne Arms has been an inspiration behind the birth movement since 1975. She’s the author of seven books, has created many films, and given numerous speeches at conferences worldwide. Arms is an advocate for holistic, sustainable health policies and practices, and conscious parenting. Her focus is birth and the mother-baby connection, which lays the foundation for love and trust, health and resiliency, cooperation and community. She weaves a tapestry of knowledge from ancient and cross-cultural wisdom to modern science with ecology, feminism and spirituality. Please look for her documentary about the American way of birth on PBS, and check out her DVD, “Giving Birth.”