When I became a professional midwife 23 years ago I had an idealized version of transformation and how wonderful birth is. I just thought that birth was groovy and becoming a midwife was a wonderful way to change people’s lives. I didn’t have much experience with midwifery and hadn’t had a child then, either. 23 years later, I think I can finally answer that question based on what I’ve seen – it’s no longer just a philosophy.
I’ve seen it over and over again, women and their partners are telling me the same words after they have a really good, satisfying and empowering birth experience. They say, “that was the most incredible moment of my life”, “that was the most powerful moment of my life”, “I feel so different”, “I feel so changed”, “I never knew that I was so strong, I never knew that I could do that”.
Pregnancy and birth are a process of growth and self-awareness, that’s where the transformation comes. Especially the first time; this woman who has never been through birth before comes out the other end as a mother. Birth prepares us for everything that comes after. Suddenly, a mother is thinking, “I can do this – I can change a diaper. I can deal with a crying baby, I can work through the challenges that lay ahead of me because I went through pregnancy and labor and now I know how strong I am.”
I will also say that someone asked me recently to describe my birth philosophy. It was a great question. My birth philosophy is simply that women deserve to birth with respect and kindness and honoring. The baby has the right to be born gently. I believe that this kind of birth support is what allows transformation to take place. If you encourage each women to honor her own unique experience of birthing – then birthing is the teacher. We don’t have to add anything to that.
Just honor birth for what it is. That’s where we learn about ourselves, that’s where we learn about our partners, that’s where we learn about our community, we learn about our babies. You learn so much just being in the process. Just being present in it.
Women are smart and they can make their own decisions. It’s important that a mother can honestly say, “I was never manipulated along the way”, “I was never pressured into doing anything that I didn’t want to do”, “This was my experience, I own this, I own the way that I went through this experience.”
Maria Iorillo, Licensed Midwife Catching babies at home and assisting hospital births in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1986.
This is an excerpt from an interview conducted by Mindful Mama and is re-printed with permission from Mindful Mama.