This last spring, I had the good furtune of eating lunch with Ina May Gaskin while attending a day long workshop with her in Vancouver. It was amazing. I told her my birth stories and she helped me process through my first intense birth. I left inspired to be a better doula and want to continue encouraging women to advocate for their bodies and birth experiences.
One of the main points I left reflecting about, was the fact that humans no longer know how to give birth. We are the most superior mammal yet we don't know how to give birth anymore. (Canada's c-section rate is around 30%. In 1995 c-section rates were 17%, and in the 70's they were much lower.) She said women should be looking to animal birth videos for inspiration.
Animals don't have interference, they don't stress over due dates, they don't have to listen to their friends tell them their horrific birth stories and they don't have 10 other animals of their species standing around staring at them and making them feel anxious. Instead they are trusting of the process, they remain calm, they don't care if they are puking while they are pushing out the baby, they aren't concerned about being naked and when the baby comes out and is unresponsive, they aren't concerned. Instead, the mom knows how to help coax the baby to take it's first breaths.
Here is an amazing birth where the mama Chimp is pushing upside down. She did this just because she felt like doing this in the moment (maybe to slow down the progress so the baby wouldn't come so fast, or maybe so she could better see what her body was doing.) We won't know exactly why she pushed upside down, but the point is she listened to her body and did what she felt like doing. When her baby was born and unresponsive, she was patient and slowly started cleaning it and showing it love. My favourite part is how she becomes protective of her baby from the midwife Chimp once it's born and keeps dragging it away to keep to herself.
Giraffe Birth: My favourite thing about this birth is watching the giraffe give birth while standing. She lets gravity help her pull the baby out. Giraffe's need to hit the ground hard because they need to get up and start walking to protect themselves in nature. Ina May told a story about the zoo keepers in San Francisco zoo. The zoo keepers felt sorry for the birthing giraffes because the baby's hit the ground so hard, so they attempted to "help" nature by putting a mattress under the mama and when the baby fell down it didn't start breathing. After trying to improve nature, they learned those baby giraffes need a hard drop.
And of course I had to end with just 1 human birth video because I believe women innately do know how to give birth if we listen to our bodies and have knowledgeable and trusting care providers that can help guide us through the journey. Many women are scared to give birth because they do not know what to expect. Birth has been hidden from us, or sensationalized over media which has taught us a false reality of what birth is. I'm sharing this video of this mama because she trusted in the process. She listened to what her body needed during the birthing process. She chose her own position. She chose her own birth environment. No one was touching her (except to listen to baby's heart rate from time to time) and no one was telling her what she needed to do. She was in control. She was capable. You are also capable.