The Powerful and The Empowered
By Veronika Sophia Robinson
When it comes to defining joyous birth, it’s important to understand the role of power.
I believe the difference between an interfered-with birth, and a joyous ‘hands-off’ birth, is fear. Fear can come from a deep primal urge in the old brain, or from our centre of logic (the neocortex or new brain) ~ a place where we try to make sense of the unexplainable. Our ego freaks out when it can’t control the information. Taming our powerful ego empowers us.
In the dominant cultural model of birth, the leading actor is The Powerful One who ‘delivers’ our baby. In the sub-culture of joyous, autonomous birth, the leading role is played by The Empowered One. Indeed, there is no place for The Powerful One in this culture.
Never will you find such different characters. In fact, they are so diametrically opposed, that you would never find them both in the same room ~ much less on the same birthing stage. The only connection might be if, through the performance of The Powerful One, a woman becomes transformed, at a later time, into The Empowered One.
Their props, their scripts, their guiding drive are contradictory.
The Powerful One becomes so through domination. He conquers the other characters by taking charge of the stage and wielding tools which say “I am in charge”. He is defined by his use of three specific tools. They are light, language and observation. Whether he is conscious of this or not, is irrelevant, because as soon as they are introduced into the delivery room, his status is confirmed.
Light is the enemy of every birthing woman. It stimulates her ‘new brain’ and changes the course of labour. Her mammalian instincts wish to seek out the dark, but The Powerful One shines a laser beam on her, freezing her in time like a startled rabbit in headlights.
He controls her by his use of language which actives her neocortex (new brain). While this is engaged and stimulated she is incapable of slipping into her old brain ~ the very place she needs to be in order to birth instinctively.
The Powerful One stands guard over the woman whose baby he’s delivering. If he can’t be there, he sends others to guard her. Their eyes ensure that she can’t escape. She is watched. Her every movement observed. She is ‘held in place’ by their paranoia. Privacy is the number one need of every birthing woman. The Powerful One ignores and denies this, keeping a woman prisoner in her ‘new brain’ so she can’t birth without his ‘help’.
Light, language and observation ~ the three deadly enemies of joyous birth.
And what of The Empowered One? What would she make of these tools? She’s a wise woman who, like the three wise monkeys, has her own mantra:
See no light
Hear no talk
Allow no eyes
The Empowered One is a woman who honours the ancient tradition of birthing. She creates a birthing nest of dimmed light, if not complete darkness. The external language of choice is non-vaginal touch, or music and gentle singing, as she slips into her birthing zone. If she chooses to have her lover or anyone else with her she lets them know beforehand that eye contact is another form of power, of control. The support she seeks is of skin contact, and being held from behind. Beware of any man or midwife who demands or encourages you to look into their eyes while you’re birthing. Contrary to our culture’s childbirth classes, they are stealing your inner power. Remember, our eyes are the mirror of our soul. When we’re birthing, our soul needs to rise ‘upwards’ and greet the new soul who is coming Earthside, not to be distracted by someone else’s needs.
The Empowered one is clear to her supporter that all the power she needs for birthing is within her, and that ‘coaching’ of any description defies what is innate within her. The instinct to give birth is always heard by those with ears to hear. Sadly, joyous birth is inaudible to The Powerful One.
It has been said that ‘when the power of love overcomes the love of power, there shall be peace.’ It has also been said that ‘peace on earth begins with birth’. True power and true peace are internal and can never be found outside of ourselves. The Empowered One is a woman whose power is always internal. Instinct is beyond anyone’s control. It can’t be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen. Perhaps that’s why it terrifies the medical world so much?
The Powerful One requires tools and gimmicks and fear to ‘create’ his power ~ something which is always external, and therefore, transient.
The power of love which is alive in The Empowered One can teach us more about birth that any medical text book. Love and fear can’t co-exist. They are opposites. In a study of 500 tribal cultures, the researchers found no evidence of any pain or death in childbirth. Prematurity and stillbirth were extremely rare, as was malpresentation. We’ve been inculturated with the idea that birth is painful, dangerous and deadly. I agree. It is painful, dangerous and deadly IF, and only if, we allow The Powerful One into our birthing space; if we give away our crucial mammalian need for privacy.
If you’re seeking a joyous birth, look no further than you and your baby for all the power, love and support you need.