Estelle Myers Image

Estelle Myers

Estelle Myers' article

midwife to gaia
Eulogy to the unborn child

Be it in a bed or bath, home or hospital, conscious, gentle birthing is the right of every expectant mother and her unborn child. The conception of a new life is a miracle of partnership, it is sacred and the arrival of the newborn should be as ecstatic, sensual and exciting as pleasure of conceiving nine months earlier.

The place of birth should be at the very least intimate. Birth is not a disease, the mother is not a patient, and the birth is a labour of love. It is the gift of love returned. I first wrote these lines in 1983 twenty years ago. There is now a huge body of evidence that supports the notion that medically managed birth and early intervention has major implications for the health of both the mother and baby.

What we have today is a major epidemic of medically managed births in the western world, which adds up to a multi-billion dollar industry. The use and abuse of technology and dangerous drugs has burgeoned to a point of being considered normal procedure.Women have been totally disempowered to trust their own bodies and the natural process of birth; they are being offered ‘choices’ to have induction and major surgery instead of the ecstatic experience that prepares both the mother and the baby for their future together.

Today we know much more about the natural substances in the body of both the mother and the baby which work together to begin the process of separation according to their own timetable. Wonderful doses of natural hormones are released in exactly the right proportions for the baby to leave the womb and begin the miracle of new life.

History shows that the bible in Genesis insists that a labouring woman should suffer in pain and sorrow for having caused the downfall of man. In 1588 forceps were invented and kept a secret until the 17th century to aid in a difficult delivery. This is around the time when men returned to the delivery, the boys with toys replaced the ‘wise women, and midwives later branded as witches.

The concept of mechanical tools coincides with the advent of surgeon midwives. Childbirth became a medical problem and a branch of surgery. Men knew little about the natural birth process. In 1750 an Englishman named Smellie pioneered Pelvimentry, the measurement and assessment of the pelvic area. Later another man named Baudeloque measure and related the fetal head size to the pelvic bones. The first known induced labour was in London 1756, performed by a surgeon rupturing the membranes.

Originally caesarean sections were conducted on the bodies of dead woman to save the infant; sometimes the women were near dead. The next devastating risk reared its ugly head between 17th and 19th centuries and carried on into the twentieth century. That of childbed fever, an infection that attacked a new mother’s raw womb surface. It raged in epidemic proportion until 1855. Ignaz Semmelweiss recognised and identified this “childbed fever” as being caused by unsterile practices of the attending doctors, who would often go from a post mortem examination of a deceased patient to the bedside of a labouring woman and then proceed to give her an internal examination. Semmelweiss was roundly castigated for his disloyal opinions and his pleas for sterile conditions fell on deaf ears. As late as 1914 4000 women died in the USA of this disease. In 1924 the disease caused 40% of maternity fatalities. Horrifically for every woman that died, three more contracted the disease and were successfully treated (but they would have had ongoing problems with infertility etc.)

Another torture story is that King Louis XIV initiated the use of stirrups for birth, so that he could, with his courtiers, enjoy watching the birth of royal babies. Legitimate or not he ordered the royal doctors to strap the birthing mothers down on her back, with her legs held in riding stirrups to ensure a clear view to those invited to witness the birth. This ridiculous posture remains today.

Today Women are still stranded like whales, heavy with electrical monitoring equipment strapped to their bodies as they attempt to bring their infant into the world. Queen Victoria set the next royal birthing fashion, demanding to have the new and untested use of ether to relieve the pain of childbirth and ‘knock her out’.

I am a mother and a grandmother and I have had the privilege of being in a supportive role, both in hospital and home births to see a woman blissed out giving birth in a peaceful and gentle manner. My recent research exposes the ‘myth’ of safe induction and elective caesarians. The statistics are available and will shock you. My dialogue with some of the world leaders in birthing rights, obstetricians, midwives and birth activists leads me to belief that there is a conspiracy and cover up. The very powerful lobby of obstetricians worldwide has since the early 90’s developed a well oiled public relations campaign to protect their multi billion dollar industry.

The weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of medical practitioners more concerned with their own welfare than that of the mothers and babies they tend. It is almost impossible to get any of this information out in the mainstream media.Young women today, do not have all the data they need to make an informed choice. The implications and ramifications are huge

I wish to clearly identify the difference between an exceptional emergency where technology and medical expertise can and does save a mother and her baby, and the now nearly normal practice in America of routinely inducing healthy babies at 38 and 41 weeks. Literally changing the natural process of the miracle of birth.

I do not wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. Interesting to note that this expression came about as a result of the practice of using the same bath water for an entire family in days gone by. The head of the house, the father would take the first bath, and then progressively down the order of the household the other members of the family would use the same bathwater, until the last one to be bathed was the latest arrival in the house, the baby. It was said that the bathwater by then was so dirty, that you could not see the baby, and thus risk ‘throwing the baby’ out with the bathwater came into our language.

I would like to quote from Dr Michel Odent, Dr Marsden Wagner of the World Health Organisation, Henci Goer a formidable midwife, Dr Joseph Chilton Pearce, Dr Sarah Buckley and many other women’s health professionals who have identified the need to restore the natural process of birth and empower the women to trust nature.

Australian Dr Sarah Buckley, is a mother of four, which included an unexpected breech birth at home? In a soon to be published paper “Undisturbed Birth — Nature’s Design for Ease and Ecstasy, she describes the experience as “beautiful and ecstatic”. Sarah explains the awakening she had from this birth, to three other home births and to the hospital births she attends. As a doctor Sarah can see how the ‘ingrained’ habit of doing something often becomes self-fulfilling in the birth room. The word obstetric literally means ‘stand and wait’.

“I realised that birth is also very complex, and that the process is exquisitely sensitive to outside influences. The parallels between making love and giving birth became very clear to me, not only in terms of passion and love, but also because we need essentially the same conditions for both experience — to feel private, safe and unobserved. Yet the conditions that we provide for birthing women are almost diametrically opposed to these — no wonder giving birth is so difficult for most women today.” These are the words of Dr Sarah Buckley.

The paper develops and explores how the birth process is disturbed in modern day obstetrics. She then describes the complicated exchange of hormones and other substances in both the mother and the baby that promote an altered state and ecstasy.

“This is not just a good feeling; the post birth hormone suffuse the brains of the new mother and baby. Dr Joseph Chilton Peace adds to this notion; “These changes give the new mother personal empowerment, physical strength and an intuitive sense of her baby’s needs and prepare both partners for the pleasurable mutual dependency that will ensure a mother’s care and protection and her baby’s survival.

Dr Marsden Wagner addressing the use of technology in birth demands that doctors’ practice the first rule of medicine- in Latin, Primum Nil Nocere (no-seer)- which means, “First Do No Harm”. He warns of the increased risks with the inappropriate use of high technology causing rising statistics of babies who survive but have permanent brain damage. He argues that both Caesarean section and epidural block can result in death.

In his own words “There is not a single report in the scientific literature that shows obstetricians to be safer than midwives for low risk or normal pregnancy and birth. So if you are among the more than 75 percent of all women with a normal pregnancy, the safest birth attendant for you is not a doctor but midwife.”

Henci Goer, author of The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth and Obstetric Myths versus Research Realities is an acknowledged expert on evidence based maternity care. Her article in Midwifery Today (2002) exposes the misinformation campaign mounted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It is an eye opener.

It spells out a very calculated plan to disseminate misleading information by ‘spin doctors’. Her exposure of the extremely dangerous and ‘cheap as chips’ drug Cytotec, used but not approved to induce labour, is terrifying. The drug is widely used instead of the approved drug Oxytocin to induce labour. It is loosely considered to be the 9 to 5 answers for the attending obstetrician.

‘Young women today do not have all the data they need to make an informed choice. The implications and ramifications are huge’

The mother comes in at nine am and delivers in time for him to go home to dinner. Like so many obstetric drugs and procedures, Cytotec has come into widespread use without evidence of safety, and Much of the research of the damage caused to both mothers and babies has been hushed up. . Henci Goer claims that the overwhelming dominance of the obstetric paradigm — in other words, our cultural belief that doctors know best has further ensured the virtual silencing of dissent.

I have watched with alarm this last 25 years the growing number of women who choose to have medical intervention believing that it is safer than natural childbirth. Indeed one visiting Professor from England (he’s actually an Australian- Nicholas Fisk) actually stated on National television here last year, that natural childbirth was as dangerous as drink driving.

Dr Sarah Buckley outlines the perfect orchestration of hormones to provide the easiest transition both physiological and psychological not to mention emotional from pregnancy to birth and lactation for every woman.

I claim that the deep disturbance and disempowerment of birthing women is a direct cause of dysfunctional relationships, behavioral problems, criminal behavior, emotional and mental problems, drug addiction and physical damage costing the community and government of the world millions of dollars. Dr Michel Odent explains Oxytocin as the hormone of love, because of its connection with sexual activity, orgasm, birth and breastfeeding. Oxytocin levels peak after birth so that the mother and baby are bathed in an ecstatic cocktail of hormones of love. Deprivation and invasion of these basic rights is a denial of the freedom to choose and be supported in the process of birthing tomorrow today in a peaceful non-violent manner.

Statistics are available to validate all that I have shared, however, it has been my personal experience in the last ten years of working with mums and babies in water safety programs, that sometimes eight of the ten mums and newborns have experienced having a c-section after an induction process. This year four of my own, three little boys and one little girl were all delivered by c– section to powerful, independent, educated and intelligent women. Why is this so?