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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Indigenous Free Birth

Born naturally myself, I have never thought of birth in any other way but natural.  My mother described her birth of me as the worst pain she had ever felt in her life.  At the tender age of 17, without any scientific information or facts, she understood that natural is safer for her birthing baby.  That didn't save her from a traumatic hospital birth experience from which she still has not recovered.

I could not trust the world from a very young age.  Looking back, I wonder if being pulled, suctioned, and handled roughly at birth is partly to blame.  Every day has been a struggle to become emotionally intelligent, empathetic, and to regain the strength of my natural human instincts and intuition.

Choosing Indigenous free birth became a mesh between my success as a human being and Indigenous woman.  In one event I was able to see the support beams I had built over a strong base I have created over many years.

Indigenous Free Birth is not only birthing unassisted, or without a trained professional in attendance.  For Indigenous families, the added element of colonization has interrupted us from knowing and practicing who we are.  After over 500 years of being occupied in the "United States", Mexico, and "Central America", it helps reclaim an independence that has been stripped from us since 1492.  Punished if we practiced our own medicine or religion, we have become dependent on European, or Western medicine.  Traditional midwives were swept away with the invasion, and consequently, so was a tradition of birthing in our native popular culture. 

Making the decision to birth at home requires that you look inward and discuss your health history, feelings, and intuition with your partner.  Taking our health into our own hands is a catalyst for change, whether or not we decide Free Birth is suitable for us.

In the Mexica tradition, birth was perceived as a ceremony of battle: the birthing mother, the warrior.  Reasserting who we are in the birth setting, is to re-appropriate this battle and give it contemporary meaning.

During my research of Unassisted Childbirth, I found very little on Indigenous motherhood. Nevertheless, with my fellow women of color in mind, I compiled a list of resources.  Below are some websites and books that helped me along my journey through pregnancy and childbirth.  It is a work in progress, so, please, if you find any more information, please message me.  I am especially interested in native-focused resources, we need them.

Unassisted/Unattended Pregnancy & Childbirth Reference List








Unassisted Childbirth, Laura Shanley

Emergency Childbirth:  A Manual, Gregory B White

Wise Woman’s Herbal for the Chilbearing Year, Susan Weed

Heart in Hands, Elizabeth Davis

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin

Hygeia, Jeanine Parvatti

Unasisted Homebirth: an Act of Love, Lynne M Griesemer

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