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  • Linda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #60


The Spiritual Midwife      The following discussion on spiritual energy is based on observations made at more than 1000 birthings.  We have found that there are laws as constant as the laws of physics, electricity or astronomy, whose influence on the progress of the birthing cannot be ignored.      The midwife or doctor attending births must be flexible enough to discover the way these laws work and learn how to work within them.  Pregnant and birthing mothers are elemental forces, in the same sense that gravity, thunderstorms, earthquakes, and hurricanes are elemental forces.  In order to understand the laws of their energy flow, you have to love and respect them for their magnificence at the same time that you study them with the accuracy of a true scientist.       A midwife of obstetrician needs to understand about how the energy of childbirth flows -- to not know is to be like a physicist who doesn't understand about gravity.       Every birth is Holy.  I think that a midwife must be religious, because the energy she is dealing with is Holy.  She needs to know that other people's energy is sacred.      Spiritual midwifery recognizes that each and every birth is the birth of the Christ Child.  The midwife's job is to do her best to bring both the mother and child through their passage alive and well and to see that the sacrament of birth is kept Holy.  The Vow of the Midwife has to be that she will put out one hundred per cent of her energy to the mother and the child that she is delivering until she is certain that they have safely made the passage.  This means that she must put the welfare of the mother and child first, before that of herself and her own family, if she has to make a choice of that kind.      A spiritual midwife has an obligation to put out the same love to all children in her care, regardless of size, shape, color, or parentage.  We are all One.      The kid in front of you is just the same as your kid.  We are all One.      By religious, I mean that compassion must be a way of life for her.  Her religion has to come forth in her practice, in the way she makes her day-to-day, her moment-to-moment decisions.  It cannot be just theory.  Truly caring for people cannot be a part-time job.       During a birthing there may be fantastic physical changes that you can't call anything but miraculous.  This daily acquaintance with miracles -- not in the sense that it would be devalued by its commonness, but that its sacredness be recognized -- this familiarity with miracles has to be part of the tools of the midwife's trade.  Great changes can be brought about with the passing of a few words between people or by the midwife touching the woman or the baby in such a way that great physical changes happen.       For this touch to carry the power that it must, the midwife must keep herself in a state of grace.  She has to take spiritual vows just the same as a yogi or a monk or a nun takes inner vows that deal with how they carry out every aspect of their life.  So ust a midwife do this if she is to have touch that has any potency.  A person who lives by a code that is congruent with life in compassion and truth actually keys in and agrees with the millions-of-years-old process of childbirth.   Ina May Gaskin, Spiritual Midwifery, pp. 282-283

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