Why Wise Woman Birthing?
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
When I was casting about for a name for my practice, I initially came up with a lot of puns, like BirthWright or WrightBirth (both already taken). I thought about just using my name (though melaniewright.com was also taken at that time) but I decided I wanted a name that reflected something of the nature of my business (birthwork), but also one that actually captured my philosophy about birth. I wanted a name that would be intriguing and yet reassuring, that wedded the dynamic motion of the labour journey to the reassuring solidity of calm knowledge and experience. I chose Wise Woman Birthing, not because I see myself as wise. Rather the Wise Women Birthing of my practice are my clients and their beautifully evolved women’s bodies.
I firmly believe that the main job of everyone involved in a birth is to get out of the way and let the natural process unroll uninhibited. It sounds like a simple task, but in fact protecting that space for a birthing woman can be hard work. Such small things can have a large de-railing effect – an off the cuff remark “oh you’re only 5 cm” instead of “wow you’re already 5 cm”— the turning on of a bright light – the central dominating presence of a hospital bed in the middle of a room enforcing the expectation of labouring reclined. These seem like tiny details, but they can have very large knock-on effects on the flow of hormones, on the optimal mechanics, and on a woman’s state of mind – and thus on the progress of labour and birth.
I asked friends and family what they thought of the name, and my daughter (who studied Medieval French at uni) with a smile asked me “do you know what Wise Woman is in French? Sage-femme… which translates into English as midwife!” What lovely serendipity!
Indeed, as a doula, I operate in the same kind of space as the midwives of the medieval period – not a medically trained expert, but an experienced old woman of the village, who had seen it all before and could come and support birthing mothers to feel safe, calm, and competent as they gave birth to their babies. Midwives today, burdened as they are with the weight of keeping the medical audit trail (for fear of being sued) and stretching themselves across far-too-limited resources, rarely have the opportunity to just be “with woman” (the derivation of the English word midwife) in birth. I feel truly blessed that I can and do.
It is my greatest joy and delight to witness the birth not only of a baby, but the birth of a mother. In giving birth, women encounter (some of them for the first time) the Wise Woman inside of them, a connection to every other birthing woman in the world. Birth is the great leveller, but it also has the potential for great transformation. In giving birth, a woman brings at least two new people into being – her baby(ies) and herself as a parent. When a birth goes the way a woman chooses, when she is in charge of every decision, chooses every step of the winding path, when she truly owns her own birth process, then it can be the most empowering experience of a woman’s life (no matter what rough ground that winding path takes her through). In a fascinating paradox, it is when a woman feels secure that she owns her birth, she is in control and in the driving seat, doing rather than being done to, that she is best able to let go and relax into her animal brain and body, and let that amazing body instinctively do its important and life changing work. I want to help make that a reality for all birthing people.
I believe in the wisdom of women’s bodies. I believe that every birthing person has an instinct about what is right for them and their baby, if we can quiet down all the noise and static trying to drown out that small still voice. My job is help you discover the Wise Woman Birthing within you, and help you to trust what she tells you.