Thursday, September 10, 2009


Waiting is one of those basic requirements for normal physiological birth.
A mother who wants normal birth has to accept it, and a midwife who attends normal birth has to also.

In our organised world, with clocks and appointments and deadlines, waiting for the right time can be a challenge. You are feeling full and heavy. You go for a walk in the evening, and your womb is becoming very tight. You wonder if the baby will come tonight? You wake up in the morning - nothing happened! "Don't be disappointed," you say to yourself. "Baby will come at the right time." Then one morning you wake up and wipe away a bit of blood stained show. Aha! You know something is happening in there. Trying not to be too eager, you do those few last minute jobs that need to be done. You notice that the air feels different today. What a wonderful day to give birth to this precious little one.

I remember these beautifully deep feelings as I wait, this time as the midwife, the older woman, for a young woman to tell me she is ready to give birth.

The phenomenon of waiting for a baby to be born is as old as human existence. Many times as a child I heard the old language of the King James translation of the Bible, in the Christmas story. "Elizabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son." (Luke 1:57) "And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she [Mary] should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son ..." (Luke 2:6,7)

Elizabeth's 'full time' came; Mary's 'days were accomplished': and they both 'brought forth' their children. Waiting for the time is in a sense passive, then the time comes for actively doing the job of 'bringing forth'. The women's knowledge passed down over millenia in these simple stories has informed my birth-giving, and my midwifery practice.

When anticipating physiological birth we experience the waiting as part of our nesting. I make the distinction here, because the only person who can do the physiological work of nesting, waiting, labouring, and birthing, is THE woman. Just as nesting can be interrupted by a sense of handing over to the 'expert', the waiting is also interfered with, deep in the mind of the woman who is unwilling to work with her body in birthing, who has given up her ability to reach her full time, to accomplish her days.

It is no wonder that this one may also experience difficulty in 'bringing forth' the child.

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