By Cathy Daub, BWI President
In October of 2012, I had the pleasure of attending the Mid-Pacific Womb Ecology Conference in Honolulu, HI.
The concept of Womb Ecology, which is promoted by Michel Odent, MD in his newsletters and books, is gaining acceptance and having a global impact. I was honored to be asked to present a workshop with midwife Elizabeth Davis entitled “Transcendent Emotional States in Birth.”
At the conference I was also pleased to speak several members of our BirthWorks Board of Advisors, including Michel Odent MD, Kirsten Uvnas Moberg, MD PhD, Elizabeth Davis, Jan Tritten, Suzanne Arms, and Heloissa Lessa, a midwife from Brazil who helped Michel Odent organize the conference.
The conference brought together representatives from 52 countries. As I gazed across the audience, I realized I was in the midst of more than 600 people who would be spreading the concept of Primal Health and Womb ecology to all corners of the globe. In a day and age when birth has become an industry, and technology, and obstetrical drugs are dominating the birth scene, I realized the magnitude of what was about to happen. We would be hearing speakers who would talk about the interaction between art, science, and techniques, and engaging meaningfully with the idea that interfering unnecessarily with the environment around the womb is fraught with dangers that can influence our health as adults.
One of the most interesting parts of the conference was a panel inviting speakers to share their vision of what birth will be like 2000 years from now, in the year 4012. Here are some highlights:
Vision for 4012 birth: Panel
Michel Odent asked a panel of experts what their vision was for birth in 4012.
Peggy O’Mara said we would be moving towards total trust of the body towards normal birth. There will be more midwives and fewer specialists.
Robbie Davis Floyd said we’ll be giving birth in 0-gravity space. There will be sophisticated technology and private enterprises such as hotels on Mars. Birth centers will orbit the earth and moon. She noted that birth on Star Trek were normal, natural birth. There will be an entire industry for orbital birth. Her fears included, “Will we be choosing the gender of our babies? Will we be ordering babies from a catalogue someday – breeding for color of hair, etc.?” Yet she does envision normal physiologic birth in 4012 believing that, “Mothers have the power to give birth and babies have the power to be born.”
Sarah Buckley envisioned a future where a loud noise lasting 11 minutes would cause the cessation of all electric fetal monitoring equipment, ultrasounds, and the clock. She asked what birth without monitoring would look like. There would be no more epidurals, inductions, and cesareans that were necessary would be short and efficient. She said Jan from Midwifery Today would train a new generation of midwives who know how to trust labor without technology. Love and connectedness would in our cells and generations of babies would be born that would lose the imprinting of fear in childbirth. Once physiologic birth is in place, we would have a generation of people who would treat the earth gently. There would be few obstetricians and attendants would be good at knitting.
Jackie Chang of Korea said that we will not argue about how we’re going to give birth anymore but will focus on maternal instinct and being ourselves. We will learn to be wise again and listen to each other. We will be dancing and singing together giving birth. Rapid changes are taking place in birth in Korea and not just in lifestyle – also in philosophy. Maybe some women need cesareans for their own survival and others need to be natural. Right now, cesarean mothers have an enormous guilty feeling after cesarean section. We must find out how we can be together so there is no judgment. Please don’t let one mother feel guilty.
Michael Stark MD said, “I’m afraid we don’t have good news for the future and in 4012 it will not be what we are expecting it to be.” He went on to say that 4,000 years ago in Egypt, there were midwives and midwifery schools. In 4012, he believes we will have produced artificial ways to conceive and give birth - the artificial woman.
Odent to Stark: You’ve made the cesarean so simple today – has this done more harm than good?”
Stark: “There are currently high rates of cesarean section. It was never my intention to make delivery easier for the woman through cesarean section.” He went on to describe what the future might be with a civilization born by cesarean section. “Just 150 years ago, people tended to be smaller. In one to two generations, we have become taller. If we continue with this direction of more cesareans, we won’t need a wide pelvis and the pelvis may evolve to become smaller. Babies may have smaller necks and the head may become larger and pregnancy may take longer. If we don’t need to deliver by nine months, we might have more mature children with bigger heads.”
My hope is that small things can happen to change history. “Michel, I believe you are one of these people. In 4012 perhaps all the world will have Odent delivery rooms. Less is more. There is so much love in this hall, maybe it is like oxytocin spray.” Both of Dr. Stark’s grandchildren were born normally.
Odent: “In Rio de Janeiro, they use spray of oxytocin in the shop. It can reach brain receptors and in subtle ways make people feel comfortable and want to come back.”
Jan Tritten of Midwifery Today emphasized that we all have a responsibility to make decisions that will benefit future generations. We have a planet, food supply, and mothers to take care of. People in China and around the world want to change current birth practices. Oceans are going to rush in. So let’s take care of the planet and our mothers and babies. Two thousand years from now is only 80 generations.
Laura Uplinger, interpreter for the conference being fluent in four languages, spoke about how we can reach the golden age in 4012. Babies will be given better conditions and optimal biochemistry will be flowing in the mother’s blood. The importance of the Primal Period will be better understood. Every pregnant woman needs to eat well, feel joy, and be inspired by birthing. There will be more resources for mothers such as birthing centers built in gorgeous parks where pregnant mothers walk together enjoying joyful synergy. Hospitals will have closed their doors to birth. Breastfeeding will be a universal practice. Children will live longer and enjoy good health.
The panel ended with Michel Odent saying, “We have no concensus of childbirth in 4012. We need other conferences. Technology is going fast. We need to organize our next conference outside the planet earth – somewhere over the rainbow and at our next conference our dreams will come true.
We ended the panel by singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
This is Part 1 of Cathy Daub's report on the Mid-Pacific Womb Ecology Conference, held in Honolulu, HI in October 2012.