November 14th

Birthing at home is the norm here. It is beautiful to have the opportunity to witness such a primal, natural way of living and being. A far cry from the cold, dry hospitals and pretty birth centers that have shaped a significant portion of my birthing experiences, both personally and professionally. Yesterday afternoon, as the heavy heat of the afternoon sun bore down on the camp, a man came into the clinic and told us his wife was having a baby and he wanted us to check on her. A local midwife and I picked up our birth box and began an almost 2 km hike into the camp. We wound our way up carved out steps in hillsides and balanced across narrow hand crafted bamboo bridges, winding through a never ending maze of tents and homes and people. Eventually we made our way down a steep hillside to a set of tents that lined a latrine filled with dirty sewage water and into a tent on the edge of it all. The inside of the tent was hotter than it was outside. Black tarps lined the roof and the still air inside was sweltering. The mother was just birthing her baby as we walked in and it was a moment where I never felt the need to intervene. She didn’t need us to. She was in her space and there was no fear. She was listening to her body and following its lead and she birthed a 4kg baby into her own hands. There was no screaming, no fear, no desperation. This was normal to her, to her family, to her culture. It was beautiful to sit back and observe such an incredibly intimate and powerful moment. The strength and resilience of these women astound me. Less than an hour later she was walking around her tent, tending to her other 4 children, squatting in front of the fire, and moving about as if she did not just push a baby out of her body. Her baby boy was perfect, healthy, and he came into this world ready to conquer it. The true culture of birth has all but been lost in the western world. I feel like this is stepping back in time and really seeing and understanding what birth is and what it isn’t. What it means and what it stands for. What it could truly be, and return to, if only we could reclaim it from the cold objective hands of medicine and men.

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