Humanization Conference: Humanization, Women, Power and Childbirth

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I am writing this as I fly home on a long overnight flight -I have so much energy and passion and thoughts swirling around in my head and I can’t sleep, nor have I been able to for the past few days. I’ve just spent the last few days at the incredible IV Humanization Conference in Brasilia, Brazil.  

The birth of the Humanizing Childbirth movement began in Fortaleza, Brazil in 1975, when Obstetrician Galba Araujo pioneered a maternity project training traditional midwives and linking them to secondary and tertiary hospitals.  His project gained international recognition and in 1985 the World Health Organization held a conference on appropriate technology for birth in Fortaleza, Brazil.  In 2000, the first International Conference on Humanizing Childbirth was also held in Fortalezal and I had the honor of being at the 2nd, 3rd and 4th annual conference with it’s multi-discipline look at science, compassion and respectful care in childbirth.  Each conference continues to move birth forward and create bigger and stronger momentum as more people see it is time to change childbirth to be the transformative, ecstatic, empowering experience it should be for every MotherBaby, partner and family!  

This year’s conference exceeded them all – the energy so strong I had trouble sleeping at night, feeling the change that happens when people come together and truly know in their hearts that we can all do better.  Beautiful things happen when we end shaming and blaming and instead honor that people did the best they could with what they knew at the time. We now have both science and our intuition telling us that we can, and should do better. It’s an invitation for women and their caregivers to look outside the narrow box we have created for childbirth and see the vast opportunities to experience an everyday miracle!

Brazil is not without its own challenges, it has one of the highest cesarean section rates in the world, with some urban private hospitals having a cesarean rate of 90% and a national rate over 50%. The dichotomy is dramatic – Brazil is pushing the limits of technology in birth but also has one of the most organized and strongest movements to transform childbirth. It makes we wonder if it takes two opposing forces to create this level of activism.

Each session of the conference was permeated by passion and power of the doulas – their presence strongly felt.. As gatekeepers to physiological birth and as activists in their own right, Doulas are changing the energy of birth.  I felt so proud to be on a panel with many of the doula leaders in Brazil that I first met 15 years ago when they attended my DONA International Birth doula workshop to expand and/or confirm their own doula training.  While we have distances between us both in miles and language- our hearts and sisterhood connect us as if we were never apart.   I am humbled as I feel this special energy of connection.  

The closing of the conference was a play about childbirth which was written, performed and sung by an obstetrician and other musicians and actors who are also doulas and birth activists.  Theater has a way of taking messages deeper into our hearts as we feel the power of change emotionally, instead of just thinking about it intellectually. Too often we can dismiss in it in our busy lives, so attending and being a part of this conference helps to invigorate and motivate us again – I am still feeling the many emotions of the play, conference, and connections.

I’d love to hear about your community – do you see change taking place? Share with me what steps your groups are making to improve birth for the MotherBabies and families in your sphere – tweet me @orgasmicbirth


 

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