Birth-giving is about opening. And opening is a process of trust. In Tamera, some mothers have founded a school for parents in order to use knowledge, transparency, awareness and experience to strengthen the forces of trust of parents, children and the community. Leila Dregger spoke with two midwives, and a young mother, on the art of regaining of lost power – and while she was writing the article, a new child was born to the community and the happy parents.
“There is nothing greater and more universal than a being coming straight out of the womb. The first look, the first movements – for me, this is the holiest and most beautiful thing that exists.” Karin Schlote, 45, and mother of a grown son, is a midwife in Tamera. Together with her colleague, Uta Schneeweiss, she works all over Portugal, supporting mothers and families at home births – mostly water births.
For Uta Schneeweiss, the most fascinating thing about her job is the sheer life force developed by a woman in childbirth: “Supporting and accompanying this opening of the body, is an incredible privilege. If we do not interfere, an ecstatic, even orgasmic process might happen, with the same sounds and movements as in sexuality. At the hospital, this would usually not be allowed. Doctors are afraid or irritated by this raw power of the woman, but I am fascinated. As a midwife I accompany the process and protect it.”
In Tamera, every step – from the decision of a couple to become parents, on the birth process itself up to bringing-up the child is sustained and supported by the community. To accompany the whole process of parenthood with knowledge, experience and mutual exchange, some mothers at Tamera founded the Parents School.
Young parents, expectant parents, but also close friends and companions, study here the social, philosophical, spiritual and practical knowledge for parenting. The “forum” is a tool to create transparency with our true motivations and wishes, to find out and reveal deeper truth and insights, and process pending conflicts and questions. It is part of the system of change that Tamera is creating in its model for a new society, and helps to liberate the emotional channels before birth, and to create confidence and transparency.
Karin: “The key question for every mother in the birth-process is: How far can I open myself? This question is not only decided during birth-giving, but even more in the preparation time. A mother who has created clear conditions, has much better chances to open wide to give birth to her child.”
This means to look at and process possible conflicts and worries, to find and share her picture for the birth, and a picture of how it goes on after birth – with her, with the child, the partner, the community, the job. It is also crucial to gain physiological knowledge about the birth process in order to develop empowering images.
Uta: “If the mother, for example, knows that the child’s head slides together during birth, she will know that she does not have to open the cervix the entire circumference of the baby´s head – and that is encouraging.”
“During a normal birth, we do not need to do much as midwives,” Karin adds. “The mother should know that basically she can do it all alone. A birth is a natural process, the most natural at all. Our responsibility is to give her a framework, and to hold the contact, to measure the heart sounds, and to encourage her when she needs it. And to be there in case something unexpected should occur. ”
A Birth in Tamera
Evening of July 31st – the time has come. The contractions of the expectant mother, Marina (the mother wished her real name not to be mentioned), have started. The birth begins – and thus, the culmination of a process that began eight years ago.
“At that time I had a dream to become a mother. I was already in my mid-30s, I had no partner, but I knew I wanted to conceive and give birth to a child with full consciousness and in accordance with the community. For me, it was not a private decision to become a mother, but a conscious step into rediscovering trust among people – something that was lost when we human beings lost the original tribes. With trust in community, I could become a free channel through which a free being will come into the world.”
The full process, the decision who would be the father of her child, the emerging partnership with him, also some struggles with doubts and fears that arose, and finally the spiritual contact with the beings actually lasted for years.
Also her partner needed time for the reflection – including a long journey, in which he was preparing for fatherhood. Marina: “Mom, dad and baby are a unit that wants to be embedded in a community that supports them on every level. Children are free beings if they do not have to meet the unredeemed wishes of the parents. So, leaving behind secretive thoughts and worries was liberating for me. I wanted to follow the velocity of my soul, without over-jumping any limit – for the father, for myself, for the child and for a new culture of conception.”
The Tamera community had expressed their full confidence in them some time ago. One evening in October, she knew: The time has come. Tonight she would conceive the new being.
Nine months later. Since a few days the parents live in the “Children’s House” of Tamera, the place where most births take place. The labor begins. Companions have gathered. Marina’s wish was to be accompanied by the two midwives, the father-to-be, a “wise woman”, and a best friend. The circle of other friends should keep a fire going outdoors, and sing. “Singing and creating sounds belongs to my spiritual practice, and I knew that it would strengthen me in the intensive process of birth.”
Uta and Karin are well prepared: “All confounding factors should be turned off as much as possible, so that the mother can fully focus on her internal process. A person from the community cares about the whole arrangements, so that the mother can let go completely.”
Uta and Karin have emergency medications ready, like tocolytics and oxygen, to be ready for the possible case of difficulties. Also, a fully fueled car is waiting in front of the door, for the unexpected event that, at any time, the mother must be taken to a hospital. A doctor is on site. If needed for something specific, she can be called.
Normally, a pool for a possible water birth would be available. This time, the mother has explicitly decided against it. Being over 40 years old, Marina would be considered as an “aged mother” in a hospital, and the birth would be regarded as a risk, especially since she had a clinical history of a severe illness.
Karin: “We consulted about it and decided that we can bear the risk. The mother felt completely healthy and strong. She had lived for years without drugs. Additionally to the large medical knowledge that is gathered here, there is also a circle that accompanies every birth spiritually. ”
The circle consists of experienced women, who are close-by and watch the process with inner eyes, constantly listening to their inner voices, and may convene a prayer circle if necessary. Also, other community members can report if they have any special dreams or inspirations.
Karin: “In this way, each impulse is taken up and discussed. If someone suddenly thinks we should go to the hospital, even if outside everything seems to go well, that voice is also taken into account.”
Marina: “I never was afraid before the birth. Billions of women have given birth. We can do it. This thought always empowered me.”
In the first hours, everything goes pretty easy and fast. Marina: “During labor an empowering mantra came to me: For Opening! This was a turning point from pain to actual lust.”
At 5 o’clock in the morning the cervix is already wide open. Actually, the little girl could soon come to see the light of the world. But she does not. Contraction after contraction – the cervix does not open further.
Marina: “From then on I did not act from my own power source but felt to act in a continuum of power.” Marina is going through around 700 contractions during the night and the morning. Nearly in the end she asked herself: Do I really have to open even more? And the big answer was: “Yes. My body was made for it.”
Uta: “Birth pain is a purely physiological pain. It does not indicate anything bad or sick, but leads to something good. Bearing this in mind, a woman in labor does not have to react with fear and terror to this pain. It is an intensive situation, which needs her full awareness.”
At twelve clock everything is suddenly very quick. The baby girl is here – and with her the explanation of why it has taken so long: She nestles her head firmly in her little hand. In this position, the cervix needed a little more opening than expected. However, no crack, no cutting is required, and also the placenta slips out very quickly.
The parents want a Lotus Birth: The umbilical cord is not being cut off. The child remains connected to the placenta, the placenta is developed and maintained until the umbilical cord falls off by itself after a few days: “This gives more rest for the child,” says Marina.
Meanwhile the message has spread. Outside, the group begins again to sing. Laughter and tears of joy and relief mingle with the voices. The community celebrates the new citizen of Earth. In a few days she will be celebrated in the Stone Circle of Tamera and welcomed by all community members.
Stand up for midwifery rights
In Portugal, there is no Confederation of Midwives like in many other countries. As trained midwives, Uta and Karin are members of the Portuguese nurse chamber. Home births had been normal until a few decades ago, then were considered too be dangerous for many years, and almost all mothers gave birth in hospitals. Only in recent years have more parents struggled for the right of natural births, and now, for the past year, they are again officially accepted in Portugal.
The Chamber recommends that always two midwives attend a birth. Given the low earning potential, Karin and Uta are the only ones who can afford it as a team. The legal situation for midwives is difficult, too. Karin: “There is no insurance for free midwives, we must work entirely on our own risk.”
Should there be anything remiss at the birth, the midwives would have to pay for any damages; a risk that only a few midwives in Portugal are ready to take. Only about six free free midwives are officially operating throughout the country, while the demand is continually increasing. Especially for water births, there is no other option but to give birth at home.
Uta: “Even in Germany, it is becoming increasingly difficult for midwives. From next year there will be no more insurance for them. Already today, it has become more difficult to find a midwife to give birth at home. On the other hand, more people raise their voices for the human right to free choice of place of birth. ”
Uta and Karin stand up for their rights – and the rights of parents to a natural birth. They see themselves as part of a global human rights movement, the right to determine their own birth.
As Michael Odent said: “To change the world we need to change the way that we give birth.”