Welcome to Matrona Mondays! In Roman times, Matronas were those women who were known as the “Mothers of their Family,” or strong, respectable women in the community. "Matrona" is also the name for female Roman deities known as the Protectresses of a tribe or community. Each Monday, we will feature a voice of one the Matrona's in our community. These women, though different in history and practice, are united by the passion to support and empower pregnant and birthing families around the globe.
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If I had the chance to sit down and share words of wisdom with the pregnant woman…
As midwife, I do have that chance often. Though sometimes we become caught up in practicalities, formalities and fears, and the words I wish I took the time to speak remain untold.
So today, I’m saying what should always be said:
It’s about you.
This birth. Your life. Your choices. Your family.
How you want this birth to be, your life to be, who you want to be as a whole human being.
Of course it’s not all you. There are always outside influences. Things happen. Things come up. Other people do figure into the equation. Plans change. That’s okay. That’s life. And that opens the door for some of the greatest joys, shifts, surprises and growth life allows.
It’s not about control; it’s about understanding, appreciation, and honor.
This is an amazing time. A sacred transformation: pregnancy, birth, motherhood…life.
As are most caregivers, I am honored to witness, to support, to share, but this is not about me, my choices, my beliefs and my life. The best I can do as a true midwife is honor you and yours. I can encourage, empower, and educate with unbiased. I can help you explore as you open your mind and heart, and share choices that support you through your pregnancy, birth and beyond. And I can help you find the unique formula that works for you – for safety, for support – which may at times mean that I stand up beside you, or even for you if that is what you want. But I cannot care for the baby within you. I cannot birth for you. And I cannot be that mother that you are becoming.
Only you, your body, can do these amazing things.
What can you do?
Nothing, if that is what you want. Listen to your caregivers and follow their directions. Follow the advice of experts and authorities and have faith and trust. And there is nothing wrong with this if this is your choice and this is where you feel safe, strong and supported.
But this is not for every woman.
Some women will question. Some will need to know for themselves. Some will need to do for themselves. And this is fine too.
I like to tell women: there is no one right way through pregnancy, birth and beyond. There is only your way. For you, here and now, that is all that matters to me. And with this little pep talk, I’m encouraging you to find your way.
Here’s the secret. It sounds really simple. And it is…sort of.
Listen. Be silent. Be still. And listen to your inner wisdom. You know: intuition. There’s a lot within you. Tune in.
What is intuition? It’s that quiet voice within you than helps you “feel” when something is right or wrong. It may be those gut feelings, or those crazy ideas that seem to appear from nowhere and lead to just the right place, or those deep insights and even divine guidance. It’s the woman’s way of knowing just what her body and baby need in pregnancy (like pickles and ice cream!) and the birthing woman knowing when to push. It’s the mother knowing when her child has fallen and when her partner needs her.
It has been said that all the answers you’ll need in life are not within you. Only half are. The other half lies in books, experience, stories, authorities… In other words, for us to find true wisdom, we must both listen within and look around. Between the two lies the answers you are looking for.
There is a delicate but very powerful balance between intuition and reason. Together, we have true understanding. Intuition tends to come from within, or from a higher source. Reason tends to come from without, or those with influence and authority. There is strength in both, and imbalance when we rely on one without the other.
Which will you rely on to bring you through birth, and beyond?
Today we are more likely to trust reason, and even discredit inner wisdom. That delicate balance is often off. The rational voice is louder than the intuitive. But is this always right? Then why, sometimes, does it feel so wrong?
Likewise today, we are more likely to pass our personal powers (and in kind, our authority, responsibility, credit and blame) onto others. We turn to the experts for answers, and we are in turn off the hook. It’s their job now, right? Our car goes to the mechanic, our computer to the apple shop, our prayer prescribed by our minister and our food from the specialty organic grocery market… You know how it goes. Only your body, mind and soul are not a car, computer or grocery list. As such, birth, creating life and building a family, are not matters every woman wants to pass on.
And so today, I am asking you to take a brief moment start finding that balance within you. Start tuning into your intuition. Start listening to yourself.
Look within. What do you see? What do you feel? Yes, this does matter. And yes, as a caregiver, I should care. I should listen. And so, I encourage you to do the same. Remember, no one knows you like you know yourself. Why do we expect the so-called expert to?
You have so much wisdom within. It is this very wisdom which supports you throughout pregnancy in your choices for eating what your body truly needs, or getting up out of that chair and taking a brisk walk… It is this very wisdom which supports you in choosing the caregiver and attendants, location and ways and means you uniquely feel safe with for planning your birth. It is this very wisdom which powers you through birth, even if you highest power brings you to a place where you can truly trust and let go. Likewise, it is this very wisdom which helps you to evolve into the woman, the mother, the human being you are here to be.
Know yourself, trust yourself, believe in yourself.
Understand yourself. Honor your uniqueness. Honor yourself. Heal yourself. Nurture yourself.
What do you need? How can you be nurtured? Where, with whom and how do you feel safe? What are you afraid of? What are your desires? How can you be comforted? How can you be empowered? What do you want for support? Who you are, how you are, how you feel, how you treat yourself, how you respect yourself, how you are becoming the woman you want to be – these things matter.
Take the time to find the answers to these questions, and trust the answers you find. Following your intuition is like following your heart. Take responsibility for yourself – even if your choice is to ask for help. Know your answers – not someone else’s. Now is the time to work towards being the mother you are evolving into. Appreciate this uniqueness. Be her now.
So, look within. Listen. What do you hear?
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Personally, Gin is a mother, wife, writer, naturalist, feminist. She has a deep passion for the wilds, within and around, and loves inspiring this part of the self in others. Home is a remote ranch, snowed in for half the year. It is on the land where she has attended to the birth of far more horses and farm animals than humans, which is where her deep belief in and connection with the beauty and nature of birth was born.
Professionally, Gin is a student midwife actively continuing her training, a certified doula, and a childbirth educator.
“I strongly believe my education and certification and plaques I can hang on the wall do not make me who I am. From the first birth I attended, I learned that my way of serving and supporting women through birth and life is based upon inner wisdom and outer strength and sensibilities balanced with academic reasoning and hands-on wisdom and experience. Thus I have chosen the path of the independent midwife. This is not for everyone. In fact, it's for very few. For me, as with most things in life, this did not come without resistance and a little bit of kicking and screaming. Mostly, however, it came through letting go, dropping both veils and armor, and seeing the truth within myself, finding where I am most strong, and can serve best.”