beyond the emptiness of hope.
Trust, on the first occasion, is the same as hope, based on a belief that things will work out as desired, or it may be borrowed from another’s experience which has worked out for them. In later times, trust is based on satisfactory past experiences of our own, and is closely linked to our expectations. We first cross a bridge because we trust the engineers and builders or because others have done it. Most often we place our trust in others – only sometimes in ourselves. Having trust in something or someone gives us confidence to approach difficult or dangerous tasks without so much fear. We give birth in hospitals because we trust in the system, or we trust the medicos to look after us, or we trust that what we have been told will happen. But as seen in many instances, our trust can be falsely placed and often turns out to be no more than a self serving hope to quell the fears we have deep inside. Trust in anything outside of oneself will never reduce the fear of childbirth, since that fear is actually embedded within our own self.
But much different to hope and trust is faith. In my definition, faith is the perfect antidote for fear. Where there is one there cannot be the other. Contrary to much religious teaching, faith requires no articles, no logical deductions, and cannot be placed in other persons or things. It is both implicit and explicit in any moment, in any time, and in any
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place, so therefore it must reside in a state of consciousness we hold within ourselves. Only each person can discover their faith. This is commonly termed faith in oneself, but I understand this not as meaning that one has trust in one’s own judgement, but that the source of faith is actually within oneself. When faith from within oneself is realised, it can be experienced as the same as faith in nature, faith in life, faith in your baby, faith in birthing, faith in guru, or faith in God. When present, it actually connects all things into a completely trustworthy whole. To me faith is faith is faith. It is not qualified by event or circumstance, nor ever threatened by fear or logic. Faith is a faculty of heart, and I experience it to be equal in truth and power to what is known as intuition – which is nothing other than faith of the mind.
Through yoga and the relationship of trust I have had with a teacher, my faith has gradually awakened, and my first unassisted homebirth was a great test of that faith. At first, faith might appear to be in something or someone else. A good teacher will always be reflecting the student’s trust back onto them, showing them that a higher vibration of that trust is confidence in themselves and ultimately faith in themselves. It was Satyaprem’s birth which showed me the depth of my own faith. In the beginning, I had faith that it would all work out fine in the end, as it did. The trick was learning to trust in that faith every moment of the way.
Supporting most birthing occasions are two kinds of people – the professionals such as doctors and midwives, and the woman’s own family and friends. From this, it can be seen, there are two obvious elements at work – the medical and the social. It is of course up to each woman as to how much of each element she wishes to have around her, because, beyond those two elements, giving birth is an intensely personal experience. In every way, it must be the needs of the mother and the child which should be given prime consideration.
Some women nowadays can afford their own choice of obstetrician or independent midwife and for them this is their way of securing medical safety along with personal familiarity for the occasion. But for the majority, there is no choice of professional birth attendants. Unfortunately, most women’s experience
of midwifery is a series of total strangers who happen to be on 7½ hour shifts at the hospital on the day they arrive. The exception to this is in a Birth Centre where a pregnant woman may be allocated her own personal midwife for the journey. But even in Birth Centres which offer team midwifery, over the course of her ante-natal visits (4 - 6 with the midwives, and 2 - 3 with a hospital doctor) a woman will not usually meet all the staff who may actually attend her on the day, particularly at the larger city centres with high client to staff ratios.
The modern practice of having non-medical support persons present at a birth has certainly changed from the old days when only doctors and nurses were allowed to see such goings on, whilst the fathers worriedly paced the corridors then handed out cigars when the nurse came out to present them with a baby! Fathers