Birth is a powerful metaphor for the processes that we undergo throughout our life, and can symbolize our transformation into new states of being, as well as our coming out of the womb of potential into our true expression as creative and ever-developing beings. And physical birth (which literally brings life into the world) is a process that I not only find incredibility beautiful, but have a great deal of interest in, a tremendous amount of respect for, and years of experience studying.
As an undergraduate student, studying sociology, culture, film, neuroscience, philosophy and a number of different subjects that gave me glimpses into the nature of consciousness, I became interested in everyday and milestone events as mediums through which individuals and groups perform and (re)create cultural and personal identities. This interest eventually led me to pursue research on early life rituals while studying abroad in India, which I then expanded to include birth rituals in the United States for my final research project/paper. This enabled me to dive deeply into hundreds of hours of research on the topic, interviewing a large number of women, birth advocates, important researchers, doulas and midwives, and attending numerous hours birth classes, presentations, and events.
During this time of researching, observing, and interviewing women and scholars on the social and cultural performances that are centered around birth and early life milestones, as well as partaking in a number of ceremonies that are designed to support the “proper initiation” of children, mothers, and fathers into “human society” in the US and in India, I grew to understand how important healthy maternity support systems are.
A women’s’ birth experience matters, and supporting healthy and empowered births (not just physically, but on all levels) is not only vital to the health of individuals, but is also vital to the health of our families, communities, countries and our world as a whole.