Bringing to Light
4.20.23 New Moon
In many Spanish-speaking countries, “dar a luz” means to give birth. In English, the words “dar a luz” translate beautifully as, “to bring to light.” For me, these words remind me of all we bring to light when we deepen our many relationships to birthing.
I wasn’t paying attention to the moon back then, but I know now that high above the hospital, beyond the fluorescent ceiling lights, a waning crescent moon rose in the sky as I gave birth to my daughter. The waning crescent is a moon of letting go, of shedding what we cling to in uncertainty or fear.
I chose to go to a hospital because I was scared, as we’ve been conditioned to be for the past 80 years or so, that something would go wrong in the birth. I believed that my newborn needed access to experts, and that the only experts were in hospitals.
I didn’t understand then that midwives are the experts in birthing. I didn’t know the deep body of research showing how midwifery care decreases risk of needing a cesarean; reduces rates of labor induction and augmentation; reduces use of regional anesthesia; decreases infant mortality rates; decreases risk of preterm birth; decreases third and fourth-degree perineal tears; lowers costs; increases chances of a positive start to breastfeeding; and increases people’s satisfaction with the quality of their care.
I didn’t know the facts, but, when the time came, I knew my own body.
In truth, the moment my daughter was born was one of defiance: my push, on my time.
I had labored for many hours with the care of a wonderfully supportive nurse. Finally, I was fully dilated, with my daughter’s head of thick black hair already fully present in the room. The nurse and I knew it was time. But, following protocol, she paused, telling me to wait as she fetched the doctor who had just arrived. A doctor I had never met.
They believed I would wait. But they didn’t know me.
I was calm, happy, and ready.
Okay baby, I said to the tiny being in my body, here we go.
I laughed and smiled. Without waiting for the doctor, I summoned my strength and began my final pushes. I didn’t ask for permission as my muscles surged a healthy baby out into the world. Her eyes were open. She felt my power.
At Birth Center Equity, which I helped to found in 2020, we name and center liberation as one of our core values. We know that people giving birth, being birthed, witnessing birth, and supporting birth have the opportunity for a profound experience of liberation -- discovering strength, agency, dignity, somatic rhythm, joy – often in the face of oppressive systems and cultures. We know that the experience of liberation in birth echoes out in the hearts and minds of our children, families, and communities, transforming culture, which transforms economies.
We believe that midwifery based community birth centers anchor liberation. Through our support of community birth centers, "we nurture the values, practices, and structures that are the heart of community wellness and the foundation of a caring economy. We support Black, Indigenous, people of color birth center leaders’ self-determination to secure land, structures, and resources that serve communities today and are owned by communities for generations."*
I am honored to be part of bringing so much to light.
*from Birthing Black: Community Birth Centers As Portals to Gentle Futures