All they need is Kindness
Takeo, Cambodia – 16.10.2013
I’ve been here in Cambodia for nearly 3 weeks. I’ve being living in the village in the field, working in the health centre where all women refer for delivery, pregnancy check up, vaccination, baby check up,…. I share my life with wonderful women and midwife, from Australia, USA, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy and Cambodia. Adorable kind of cambodian mums, are taking care of us: we communicate in many many different languages. We have much fun, we laugh a lot, we support each other in a different way. It’s a lovely community.
In the health centre where I’ve worked, there are 4 midwives. Here the training for midwives last three years. You have to work in the health centre from Monday to Friday and attend classes at school in the weekend. Lesions and books are in english but not all the midwives can speak english.
Since I have been here we did postnatal home visits, prenatal check up at the health centre and saw a couple of births.
When a woman is in labour, she goes to the health centre and spend the all time with her mother and other women of her family. The midwife doesn’t care much about her.. maybe because (I like to think) women are quite well supported by their family.
When the woman is fully dilated and feel the urge to push she’s taken by the midwife to the delivery room.
The delivery room is quite small, and there’s a really old style metallic bed. The midwifery care is quite medicalized: litotomic position, guided pushes, frequent vaginal inspections, and so on …. these are their protocols, they have learnt to assist birth in this way.
Cambodian women are extremely strong. They trust their body immensely, they suffer in silence, the don’t demand any kind of attentions, they have been used not to ask for anything. In labor they withdraw into their selfs, lulled by oxytocin. At birth they don’t seems to be happy when someone put their baby on the chest; probably they have 3 more children to feed or perhaps they know they don’t have to get so attached to this creature because he would not make it (cambodia has the higher rate of infant mortality of south east asia).
I’m wondering: is it right to get here with all our idyllic thought about gentle and loving birth?
I’m a gentle birth activist, I have never thought about a better way to give birth except with love, and I truly still believe in it.
But how will you feel if a group of baran (western people) would have come telling you – what you are doing is wrong. now we’ll do birth in another way. Our way. –
well.. I would turn up my nose.
On the other hand I also feel so bad when I see a non gentle birth.
SO, HERE IS THE CHALLANGE !!
Cambodian people have been subjected to violence, lack of kindness and awful condition that I can not even image.
All post colonial population have been living under our disrespectful and violent oppression. This type of behaviour has been instilled into their DNA: informations, intentions, memories remains in the society 7 generations. These people had a violent, rough, carless behaviour model and as every children do, they have learned to act like western people used to do. It’s so clear and easy to see this behaviour in childbirth.
Nai, our amazing Cambodian mentor midwife, when she first met Denise love, our wonderful australian mentor midwife, she asks her to teach her how to be gentle and kind to woman.
We have been asked to bring love, kindness, grace, joy and gratitude. To share our wisdom as women and midwives, to be respectful, to open our hearts and to be extremely patient. Perhaps these people are sick of being told what to do, and how to do it.
Are role here is to take care of these women,mothers, midwives, families emotionally and physically, and believe that our kind behaviour pattern will get space in the next generation, knowing that one tiny drop can move a whole ocean.
My pledge is to be there for any woman, no matter what.
I’m here for this mommy with all my heart, body, spirit and mind. I hold her space, I cherish her sometimes. I look at her and she look at me and I try to reassure her and let her know, in some way, that everything is going well, and that she is allowed to do whatever she feels like, and that she’s free, she can express herself in any way or just stay still in her own world. We don’t speak the same language. I observe, I listen, I feel, I’m open to any couscous or unconscious request and I hope and pray she feels welcomed, supported and comfortable in my arms (physical and emotional arms).
And then the baby comes and I observe again, I get lost in his wise eyes. Babies eyes, in the first hours after birth, have mysterious and deep memories, they know from where they came from and what is their mission on this earth. I sniff him, and I get drunk of this new life. I lie him close to mummy knowing that in her heart she’s dying for it, and she’s in love with her baby with all her soul.
..And I feel humble and honoured and I whisper to them: welcome on the Earth.
We need your support, I ask you to send me as much love as you can so then I can share it with these beautiful women.