Rituals have disappearted from Western births. Have we stopped seeing birth as sacred?
Completely. Even a century ago, in the country at least, we used to carry out customs that more traditional societies still practise. We used to call upon magical and protective powers, to make pregnancy women feel as if there were physical and spiritual presences there to guide them through their ordeal. Nowadays, medicine has replaced rituals and dehumanised the whole process. A pregnant woman feels as if she's ill, and she's taken care of as if she was going to have an operation.
Why is it such a shame that birth has become overly medical?
Medical intervention can be a good thing, but the use of standard protocols is not, and it often brings about more medical intervention. When epidurals are used too much, women don't play an acitve part in the birth. With so much focus on technique, women lose confidence in their ability to bring a child into the world. And the excess of medical intervention sometimes even continues after the birth: in some hospitals the newborn baby is placed in an incubator for the first 2 hours of his life. Why do we think that a mother isn't capable of keeping her newborn baby warm? With this kind of intervention, women lose their confidence in their ability to be a good mother.
How can we reclaim this territory?
By knowing what you want for yourself and for your child. You need to know what you want, you need to take the time to bond with the child you're carrying, ask yourself where you want to give birth and agree on a plan with your doctor. The best way is to be cared for by the same doctor or health professional for the whole of your pregnancy. It's important to prepare yourself, mind as well as body, for the arrival of your baby.