To Layla B and all traditional, spiritual midwives,
I read your plea on the day that in my country the Netherlands the National Midwifery Association receive a rather sarcastic award for their non-critical position against ‘quackery’. Here, were the facilities for a natural birth and postpartum is considered advanced, water birth, homeopathy or acupuncture is still seen as witchcraft and should be banned. There is still a long way to go for natural birth workers.
I feel personally called to respond. Your message to stop the misuse of birth traditions that is not our culture, is about me! It’s about my work as postpartum doula, my role as director for the charity Postnatal Support Network and me as part of an ever-growing group of postnatal birth workers in Netherlands. You touch a sensitivity that I am aware of and constantly working with.
The message about cultural exploitation of traditional and sacred knowledge is not new. Historical events have proven to kill what was once sacred. I was personally involved in an awareness campaign from indigenous peoples in Australia protesting against the hijack of their culture. Their traditional medicine is taken by the cosmetic industry. Their art is taken by merchandise, their songs and stories by writers of novels. They are left with empty pockets and lost souls, for their tradition is their life.
However, I learned that the movement of traditional knowledge is inevitable, whether used for the good of humanity or for the good of individual bank accounts. Information is becoming more available and spread across the globe. I personally feel blessed to have learned from teachers from a very strong cultural and spiritual lineage.
I believe that being the keeper of the flame cannot be sealed in a blessing or signed certificate. I believe the answer needs much more nuance. It foremost needs trust that this sharing is meant to be shared amongst women of the world.
The question should be; how can we guide the personal journey of the birth worker so that an attitude of humbleness and consciousness is safeguarded. We need networks of strong, radiant, knowledgeable women that work out of inclusiveness and are present in our lives. Let’s put our energy towards creating local circles that are open to all rather than work from exclusivity. And yes, let’s let the Angelina and Rahma travel to share their tradition from time to time. We need people like Layla to build the bridge. I pray to all of you traditional midwifes to find courage in self initiation, the enduring negativity and counter movements. Keep the fires warm and burning!
With light and love,
Ingrid Bal alias Charan Kamal Kaur
– Postnatal Doula
– Director Postnatal Support Network
– Kundalini Yoga Teacher