I hear it all the time:

Birth is Safe. Trust Birth.

As a Birth Keeper, this slogan kept me from stepping out on my own. I thought I had to wait until I could guarantee safety in birth.

As a mother, it stirred a sense of guilt.

You see, when I went into labor something happened. It was unexpected and it was bigger than me. It was NOT safe. It came from outside, a flurry of energies in my sacred birth space. It came from within, something deep, something old and unresolved. All I knew was that I could NOT have anything pass through my pelvis. I pushed with all my might, and I held back equally. I was alone in the underworld and I was terrified. For years, I couldn’t think about my daughter’s birth without shuddering. And oh, the guilt. What was wrong with me that I didn’t have an ecstatic, orgasmic, A+ honors equivalent, birth?

So, when I hear someone say, Birth is safe or Trust Birth –your body knows how to give birth, something in me rebels.

“That’s not true,” it says.

“Birth is anything but safe.”

Birth may not be a medical emergency, but that does not mean it is safe. It is a serious and intense rite of passage that can shake us to our depths. Persephone’s trip to the underworld was not safe. Safe is a cop-out in life, and in birth.

But there’s more to it.

As modern women, through no fault of our own, we have been deeply imprinted by birth fear. Not just from movies, and birth fear and doctors, but from the way we ourselves were born, the way our mothers and their mothers were born. Nearly ALL of our mothers were subjected to inhumane treatment and we, in our most vulnerable moments as newborns, were manhandled and abused. It’s no wonder we are a generation of women seeking a shortcut around the intensity of birth.

If we accept the evidence that the way we are born imprints us for our entire lives then we must also accept that modern women are host to a lineage and legacy of pain and fear written on our wombs, our throats, our breath, breasts, and being.

For the first time in history of humanity most women have babies without releasing a flow of hormones of love… [T]he future of our civilization is at stake. – Michel Odent, The Farmer and the Obstetrician

Our age has been called the traumatic age. Our disconnect from ourselves, each other, and from the external world, has become epidemic.

Healing cultural trauma is an enormous task. In a very real way we cannot move forward alone. In fact, even though it may seem that some of us, natural birthers, are “ahead” in the race, the truth is we rise and fall together.

I will never again judge a woman who has an epidural. I will not tell her she should trust birth.

Instead, I offer love.

Women who choose interventions are, in a way, victims of the system they are seeking out… and perhaps the ones most marked by it. Until our culture offers all people the balm of true and lasting healing, I honor a woman’s choice to avoid triggering a trauma that is too deep to face without fragmentation. This is not weakness, it is true wisdom.

We must speak the truth about birth, and hold space for all women at the same time.

Birth is no longer safe for all women,

but love is.

Women who plan natural births, but don’t get them, aren’t failures.

They are the martyrs of our traumatic age. They are birth warriors extraordinaire. Honor them.

Birth is our first rite of passage, our primal imprint and lifetime touchstone for being.

So, natural birth vs. medical birth. I advocate of neither. I am an advocate for love. L-o-v-e.

Trust Love, I say. Uncover it. Apply it. Know its secrets.

It might be the only thing that’s really safe.