|Expanding Our Paradigm of Empowered Birth
Birth looked hard, but it seemed worth it. I loved these animal babies and I
wanted to have a baby of my own someday. Any time there was a new
When I was little, our house was filled with many animals and as a result I was lucky to watch dozens of
kittens and puppies being born. I anxiously hovered over many laboring cats and dogs wondering how to
help, but my mother would tell me every time, “Leave her alone Barbara, the mother knows what to do,” and
she was right. Always the babies would be born and we would end up with an exhausted but blissful mother
curled around a pile of mewling babies.
mother and baby around my home I would stay around the kitchen and listen as these women talked
about their birth with my mother. I was shocked when I heard about how human babies where born;
women were expected to get an enema, have their private area shaved and then spread their legs on
a table while a doctor cut the baby out with an episiotomy. I felt humiliated for myself and for all
women. After seeing so many amazing animal births, I was revolted by the weak human condition.
What happened, I wondered, that humans have become incapable of delivering their babies in a
The times when I visited the hospital to see friends or family who had given birth, I was troubled as I
watched the efficient nurses walk past the rows of crying babies in the nursery. This felt wrong to me,
but everyone else acted as if it where all right. I often thought that everyone was crazy. Mothers
belonged with their babies.
After working in women’s health care as a medical assistant in a busy ob/gyn office, I couldn't help but feel that there had to be a better way
in which to give birth. Most mothers and babies were cut, medicated and separated after birth making bonding and attachment almost non-
existent. I often wondered if this process had created the large number of mothers suffering postpartum depression.
When I found out that I was pregnant, my disgust with traditional birth options grew. My husband and I toured a local hospital’s maternity
ward and I saw that nothing had changed since I was a child. A group of happily expectant parents did not even blink when I asked the
nurse to approximate what the cesarean rate was for the hospital. “Just a little over 30%,” we where told.
When I challenged the hospitals mandatory four-hour separation from the baby, other couples sat docilely as I questioned each reason for
taking the baby away after the birth. No one seemed concerned or interested about what happened for those hours when the baby was
taken to the nursery. As we left the hospital my husband and I were troubled.
My unease grew when I asked my doctor if the hospital could change this policy so I could keep my baby with me.I was dismissed with a
laugh, he said, “Mothers are only too happy to get a rest after the birth, and I am sure you will too.”
After much research, I took charge of my birth and decided on a home birth with the full support of my husband. I choose my birth
attendants carefully, and when the time came I trusted my body- wisdom to chose how, when and where my baby was born. It was one of
the most incredible, empowering times of my life.
Looking back, I mourn for myself as a child and a young lady because I spent years disgusted with myself as a woman. My body had
seemed to be useless, weak and comical. If I had known in the past what I know now about birth, I would have loved being a women a long
I am determined that all women understand that there is, “something more,” to be gained by having a conscious, empowered pregnancy
and birth. It is time to lift the veil of fear and expose the truth about birth so that all women have the opportunity to touch what has
previously been stolen from these previous generations through the medical model of care.
Barbara Rivera, founder of BirthPowertm
|Barbara Rivera and her
|We are a proud, "unschooling" family who
is constantly striving to unlearn, and grow.
I am a wife to an incredible man, and a
mother of three children, all home born.
|Click the link above to see more about
my children's book, The Cloud Party
My dog Oscar likes me, see?
|I have worked with animals my
whole life, but once I had my first
baby, birth and birth education
became my passion. I am a
shameless birth junkie!