Friday, November 5, 2010

Acknowledging the Wounded Healer

Good Morning Birth Peeps,
I am spending this week in Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico in a "bear cave" with seven international "bears," otherwise known as advanced mentors (from Spain, Canada, US, South Africa and Puerto Rico!). These wonderful women, committed to changing birth in our culture) have come far to enrich their skills in childbirth mentoring. Working (and relaxing) in the serene and beautiful setting of Ghost Ranch takes us out of our ordinary setting, therefore out of our ordinary mind, and helps us reach inward and expand outward in our personal lives and professional work.

Being in the extraordinary place of beauty awakened in me the dream of creating Healing Retreats for Birth Peeps.

Women and men who work in birth give a lot, day after day, year after year. After receiving formal training, most professional conferences are geared toward informing the birth peep in the latest research or technique so they can better serve the mother/family during the childbearing year. The focus tends to be outward: serving, protecting, and healing the mother and family.

Birth work is not ordinary work. While it can be rewarding it can also be psychically draining and emotionally "wounding. After months and years birth work takes a toll; as birth peeps accumulate unprocessed grief, guilt, frustration or powerlessness, s/he begins to move further away from an initial intention (to heal) and deeper into despair, control, and negative assumptions about themselves, birth, and parents.
Who is healing, and nurturing, our birth peeps?
How can (or do) "wounded," burnt out, birth peeps serve expected parents?
What needs to happen next?

In the model of Birth as a Hero's Journey, one of the most powerful archetypes is the wounded, shattered, dismembered, hard-working, determined, but lost, person...who may yet become, but is not yet, a hero in her own myth or live. This person--like so many birth peeps who answered a Call to serve women/families during the childbearing year--started out eager, enthusiastic, full of hope.... and gate by gate, birth by birth, year by year, she/he lost her innocence, trust, and dream.

We cannot expect to change birth in our culture by solely focusing on parents--trying to empower them through information and resistance, or by healing "their" birth wounds--without also healing our own.

Change #9 coming soon, not only to this blog, but to our culture: I hope!



  1. Birthing From Within will be offering at least 2 weekend retreats for birth peeps (doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors) in 2011. Stay tuned for more information.

  2. I am called to this work as well. Would love to be involved in any way that would be helpful.

  3. This is amazing - I have often asked "Where's the support group for doulas, ICAN Leaders, and other people who give everything to help women, and sometimes come out a little more traumatized in the process?"

  4. Wonderful intention Pam! As a midwife currently serving as a doula, it is challenging to witness unnecessary interventions and still hold that solid grounded space for my clients, staying supportive and positive for the highest good to unfold and trying to protect their sacred journey all at the same time, and remembering that it's not my place to make any decisions for I look forward to your retreat. Please come back to Vermont! xo

  5. t's hard work being a doula, a midwife, a L&D nurse. If you are a birth professional--or someone who works with families in the childbearing year--you WILL encounter women who are afraid or have had devastating birth or postpartum experience and you will witness births that challenge, disgust or frighten you. As Ame said above, it can take immense physical, emotional and spiritual energy and effort to offer support to these women during their journey.
    This is the main reason that every Birthing From Within workshop begins..."within". We believe that introspective work, self-awareness, healing and rejuvenating is essential to being an effective, compassionate birth worker.
    Stay in touch with us, so we can support YOU!

    Virginia Bobro
    Managing Director
    Birthing From Within