Body Autonomy! Your body, your baby, your birth.

Body autonomy! It is the basic human right to own and govern what happens to our bodies without external influence or coercion.
Nearly 9 years ago, my lovely midwives came back to see me at 6 weeks postpartum to facilitate my ‘Closing The Bones’ ceremony.
During this, I had a wonderful massage with oils I had chosen, before having moxa burned over my sacral area (this forms part of the Chinese tradition of Mother Roasting – offering back to the new mother some of the heat energy she has given out during the birth and replenishing her for her mothering work ahead).
Then I lay on my back and each of my chakras was warmed with the moxa, starting at the base chakra and rising to the crown chakra.
The last part was borrowed from the Mexican midwives’ tradition of using a rebozo (or shawl) to hold my body, starting at my head and moving slowly down to my feet and then rising again to my head.
It felt wonderfully nurturing and mindful and like everything that had opened to birth, was being sealed.
Almost like ‘birth closure’. It was beautiful.
So what does this have to do with body autonomy?…
Well, I want to share my experience of temporarily surrendering my body autonomy with medical professionals (in my case – my midwives). I figure it must be pretty common! I see it all the time with the pregnant, birthing and postnatal parents I support, so thought was worthy of a post!
While preparing for my Closing The Bones ceremony, I felt a little uncomfortable about being seen just in my undies.
Then I remembered these women had seen my body through pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, so I minimised my awkwardness and said ‘oh well, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before!’.
I was half expecting my midwives to agree and laugh it off.
But they didn’t.
Instead my midwife replied in a strong but gentle voice, ‘that may be so, but it doesn’t mean you have to be any more naked than you want to be’.
And she was so right.
She leveled the power imbalance in the room, and reminded me I was in charge of my body.
I felt a bit embarrassed for being so quick to give up my body autonomy.
I think as women and birth givers, this is super common, and we are at risk of being too quick to let someone else take over.
I am still grateful to my midwife for reminding me that we always have the right to body autonomy. Our bodies are always OUR bodies.
Just because we grow and birth life (amazing right?!), our bodies are still ours.#
So before someone, including a medical professional, puts their hands on us, our informed consent for must ALWAYS be sought.
Thank you my wonderful midwives Liz (Nightingale Birth Friend) and Sarah (Birthday Presence Midwifery Services)Warm wishes and wellness,
Anna x
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Posted by Anna Driver

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