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Excerpts from Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas

V. Maternity (excerpt from the introduction)

Having children bonds our past with our future. Having children links what is most sensual and corporeal with what is most sacred. Not all of us have children, but we are someone’s child. Not all women become mothers, but every woman has a mother, known to us or not. Having children transforms us, it opens our soul to all the love we can receive from the most vulnerable of creatures. In our maternity we feel our human interdependence more than ever. We develop new strengths and new vulnerabilities. To create and nurture these new lives, we need the help of all those around us.

We need a healthy environment and a welcoming home. We need sufficient economic resources and flexibility in our responsibilities, both inside and outside the home. Depending on our circumstances, being a mother can be something that fills us with pride or carries us to depths of despair. Traditionally, women have counted on other women, including our mothers, sisters, grandmothers and midwives, who offered us their insights during the extraordinary transformation of body and spirit initiated by pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. The majority of modern health care systems treat a pregnant woman as if she is sick, and childbirth as if it is a medical procedure.   Post-partum, the mother is forgotten because once she delivers the baby, she is no longer considered important. The midwife, with years of experience, is there to help a woman have a good experience with her pregnancy. During childbirth she helps the woman have her baby. And during post-partum she helps the mother recuperate her strength, teaches her how to breast feed and visits frequently to see how she and the baby are doing.

We want to encourage women reading these chapters to participate in their pregnancy and childbirth, in a manner that best suits them, recognizing their rights and needs when they choose to use medical services. At this stage in life we need to feel loved and supported more than ever so that we can love and support others. Having children is a privilege and a responsibility, which we can decide to assume or not. The creation of a good life for ourselves and for our families requires effort at many levels. It is important to remember that there are many young people in the world who need an education and love from adults in their families and communities, the cradle of all mutuality. The ability to nurture well-loved human beings who know how to love others, is a responsibility borne by each member of a community.

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