Book Review: “Indie Birth: A Story of Radical Birth Love”

I first read “Indie Birth: A Story of Radical Birth Love” during my time working through the Birth Warrior Project, which aims to enlighten doulas on this “radical” perspective of birthing. It is written by Maryn Green and Margo Blackstone, two independent midwives (and independent thinkers) who share the stories involved in their embrace of this perspective, and the efforts to inspire others who are ready to learn from it.

The book itself is what I’d consider autobiographical, but also observational. You’ll find an introduction to the Wise Woman model of birth, birth stories from VBAC to freebirth, accounts of regulations and protocols coming into question, gorgeous undisturbed birth images, and sparks of insight into where the future of birth-giving is headed, should we be courageous enough to reconnect with the most ancient, past ages of birth-giving. A future and past of which, interestingly or perhaps un-interestingly, would look very much the same on physiological counts. And vastly improved in the matter of positive experiences to pass down, really to be gifted to the generations ahead.

To avoid risk of inadequate paraphrasing, here are some favorite quotes — some of which may cause you to stop and really think:

  • “I still believe deeply that we have everything we need, and one of the biggest dangers a pregnant woman can face is turning her attention and questions to the outside, rather than to herself, first.”
  • “Women don’t care about birth politics, per se. What they care more about is how birth works and what is in their DNA. In seeing that, it then falls into place what ‘kind’ of birth they want and what ‘kind’ of midwife may support this best.”
  • “I want women to feel free. I want them to feel freedom in making the right birth choices for them, I want them to feel no compromise and no obligation to anyone else or anything. I want them to spread their wings and soar. Freedom in birth feels like you are in charge, that you care the most about you and your baby.”
  • “If we desire autonomy in our births, we create it inside and then we find our way. Maybe it is freebirth. Maybe it is in some other unique creation of support that we put together that has no label. Maybe it is in choosing an independent midwife who will and does really respect you and your autonomy. But truly, there isn’t one way to do it because we are all unique. And we really can’t go looking for it like it’s something to bring in from outside.”
  • “I decided that giving the power back to the woman was the only way to go; I still think it’s virtually the only way to help put women in touch with her own knowing. It’s the only way to make whatever ‘prenatal care’ she chooses meaningful for her. Without meaning, what’s the point?”
  • “[T]he birth usually does not follow a completely different path than the pregnancy. I feel they are on the same energetic curve and witnessing hundreds of births has mostly confirmed that.”
  • “If we want radical change, we have to allow ourselves radical thought!”

To briefly describe my impression of this book and the work undertaken by Indie Birth, I can say with some gut-wrenching, uncomfortable honesty that I wish I’d found them before my own pregnancies. Maybe I would’ve found my power sooner… maybe I would’ve been willing to take more accountability for my choices. Maybe the first few years of my work serving birth givers would’ve felt more authentic. Maybe…

But, in any case, here I am — finally ready to hear this message. Finally ready to answer the call.

This is not a message with instructions, persuasions, or righteousness. Quite the opposite on all counts. It’s a message of freedom to think and feel, of both inclusion and rebellion simultaneously. It’s offered like a tree bears fruit in Spring; you can walk by and admire, or you can pick the fruit to eat, to digest and integrate. What you do with this message and how personal it becomes is up to you.

So why not be curious, why not hear what Indie Birth has to say and learn what this new paradigm is all about? You never know… it might be just what you’ve been searching for.

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