Nov 16, 2009

Guest Blogger: "Birth As We Know It" Film Creator and Natural Birth Advocate - Elena Tonetti-Vladimirova

Elena's amazing work as a natural birth advocate has inspired and empowered thousands of women around the world. If you have a chance to watch the "Birth As We Know It" video, you'll be amazed at how powerful and wise a woman's body can be during labor and during natural child birth. Every pregnant woman should have a chance to see this video.

Elena and her staff have graciously accepted our guest blogger invitation and today we are happy to host them on our blog. The article below was submitted by Sue (Birth into Being Staff) on behalf of Elena:

"The full feature is 75 min; plus on the DVD there is almost three more hours of bonus features, making the total running time of almost 4 hours. The most potent bonus feature is the 'director's commentary' that we highly recommend. It runs the entire film again, but with the completely different text, completing an overview of the topic of conscious birth. If you are interested, you can order the DVD on
The film 'Birth As We Know It' was made in 2006 and within 3 years, without any marketing or advertising, it is already in 56 countries, translated by volunteers into 12 languages.

It is about conscious procreation. It’s about what it really takes to achieve the state of being which makes natural birth possible and why it is necessary for us, as a species, to recover our capacity to give birth with ease and grace, the way our bodies were meant to procreate.

There is a huge body of research now, accumulated in the last 25 years in the field of pre-natal psychology that proves beyond doubt the correlation between the quality of our early formative period and the quality of life. It is no coincidence that the top 5 countries with the highest standards of living and the lowest rates of crime and poverty in the world are the same 5 countries with the best birthing practices that are gentle on infants. They have up to 75% of babies delivered naturally, by midwives. The US is 23rd place out of the 24 industrial countries in the quality of maternal/infant care.

The way we procreate defines our ability to thrive. It's a matter of utmost urgency - every day babies are being born into unnecessary suffering, with easily avoidable, harmful complications, which limbically imprint their nervous system with suffering as the 'norm' and diminishes their capacity for intimacy and kindness.  In the US, 95% of all births are considered traumatic, according to one of the pioneers in the field of prenatal psychology, Dr. William Emerson.  In his 1995 study he rates 45% as “severe trauma” and 50 % as ‘moderate’.

"Birth As We Know It" shows an alternative: it shows women who approached the art of people-making consciously and with dignity.  It is called by the midwifery community 'the most comprehensive guide to natural birth". It has recently been included as mandatory curriculum in all medical schools and Universities in the country of Iran, and has won multiple awards. The film received a lengthy standing ovation at the Human Rights Conference in Seattle, WA in August 2006.  It has also been featured in many magazines, talked about on many radio shows and even shown at a Hawaii State Senate hearing, dedicated to prevention of domestic violence.

Film creator Elena Tonetti-Vladimirova was one of the pioneers of 'Conscious Birth Movement' in Russia since 1982. She now travels extensively, teaching her 'Birth Into Being' workshops and presenting at conferences all over the world. Dr. Christiane Northrup is wholeheartedly endorsing Elena’s work and after attending Elena’s workshop with both of her daughters, she dedicated most of her March of '08 newsletter to praising it.
Says Elena:
"We can positively influence our future by giving birth to our babies without harming them,  we can have a prosperous, non-violent humankind in just one generation if we dramatically reduce the limbic imprint of pain and suffering and start creating new people consciously, in love".

"It's time for us to recognize the mechanism of 'limbic imprinting' that a new baby experiences at birth. It is the same mechanism as basic settings in our TVs, computers... Imagine a TV that is set on “maximum blue”, then, no matter what movie is being shown, on the screen everything will be  blue; or if brightness is on ‘dim’ – no matter how bright is the image, the screen will show a very dark picture!

It is this same mechanism that has been used by people for thousands of years to train animals: elephants, camels, horses. A baby elephant is chained  to a small stick. It rages for a few days and then stops. When he grows big and has enough strength to pull this stick right out, - it doesn’t happen. He never, never  tries again… That exact mechanism is at work with us, humans.

The result of damage done by highly stressful 'people-making' practices was, and still is, perceived as unavoidable. Thus, humankind is in the constant 'survival' mode - 'fight or flight' is ruling this world. That is exactly why we have 250 wars  going on right now on our beautiful little planet.  Peaceful gestation and conscious birth is, still, a rare privilege. Introducing pain and suffering to the newborn was long ago upgraded to the status of 'norm'. But it is not. Every cat knows how to give birth without traumatizing her kittens. Nature provided us with the necessary adjustments to a female body, the ability to produce enough dopamine to open wide and let the baby out gently.

Of course, in a modern society, there is some percentage of women that have specific medical conditions that require a professional medical delivery. In Dr. Emerson's estimation it's about an average of 10%. In Ina May Gaskin's estimation, it's about 1,5-2%.

Compare this with world-wide rates of medical intervention at this point - in Brazil and South Africa, for example, where c-section rates reached 90 - 95%. The only explanation to this is ignorance of severe emotional and psychological side-effects of such practice for a new baby. There are volumes of research in this area, but very little, if any of it, is included in the curriculum of medical schools, for some reason.
I teach 'Birth Into Being' workshops. The emphasis of my work is the personal alignment with the 'Birthing Field', which allows an individual to navigate one's energy within the intensity of one's experience, whatever the source of that intensity be, including giving birth or being in the delivery team, or even in creation of projects unrelated to childbirth.

To align means, first of all, to heal our own birth trauma, neutralizing the damage done to us during our own formative period, from the moment of conception through the first year of life; re-programming our own original 'basic settings'. This allows the 'birthing field' to be free from suffering, anxiety and fear. Birth cannot be taken out of the context of life, that is where the major pitfall of modern delivery approach lies. The 'Birthing Field' reflects everything and multiplies it hundredfold, first of all, the fears and stress level of everyone present.

The good news, it is possible to heal, to flip on the switch of a powerful flow of life force - and let it flow through a new pathway. The shift into healing can be fast and easy. It's like having a huge old splinter in one's foot that is infected and very painful, but it's been there for so long that the nervous system is used to it and learned to cope with it and the walking pattern reflects favoring of the foot. And one goes to the doctor to look at that splinter, to talk about it, to apply medication and such. While what needs to happen is for that splinter to be removed from the foot, then the healing can rapidly happen by itself.

The pain that most of us carry deep inside from our own formative period is, sort of, like that old splinter. It's a tiny bundle of highly compressed huge volume of energy,  frozen in the very core of our being, like a needle stuck in the heart. It can be removed in minutes.
Our behavioral patterns and personalities do not start with the development of our cognitive skills, as it used to be believed. By the time a child is born, the baby has already an established basic sense about the nearest environment - what kind of world he or she is arriving into. If it’s a safe, nurturing, welcoming world or it’s a fear-based, harsh world of scarcity.

Previously, it was thought that a baby is a blank page, incapable of feeling or experiencing pain. We are paying for this mistake a very high price of malfunctioning society. Due to the mechanism of limbic imprint our pre-cognitive feelings and sensations become our “basic settings”, our “comfort zone”. When a baby is conceived and gestated in Love and born naturally, has an immediate contact with the mother; is breastfed and held in loving arms - the baby’s nervous system is 'wired' for blissful and  comfortable relationships with the world. On the other hand, if the baby was not wanted, was exposed to a flood of stress hormone in the mother's blood stream, when suffering and numbness are experienced at birth, it imprints that child with insecurities of all sorts, anxieties, low self-esteem and a host of physical and behavioral symptoms. Of course, the full picture is much more complex, and is unique to every baby and set of parents. For example, even if the birth was very difficult, but the baby goes home to loving parents, who understand that the baby is a feeling, sensing being, their respectful care would quickly neutralize the hurt. And visa versa, even with the most wonderful easy birth, if the baby's needs are not met afterwards, this child will find it very challenging to live in harmony.

Still, having said that, we should not underestimate the effect of the quality of the actual delivery and immediate postpartum care has on the emotional landscape of the new person for the rest of his or her life. Sensory overload in the birthing room is extremely harmful for the newborn (bright lights, loud noises, separation from the mother, needles, surgical knives, harsh touch, and so on - are causing the nervous system of the newborn to go into shock, that is not visible, not being measured, not acknowledged, nevertheless it doesn't make it any less real and harmful). Babies are, on average, about 150 times more sensitive then adults, with their brand new sensory apparatus that has not been dulled by the life's challenges yet.

In most 3d world countries the c-section rates are up to 95% now! The problem is, that these baby girls who were not born naturally, are missing the activation of 'birthing' information in their nervous systems, so they would have to have c-sections when it's their time to give birth. Which means, if something happens with our infrastructure due to severe climate changes, or global warming, or massive earth quakes, etc... if we go off the grid, we are one generation away from extinction, because most women don't know how to give birth. It's not a moment too soon to start learning now how to neutralize the damage...

Very few people seem to be paying attention to this huge problem of women loosing their ability to procreate without major abdominal surgery, when baby's body is being mechanically extracted out of their mother's body...

I believe that we do have the intelligence to correct our mistakes and change the existing attitude. The pay off is so worth it! Babies that were not traumatized during their arrival into our world, are capable of living in peace and harmony, they posses amazing qualities and kind, compassionate personalities. They are free from aggression and have no need to inflict pain onto the other. It's time to help the new generation of humans to experience that freedom. We have tried everything else already, - we know where it got us. It is time to try something new. We have the power to improve the quality of our species just in one generation. Let's do it!"

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