Today we continue the series profiling people who work with pregnancy, birth, or the postpartum period (prenatal massage therapists, childbirth educators, OB/GYNs, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, labor & delivery nurses, pediatricians, etc.) and are Pagan or work with a Pagan community. Our first profile featured Jane Hardwicke Collings. If you would like to be a part of the series please send an email to email@example.com.
What kind of work do you do with pregnancy, birth, or the postpartum period?
I am a Labor and Delivery RN in the United States Navy. I work with laboring mothers in a hospital setting, primarily in the active phase of labor, but also in triage during pregnancy as well.
In what ways does Paganism affect your work?
As a Pagan, I see pregnancy and birth as a rite of passage, it is a miracle and the product of the ultimate act of creation – the union of those divine energies contained within us that give birth (literally) to new life. By nature of being a military officer, I work in a hospital setting, in which it is often difficult (but not impossible) to create a sacred space that honors this rite of passage. Within the constraints of my position and the legalities in place, I do my best to make this experience sacred for women of ALL traditions, not just Pagan since pregnancy and birth is a universal phenomenon. Many times I do this by simply “holding space.” By this I mean that I set an intention to make this experience meaningful as defined by each individual woman and family. I have not yet had the opportunity to care for a “Pagan” family, but this process is sacred across all traditions. I silently invoke Frigga during the birthing process. She is the Norse Mother Goddess associated with childbirth, with families and mothering, and the home. I have a statue of her in my home in which she is depicted holding her infant son – Baldur. I advocate for “natural” childbirth as often as I can as and I attempt to empower women and families to make those choices that honor the experience they would like to have. My Paganism makes this more than a job, it makes it a passion and a privilege and I always pray to Frigga for a sacred experience in which all are united in the web that binds us – a web of love.
I think that, first and foremost, we must recognize that what is sacred will differ amongst mothers and families and this needs to be honored. My own opinion is to treat pregnancy and birth as a rite of passage, as free of medical intervention as is safe and possible. I would advocate for home births, for planning a birth in sacred space, and with clear intentions to make this process one of joy. Childbirth is almost always painful, although orgasmic (or ecstatic) childbirth is a documented fact as well. Pain can be transformative and the very process of experiencing that within a sacred space and with sacred intent goes a long way towards transforming pain into purpose, and ultimately, joy. Sing to your baby, cry out at the imminent arrival of that most precious and sacred thing.
If you could tell Pagans one thing about pregnancy or birth, what would it be?
Find Ben Houshour on the web at: