Can Midwives Change Our Planet for the Better in One Generation?
My greatest joy is to share my gifts with others to help more women to step into their full power and potential, especially around fertility, birth, mothering, and women’s health. I’m a CA Licensed Midwife and a Certified Professional Midwife in North America. I became interested in women’s health as a high school student and learned about fertility awareness method before having my first sexual experiences.
In college, I studied Women’s Studies and Psychology at UC Santa Cruz and learned so much about women’s history, our healthcare system, and female psychology and physiology. I also began studying yoga and Ayurveda at age 17 and have completed many trainings and retreats in this capacity, including 100 and 200 hour Teacher Trainings from renowned female gurus.
After college, I was blessed enough to work with teen moms in the San Francisco Bay Area and was invited to my first birth in 2002, which catapulted my career as a midwife. Not long after the first birth, I was already on the path to become a midwife and took many, many courses, trainings, and leadership platforms while continuing my work with teen mothers and working as a doula with low income moms, most who spoke Spanish or another primary language.
Fast forward 13 years, and I’ve had my practice Tree Of Life Midwifery Services help hundreds of families all over rural Northern CA since 2008. I also became a mother to one spunky child in 2011.
Many women are interested in natural fertility and births. As part of my work, I love feeding the soul of each family, sometimes from the pre-conception perspective, sometimes not until later in pregnancy or even after the baby’s arrival with lactation and placenta encapsulation services, sometimes all of the above. The power of women amazes me every day and inspires me to add value to the already large (and growing) body of work created by women who have come before us, not just Ina May Gaskin, often referred to as the grandmother of the modern midwifery movement, but the countless women and men who have changed history by asking for what they want and need: low interventions, high quality care, and the best information that is scientifically sound and allows them to make the most informed choices available to date.
As each generation reaches the age of parenthood, be in young or old when it happens, there are new things to ask, new information to decipher, and decisions that will affect the life of that mother and child, perhaps generations to come.
Doing 1:1 and group work with many families over the past 13+ years, I’ve come to appreciate that change happens slowly and globally. Institutions such as hospitals can change when enough consumers (moms and dads) are insistent upon such change, from legislation that mandates that private and state insurance cover midwifery care and home birth to lowering the number of cesarean births and the number of newborns who miss out on the golden hour with their mothers.
There is much work to be done, and it’s no time to feel complacent. At a time when 1:6 children is diagnosed with a learning disability, 1:3 is born by cesarean section, and 1:50 are diagnosed with autism spectrum, it’s a really critical time to make changes for the future of our children, their children and our great-grandchildren. Our species survival, and the survival of our planet depends on us to speak up right now and taking action.
Birth in the US is still not as safe as it could be, and technology is not always the answer. While on the one hand a baby as young as 24 weeks (in some cases 20 weeks) can now survive outside the uterus and live into childhood and adulthood, we have not reduced the number of pre-term births. In communities of color, those numbers are even more staggering and shocking, where 3–4 times the number of African American babies (and mothers!) die than those of White mothers. Something is really going on below the surface.
The US ranks 68th in the world in terms of infant and maternal mortality and morbidity. A woman is more likely to die of childbirth-related causes in the US than she is in Uzbekistan, the Czech Republic, and even China. Why would that be when the US spends the most of any industrialized nation on healthcare costs and maternity care? Why would we spend so much more than other countries who have lower rates of death and injury and our outcomes fare so poorly? Could it be that those very interventions that are thought to be life-saving are over-used and actually create the very issues that can cause permanent injury and even death? Or is it that our moms and babies are not as healthy as they are in Sweden and Norway, where midwives still attend over half of all deliveries at home? Both of these nations have the best outcomes while spending a fraction of what it costs to deliver a baby in the US.
Birth is still very dangerous in many parts of the world, including Sub-sahara Africa, where some women die at rates of 1:12 or even 1:8 (Sierra Leone!)…That’s a crazy statistic…Likely everyone knows someone (or a few someones) who died from simple complications that can be stopped with cheap medications. However, the issues are pretty complex.
Having more midwives all over the world seems to be the key for improving maternity care (and healthcare for that matter), lowering the number of women and babies who die from complications, interventions, or lack of access to quality care. How do we improve access? How do we train more midwives in different areas to server mother-baby in a skilled, loving, and compassionate way?
The solution may be simpler than we imagine. It has to do with education, awareness, and the ability to act and do something. Not every woman will want to become a midwife, but more women can learn about midwifery care benefitting them, not just in pregnancy and birth but in women’s health, especially when and where we have children, how many children a woman will bare in a lifetime, how many of them will survive into adulthood, and how far apart to space each of her pregnancies and births.
In addition, women need to know about self care, breast exams, Pap smears, STI screening, and other health screenings affecting their overall health. Simple blood tests can tell if a woman is anemic, if she has a thyroid imbalance, or if she has other issues that can affect her heart and even her blood pressure. Did you know many women forego these screenings until they are pregnant?
In fact, women who are pregnant all over the world are more likely to receive healthcare than at any other time in their lives. Isn’t that amazing? Women take care of their health most when their health can affect future generations. Women really want to make sure their babies are well and take every precaution when possible, from modifying nutrition to adjusting their lifestyles, even changing their work environments.
But not all women can access high quality care even in pregnancy. War, geography, lack of healthcare or infrastructure to get there, as well as cost and even fear can keep women from getting the help they need at such a transformative time.
Using technology to inform people about midwifery care is somewhat of a passion for me these days. You see, I think it would be selfish to have learned so much without sharing that knowledge with others. My sincere wish is for every woman to have what she needs: food for her family, clean water, access to education and healthcare, access to work and generating income, as well as the best environment for herself and her loved ones, from a safe home free of violence, chemicals, and environmental toxins, to a safe community, country, and world.
Right now over 3.5 billion people are online daily, and by 2020, that number is said to reach about 5 billion people. Now it is possible to access information, including finding out about various healing modalities. This was impossible just a couple decades ago, or even when I first started out as a midwife and women’s health professional. Right now, it’s possible to talk to women all over the world and help make a difference both locally and globally.
In many communities, there is not a midwife or women’s health professional to consult with. Many women have to travel very far away to get the care they need. Even in the US, half of all counties, especially those that are rural, lack a practicing OB. Many areas do not have midwives, not just in the US, but all over the world.
Midwives are the solution to our healthcare crisis. While lowering infant and maternal mortality at a fraction of the cost that traditional Obstetrical services cost, midwives also uplift and empower women and communities.
A woman who makes a positive change while pregnant is very likely to share it with her family and also continue after the birth of her baby, from smoking cessation to better nutrition and even healthcare for her kids. She is also more likely to go back to school. Women who are more educated have fewer children overall in their lifetimes and contribute more income to their families. At a time when overpopulation is one of the highest environmental threats on the planet, women who are able to control their fertility on their terms can help heal the planet at the same time.
Women have a lot of power, especially in the West, from what our families eat to the companies we support, to the schools our kids attend, to the quality of life for those in our care. Even the face of business is changing because of conscious women speaking up and asking for what they want. (This Walmart and Costco going organic, for instance.)
Birth is big business. It’s time that more women rise up and ask for better quality care, more midwives in healthcare, and more out of hospital births.
This is where you come in. Perhaps you want to know more about midwifery care or natural birth or how birth affects the health of your child for generations to come? Perhaps you want to help other women in your community access their power and get the kinds of births they wish to have? Perhaps you are young and just learning that fertility awareness can be a form of very reliable birth control without any side effects that hormonal and instrumental methods carry? Or perhaps you just want to know how to treat a breast lump naturally?
Whatever your purpose, it is my deepest calling to help uplift all women in this regard. With the power of the internet, I can now Skype with women all over the world and help them navigate the myriad of choices available, from the kinds of screening tests in each trimester, to Ultrasound technology, and genetic testing; how to prepare for an out of hospital or natural birth; or how to become a doula, midwife, or prenatal yoga and/or childbirth teacher.
Don’t be shy. Let’s figure out a way to work together to best serve you and your family, your community, and our world. We are all connected, and it’s now possible to have friends and networks all over the planet.
Writing is one of my passions, as is speaking and teaching classes. After many years in the field, I feel uniquely qualified to offer a wealth of knowledge that is time tested and mother approved, with high levels of satisfaction.
I want to help create more confidant mothers, more young women who trust their bodies, and more midwives and birth professionals who provide excellence in the care they render on every level so that each mother-baby they serve can benefit for generations to come.
Join me in this global movement. Stay tuned for more articles, essays, poems, podcasts, and classes. I have so much to share it is literally busting out of my chest quicker than my fingers can type. I even feel tears of joy and passion writing to you. Somehow, I know all these gifts are not in vein. And they are not mine to keep and contain. They are there to share with you, your sisters, your mom, your best friends, and your tribe.
Here’s to your highest self.
Monika Rosicka, LM, CPM, Tree of Life Midwifery Services Founder
Please request some time for us to get to know each other and see if working together is the right fit for you.
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Thank you for reading. Please let me know what you think and what you’d like to see more of. Namaste.