Birth Professionals Do NOT Empower Women

Birthing women are not ‘power holders’, they don’t need to be ‘given power’ or ’empowered’. The Power is RESIDENT within. They are conduits of birthing POWER.

Ancient cultures that worshiped women, males struck dumb at the mystery of birth. Birth is still a feminine mystery, despite what obstetricians might say in their desperate attempt to control what can not be controlled.

‘She’ as ‘Divinity’ is a perfect metaphor for being with birthing woman. Humility,gentleness and service naturally flow.

A re-connection with all that’s sacred about woman will unleash a tidal surge of faith for birth!

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Should Men Be At The Birth Of Their Baby?

About a month ago I was on BBC5Live talking about whether a man ‘should’ be at the birth of his baby.

Dr Odent was expressing his opinion based on 50 years of experience, I really didn’t get a chance to say what I wanted too about the whole area.

About a week later I had the opportunity to be involved with a web based question and answer session about the same subject:

‘Should Men be at the Birth of their Child’?

Here is the transcription:

Mark Harris: “Men tell me that they have felt powerless, afraid and angry as their loved one gave birth….this way of being Present coupled with good preparation in terms of understanding what is going to happen gives men back the kind of role we have been fulfilling for thousands of years.”

This is the transcript of an interview from Jan 2015 with Mark Harris, midwife, birth educator and author of a new book called Men, Birth & Love (to be released on 7th April 2015).

Katie Samye Thanks for coming online Mark Harris to do a Q&A / talk with us tonight about the role of men supporting women through pregnancy and birth. To get the ball rolling, I thought I’d post a daily mail article (haha!) and ask Mark, in the light of news such as this: [Daily Mail: A top obstetrician on why men should NEVER be at the birth of their child] suggesting men shouldn’t be near the birth room, what he thinks about mens’ roles? Shouldn’t a couple be able to choose? In his experience, what goes wrong/makes for a negative birthing experience for a man and how can this be understood post birth in a helpful way for a couple?

Mark Harris Dr Odent has 50 years experience of being around women as they give birth, his opinion is definitely to be considered and not rejected out of hand.
26 January at 20:43 · Like

Mark Harris I was on the radio with him when he make those comments.
26 January at 20:43 · Unlike · 1

Mark Harris He has observed a change in ‘outcomes’ since men have been present and his comments are made in the context of how he understands the evolutionary biology behind birth.
26 January at 20:44 · Like

Mark Harris ‘Truth’ is men probably had a role in years gone by of protecting a woman as she births from predators and from feelings of fear. When a woman experiences fear as she births the hormones responsible for keeping the ‘labour’ going are inhibited and birth stops.
26 January at 20:47 · Like

Katie Samye So are you suggesting that there is still a role for men doing that today?
26 January at 20:47 · Like

Mark Harris Given that 98% of births have men present we need to work with what is currently happening. Of course couples ‘should’ choose,
26 January at 20:48 · Like

Mark Harris If a couple understand what is happening in both of their minds/bodies
26 January at 20:49 · Like

Mark Harris He can find a role being Present to her.
26 January at 20:50 · Like

Katie Samye Which looks like what?
26 January at 20:50 · Like

Mark Harris His sense of Presence creates ‘safe space’ for her….its kind of like an evolved protector role
26 January at 20:51 · Like

Mark Harris What does it look like? Good question….
26 January at 20:51 · Like

Mark Harris It defo has a look, a sound and a feeling….
26 January at 20:52 · Unlike · 1

Mark Harris We’ve all had the experience of being with some one and they are not really there, right?
26 January at 20:52 · Like

Katie Samye Yes
26 January at 20:53 · Like

Mark Harris Often that other is caught up in their own internal ‘drama’, thoughts and feelings.
26 January at 20:53 · Like

Mark Harris This way of Being Present transcends that, and tbh honest when it’s uncovered as an ‘experience’ it feels like home.
26 January at 20:54 · Like

Mark Harris Men tell me that they have felt powerless, afraid and angry as their loved one gave birth….this way of being Present coupled with good preparation in terms of understanding what is going to happen gives men back the kind of role we have been fulfilling for thousands of years.
26 January at 20:56 · Like

Katie Samye So how do you ‘be present’ in the birth room / at a birth ?
26 January at 20:57 · Like

Mark Harris Being Present for birth can be for him a kind of ‘rite of passage’ into fatherhood, strong Presence leads to strong fathers
26 January at 20:58 · Like

Mark Harris Firstly gain an understanding of how birth works and has worked for thousands of years,talk long either before the birth about her wants and fears…..massage her at least once a week while she is pregnant
26 January at 21:00 · Like

Mark Harris Together not either lol
26 January at 21:00 · Like

Mark Harris Decide together what your preferences are for birth, don’t leave it till the birthing process has started to come to an agreement about these things.
26 January at 21:01 · Like

Mark Harris This is still firstly lol. If she likes music, put together a play list of songs you can slow dance too and dance together to it twice a week….t
26 January at 21:02 · Like

Mark Harris Secondly
26 January at 21:03 · Like

Mark Harris Notice that you are constantly in an internal conversation with yourself about every thing. Notice it now, we call it thinking.
26 January at 21:04 · Like

Mark Harris This ‘conversation’ is confused with who we think we are, but it’s just thinking that comes and goes.
26 January at 21:05 · Like

Mark Harris In @birthing4blokes classes this is a whole session. And when men see it, it’s like wow…..
26 January at 21:05 · Like

Mark Harris Mindfulness crops up a lot when I talk about this stuff, and I guess I’m using Presence and when I say it people recognise mindfulness in it.
26 January at 21:07 · Like

Mark Harris This Presence which is the ‘Listener’ Who hears the ‘conversation is not an activity….I think sometimes mindfulness becomes something we do, where as Presence is Who we really are.
26 January at 21:09 · Like

Mark Harris This is sounding very new age as I read it back but it’s very straightforward and based on our experience as human beings. It’s obvious to us when asked are we Conscious/Present to answer ‘yes’ of course we are.
26 January at 21:11 · Like

Mark Harris We just Know we are Present….that sense of being conscious with every thought, feeling, happening ‘inside’ our Consciousness is how our lives unfold.
26 January at 21:14 · Like

Mark Harris Being Present for birth is allowing all the ‘drama’ that is unfolding to just happen as he stands firm as Open Presence….. She experiences it as unconditional love
26 January at 21:17 · Edited · Unlike · 1

Katie Samye So what causes a man or woman to lose a sense of presence? What ‘knocks’ men and women in the modern birth place? I am guessing, habitual though processes, worry, genuine fear, belief system not matching what’s happening for example in a birth? is it possible to retain ‘presence’ even in the face of extremely difficult circumstances?
26 January at 21:17 · Like

Mark Harris All that you mention for sure.
26 January at 21:18 · Like

Mark Harris I think it’s important to get that who we are is Presence….Presence is never lost….
26 January at 21:19 · Like

Mark Harris Like the Blue Sky to the clouds is Presence to all the things that might disturb.
26 January at 21:32 · Like

Katie Samye Even if we are suddenly sent to theater?
26 January at 21:34 · Like

Mark Harris I’m not saying that the habit of identifying with our thoughts and feelings suddenly goes a way…..
26 January at 21:35 · Like

Katie Samye Yes I know, I’m being tongue in cheek, I guess I’m (my mind) is trying to list all the situations I imagine being in that would be hard to ‘deal with’.. but I guess that’s where birth education and staking out this territory is soo important beforehand.
26 January at 21:36 · Like

Mark Harris Understanding/experiencing ourselves as Presence supports us even if she is rushed to theater yes.
26 January at 21:37 · Like

Mark Harris Being informed is important for sure….preparation preparation preparation.
26 January at 21:37 · Like

Katie Samye The more prepared you are as a birthkeeper – is that what you could call it? (man or woman), the more likely it is you will be able to hold that ‘space’ for your birthing woman
26 January at 21:38 · Like · 1

Mark Harris Being drawn into any ‘drama/story’ is about attention. My Presence is always the very BEST I can offer her….no matter what the situation
26 January at 21:39 · Unlike · 1

Katie Samye Wow that’s very powerful x
26 January at 21:40 · Like · 1

Emily Harrison Hi Mark and Katie, it is Emily here with husband Ben (you read his birth story on blogs for babies a few weeks ago). We were just saying that it is a shame that the issue has to go straight to whether the support comes from a man or a woman. Surely quality of support in individual circumstances is more important? It doesn’t seem right to pigeon hole birth partners into gender stereotypes. Anyway, the question is: Is the generalised difference between support from men/women due to differences in biological reactions or just variations in knowledge and normalised behaviour?
Unlike · Seen by 21 Katie Samye and Mark Harris like this.

Mark Harris Hi Emily and Ben.
26 January at 21:23 · Like

Mark Harris We have all met men who have a strong feminine essence and women with a masculine one.
26 January at 21:24 · Like

Mark Harris For me masculine and feminine energy is a non gender issue.
26 January at 21:24 · Like

Mark Harris So the support I’m offering ‘men’ is presented to men because in our society about 85% of men and prob more in the context of birth have a masculine essence.
26 January at 21:26 · Like

Mark Harris There are differences in biological reactions for sure but in my experience it’s an ‘energy’ issue…..
26 January at 21:27 · Like

Mark Harris Support for a birthing woman, flooded in the birthing moment with feminine energy is best offered in my opinion by someone (probably a woman) rich in feminine energy too.
26 January at 21:28 · Like

Mark Harris The role of a man (flooded with masculine energy) is a different kind of support…..
26 January at 21:29 · Like

Mark Harris Providing a ‘sense’ of safety to the feminine…..this releases the hormones responsible for birth
26 January at 21:30 · Like

Katie Samye Oxytocin?
26 January at 21:30 · Like · 1

Mark Harris He becomes Space for Her to Birth into.
26 January at 21:30 · Like

Mark Harris Oxytocin yes.
26 January at 21:31 · Like

Mark Harris Emily. Is this answering anywhere near your question?
26 January at 21:31 · Like

Emily Harrison It is Mark , thank you. So if the majority of the men you work with have masculine energy, and you say that generally feminine energy seems most helpful, does your work strive to help men provide more feminine energy, or make their masculine energy more useful? And also, poor Ben was just as traumatised by the week or so after birth as the actual birth and, with that in mind, do your thoughts about masculine and feminine energy extend to post-birth scenarios too?

Mark Harris My work is working with their masculine energy and employing it within a birth context.
26 January at 22:09 · Like

Mark Harris Many men describe symptoms post birth that sound like PTSD….
26 January at 22:10 · Like

Mark Harris Flash backs, lack of sleep, panic feelings….
26 January at 22:10 · Like

Mark Harris Understanding how masculine and feminine essence live together in relationship is very useful or can be to a couple
26 January at 22:11 · Like

Mark Harris For example: good passionate sex involves a polarisation of masculine and feminine energy….for sparks to fly so to speak…
26 January at 22:13 · Like

Mark Harris Men who are suffering post birth can benefit in the first instance from work with those memories, or rather with how they have them stored.
26 January at 22:14 · Like

Mark Harris Moving into an awareness of who they really are as Presence instantly heals the identification with these ‘patterned’ memories
26 January at 22:15 · Like

Mark Harris Like good sex, birthing involves a polarisation of masculine and feminine energy.
26 January at 22:15 · Like

Mark Harris Often when we separate ‘what happened’ from the ‘story’ we are telling ourselves about what happened we can see where the suffering lies. Suffering is in the identification with the ‘story’. The ‘story’ has become a ‘truth’ for us which is running our behaviours and ultimately our lives.
26 January at 22:22 · Edited · Like

Mark Harris What happened, happened. The ‘story/meaning’ we make up.
26 January at 22:23 · Like · 1

Mark Harris is an independent midwife, author and birth educator. He runs the inspirational group Birthing4Blokes, offering low-cost Birthing Workshops to men and their partners, workshops for doulas and midwifes on being present, and supporting men 1:1 online as they prepare for birth. Along with doula Karen Hall, he publishes Sprogcast: A podcast about pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. Mark’s first book: Men, Love & Birth (publishers Pinter & Martin) is due for release April 2015.

If you are a man or woman reading the transcript today, and you would like to get in touch with Mark to find out more about the work he does, please go to Birthing4Blokes Facebook page and send Mark a message.

Katie runs a yoga group in Nottingham and can be contacted at :

http://www.samyecentre.com/conversation-men-birth-love/

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‘Listening’ Is Not An Activity

I really enjoyed the first Workshop presented to birth professionals in Milton Kyenes. I have learnt many things from doing it and the feed back I received from the amazing women that attended.

Listening is a fundamentally important ‘skill’ when being with women as they give birth, we all have some idea of what we mean when we talk about listening and we probably imagine that we are good at it.

My guess is that I will be the last person to realise that I’m not a good listener!

What I do notice is that when I am listening there is a sense of ‘stillness’ inside me, a lack of movement either inwards or outwards, difficult to explain, it’s a feeling.

Like listening to wordless music, or hearing poetry being read, this type of ‘listening’ leaves Space for fresh Wisdom to arise. The other kind of ‘listening’ which is more like ‘processing’ only has the past as its reference point.

I wrote what follows a while ago and as I read it it ‘feels’ right to me……

‘Listening’ is not an activity. It’s a ‘state’ of being, which has no ‘edges’ and encompasses ALL. Listening is Formless. It doesn’t begin or end, it wasn’t born so will not die. Listening ‘is’ Who I Am….every ‘thing’ that ‘happens’ is heard, seen and felt Here…

Listening is a metaphor for ‘experiencing’?

“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” anon

The Listening I’m speaking about here is neither good nor bad, ‘mindfulness’ may ‘happen’ within it, but ‘it’ is not really a’thing’ or even a ‘state’, words cannot describe ‘it’. This Listening feels deeply familiar and ‘everything’ seems to ‘float’ inside ‘it’…

This Listening I’m talking about here, can’t be added too, because it seems to include Everything

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