Heart Shaped Womb

We’ve got a toy at SF Birth Center that gets a lot of loving from the kiddos during prenatal visits. It looks like a heart with arms,. As a big sister- or brother-to-be starts to play with it, we watch as their mother first furrows her brow and then smiles, or a father’s eyes get wide followed by a slight blush. 

Then we all laugh. Because, of course, it isn’t a heart - it is a uterus, with plush fallopian tubes cradling soft round ovaries.  

Midwives spend our days touching women’s bellies. It is one of our great honors: it is a combination of intimate and clinical that defines our role in women’s lives.  In early pregnancy, we seek out the uterus, and can just touch the top as it peeks above the pelvis. What an achievement when, half way through the  pregnancy, it rises to the mother’s belly button, touching the very spot where once this mother was connected to HER mother, reminding us of the unbreakable chain of mother-child-mother-child through our long human history.  

Then, OH JOYOUS DAY, when we are actually able to feeling the child within, the head as it settles downward, the bottom and knees and feet, bumping and stretching, forcing their way upward and outward and every-ward. 

Can you believe there is actually a better part? After we touch, we get to LISTEN! To the heart of the baby! To the new tiny heart, within the heart-shaped womb.  And it is then, as we watch parents hear that heartbeat for the very first time, or the very last time before the birth, that we know that the true fount of love is the heart-shaped womb. 

So, when I see all the lovely red hearts this time of year, I just smile and think about the egg-cradling, heart-shaped toy in the bin at the office, and think about where a mama’s love really lives.

SF Birth Center: Where strong women give birth

We hesitate to bring politics into birth, but those of us who have been around birth for a long time, those of us who work with women, those of us who have watched women suffer under systemic misogyny KNOW that birth has always been political. Choosing to give birth at the birth center is both an act of embracing the power of birth and rejecting the cultural norm of institutionalized birth.