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Last weekend nine ladies gathered to enjoy a birthworker’s autumn retreat in the Australian bush. It was comfortable and informal, as we sat by the fire, swam in the dam, watched kangaroos and birds play, ate nourishing organic food, and drank a lot of tea. We laughed and cried, relaxed deeply, honoured our bodies, did some gentle trauma release exercises, learned how to make salves & tinctures, shared new knowledge and wisdom we had recently acquired about birth, and told our most moving stories.

Seven of us were over 50 years old, a collection of midwives, doulas, birth attendants & birth educators. Of the 2 younger women, one was a homebirth midwife and mama, and university educator, and the other a homebirth mama, support person and birth ecologist. Between us, we had attended and supported thousands of women and babies.

As we dipped in to this deep well of our collective experience, we were amazed by such awesome information such as – a mother carries within her some of the cells of every child she has grown. We concluded in our women’s way that you can’t avoid connection. We oohed & aahed over discoveries such as – drinking quantities of nettle tea can elevate a woman’s iron levels, and is safe to do so if drinking lots of water as well. We were curious and questioning of one of us who had many years experience with aboriginal elders, traditional midwives and women – about their desire for aboriginal women to birth ‘on country’. What did that mean? How possible was it? How can the cultural traditions around birth be kept alive?

Our bodies soaked up the water, fire, air and sunshine. We felt renewed, refreshed, nurtured, connected and replete. We gave and we received, and felt our great fortune in being able to keep natural birthing wisdom alive and well.

by Jenny Blyth