A space for exploring
Nature and Health
Frederick Leboyer - The Poet of Birth
[This article was written by Irena Edrovska upon F. Leboyer’s passing in May 2017 and is being published with permission from the author and F. Leboyer’s wife, in loving memory.]
"To have children . . . it is one of the greatest privileges that life holds." Frederick Leboyer
In May 2017, at the age of 98, Frederick Leboyer made his graceful exit. He was a French obstetrician who brought revolution in obstetrics in the '70s when he claimed that the baby has "rights" during birth. His first book, "Birth Without Violence", reveals the birth as seen from the baby's point of view and is being published again and again in the whole world for more than 40 years now. It has been translated into Greek, in addition to other books of his: “Loving Hands - The Traditional Art of Baby Massage”, "If Birth was Told like a Tale” (not available in English), “The Art of Giving Birth: with Chanting, Breathing and Movement”.
Frederick Leboyer was a friend of Greece, he adored the country and had been visiting every year for many long years. As invited guest from the Greek organization for natural childbirth "Eutokia", he had conducted many seminars for pregnant women and midwives in Athens and Salonica.
© Jérôme Vouillamoz, a photograph characteristic of Frederick Leboyer's personality!
A Traditional African story, given by Ashley Ramsden,
Reproduced in writing by Maria AndreoulakiOnce in an African village lived a hunter with his family - his wife and his four children. His wife was pregnant with their fifth child.
One day the hunter set off for hunting. As it was common for hunters to stay away for a few days, he told his family not to be worried about him if he did not come home that evening. When he would come back, he usually had food for everyone, and they had a big feast to welcome him, honor him and thank him.
DONA International 2012 Conference, Cancun, Mexico
[the following article was published in International Doula Journal, Vol. 20, Issue 3, 2012]
In July 2012 I had the honour to represent the Greek Doulas at the 20th birthday celebration of DONA International, at DONA’s annual conference in Cancun, Mexico. My trip was made possible due to practical, moral and financial help and support by the Greek Doula Association, the French Association La Culture Pour Vivre, and DONA International. I thank you each, (most especially the people behind each organization, and you know who you are!) for making this happen!
To view the full conference program, titles of presentations and details about the speakers, please visit the DONA site:
DONA board meeting before this year’s conference
In this paper I will report some main points presented at the conference, which I found especially meaningful and important for Greece, in hope that we can be inspired and motivated towards some changes. This report will be short - there has been a more detailed longer report in Greek.
[the following article was published in International Doula Journal, Vol. 21, Issue 1, 2013]
A research into the ‘birth of a word’ and differences in meaning
This paper was ‘born’ after heated discussions between Greek doulas and other birth professionals, expressing their utmost disagreement and outrage towards the term ‘doula’ used internationally. A few years ago, some people had proposed a petition so that the term ceases to be used. Their disagreement is based on the common current use of the Greek word doula – ‘δούλα’ - which means ‘slave’.
A simple search of the word ‘doula’ in an electronic search engine will show us results connected to the new meaning of an old word: a word that is considered ancient Greek, deriving from the Greek word ‘doula’.
According to my research so far, the word is not Greek: it has foreign roots, unknown, probably from the East (since slavery began in the East). The word is used during the ancient times, since the Mycenaic era, initially read as “doelos” and then “doulos” (male “doula”), and reflected the way of life and social dynamics.
EDN Meeting 2014
[the following article was published in the EDN Newlestter, October 2014]
EDN members and a few guests gathered in August 2014 in Faro, Portugal. The meeting was organized by Doulas De Portugal, in particular Ana and Maria. In two and a half days we experienced a fine mixture of discussions and sharing knowledge on the doula calling, connecting and informing each other about situations that each country is facing with her doulas, as well as supporting on personal healing, through rituals, body work and singing. Our meeting was further enhanced by the beautiful natural surrounding that the organizers had chosen (www.montemariposa.pt) and the lovingly and carefully home-grown and home-cooked food offered by our hosts. The invaluable, sensitive and discreet support from the wonderful fathers taking care of the doulas’ children also made our meeting run smoothly. Thank you all!!
Canada meets Greece
A conference organized by Canadian organization
‘Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement’ (MIRCI) on Motherhood
On 23rd & 24th of May 2014 I was honored to represent the Greek Doula Association and the Athens-based grass-roots movement BirthVoice at the Conference entitled “Mothers, Mothering and Motherhood from Ancient to Contemporary Times”, organized by MIRCI at the Hellenic Education & Research Center (HERC) in Athens, Greece.
The conference included women speakers originating from many parts of the world (Canada, USA, Spain, Africa, Greece, UK, Israel, China, Netherlands, Germany, Indonesia, Australia, Hong Kong) with English as our common language. The topics covered were diverse and unique. The conference was organized in eleven sections:
Work and Mothering; Mothering Children; Maternal Identities; Mothers, Mothering and Historical Literature; Mothers and Mothering in Popular Culture; Mothers, Health & Wellbeing; Mothers in Religion and History; Motherlines; Mothers, Literature and Narrative; Mothers, Activism & Agency; Reproduction.
I will share with you some highlights from some presentations (unfortunately I was not able to follow all of them since there were some concurrent sessions).
Doulas on call beyond the birth setting
[The following article was published in DONA International eDoula electronic magazine in September 2011]
Monday 18th July, morning – 2 days before my leaving for Boston, have my printed itinerary for my first DONA conference downloaded, organized and studied the conference materials, prepared for the post-conference workshop, packed my stuff, checked on my visa status, my dogs, children, plants, all set. Just waiting for the ultrasound of my son that will verify that all is well with him after our car accident and I’m off.
Monday 18th July, afternoon – just back from the ultrasound apointment.
[The following text was submitted as part of my DONA doula certification application in 2010]
My journey as a doula began 20 years ago, as I entered my 20th year. By some strange calling, I was trying to convince a gynaecologist family friend to allow me to be at one of his births. He finally arranged it with a colleague of his, making it clear that his reputation was in my hands, because non professionals were not allowed in births. The woman was all alone lying on a bed, and a midwife was coming in and out every so on, telling her to push hard. I was standing by the hospital labor room door. Some stool came out, the labouring woman seemed in great pain and agony, and then they rushed her into another room for the delivery. I felt sick and dizzy from what I perceived as a very violent way to receive a baby and was left all alone. One blessed midwife came back for me and invited me to see what she called ‘a miracle’.
Our Understanding of true international multi-cultural diversity
[the following article was published in the DONA International eDoula electronic magazine in October 2012]
I have spent 42 summers by the sea. From 40 days young, when my mother first immersed me in the sea water, I have considered myself a competent and confident sea-person. I am used to swimming in summer and winter. Being a big fish in a small pond, I naively believed that I knew all I needed to know about the sea, until I traveled to the north seas. For the first time in my life, at age 22, I felt in my bones the deathly chill of the north sea, the terrifying undercurrents, the dark waters, nothing like my familiar tame clear blue Mediterranean waters…
This summer, meeting the Mexican sea, I was once again in awe in front of what I thought I knew. I could not help but making the comparison with labor and birth. Water seems to be the closest metaphor to birthing sensations – unpredictable, calming, mesmerizing, fierce, still, playful, cool, cold, hot, rhythmical, bringing, nourishing, taking life…
“Are you pleased with the taste and the quality of your meal madam?”
Birthing Women as Consumers
[The following article was published in DONA International eDoula electronic magazine in February 2013]
“Are you pleased with the taste and the quality of your meal madam?” is what our kind Mexican waiter asked us during a dinner in a fancy restaurant, part of the luxurious hotel area in Cancun Mexico, during the DONA International conference 2012. We were impressed by his concern and his eloquence!
That night I was thinking of a simple and obvious metaphor: if, while having a meal in a luxurious restaurant, you should receive such ‘sensitive’ services, what is keeping women who birth in luxurious maternity hospitals, paying much more money for a much more important event than a meal, from receiving equally sensitive, respectful care?
The following text, written by Ezelda, was inspired by Rahima Balwin's work
Me: Some calling you sensations or waves, what are you?
Contr: I am a means to an end; you must have me to get to your baby. I am the sign your uterus is at work to help your baby in the world.
Me: Will you cause me pain?
Contr: My intentions are to help you, I am kind not cruel, but you might experience me as painful.
Me: What can I do to make you less painful?
Contr: Do not resist me, surrender to me, I am your friend!
Me: Why do you cause women pain?
Language: How liberated are you?
[the following article was published in the International Doula Journal, Vol. 22, Issue 2, 2014]
I recently participated in an international conference on Current Women’s Issues in the UK. For the first time I was exposed to the terms “language oppression” and “language liberation.” I owe gratitude to the late Milena Ruzkova, Greek-based Czech obstetrician/gynecologist and board certified lactation consultant, who brought me in touch with very special ideas and material for parents and children, as well as for people involved in perinatal care. Through her I was led to this very special event. While at the conference I saw up close how the language issue was being handled, one of the many issues that we all deal with, especially since we are in touch with international knowledge and professionals.
Some of us (especially if we do not live in an English-speaking country or if we work or live with non-English speakers) may deal with more than one language in our personal, professional or social lives. As we try to open our horizons into multi-culturalism, by being aware of languages other than the dominant ones, I want to share my thoughts and experience on the language issue.