Defining Sovereign Birth--with a Christian Worldview
The word “sovereign” has become trendy as of late, as such its implied meaning with various uses, has become murky.
I was recently asked a question that highlighted the need to clarify what a ‘Sovereign Birth’ is--or certainly the meaning of the term when I use it.
Simply put, only God is truly sovereign. Sovereign birth is to allow (unhindered) physiologic birth to unfold in His image.
God, the Father, our creator, made heaven and earth and the seas, and everything in them. (ACTS 4:24) He designed birth, to unfold free of the interventions deemed routine and popularized by the state, and certainly He created us with free will... Free will to choose how we birth—whether autonomously or under the authority of the system, whether naturally or with pharmaceutical induction and pain medication, or by Caesarean section.
Mothers (and their husbands) who wish to have a birth free of medical interventions will seek to birth either independently, or with the guidance and support of a Traditional Midwife who is experienced in normal physiological and non-medicalized birth. Sovereign birth.
While not entirely interchangeable, the terms ‘freebirth’ and ‘sovereign birth’ both describe autonomous home birth in the absence of a licensed medical provider. A freebirth [intentionally unassisted autonomous birth with no birth attendants outside of the mother's partner/immediate family] is always a sovereign birth, but a sovereign birth may or may not be attended by an unlicensed birth attendant [including a Traditional Midwife/Lay Midwife/Unregulated Midwife, or another wise woman, birth companion or birth keeper] who is not in a position of power or authority and who has no allegiance to the state or the system. Both freebirths and sovereign births are birth outside of the system.
For example, as a Traditional Midwife, I [Michelle] exclusively attend families who have sovereign homebirths. I wouldn't define these births as a 'freebirth', simply because I am there in the capacity of a Traditional Midwife. As a mother, I freebirthed my baby (with only my husband and myself present). The freebirth of my daughter was also a sovereign birth.
Traditional Midwifery and Sovereign Birth
There is certainly an argument to be made in favour of having experienced birth support. Women who have support for their planned home birth, are more likely to give birth at home. Among the women who plan to have a sovereign birth but ultimately transfer, most often do so for a lack of support. Birth support is not synonymous with submitting to medical management or authority.
The term TRADITIONAL MIDWIFERY refers to the traditional practice of midwifery (non-medical support of a woman during her pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum time), and should not be confused with Medical Midwifery, Licensed Midwifery, or Regulated Midwifery. Traditional Midwives support normal, natural physiological birth without medical management or intervention, and completely outside of the allopathic system. The term “Traditional Midwifery” refers to non-medical and unregulated midwifery.
Traditional Midwives have allegiance to the sovereign mother and her family, not to the medical or hospital system. A Traditional Midwife exclusively provides care and support to women who are choosing to birth autonomously—that is to accept full medical, legal and personal responsibility for themselves, their babies and the outcome of their birth.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 PETER 4:10
As a Traditional Midwife, I do not carry any certifications or licensure, nor am I regulated by the state. Additionally, my training and experience is outside of the medicalized training that regulated/licensed midwives [MEDwives] receive. My allegiance is to the mother, I serve my community in right relationship with God, and in right relationship with the families He calls upon me to serve.
In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
The government does not own birth, nor can they righteously profess to have authority over how a woman chooses to give birth or who can support her. Within the system, the state has regulated the practice of midwifery, so that only those who are in alignment with their education, practices, standard of care and ideology can practice medical/licensed/regulated midwifery, and only they can proclaim to be a “midwife” without fear of persecution. Within the medical model of midwifery, the traditional art of autonomous physiological birth has died.
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
Sovereign Birth Registration
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the registration of a sovereign birth, so stick with me through to the end of this section.
The birth registration process in the system is done by the authority granted by the state to the licensed medical provider. When you give birth in the system, you give birth under the authority of a licensed provider (a doctor or licensed midwife). This medical provider is deemed to have "delivered" the baby, and official records will be recorded as such. The provider works for the government, and carries licensure and liability that determine and restrict the way they can provide care. This is true for homebirths with a licensed and regulated midwife, just as it is true for hospital births whether they are attended by an OBGYN or a licensed regulated midwife. This person (doctor or licensed midwife) completes the paperwork provided by the government and registers your child’s birth. There is no choice to parents, and the responsibility of registration is not theirs, but that of the medical authority. (Obviously parents have the freedom to name their child and sign the paperwork).
There is a misconception that the child born in a Sovereign Birth is never registered. That this child has no birth certificate.
In reality, this is not black and white. The majority of families who choose to have a Sovereign Birth do in fact choose to register their births, and then obtain birth certificates for their children.
The main differences here are the process, the setting, the experience, and the responsibility.
In a sovereign birth, there is no medical authority, no one who has allegiance to the system or the state is present. A Traditional Midwife works for the family, and not for the government and as such does not have the ability (nor authority) to register the birth. A Traditional Midwife however is familiar with the process of sovereign birth registration, and will support families in this process. The responsibility to follow through and register the birth is ultimately that of the mother and father.
Parents should consider the steps and information required to register their sovereign birth prior to birth. If hiring a Traditional Midwife, you should discuss the process and discern if she will offer you support with this task in your initial meeting.
The realities of making the choice (and perceived benefits) to not register a birth are a longer conversation. While appealing to many who value freedom--to be truly sovereign in Canada is not something that is attainable nor without risk and limitations.
Birth Certificates are required to obtain a passport, driver’s license, credit card, mortgage, to purchase a vehicle or home or land. If the child’s parents are not “sovereign” in that they hold birth certificates, the minor in their care is at risk of being removed from the care of their family for not registering their birth.
No information presented within this section, or within this post is legal advice. It is the sole responsibility of the individual to seek information and advice (or not) regarding their birth, parenting and birth registration decisions.
Soli Deo Gloria
Glory be to God who created men and women, who created marriage and designed our bodies to procreate. He perfectly created women to bear children, and nourish them through infancy.
For you formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, intricately woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.
Are you walking the narrow path? Are you living for Christ?
In my work as a Traditional Midwife, I seek to glorify God, to serve him and to support birth in a way that honours Him.
God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. GENESIS 1:27
Loyalty: Midwives, and the State
THE ISRAELITES OPPRESSED - EXODUS 1:15-22
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live. The midwives however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
The Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
Sovereign Birth and Safety
The notion that birth is inherently dangerous or a “medical event” that requires medical management, is false.
The argument against the safety of sovereign birth is usually made by those who have been indoctrinated by the *industrial medical complex*, or through their influence on the masses. There is a cultural [secular] perception of birth that is rife with fear--not of the physiological process but of the perceived nature of birth to be a medical event. The reality of human life is that not all babies will be born living. To assume that birth must then take place under the authority of a medical provider is idolatrous, and also neglects the third leading cause of death (medical error).
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
Many women who have experienced birth inside of a system that didn’t serve them; a system that doesn’t share their worldview or values, nor validate their desire for a physiological birth, a system that doesn’t prioritize consent--know that sovereign birth is not only a risk worth taking, but the mitigation of risk for trauma, and of a birth sabotaged.
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
God created all things and holds all things together, both in heaven and on earth, both visible and invisible.
NO PART OF THIS POST SHOULD BE MISCONSTRUED AS MEDICAL OR LEGAL ADVICE. IT IS UP TO EACH INDIVIDUAL TO INVESTIGATE AND MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS FOR THEMSELVES--SUCH IS THE CRUX OF AN AUTONOMOUS BIRTH.