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Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
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I work in a community quickly becoming known as little Mexico, because of the large number of immigrant Mexicans arriving for work here. It has been extremely interesting, challenging, and frustrating at the same time. These women often have a quiet humbleness that is intriguing and beautiful. I would like to hear from others who work in cross cultural communities. I am white and sometimes feel that, until they come to know me, I am viewed with suspicion for all that white culture represents.
Almost all of these women use my service because it is so much cheaper than a hospital birth. They are honest about that. I will break down my request below in three categories:
This culture is totally different. Very Macho men and extremely passive women who are subject to many kinds of abuse. I am currently working on a way to bring these women together so they are not so isolated. I am going to hold a food day so we can eat Mexican food and chat.
About not breastfeeding:
I have tried to deal with this in lots of creative ways and lots of education but to no avail. WIC makes it too easy NOT to breastfeed. Unfortunately these kids need breastmilk more than most.Are these mexican women Catholic ?
If so, it may be possible to reach them on religious/cultural level -- I.E.. the Madonna nursed Jesus.. and there are religious cards with a prayer to Madonna con Leche (I think); Haven't seen the cards but they are a specific request and assurance for plentiful milk. I can try to locate them (I'm certain I can find the prayer). I'm wondering if a gift of a prayer card sometime in pregnancy would sort of "set them up" for the expectation that they WILL have lots of milk and the baby will be happy with them....
Might help as an adjunct to other resources encouraging breastfeeding for the sake of baby's health)
But I'll bet what would help the most would be to visit one of
folk-healers and see if you can get him/her on your side about
P.S. Do yourself a favor and research birthing practices
indigenous groups in Mexico...if you don't know there is a middle
and upper middle class and wealthy which do represent
might not think so.....gracias
Usually all you have to do is ask: something like, "While giving
and your family care it is very important to me to understand your
beliefs and values. would you be able to give me some guidelines
In my intake form, I have a question: "Do you have any special
traditions or values about birth, or is there anything you would
to know about your religion or culture that would help me to
care for you and your family?"
I have some sweet new clients whose previous midwife was a Born
midwife. They were surprised to find that I did not
the same beliefs. They also seem very open-minded, and are
wondering about the Born in Zion philosophy. From a
what would you tell these people? They are particularly
in the "authority" of the father, and his ability to "control" the
and outcome of the birth. (Her words). I am certainly
expert in this subject -- have read excerpts from the book.
words of wisdom that I can give these people?
I would first assure them that midwives are biblical. Even Jacob, father of the Israelites didn't have a problem with hiring a midwife and knew his limitations! Then I would agree with them that the father has authority over his family and has a crucial role as protector. You see where I'm going with this. The best thing he can do as provider for his wife, is to provide her with a competent midwife! He is still maintaining his authority while he delegates the job of midwifery to a midwife.
I consider this relevant to a secular list because all
need to know how best to interact with people of various faiths.
In the words of another post here recently, balance is SO important. Perhaps you could encourage the father that as "head of his house", he is commanded to be like Christ and His role with the church. First is the element of laying down his life, that is, making sacrificial effort to serve his family, particularly, his wife. Secondly, he is to cherish his wife, even as his own body. What this means is that he must treat her with the utmost understanding and respect. Thirdly, as head of the household, his intercession on behalf of them is the best thing he can do to deal with the outcome of labor. But then, he must remember that God is his head. He must yield himself AND HIS EXPECTATIONS to God's ultimate plan for this birth. Romans 8:28 says that "all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose."
Maybe by approaching it this way, he will see what his role
and WHAT IT IS NOT!
These sort of folks need to understand the WHOLE context of Scripture. God is not a male chauvinist!
One more little tidbit which is significant regarding BiZ
I had to study the Exodus passage about midwives for school.
1:17 says "But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of
commanded, but saved the men children alive."
In Hebrew, the original language of the verse, the words "saved...alive" are one word, chayah. In my Hebrew Dictionary, this word means the following: to live, to cause to live, i.e., to revive; to keep alive, to preserve, to restore, to revive.
BiZ teaches that any intervention in the process is wrong- defying God. But here in Scripture are godly midwives not only letting babies live, but restoring and reviving babies. And the Scripture continues that God blessed the midwives, so this must not be a defiant act.
Okay, this is going to be tough - I really don't want to offend anyone... so please bear with me if you have a different idea. What I read in this book is that G-d has created the birth process to be good, but that Satan will wreak havoc in the process in a form of spiritual warfare. "Problems" in labor and birth are tests of faith and demand a prayer response rather than any kind of medical response. The husband and "midwife" are particularly responsible for being prayer warriors during labor, keeping the forces of evil at bay. If faith is strong, labor and birth will be okay. No equipment or medications are needed. The author (and I apologize, I loaned out the book and can't remember her name - Cynthia??) claims that all has gone well eventually in hundreds and hundreds of births - also claims that no women giving birth this way have EVER had a perineal tear. (!!)
So my clients read this and go "WOW - this midwife is really something. No bad outcomes, no tears!" and wonder why I'm talking about potential problems, working out a back-up transport system, etc. Don't I have faith? Do MY clients tear? Why do I need to bring anything more than a strong faith in G-d and a willingness to battle the Enemy? It's almost impossible to answer these questions without sounding like a low-class believer. So I was wondering if anyone has ideas on how to deal with this subject with clients...
In my practice that the couple most believing in this kind
birth and in which the husband was the most vocal, assertive
ever come across is also the ONLY client I've ever had to transfer
hospital for stalled labor in 2 years....
I don't know that it is so hard to deal with these
of patients. I personally discuss the fact that we all live
authority of the lord and that we are given special blessings and
from the lord. I tell patients that I feel that my role is
gods word to them as I am their conduit in this department.
That is allot of responsibility! I believe we are all
to the divine, but I would not have my couples' hanging on my
as it be God's word. I am only human. I can make mistakes,
never really know exactly was He has in mind. Just try to be open.
I have heard the author of that book speak, and she scares the
out of me! Her name is Carol, last name something like Balizet, or
She is a proponent of unattended birth: just the mom, dad,
If there is a person acting as a midwife, she is there just to
and to do nothing to intervene. The process of labor is
to the relationship between God and someone else. The
may get stuck if the Dad isn't right with God. The
be slow if the mom is not right with God. There can even be
if the mother-in-law is not right with God. The poor mom is
to suffer if any one in the family is not right with God.
must not intervene because only God can make things work out, and
only do that if the "sinner" repents enough. The placenta
(for example) if there is a children's book in the house with a
of a rainbow because that is one of the secret signs of the
If labor is not going well or the baby is in distress, everyone
all over the house for the hidden devil signs, and all must repent
unknown sins so God will relent and let the baby pass.
It is absolutely unbelievable.
The author is Carol Balizet. I've read the book as I have many friends and clients who have also read it and have had "holy midwives" (as they call them here) come and have chosen to not use me because I bring equipment.
I've been asked many times about what I think about this philosophy. I tell them I disagree with the theology behind the book. The theology comes from the "name it and claim it" doctrine. I do not hold with that. I also believe that if all "bad outcomes" were the cause of Satan, then the blind man that Jesus healed would not have been blind so that the glory of God could be revealed. And Jesus would have healed Lazarus before he died (surely his sisters thought his dying was a "bad outcome!") Often this is enough to open some people's eyes, as they also do not believe in the "name it and claim it" doctrine but were just so caught up in wanting to have this wonderful, sacred birth that they didn't see the doctrinal stance behind the book. I state that God could have chosen to keep medical knowledge from us and just because we use equipment doesn't mean we aren't acknowledging His sovereignty. I tell them I would never go to a birth without my faith, that it is an integral, essential part of my birth equipment. I do pray and ask for guidance from the Father, Son and Spirit. I believe God has answered those prayers several times and I bless His Name for it. However, I bless His Name for hard, difficult labors, too, as we don't know what His plan is and only know He wants the best for us. As for using the equipment I have handy to help someone out, the Bible says don't withhold good from your neighbor while it is in your power to give it.
My midwife has listened to Carol at a seminar. According to
(realizing this is 2nd hand) during the seminar she was
she saw a child drowning and had a life preserver handy, would she
the life preserver and pray, or only pray. She said she
for sure, but would probably just pray. That blows my
This midwife also talked to someone who used to work with Carol
those statistics aren't accurate.
Thank you for this...good to be enlightened on the subject
Ms. Balizet. I haven't read the book, but from just what has
said here, this is a fear based theology....and reducing fear at
through love, has always been the basis of my practice.
me once that fear and love cannot hold the same space...I am
gets good outcomes at all.
Yes. I listen respectfully, but I also bring out the
precedent of the midwives in Exodus, and the midwife who told
she was birthing a son (probably a breech baby). I also suggest
read some other Christian books on childbirth like the Sears'
Wessel's book, etc. You might also want to contact Kathy Nesper at
Tree Family Ministries ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) for more info on Zion
from a Christian Childbirth Education organization. I will tell
the Zion Birthing movement and the Ezzo parenting program are the
related programs that have divided families and churches over some
My curiosity and recent tragic experience (at a distance) with a couple who refused any help at a birth led me to do a web search......found the following web site
Home in Zion Ministries, home page for Carol B http:
has some interesting insight into this concept.....links to other
easy to find on yahoo.
We have many small sects here who reject medical care because of their narrow reading of scripture. There is talk of making new state laws after a series of child deaths from easily treated illnesses where the parents refused medicine..... One child died of a UTI!
Yet the Bible clearly states that we ARE supposed to seek medical care and that medicine is one of God's gifts to us. Sometimes it might help to show these verses.....
vr 1. Hold the physician in honor, for he is essential to you,
it was who established his profession.
2; From God the doctor has his wisdom....
4; God makes the earth yield healing herbs which the prudent man should not neglect;..
6; He endows men with the knowledge to glory in his mighty works,
7; Through which the doctor eases pain and the druggist prepares his medicines.
8: thus God's creative work continues without cease in its efficacy on the surface of the earth.
9; My son, when you are ill, delay not but pray to God who will heal you;...
12 then give the doctor his place lest he leave; for you need him too.
13; there are times that give him and advantage, and he too beseeches God that his diagnosis may be correct and his treatment bring about a cure.
15: He who is a sinner toward his Maker will be defiant toward the doctor.
Eccliasticus (Sirach) chapter 38.
Those who preach that medicine is evil are preaching doctrine which is contrary to the Bible.
[NOTE - A reader sent me feedback that there is no such chapter in the standard Christian bible.]
[Another reader sent me feedback that Sirach is in the Catholic
The Protestants eliminated certain books of the bible during the
So it depends on whether or not someone is referring to the
bible or the Protestant “Christian” bible!]
The National Center for Cultural Competence offers an excellent Resources list, along with a self assessment - Cultural Competence Health Practitioner Assessment
During the 30 day seclusion, incidentally, the shrine room door
and the images are covered with white cloth. It is believed
the baby's soul is not yet very attached to the body and it could
back to the devaloka (heavenly world) if brought into the shrine
Swedish M.D., explains the differences in how expecting,
and delivery are viewed in Sweden versus how they're viewed in the
The Japanese wait 1 month after birth to bathe again.
- Within this site you will discover the herstory of midwifery and
trends in the south and throughout the African Diaspora.
WHOSE HANDS? By Ambica Gulati about homebirth in India.
I'll hope to add more resources as birth communities throughout the world come online.
If you have a suggestion for this web page, please send me suggestions for new links! Thank you!
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