The 12 Ancient Midwives

Posted by: on Mar 15, 2018 | No Comments

Have you ever wondered how women give birth without assistance? The ones who have their baby rather dramatically and unexpectedly in such places like the back of a taxi, in a lift, or alone in the toilets at high-school? How do they manage it without pain relieving drugs, since there are none available?  And is a woman ever truly alone, and unassisted, when she births?

How would you cope?

Well for starters, birth is not a solo sport. It is a partnership, a dance of two – mother AND baby. When the birth is not disturbed or directed by others, a baby and mother are perhaps freer than being directed by assisting strangers. By moving and twisting and turning their bodies in collaboration entirely on instinct, as happens in the wild, women can usually expell a baby from their body by a series of involuntary muscular reflexes – much like going for a poo. If the woman can let her body take over from her mind and just do what it knows how to do, she removes one of the biggest obstacles to birthing easily – fear.  Animals all over the world do it every day, without having been to a single hypnobirthing class or reading a Sheila Kitzinger book!

Deep in our bones, we have primally imprinted birthing reflexes buried under all the layers of our education and civilisation.  I doubt there would be so many people or animals on this planet if that wasn’t true. And if a woman can give birth in a coma, then the human body, undirected in any way from external instruction, surely must be considered expert at expelling babies?

But who delivers a human baby in the spiritual sense, when no midwives are present? Who honours and witnesses the arrival of a little soul?

I was pondering this during the last dreamy days of pregnancy with my daughter Poppy in a state of dreamy meditation. And then I saw them clearly.

Introducing…. The 12 Ancient Midwives…

     The 12 Ancient Midwives


These ancient helpers give us the power to be able to birth our babies even when there are no other humans around. Their names are….

Love – is the reason this baby was made in the first place. Love swirled and worked its magic inside your body to receive your partners sperm and usher it towards the egg so your baby could begin its life inside you. It was a guiding force all along. Why not now? Why shouldn’t love, that helped the baby get in, also help the baby to get out! When a woman births with love from her heart, with loving thoughts, body, and soul, the baby will come with more spirit than if she feels hateful, angry or purely scared. For this reason, Love is the first midwife.

Patience – as every good midwife knows, patience is the ultimate tool in her kit. Generally speaking, the more she can respect the natural momentum of the birthing mother and baby dyad,
and not interfere, the less complicated will be the birth. A mother who is patient with herself and her baby as she gives birth will birth more easily and smoothly. Patience is the second midwife.

Trust – When we trust in our bodies, in the will of the universe, in our baby, it takes the tension out of our bodies and relaxes them. We can do things we thought previously impossible when we replace fear with trust. When we trust, we give permission for life to unfold in the moment, feeling it will all work out as it is meant to. For this reason, Trust is a great midwife, and she is the third of our twelve.

Laughter – has a magic effect on us. It transforms pain into something other. It makes difficult things more manageable. Laughter opens up our chest and rolls through our body, releasing tight muscles and making them relax. Laughter is a free form of medicine, and requires no outside persons. When laughter is a midwife at birth, she makes things smoother, happier and easier. She is the fourth midwife.

Ancestors – do you ever wonder if your ancestors are guiding and keeping protection over you? Sometimes they might leave a sign they are around, holding the space for you. Perhaps you can
smell a faint trace of them. Or a song plays on the radio suddenly that was your song. Perhaps a bird leaves you a feather or some other token, that only you understand. Our ancestors can carry on giving us the gift of their strength even after they have gone from the earthly realm, through their memory and example if nothing else. They are the fifth midwife.

Prayers of the living – every good thought others have towards you, your baby and your birthing has an energy that draws a line between you and them across the miles, in the ether. I really
believe this. For this reason, I believe prayers have power. When a woman is birthing and reminds herself of the well wishes and support of others, she can draw on it as a source of strength. This collective body of positive, confidence-boosting energy is the sixth midwife.

Cosmic forces – are the mysterious energies which govern all life. Some call it God, others nature. Whatever you believe, our place in the universe is a blessing, and the universe swells and swirls and pulses according to its own order, its own rules. We are but a humble speck in it all. It is good to remember this. The cosmos is an endless series of cycles of creation. We are not in charge of everything, we cannot control everything. When we give birth it is good to remember we are here but for the grace of god and so are our babes. The seventh midwife is there whether we choose to believe in her or not!

Strength – until a woman gives birth, she usually has no idea of her full powers and strengths. Birth reveals hidden depths and strengths she never knew she had – especially more so when she births alone and is not overpowered by others. When a woman births without limitations or boundaries, her strength is a force to behold. Strength is the eighth midwife who digs deep into a woman’s inner treasure chest and delivers a baby into the world with pure, raw, trembling, earth shaking primal force.

Intuition – will be the mothers companion for the rest of her mothering years, as with the other midwives. Like the others, intuition will stick around. She is the watchful midwife with the third eye. She feels the answers to things others can only partially understand. This midwife is supremely ancient. She is the midwife who never truly sleeps but always keeps half an ear or an eye open. The ninth midwife will help a woman to know things that her rational brain could never know on its own.

Connection – Even whilst alone, a woman is not truly alone. Her baby is there with her. She is part of the interconnected web of consciousness to which we all belong. It is comforting to remember this during a birth. A woman is connected, cradled, and held by others at the mere thought of them. She can draw strength from the love she shares with her baby’s father, and from her friends and family – anyone she feels safe and happy with. When a woman gives birth she also straddles the worlds of ancestors and descendants and stands at a crossroads between past, present and future. The connections she has through her bloodline, umbilically link her like a matryioshka doll to them all. She can also draw strength by connecting in spirit to all the other birthing women in the world labouring their babies in that same moment as her. Connection is the tenth midwife.

Surrender – is a powerful teacher. She is the midwife who leads us down the rabbit hole and tells us it will all work out fine, that our bodies are made to cope. She whispers to us to have faith in the wild and crazy process. She tells us it will all be ok at the other end of it all. Without her, we cannot let go. Without her, we cling to the safety of all that we know. But we cannot bring forth our baby if we don’t go down the rabbit hole. We must walk a labyrinth journey of sorts, going deep into our own strength and body to bring out a baby. Surrender is the the eleventh midwife who says it is safe to let go, let go… let go… .let go…..

and finally…

Nature – The midwife in every cell of your body. She knows what to do. She is the great conductor that leads the orchestra of hormones in our bodies that birth the baby. She does what she needs to do, with her own utter efficiency and logic, and her own timing. Sometimes she leads the orchestra in a waltz, sometimes a birthing is more of an opera – but she knows what she’s doing. She is wiser than any human and has secrets we will never understand. If you listen closely to her she has great wisdom to teach. Make friends with her and learn ways to harness her gifts. She is abundant, generous and nurturing as well as feisty, wild and untamed. And she is the twelfth ancient midwife. Is she the most important?

I hope you enjoyed meeting the twelve ancient midwives. Chances are, you know them already. If you know a mama having her first baby, maybe you could show her these friends who can guide her on her journey, helping her to draw on her incredible strength to birth and raise her baby with peace, love and confidence – no matter where, when or how she gives birth.


A slightly longer version of this post used to sit on Rebecca Wright’s (no longer active) blog. She gave her permission for me to reclaim it and share it here.