Please visit our office at 2482 Babcock Road in Green Bay to take advantage of our extensive resource library. Videos, books, and other materials in the library encompass midwifery, breastfeeding, healthy relationships, developmental psychology, domestic violence, sexual assault, and more.
While items are not available to check out, you are welcome to enjoy them in our quiet room and our staff would be happy to assist you in making any copies for your further use.
Alice Skenandore, the Executive Director of Wise Women Gathering Place has a great vision. There should be a midwife for every woman. There should be a midwife in every neighborhood. Every woman is a midwife. Alice is a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe of Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. She has been practicing traditional midwifery for her communities for over 27 years and has delivered more than 750 babies.
Wise Women Gathering Place previously operated for decades as a home-based grass-roots women's circle based around the tradition of midwifery. In Oneida, a group of women met weekly for eight years in their homes, with children in tow, to pass on midwifery knowledge and skills. There was a core group of about 6 women, with another 20 women who also came to these meetings. These women studied many issues including: childbirth, herbal remedies, breastfeeding, parenting and relationship strategies. Five of these women completed traditional apprenticeships and now have their own midwifery practices.
Many Oneida women have had home births with midwives, with the satisfaction of a safe, healthy brith, allowing them to bond naturally with their babies. Linda Metoxen, an Oneida mother of 5, said, "I love that my children were born in their grandmother's house. It creates a strong connection for them, knowing where they were born."
Alice believes that all women have the ability to be midwives. Often, midwifery happened accidentally when one friend would call on another in the middle of the night and ask her to sit together. Midwifery allows the mother and baby to own the birth, not anyone else.
Today, Wise Women Gathering Place seeks to practice community-level midwifery. When the community believes they cannot do something or handle the challenges facing them, Wise Women Gathering Place is here to say, "Yes, you can!" During hard times, Wise Women Gathering Place offer a plethora of programming to encourage the community back towards a culture of Peace, Respect, and Belonging. Most importantly, the Wise Women Gathering Place recognizes the importance of honoring the decisions and desires of the community and provides caring support to meet needs as defined by the community.
The words "midwife attended birth at home" is a tradition among Native people throughout the world. The practice of excluding or outlawin gthis practice through laws governing standard accepted practices is an often unrecognized practice of racism in our country.
Indigenous people traditionally gave birth to their babies within their culture, with the assistance of caring women from within their neighborhoods. There is not much written history from which to gain reference for this information, but, "it does stand to reason that babies were born in safe places fostered and supported by their communities," says Alice.
The exact time of birth is the moment of primary imprint for both infant and mother. This is a moment of irrecoverable importance in terms of cultural, emotional, physical and spiritual union. All cultures have a long tradition of birthing practices which support the safe birthing of infantsand which sustain the union of the mother-infant pair. In many Indigenous cultures, there were women who helped mothers to give birth to their babies using herbs, music, rattles, massage, oils, hot stones, water, corn, and many other articles, recipes, and rituals to assist in the process. These helping women (modern name, Midwives) learned to assist through the time-honored apprenticeship method. Through apprenticeship, the learning came directly from the specific community in which the woman served. This is a very important point: it is important to the cutlure of the birthing family because a person with no knowledge of the birthing traditions of the family can render insult and harm to the familyl unintentionally because of ignorance. It is important to the self-determination of the birthing family who has confidence in their relative, friend, and neighbor who serves as their midwife. It is important to the self-sustainability of the community. Women are kept in the security, warmth, and comfort of home and family to give birth.
Many people have heard horror stories about the danger of birth. They have been told about the increased safety of birth with the increase of medical knowledge. Many people therefore believe that birth is horrible and dangerous without modern technology. However, the World Health Organization states that the safest place to have a normal birth is where the mother feels most comfortable. Usually that's at home, and the safest person to attend her is a midwife.
Some births will have a better outcome if they take place in a hospital and others may require aggressive medical assistance to be safe. However, by far, most births could occur safely with very minimal assistance if a skilled midwife were present and active in the process.
All people have original "hurts", like the first time we experienced rejection or embarassment, dissappointment or some type of abuse, we were caught in a vulnerable state and the pain was extreme. When these things happened, we developed protective "sheilds" so that the next time it happened, it would not hurt so deeply. During birth, women must open those "shields", they must "give in", release, and submit to the complete "opening" of themselves in order to permit the baby to get through. When this happens, if the baby is immediately placed on the mother's chest, the mother will be in that primal, "open "state at the same time at the baby is in its' primal "imprint" state and they will bond in a way that can never happen again. The mother will slowly "pull herself together", but as she closes herself up again, the baby (and her family and midwives or whomever is present) will be "in there" deep inside, underneath the protective"sheilds"! What a wonderful place for a baby to be!
Researchers are just beginning to look at birth trauma, and they're finding that there are lasting effects from it that can severely debilitate people physically and emotionally, even into their adulthoods. Most women need encouragement and information in order to optimally give birth. A very good resource for women around this concept is the book, Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms.