Writings

SHARING SOME THINGS ABOUT ME

Posted by on Jan 19, 2023 in Writings

SHARING SOME THINGS ABOUT ME

My name is Ruth Ehrhardt and I am the mother of True Midwifery (see truemidwifery.com). True Midwifery was birthed in 2014 as my home and safe haven for my birth-related work. I am the daughter of a traditional midwife. My mother fell into this calling ‘by accident.’ One night she was called to a woman in labour on our farm here in South Africa. We lived over an hour from the nearest town and any sort of help. My mother was with this mother as she birthed her breech baby. After that all the women on the farm would call my mother to be with them. I am very grateful for this imprint of birth and birth attendance that I received. I am the mother of 4 children, all young adults now, who were all born at home. Their names are San, Sai, Ayo and Kaira and they are my pride and joy. I also have a spirit daughter called Erie, who came to me through my life partner Crallan. She lives very close to my heart and is currently walking the path of Birthkeeper. I basically spent my 20s pregnant and breastfeeding. I fell pregnant at 20 with my first child at 20 and gave birth to my last at 28 and breastfed her until she was nearly 2 years old. I count this intensive time with my children as a golden era that gave me the true foundation of my birthing and mothering education. I have been practicing yoga and meditation since I was 20 years. This practice has been my rock and lighthouse through all the ups and downs in my life. I am forever grateful to the wise ones who left these tools for us to use to ground and anchor in this dance called life. I love to sing. I love music. I have lived by the ice-cold Atlantic Ocean for over 16 years but have never felt called to swim in it unless I’ve been very pregnant or it’s a very very hot day. Recently though, as my cycles begin to shift, I am feeling drawn to immersing myself in this glacial element and enjoying the challenge. Brrrrr ? I am the author of a little book called The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour. It explores the environmental factors that support childbirth very simply and succinctly.It is based on the work of Michel Odent and has been translated into 13 different languages, with more on the way. I love to write and tell stories… especially birth stories that are empowering and inspiring. I have experienced a lot of grief and death in my life. These have been powerful teachers. I left school and home at 16 to work. Our family’s form of income was destroyed in a fire and it became necessary. I completed my high school education after I had two children. I studied while pregnant and with a young child. I wrote my final high school exams when my eldest daughter was 8 weeks old. I then went on to officially study midwifery after my youngest daughter was weaned when I was nearly 30. I am a fierce advocate for the vulnerable. It started with cleaning rivers and protesting children’s and whales’ rights when I was 7 years old. I think I inherited this from my mother who protested not being able to use the ‘whites only’ slide as a 7-year-old by using the ‘whites only’ slide. Go, Mom! I have a beautiful life partner Crallan. He has been the most incredible support in my life. He makes me...

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Planting Seeds

Posted by on Dec 8, 2022 in Writings

Planting Seeds

Yesterday I gave a talk about The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour to a group of 13 to 14-year-old grade 8s, my youngest daughter Kaira’s class. The teacher had arranged a week of talks around the theme of ‘Skills for 2030’ making a call some weeks prior to anyone willing and able to make an offering that they felt fit this category. As the most ancient of ‘professions’ (one of the two eldest) and yet one which very much holds the future of humanity quite literally in its hands, I felt this was a very suitable subject matter for this topic. What more important skill to still have in 2030 than knowing how to guard and protect birth? We called the talk ‘Guarding Birth’ and I spoke about how important it is for us to know and have awareness as fellow humans around the very simple understanding and the act of guarding and protecting this most precious and sacred process. I spoke about how we are all actually mammals and that all mammals need safety and protection when giving birth. I shared about oxytocin, the shy hormone of love, and how important it is to create that feeling of safety in the person giving birth so they can produce this hormone to birth their baby. And you know what? It really grabbed their attention! They listened with concentration and curiousity as I went over my own history and calling as a birth attendant and how I came to write my book. I shared some birth stories (and only made my daughter blush once). We even spoke about placenta rituals and stillbirth! It was sweet and matter-of-fact and they seemed almost hungry for this knowledge. Whilst they may not be needing to tap into this knowledge fully at this stage of their lives I like to think I planted some seeds.  And I and I left a copy of my book as a resource in their library… Copies of my book The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour are available in ENGLISHBRAZILIAN PORTUGUESESPANISHITALIANFRENCHDUTCHSWEDISHGERMANARABICTURKISHRUSSIAN To arrange bulk orders of a title in your language please contact me directly. Leave copies lying around,you never know, someone who really needs it may pick it up. Thank you for being part of spreading the love “A small book, with a message that is completely touching, and beautifully summarized what a beautiful natural birth should look like and what the woman needs for this. I hope this booklet will inspire many pregnant women, their birth partners, and birth professionals.”– Jessica,  Essential Health, Holland (5 Star AMAZON...

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Carol’s Inner Guide Meditation

Posted by on Dec 5, 2022 in Writings

Carol’s Inner Guide Meditation

Today is my mother’s birthday and today I share the story of the inner guide meditation that led us back to her homeland, South Africa. My mother Carol was born in Athlone, Cape Town, a Cape Coloured woman. At age 18 she moved to Switzerland and lived there for 20 years. My sister Kate and I were both born there. Kate and I grew up with her South African stories and songs, warming us whilst surrounded by the snowy mountains of Switzerland. We visited South Africa for the first time after it became possible for us to travel as a family (white father, Cape coloured mother, mixed race children, Apartheid South Africa), led here by my mother’s inner guide, a bushman. This is the story of how she met this guide – the story of her rebirth and first tentative steps out of Europe and back to her roots and homeland. My mother passed away 15 years ago in a car accident along with my sister Gypsy and my stepfather Hendrik. Happy Birthday, Mom…we miss you. “Close your eyes, Carol,” Matthias said. Matthias was a tall skeletal gay man. A Buddhist psychologist friend who worked with Carol at the psychiatric hospital in Bern on floor D2. Carol was lying on her back in Matthias’s sitting room. She lay, surrounded by a pile of Indian silk cushions, one under her head. The sun streamed in through the window and onto her, making her feel comfortable and sleepy. Her children were with their father, he was down from London on one of visits. Single parenting was hard, but it was also what she had chosen. She was enjoying this much needed and uninterrupted break. “Relax, just breathe. Let everything go. Forget about everything. Just be…” She felt the air move in and out of her nostrils. She felt her body relax and she felt her breath becoming more regular and prolonged. I could stay like this forever, she thought, her tired body tingling. And with each out breath, she felt the weight of her body sink into the floor. Aaaah… “Now, imagine yourself in a landscape…” She saw herself standing in a grassy meadow. She was high up, high above sea level, with the most marvellous view, rolling hills and snow-capped mountains. Blue skies. Blooming flowers. Bright green, dotted with buttercup yellows and pinks and whites. The air felt warm and she wanted to lie in the grass. She listened; the air was busy with the work of insects. A stereotypical Swiss summer scene. How positively blissful, she thought. She felt herself drift off. “Imagine an animal walking towards you from a distance. It is heading straight for you. Looking very determined.” She found this disconcerting. There was no animal and she felt that the presence of one would be irritating. How dare Matthias bring up something so silly and disconcerting? Then unexpectedly, a great big elephant’s head arose from behind a hill and its body crashed through the tranquil scene she had created in her consciousness. She panicked and wanted to run but her legs wouldn’t move. Where the fuck did that come from? It headed straight for her and yet seemed oblivious of her presence. Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck! Just as she thought she was going to be trampled, it stopped and for the first time seemed to notice her. She realised that this was a tame creature. He was adorned with red and gold. Tassels hung from him. He was old and wise and looked her in the eyes. He held his trunk out to her...

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Why Birth First Aid?

Posted by on Oct 24, 2022 in Writings

Why Birth First Aid?

The First Time I Ever Resuscitated a Baby on my own I remember the first time I had to resuscitate a baby on my own. It had been a fairly average first labour. It started in the middle of the night and trotted along into the new day. The mother was surprised at the intensity of the surges but she rode them quietly and stoically.  The emergence of the baby was slow and as her mother crouched, she was born gently onto the floor onto a soft pile of towels.  Some mothers scoop their babies up immediately, while others take their time, looking, smelling, and touching. Still, others need to take their time, first processing the enormity of the event before being able to look and engage. As long as the space is warm and the mother and baby are left undisturbed all are variations of normal. In this case, the mother was slow to interact with her baby, I believe she was initially taken aback at the sight of her newborn. It became evident that this baby was not responding after being born, not showing much muscle tone and not breathing. Helping Babies Breathe I had recently been trained in the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) programme as a facilitator through Operation Smile and worked as a volunteer for some of their educational missions in Africa. What I love about this programme is its simplicity: its focus on normal birth, preparedness, its understanding for working in low-resourced and out-of-hospital settings, as well as the all important MotherBaby needs like skin-to-skin and not cutting the umbilical cord. As a skilled birth attendant, you make a difference In the HBB programme, we are taught that the majority of babies are totally fine at birth and require little more than skin-to-skin contact with their mother – but that around 10% require gentle assistance in transitioning from womb life. These are some of the skills we will be focusing on in the upcoming Birth First Aid series of workshops that I will be offering for the month of November. Extreme neonatal resuscitation is rare in healthy pregnancies and births and usually is an indicator of some other underlying issue. Why Birth First Aid? If we are attending births on a regular basis, especially when a birth is left to unfold as it should, we come into contact with the beauty and simplicity that is birth and we receive the regular imprint that birth works and that birth is safe. But every once in a while, nature throws us a curve ball, and in the same way as we expect someone who works with children to be prepared if a child chokes, we want to be prepared for those rare times when a mother or baby does require assistance.  In the case of the birth I was describing at the beginning of this post/letter – it felt clear that this baby was struggling. Muscle memory from my HBB training kicked in, and with her cord still attached and intact, between her mother’s legs on the floor, we worked together to gently remind her that she needed to breathe. And she did… I invite you to join us  We will be gathering weekly for the month of November on these dates: 2, 9, 16, and 23 November 2022 via zoom from 11am – 2pm SAST (GMT+2) COST: 130 Euro / 130 USD / 1250 ZAR All sessions will be recorded and made available to you for one month after the call For more information or to book your place please email me at truemidwife@gmail.com What we will cover over...

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Come and Join me for a Doula Course with Michel Odent and Liliana Lammers

Posted by on Oct 13, 2022 in Writings

Michel Odent & Liliana LammersONLINE​ 28, 29, 30th of October 2022 “Birth is an involuntary process and an involuntary process cannot be helped. The point is not to disturb it”– Michel Odent Twelve years ago or so when I was a student midwife, I was invited to attend the birth of my sister-in-law in Edinburgh. At the time I was in my second year of doing apprenticeship-based midwifery training and working as a doula, having done a local South African doula course. At this stage, I was feeling disheartened about birth work. The coach-orientated approach in both the doula and home birth midwife modalities that I was witnessing left me questioning my calling and instincts. Although there was talk of trusting birth, there was a deeply ingrained belief that birth could not happen without the assistance/coaching/help of others. Around this time I was also rediscovering the books of Michel Odent and I felt the contradiction between what he was describing in his books as well as what I felt intuitively, and what I was seeing and being encouraged to do as a doula and student midwife. I decided to look online to see if Michel had written anything about doulas. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he held doula courses in London along with a doula called Liliana Lammers and that one was being held a few days before I was due in Edinburgh! So with some minor adjustments to my travel plans, I found myself in a circle of women and Michel, sharing 3 days of intensive sharing and learning. This course would change the direction of my birth-keeping journey from then on onwards. I remember sitting and listening to Michel and Liliana share their wisdom, science, and stories and feeling a lightbulb of excitement and illumination lighting up inside me, an irrepressible bubble of joy at ‘finding my tribe’ as I tried to scribble down each moment in the hope of capturing the valuable information and beautiful stories, whilst still capturing the essence. The Original Inspiration for my Book From this experience, the little book, The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour was also born – an attempt at capturing the essence of what I had learned from these two wonderful guardians of birth. I have been blessed to teach and present alongside Michel over the years but I have not seen Liliana since we were all together all those years ago. We have kept in touch – I have reached out to this incredible mentor over the years when I have needed to feel reinspired or not feel so alone in this way of approaching birth. I have had every intention of returning to one of their courses, to fill my cup as they say, but have never made it back to London. A Unique Event and Opportunity So I am especially pleased that the Paramana doula courses are now happening online and I am excited to be joining the next one as a participant from 28 – 30 October 2022. A Special Discount if you book through True Midwifery This event is organised by Sarah Bertin of Doula Douce and she is offering a 50 Euro discount to those booking through True Midwifery. You can redeem your discount using this unique discount code: TrueMidwifery50 when booking your ticket through this link Free Book Promotion We are also offering a free book promotion of my book, The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour to those who book for the course between today and Monday (13-17 October 2022) I personally feel this is a...

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Twenty-One Years a Mother…

Posted by on Oct 11, 2022 in Writings

I was twenty-one when I first became a mother and that was twenty-one years ago today. I look back on that day…and I look back on the last twenty-one years and I am grateful. I am grateful for this path of Motherhood that in many ways was hoisted upon me but which, in the end, has cracked my heart open and taught me to love in ways I did not know were possible. Today is San’s 21st birthday but we also bid farewell to him this week as he spreads his wings to fly off to Dubai for work. This is a whole new stretching of the Mother heart and as hard as it is to have him move so far from home, I am grateful for the opportunity to further embrace what it means to love. And today I very simply honour this very precious birth day. I honour the young woman who became a mother today 21 years ago. I honour the little boy who has grown into a beautiful and gentle young man today. And I honour myself today, with the greyer hair, the love I have loved, the expanded heart, the tears that have come with that and the extra laugh lines on my face. Happy birth day ??  My Mother Was The First One To Touch My Baby I Was 21 When I Realised I Had A...

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