#201 – Midwifing Our Culture into a New Way with Rachelle Garcia Seliga

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I feel so privileged to be able to speak to so many women around the world about how we need to do matresence differently. Even when the conversation cannot provide ‘easy’ answers. Even when we realise that, perhaps, the system is too broken. I already knew we need to honour the transition to motherhood and support women differently and this conversation only opened my eyes, yet again, to the requirements of midwifing ourselves and continuing to do it better. Listen as Amy and Rachelle talk about:

  • Cultural understandings, immigrating as a new mother and finding yourself in a brand new surroundings when the veil lifts and how we can look around and realise how much we desire more.
  • How our programming and conditioning can get potentised by the intensity of birth and how that can affect our birth experience.
  • Tuning into how mothers really feel, because as mothers we carry life and we provide an important aspect for humanity’s health.
  • Taking responsibility and being in a good way with our power, in order to exalt and uplift others – especially within a healthcare practitioner environment.

Rachelle embraces the original meaning of the word ‘midwife,’ which is caretaker of the people's health from ‘womb to tomb’ and has several ways to connect with her. She has a free ebook: The Five Cross-Cultural Prescriptions of Postpartum WELLNESS https://www.innatetraditions.com/download-free-ebook and a free class: Rites of Passage & The Postpartum Period https://www.innatetraditions.com/replay-free-class-rites-of-passage

If you would like a deeper understanding of matresence and how we support women differently, Mama Rising facilitator training opens just once a year. For early offers and to join the 5 days to a motherhood revolution event before August, please jump the link below to join the wait list. https://mamarising.net/mama-rising-waitlist/


[00:00:00] Welcome to the Happy Mama Movement Podcast. I'm Amy Taylor-Kabbaz. I would like to start by acknowledging the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, on which this podcast is recorded, as the traditional custodians of this land. And pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging. And, as this podcast is dedicated to the wisdom and knowledge of motherhood, I would like to acknowledge the mothers of this land, the elders, their wisdom, their knowing and my own elders and teachers.

[00:00:38] Welcome back Mamas. Imagine a world where we were surrounded by elders’ understandings of what was happening to our body and the Rite of Passage and transition into motherhood. Imagine a world where the medical could be mixed with the ancient. That's what I thought we would be talking about in this week's podcast.

[00:01:04] When I reached out to interview Rachelle Garcia Seliga, the creator and teacher at Innate Traditions, I thought that we would be looking into how we can bring the two together. How we can really honor a new way by changing the way we honor that transition into motherhood.

[00:01:27] But as I spoke with Rachelle and listened to her knowledge, her experience and what she does now, as she says, “I realized that the system perhaps is too broken.” It's not about trying to figure out how to bring these two parts together. It's really about throwing it all out and starting again.

[00:01:50] It's about bringing in so many new ways and new understandings that have been lost. It really is about midwifing ourselves, our culture, how we honor this transition and support women differently. I won't say much more because Rachelle says it all. Except, once again, I am so privileged to be able to speak to so many women around the world about how we need to do this differently.

[00:02:18] I hope it inspires you as much as it does me. Enjoy.

[00:02:22] Rachelle, welcome to the podcast. I have been wanting to speak with you and hear your wisdom for a very long time, so thank you for being here.

[00:02:32] Yeah, thank you for inviting me.

[00:02:35] Let's start with, uh, your experience of motherhood, birthing and our cultural understanding of motherhood. And how you came to create the work that you do now.

[00:02:52] Well, let's see where to begin with that. So, when my daughter was born, I was 31 and I had spent from the time I was 23 years old to 31, um, apprenticing with midwives. All home birth midwives, both in Mexico and the United States. So a lot of traditional midwives and a handful of what modern day midwifery is.

[00:03:18] Some of the midwives really practicing in integrity with the art and the science of midwifery. Some of them not so much at all. But my life was birth and babies and just being around mothers all the time, you know? So when I was pregnant, we were still living in Mexico and I really did like most of my own prenatal care. I had a lot of friends who were midwives.

[00:03:43] And so when I knew I was going to see them, like I would have them listen to my baby for me or palpate my baby for me, cause it's just nice to do that. Um, but nothing like super formal and you know, my family and I, my husband and I were in like an immigration journey at that time. I'm from the United States.

[00:04:02] He's from Mexico. We were in that whole process pretty ignorantly and innocently. And, we got a visa for him to be able to come to the United States. And they tell you when you have to come, like you don't get to decide that. Like you have to move within 90 days otherwise it all expires. And I mean, there's families who are in that process for years and years and years.

[00:04:24] And, and we felt like well, we should just go, right? Because we have this opportunity. It's not that we felt like this was a big yes, but it was an open door. Okay, so we're going to go. And I found myself then in the last trimester of my pregnancy in the United States; living at my parents' home because I moved with myself, my pregnant self, my husband, and then my step son, who at the time was 15.

[00:04:49] We had like $50 to our name. Right? So we're like, oh, well, we're going to my parents' home. And in my innocence slash ignorance of maidenhood and just not really looking reality straight in the eyes; it was like, I was still in this time of my life where I was looking at reality how I wanted it to be instead of reality as it is.

[00:05:14] I made a lot of decisions from that place, of just like what I wish it were instead of how it really is. And that got us in a really bad situation. You know, it was like not a good situation living with my parents, which is where we were. We made really bad choices in regards to the midwife we chose. Um, it was kind of like a lot of bad decision-making, you know, that was coming

[00:05:40] largely I think from not having community. We had community where we had been living in Mexico and then we stepped into completely unknown territory as a family. So my labor and birth was four days long. My baby was posterior and it was like one of those things where trying every trick in the book, quote, unquote, but it really what it was, my labor and birth experience for that matter felt like a spiritual warfare

[00:06:07] for me. It felt like, um, this midwife who was supposed to be supporting me was actually attacking me and my husband. We both felt that, you know, through the experience and talking about it afterwards. And at some point going into the fourth night inside of me, I was like, that's enough. And it wasn't just like, that's enough of labor,

[00:06:30] it was like that's enough of the whole scenario, you know? And when I kind of made that inner movement of that's enough, um, my baby's heart tone dropped to 40, wasn't recovering. For those who don't know, baby's heart tones should be 120 to 160 in labor in general and so we transferred to this hospital.

[00:06:50] And because I had been living in the mountains in Mexico and doing my own prenatal care, I was taken in as like a negligent mother into the hospital system. And I had a quote unquote, emergency C-section and then had social service worker sent in on me to make investigation because I don't have this record of prenatal care.

[00:07:12] Um, you know, all of the things. So it was kind of like a nightmare manifested actually. And I know a story that probably so many women have. And I feel like, you know, in life, some of those things we can avoid and some of them we don't, and it was just a really massive learning experience, you know?

[00:07:32] And one that I can say that I feel like was avoidable, you know? If not like the physical manifestation of it, at least the energetics of it were avoidable. So then, you know, in my postpartum time we were at my parents’ home and like the benefit to that was like, they took care of all of the food and we weren't worried about paying bills and all the things. Like they took care of the physical reality of the space. But it was a really bad fit, like mentally, emotionally, spiritually for myself, for my husband, for my stepson.

[00:08:05] So the first year, I mean, I was like in, in kind of a bubble with my baby. And that was really beautiful. But then we moved out of my parents' home and we're just like finding our way as a family with a newborn in America. And again, it was like this innocence of mine slowly being peeled away because I had to spend so much of my adult life in the realm of midwifery care, that

[00:08:30] I just assumed that like, I would just be taken care of somehow. But, we were in a new place where we didn't know anyone and it was just this complete, um, obliteration of who we were. Because who we were, when we lived in Mexico, I was a midwife. Everybody knew me as a midwife. My husband and I ran ceremonies together.

[00:08:56] We lived on Sundance grounds in Mexico. You know, we were like these people with really big identities. And then all of a sudden we're in this small town where nobody knows us and we're super poor and I have a baby and it's like, what the hell just happened kind of thing. You know, so it really, for me was like the first three and a half years of my daughter's life that I just spent so much in this

[00:09:21] question of like, what is going on? Like, I really didn't understand what was going on because none of the midwives I had worked with you know, probably like 17, 18, 19, 20 different midwives in my time studying midwifery, nobody had talked to me the, like how you die giving birth. And nobody had talked to me that you were like born again as a mother.

[00:09:41] And nobody had talked to me about these things. Even if someone would have talked to me for like five minutes, I feel like it really would have helped me to understand what was going on, right. So I spent so much time just being like, what is going on and why is it like this? And why is it like this for me?

[00:09:58] And then finally, when my daughter was about three and a half, I was like - oh, like, this is what's going on for all mothers. Like, this is the reality of motherhood in the modern world. And I realized that it wasn't this personalized experience. And I realized that, like, that was the reality. And I was like, holy shit.

[00:10:18] And I just couldn't believe it, really. But it was like that innocence, the veil is being peeled back kind of thing. And it was at about that time I started to do some midwifery related work again. Like I, I didn't, I was going to births again when my daughter was a baby, but then stopped because it was too much.

[00:10:35] But when she was about three and a half, four, I started to do, um, like hands on hands and care. So I did uterine massages and vaginal massage, and I had a practice called Holistic Well Women Care. And had, um, a really, like a full practice, you know; that like my schedule was always full and it was great. So I thought, oh, well this is really great,

[00:10:59] I could offer this work for postpartum mothers. So I put the word out and nobody responded. Right. And I had a full practice, like people knew of me at this point in time and my work; nobody responded. So then I wrote to all of the midwives in this community where I lived and it was like a heavily home birth midwife community.

[00:11:18] And I wrote to all of them. And I said, “I'm doing this work, and it's been so amazing, and I could offer this to postpartum mothers.” And then me and my friend, who was a chiropractor, we got together and we created this whole package of in-home care and immediate postpartum and this whole thing. And we thought, wow, this is amazing.

[00:11:35] No, nobody responded. There was one midwife who wrote back to me who was like, oh, that's a good idea. And that was it. And so I was like, well, what's going on here? And I realized what was going on is that people didn't even know what they didn't know. So meaning there was no collective understanding at the time of like what I was even talking about.

[00:11:57] And then that was another veil of innocence being peeled back, cause I was like, how is that possible? Like, how was it that nobody even knows what I'm talking about? It's like, it's not even registering because people have no idea what I'm even saying. And then I was really angry and then realize, you know, I was like, well, somebody has to do something about this.

[00:12:19] And then I was like, oh right,

[00:12:21] That's you

[00:12:22] I have to do something about it. Yeah. That's me. Okay. You know, and so then I did. So then I created this thing called Innate Postpartum Care Certification Training; cause I was like, I need to like talk with healthcare practitioners. I don't just want to work with mothers and families,

[00:12:36] I want to work with the people who are working with mothers and families, um, because they need to know this. Because it was just this understanding that there is no modern day educational pathway about the postpartum time that's rooted in wellness; it's all rooted in pathology. So anybody going through modern day education systems are learning about is postpartum pathology detection and then resolution, which is usually with drugs.

[00:13:06] And I was like, well, how can anybody support postpartum wellness if they don't even know, like, what it is or what's required? So, I just kind of wove together all of my experiences and understandings and created this training and have been teaching it ever since.

[00:13:23] Our parts are very similar of having those moments of seeing the veil lift and looking around and thinking, how is this the system we live in? And then realizing that it's up to you to start having the conversations to change it. I'd love to hear more about if you could redesign the system, what would you redesign it as, but can I just reflect for a moment on your story?

[00:13:47] You said a couple of times that, you know, you made bad decisions. You made decisions from innocence and ignorance. How do you feel about those, those decisions now? Because when I hear it, I think there is no other decision to be made either. It's like we are, I feel it's like we're forced to make these decisions because A - we don't realize that they're bad or wrong.

[00:14:14] And B - we look around, there's nothing else to choose. So how do you feel about that whole experience now?

[00:14:21] Well, I mean, I feel, I feel like I can be in both sides, you know. I feel like it's really important for us as humans to understand how, okay; can we say that I was victimized by the system? Absolutely. I mean, like I experienced for real obstetric violence in the hospital system that I was in. Like dis, like crazy.

[00:14:42] Like when I name it all out, people are like, what. Sure. And did I participate in the creation of that reality? Yes, 100% because I can go back and see when I made choices. Okay, that weren't in total alignment with myself. So for example, the midwife we hired, she lived out of state for my parents. It was someone who I had met during my midwifery training.

[00:15:08] I had gone to some births with her. She was able to like fly out and whatever. And the second I picked her up from the airport, I could tell coming into her field, I couldn't stand her. Okay. Just I felt it. But then like me as this younger version of myself with no financial resources of my own.

[00:15:32] I'm like, what do I do? Like, do I tell her just to go home? My parents had paid for her to be our midwife cause we had no money of our own. So what do I do? So that was a choice point, right? I accepted what felt off to begin with. Right. And then like a week or two; no, cause it was after she had come out. Like a week before giving birth,

[00:15:52] I had a dream. And in my dream, I was like, you know, in this altered state of birth. So kind of in this trance-like state and, so I didn't realize what was going on. But what was going on outside of me was someone was controlling me. And who was controlling me in my dream was the midwife. And when I kind of came out of this trance in my dream, right,

[00:16:14] I kind of looked up and I, and I saw that what she was doing, she was telling me how to push, okay, in my dream. And so when I understood that that's what she was doing, I screamed at her in my dream. And I said, “get the fuck out.” Okay. And once she left the room, in my dream, I just like breathed my baby out and I'd caught my baby on my own.

[00:16:34] Okay. And I, and I did it all on my own. And it wasn't even painful. Right. So I got to a certain point in labor that I should have kicked that midwife out. Right. I had already dreamt it. I couldn't stand her in my space. And probably my labor was so long because I couldn't stand her in my space, but I allowed her to just stay there and stay there and stay there.

[00:16:57] I get it. I can have compassion for that part of me too, cause it was like super long and super painful and super hard. And you're like, oh my God, can someone or something please like help me through this; it's super vulnerable. But those were all choice points. You know what I mean? So. Bad choices.

[00:17:14] I don't know. They're just choices and this was, yup. But I do feel like if I would've had, if I would have kicked her out, even if it would have transpired in a similar way with a transport and a C-section and all of those things; the energetics could be different. Because the energetics could be that it was me in my power making those choices.

[00:17:41] Very true. It does make me angry though, Rachelle, that if someone who has lived and breathed midwifery for more than a decade, by the time you get to delivering a baby yourself. Who has come from a cultural experience of the village and the empowerment of women in birth. And even you don't feel like you have the voice in that moment to say this doesn't feel good. If even someone like you, with that much understanding of this process

[00:18:16] feels disempowered; how the hell are women who have never been in touch with babies, birthing, their bodies, even; how the hell are they meant to speak up in that moment?

[00:18:27] Totally. And it's like our, I feel like largely our collective conditioning at this time.

[00:18:32] What I feel like came up for me in labor and birth, and what I feel like comes up for women; it's simply all of our programming and conditioning that we haven't worked through yet. Because it's like, whatever that programming and conditioning is,

[00:18:47] um, it just gets potentized by the intensity of birth. It's not like you get to escape it for those moments in time, you know? And so for me, and a lot of that's nervous system programming, and so for me, what that was, was like shutting down. Because when I, as a child growing up within like my family biosphere, right,

[00:19:11] like with stress and with all of the things that was too much for me, like I would just shut down. Right. It's like, you kind of just check out. And so it was like that for me in my labor and birth. Like all of this, that I'm feeling that is true of what I'm actually feeling instead of like being real with that.

[00:19:31] It was just, checkout, shut down. And my husband too. Like we realized that we both have the same; we had, you know, it's changed since then. We had the same kind of patterning and we both did it because we both wanted to kick her out. And neither of us did, neither. And we're both, like you say, my husband and I are, are serious,

[00:19:52] volcano kind of people. Were like big energy peoples and neither of us did. And so yes, it is a thing. We're having to deal with this collective with this over culture that is, um, so against life, so not supportive of life. It is the truth. And I think that's something that we need to look at, as the truth, when we are birthing, when we're parenting and all of the things. Like, look at that straight in the eyes, you know.

[00:20:26] So in your training, and if you could weave this around the world, what would you change? Paint the picture for us of what you would bring in. I know, just wave your magic wand and fix the whole system.

[00:20:40] Well, I mean, I would overhaul the whole system. I don't think that the system's repairable, like, so to me, it's building out a completely new system. And I really feel like, um, that if we're trying to get to the roots of things, I mean, all of this stuff begins with our own birth. And it begins with, how we're taking care of in our early childhood and in what ways we're brought up and in what ways were tended to as children;

[00:21:06] and then in what ways are we brought into our womanhood and our manhood, and who are our women mentors and who are our man mentors. Um, because all of those things are going into the composition of a human being, so that by the time this human being is ready to reproduce and create life; it's like there's already a whole backstory there, you know?

[00:21:29] So it's really just a restructuring of everything that we can say, okay; it begins with a centering of the mothers. Because if a baby is growing inside of a mother and that baby is being formed through not just the mother's physical being, but through how the mother feels and through what the mother thinks, because of the biochemical reactions in response to what we think and what we feel, then we understand that, well, the baby's being formed out of conception and onward through, by and through the mother.

[00:22:00] And so then we have to start by taking care of the mothers, if we're going to make it simple. Right. So it would be a way of life that is centering the mothers. Like how do mothers feel, because really our felt experience as women, as mothers carrying life is the foundation for humanity's health, whether or not people know it or not, you know, so.

[00:22:25] Wow. The foundation of humanities health. That gives me goosebumps.

[00:22:32] And it's true. And we've, we've just forgotten that as humans, you know, it's like, we're all like, why do I have these chronic sicknesses? And, and why, why do I have this pattern way of thinking? And it's like, because it's all coming from our felt experience of our time, just stating in our mother's womb, that's coming from our experiences of what it felt like to be born.

[00:22:54] It's coming from all of our early childhood experiences. Most of the healing work we do as adults is relative to all that.

[00:23:03] So when you train midwives, doulas,

[00:23:08] birth workers now; how are you weaving the ancient traditional ways, the ways that we should have had, the ways we need to bring back with within the modern system; how are you recreating that?

[00:23:26] Well, I don't, I don't know that I say that I’m creating it within the modern system that, okay, we're living in these modern times, but a large part of the reason that I work with birth workers and healthcare professionals, apart from the fact that like they're then going to go work with mothers and families

[00:23:41] so it's like this concentric ring movement, is because a lot of what I learned in midwifery and in being around so many healthcare practitioners is that there's such a profound lack of integrity in healthcare practitioners. Like I, I have, I have elders and I have grown up in my adult years knowing what that's like to have mentors, who are like living examples of how to be, you know, and, and I know what it looks like and what it feels like to be in a position of power or meaning inner authority where, where you have real capacities that can serve people.

[00:24:20] But in a way that is, um, what's the word, in a way that is, honoring and respectful and integral. And what I witnessed in my time of midwifery training and what I, um, know still goes on all the time now is that there's so many healthcare practitioners that don't know how to be in their power in a good way.

[00:24:46] And actually what they're doing is abusing their power. Right. What was your initial question, cause I was going somewhere with that.

[00:24:53] No, it was beautiful. Um, I was just asking with the birth workers that you speak to now, how are you weaving in the, the ancient tradition, the ancient understanding of what birth is with the modern system.

[00:25:04] So to me, like the ancient understanding that I feel like I'm mostly bringing forth is, if we're a midwife or a doula or a doctor or whatever we are, if we are in these positions of power; and what that means is that knowledge is power. If you carry a certain knowledge, then you have power, right? And that's not a bad thing.

[00:25:26] A lot of us are in this weird relationship with power. It's like, we don't want it. We think it's bad. We demonize it. But you just are, um, innately in a position of power when you know something that a lot of other people don't know. And so how, how do you be with that in a good way? And so to me, the ancient piece that I feel like I'm helping to return is

[00:25:52] taking responsibility for that which we know, and being in a good way with our power. Which means, how do you use that power in a way to reflect someone else's power, and in a way to exalt them and uplift them instead of what happens so often by healthcare practitioners in birth and doctors and everything, really, which is

[00:26:15] the opposite. And that most people leave their healthcare practitioners’ offices feeling disempowered, feeling less than who they are, feeling like they don't know shit. And if we're providing health care, like health care can only be received. We can actually only heal if we feel safe. We can only heal within an environment of safety. And in order to feel safe,

[00:26:39] we have to feel like we're being heard. We have to feel like we're being seen. We have to feel respect. And most healthcare practitioners aren't providing that. So to me, like the biggest ancient traditional medicine piece that I feel like I'm able to share is, how to be living examples for our community.

[00:27:01] That's what we're supposed to be as healthcare practitioners, as, as people in our own power. You know. Wow.

[00:27:11] I have a beautiful community of women who are really passionate about stepping into this space and supporting mothers’ transitions. Uh, women's transitions into motherhood through matresence in a really big way. And I've never heard it described so beautifully, about what we're really here to do. That this is about living in integrity within ourselves; recognizing we have power, but how will we use it?

[00:27:34] That is a divine description of what we’re needed to do here. Thank you. Wow.

[00:27:40] Totally.

[00:27:42] Thank you so much. For what you're doing in this space, um, I will share the links to your website and your social media in the show notes, because I really encourage everyone to follow. Whether you're in the birth working space or not.

[00:27:58] What I find with these conversations is it is a constant reminder. If we weren't midwifed through this process in an honorable way. If we didn’t lose our power along the way; we can by sort of reading it and acknowledging that that's what we have, we can begin to heal now. Even if it was years and years ago, you felt that you lost your power

[00:28:23] in that moment, you felt you weren't supported into this transition properly. Even just following this story with you now, we can do that healing.

[00:28:33] Totally.

[00:28:34] So thank you so much.

[00:28:36] Thank you. Thanks for talking.

[00:28:39] There are so many things that we could and should be doing differently every week. I speak to these amazing women around the world, trying to understand how we can improve our support for mothers in such a better way. Rachelle is one of those women. And if you want to know more about this midwifing, a cultural shift, as she talks about really bringing in this innate wisdom, this personal authority, this new way, go to innatetraditions.com and check out all of the show notes. As always,

[00:29:16] I hope this just shows you, whether you're in the birthing and motherhood space or a mama yourself; that there really should have been a better way. That how you have been supported into this may have brought up some things for you. And I'm sorry that's happened. I really hope you know that it shouldn't have been that way.

[00:29:43] And you are surrounded now by resources and people, to help you process what happened, heal and rise. Remember if you go to mamarising.net, we have dozens and dozens now of Mama Rising facilitators around the world. Ready to support you no matter where you are in this experience of matresence, because we really do need to do it better.

[00:30:14] So go to mamarising.net. And until next week, satnam.

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I'm Amy.

I'm a matrescence activist - here to revolutionise the way you feel about yourself as a mama, and transform the way the world values and supports all mothers, everywhere.

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