This week, Sarah Abugosh, shares the history of AMANI Birth's inception in her own words, and adds further regarding the importance of the organization's work and its necessity for the Muslim Ummah at large:
Tell a brief history of how the AMANI Birth program came to be?
AMANI birth came to be out of necessity, due to lack of natural birth advocacy and awareness in the Middle Eastern Region especially, as well as all around the Arab and Islamic world. Unfortunately, as our founder, Aisha Al Hajjar, has experienced during her time living (and giving birth) in Egypt and then Saudi Arabia, birth had moved out of the home, away from the support and care of midwives, and into the hospital and controlling hands of the OB/Gyns, where medical interventions were administered to laboring and birthing mothers as protocol or a form of procedure, without need, and these non-evidence based practices ended up leading to many iatrogenic effects, resulting in unnecessary trauma on many mothers, if not worse. This took power and choice away from the mother, who is ridiculed for speaking up for herself and her baby.
Aisha decided it was her mission to continue her work as a childbirth educator and doula in the Middle East and started her blog, helping parents to relearn what they forgot: that birth is a natural, instinctive process that shouldn't be rushed or hurried, as long as there are no medical emergencies to deal with.
After her home birth with her youngest child, Amani, where her husband actually caught the baby in his own hands, she decided to put her long thought-of plans into action, and wrote her natural birth book, encouraging and empowering women everywhere! For a name, she came up with the backronym for AMANI (after her daughter), "Assisting Mothers for Active, Natural, Instinctive Birth". As time went on, she started the AMANI program as we know it, to train other women to be CBE and Doulas, until slowly awareness spread and natural birth is finally coming back to the Middle Eastern region and Muslim countries alhamdulillah. But AMANI is not simply for Muslims, or for mothers giving birth in the Middle East; the knowledge a mother gets from this program is universal, and will hopefully help mothers of all religions and countries around the world, inshaAllah!
In your opinion, why is it important for a woman to prepare for her birth?
When a woman is prepared for the physical, emotional and psychological demands of labor and birth, she is much more likely to remain calm, to be patient, to stay relaxed, and to submit to the process and her natural instincts, and more likely to refuse unnecessary "standard" medical procedures and hospital protocols that may lead to a cascade of effects that could end with IOL, cesarean, trauma, depression and regret, or even worse. A prepared and educated woman will be empowered to birth her baby and take charge of the process, doing as her instincts demand, as opposed to letting people do things to her and deliver her baby for her, laying helplessly in lithotomy position, and seeing her baby a few days later, without having a chance to establish breastfeeding or even bond with her new baby.
What was the most profound thing you learned through your AMANI Birth training journey?
I learned about how very commonplace invasive and unnecessary medical procedures are here (episiotomy, catheter, lithotomy position, using enema on mom, IOL, immediate cord clamping, cesarean for extremely unlikely medical emergency scenarios, etc) and how they almost always cause a cascade of iatrogenic consequences. These practices are in general non-evidence based and end up CAUSING medical emergencies that would otherwise have been avoided. Most of what we have been taught about birth by 'modern' doctors and Hollywood, etc, is a lie, and we need to go back to natural and instinctive birth for mom and baby's optimal health.