BirthRite in Shenzhen, October 2014
CNZCS Conference in Shenzhen, China

Shenzhen

Shenzhen has grown from a fishing village of 2,000 inhabitants to a modern city of 20 million people in a time span of 30 years. 20,000 babies are born here annually.

I was invited by Meng Xue, President of the CNZCS, to give a series of presentations on holistic midwifery at the CNZCS Conference which attracted some 1,500 midwives. The atmosphere at the conference was welcoming and positive, and I was made to feel at home and looked after at every step.


Monika answering questions from audience at Shenzen conferenceBreathing exercises

During the 3-day conference, I gave a total of 8 presentations on a variety of topics. I compared midwifery history, training and current practice in Germany and Australia, introduced the principles of holistic midwifery, outlined a framework for the establishment of holistic midwifery practice, and discussed the advantages of upright birthing and the power of Birthing Seats. There were also some impromptu workshops; the one focussing on modulated breathing techniques in second stage was a great source of amusement for the participants.

The translators, a male neonatologist and a female professor of midwifery, worked hard to translate my English for the Chinese-speaking audience. Both did an amazing job!

After the presentations were completed, midwives literally stormed the stage, asking to take many, many photos with me. They gathered around the Floor Studio, studying it and trying out in detail all the aspects covered in the presentations. We played and demonstrated and laughed, and all the while the cameras kept running. Later, a big party was held, with food, speeches and some gorgeous theatrical and singing performances.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Shenzhen and observe women in labour. I found there was much scope for introducing holistic midwifery practices which would be particularly useful in the Chinese context for enhancing the situation of birthing women. Given that most Chinese couples only ever have one child, I feel it is even more important to make this experience as wonderful and as strengthening as possible. In public, both women and men seem to be looking after their offspring lovingly, so there is no reason for men not to get involved in the birth. I think Chinese men will take to it well, after some introduction to the concept.

Leading midwives in China are now looking at ways of incorporating the principles of holistic midwifery into everyday practice. Meng Xue runs a private midwifery school, employing 100 teachers who are disseminating the new way to other Chinese midwives. Next year, the school is going to be affiliated with a leading university and receive government recognition and support. I look forward to returning to China, its warm and welcoming people, the delectable Chinese food and more teaching engagements.

— Monika Boenigk
BirthRite



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