“The health care system as we have known it is in chaos, and this includes maternity care. The system and the mindset that created it are going through a painful and dysfunctional labor-struggling to stay in control.
Suzanne Arms tells the truth, and she does it with great clarity and compassion. Her vision, put forth so compellingly, can help midwife this system right now. Like all good birth attendants, Suzanne understands the nature and power of support, understanding and compassion. Those qualities help a woman, and even a health care system, to let go and allow the new creation to emerge.”
Christiane Northrup, M.D.
Best-selling author of Women’s Bodies: Women’s Wisdom and host of a PBS series on women’s health
(excerpt above from her introduction to Immaculate Deception II: Myth, Magic & Birth)
Suzanne Arms is a familiar name to many from her seven groundbreaking books (on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and adoption), films, photographs, and the hundreds of talks she has given at conferences worldwide since 1975. She has been an inspiration behind the Birth Movement. Her second book, Immaculate Deception, was named a New York Times Best Book of the Year and inspired thousands of midwives, nurses and physicians, as well as parents-to-be. Arms is an advocate for holistic, sustainable health policies and practices and conscious parenting. Her focus – and the focus of Birthing The Future, the U.S. non-profit she founded and directs – is birth and the mother-baby connection, which lays the foundation for love and trust, health and resiliency, cooperation and community.
Arms’ presentations range from large multi-media events, using films and her photographs, at conferences and colleges to workshops for professionals and students, and intimate sacred circles for healing and deepening community. She weaves a tapestry of knowledge from ancient and cross-cultural wisdom to modern science (cellular biology, neurobiology, psycho-immunology and attachment theory), with ecology, feminism and spirituality.
“My purpose is to help shift the paradigm that drives the loneliness, anxiety, addiction, greed and aggression so prominent in post-modern societies to one that promotes joy, wellbeing and peace. I work at the beginning of life, where the patterns are set. We must transform how we bring human beings into the world and care for each childbearing woman and mother-baby pair from conception to the first birthday, when they are one biological system and the baby’s developing brain and nervous system are laying down patterns for a lifetime.”
In 1977 Suzanne made her debut as a video filmmaker with a half hour black and white documentary called “Five Women, Five Births,” a film about choices. Many childbirth educators continue to use this film in their classes, as it takes the uninitiated gently into the feelings and reality of labor and deliver.
“For too long our approach to childbearing and caring for mothers and babies has been fear-based, its hallmarks isolation, intervention in natural processes, hyper-stimulation and maternal deprivation. Women’s experiences and their feelings about themselves, their babies and motherhood, translate directly into thoughts and biochemistry that lay down patterns in their baby’s developing nervous system and brain. These patterns shape, not only how we see ourselves as children, but the relationships we form as adults and how we care for others and our world. The mother-baby relationship is crucial. Thus, how we treat the women who bring children into this world – with honor and tenderness or neglect and abuse – profoundly influences the direction of our society.
Love and fear, and peace and violence, begin in the womb. And that is where the roots of faith or alienation lie. The new paradigm, which is really based in ancient wisdom and supported by modern science, is available to us today, as is healing the birth-related trauma so prevalent in modern society.”
Arms, a mother and grandmother, former pre-school and Head Start teacher, is a founding and active member of the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children. At the pioneering Holistic Childbirth Institute in San Francisco, in 1977, Suzanne created and taught the first course on the evolution of childbirth practices and how we got the practices we have today. A year later she co-founded The Birth Place, the country’s first resource center for pregnancy, birth and new parenting and one of the first independent birthing centers in the U.S. Located just minutes from Stanford University Medical Center, The Birth Place also began the first training of doulas. Suzanne was a founding and active board member of Planetree, the international organization working to transform hospitals and clinics into true healing centers.
Her film “Giving Birth”, which contrasts the medical model for birth with the biological or midwifery model, is used extensively by birth educators, doulas, progressive hospitals and university women’s studies programs. It has inspired thousands of women and men to make different choices about how to bring their baby into the world. In 2003 Suzanne Arms founded Birthing The Future, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. She is currently finishing a television documentary called “Birth.”
Suzanne lives near Durango in SW Colorado and works with the help of volunteer assistants, interns, and advisors from across the world.