Goat Midwifery


Avi The Goat

My goat Avi is in labor. I sit in the goat shed with her, just being present to calm her, and letting her know that she has calm company. I am reminded of birthing and babies and birth assistants. I am a goat midwife. I watch Avi’s body ripple with another contraction and remember the flow of sensation as those muscle contractions take over the body and pull the baby downward.

Her contractions are far apart at the beginning, causing a slight arch of her back down to her tailbone. She paws at the ground, making a nest—paw here, over there, sit, stand, fidget uncomfortably. The nesting activity is a sign of labor with my goats. It reminds me of pregnant women vacuuming energetically before labor. For me, it was baking lasagna. For Avi, it is hay in just the right nest shape. We all have something.

Avi’s early contractions just cause a pause and a stretch, an arch of the back. It’s later that they become more frequent and cause her to “go inward” and focus. She does not call out, she does not stress, she is relaxed and rolling with it.

I rolled through contractions, too, following nature’s pull with relaxed muscles. Be still, go inward, relax the whole body so the contractions will flow without tension or fear. I see the same pattern in the distant gaze of my goat’s eyes, her relaxed head and neck leaning gently against the wall of her shed, through the long minute of contraction. Then she is free to move around slowly until the next one comes to her. She looks up at me, as I observe quietly. She seems reassured by my presence.

I did this, too. I walked and stayed active until the work became more inward and focused. I swayed my hips and danced my dance gently, or rested quietly, until the next contraction flowed through my body, bringing my baby to me, through me.

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