I purposely say “more sovereign” and not “sovereign” because, as humans, we are pack animals, we are evolved to have deep and long lasting familial and romantic bonds with others. It’s a pre-requisite for survival and health. A baby who isn’t nurtured by interaction from loving care givers will be irreparably emotionally and developmentally disadvantaged. It’s important then to make the distinction between independence, codependence and interdependence.
Independence is the “no man is an island” idea and it would be impossible to be totally independent. If not impossible, at least impractical and inefficient. Independence would have you doing every task associated with daily life yourself without making use of existing knowledge or wider systems. You’d grow all your own food, home educate your children and personally identify and punish those who wronged you. I don’t denigrate this option, the vigilante justice thing is particularly appealing! 🤣
If, like me, you consider the police exist only to quell social unrest, preserve the status quo and protect the property of the rich and that mainstream schools damage and stunt our children it is not a huge reach to imagine taking on more of these responsibilities for oneself. But in an increasingly globalised and connected world it is unlikely to be possible. The difficulty in owning land, for instance and a lack of freedom to opt out of certain mandatory systems are just two factors that would pose a problem.
Codependence then, is desiring the services, input or validation of an organisation or individual for your survival to the point that you forfeit your truth, pride, values or authenticity to maintain that relationship. This is most often in regards to an interpersonal relationship but can definitely be applied to other frameworks for example, housing and utilities or driving. Many of us don’t agree with the rent and other charges our landlords, councils or energy companies apply or perhaps you don’t agree with property or land ownership in general but we need a roof over our heads so we pay it. Perhaps you feel that access to water is a human right and the means of having it delivered to residences has been paid for many times over and should not be owned by water companies but to enforce that view would have legal consequences so you simply pay. Personally, I detest the fact that vehicle insurance is a legal necessity or that arbitrary speed limits must be observed in order to use motorways and roads but I also need to travel long distances on my own steam so I submit to the will of the DVLA in order to continue reaping those benefits.
In my opinion, it is interdependence that is most worth striving for: in this scenario your contribution is valued equally by a community of local and known individuals. You receive and take in equal measure from the bargain, you don’t have to be someone you are not in order to profit from it and all parties have the freedom to end the arrangement if it no longer serves one or more of you.
Oxford University evolutionary psychologist, Professor Robin Dunbar has theorised that humans can only really maintain personalised relationships with 150 people. It’s no wonder then, that in a society in which it’s common to see the faces and opinions of thousands of people a day, to go days without meaningful face-to-face socialising, and where those upon whom you depend for your daily needs; food, water, fuel, heating and shelter, can number into thousands of often unknown, faceless, distant strangers we end up feeling atomised and disconnected.
The potential to live and interact in the ways we are evolutionarily designed to, becomes slimmer as globalisation and systematisation advances.
But I’m optimistic that through pregnancy, birth and postnatal choices we can increase our sovereignty and re-establish our humanity.
The definition of sovereignty is “Possessing supreme or ultimate power or authority” and you absolutely have supreme power in pregnancy, birth and labour. Over your body, your baby and your choices. You must. Because as we approach motherhood and step into matrescence your baby expects you to protect and guide them. Not the state, not doctors, not midwives or surgeons or family but you: The Mother.
While obtaining, consuming or otherwise honouring one’s placenta is permitted we should make use of it. A long, chequered history of this wonderful organ being used to earn profit for the medico-industrial complex who would sell this “medical waste” to cosmetic scientists to use in shampoo and skin creams means that when we take our placentas back we take some of our sovereignty back.
Written by Reign Lawrence – The Freebirth Doula
Reign is a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, Freebirth Doula, Childbirth Educator, Tarot Reader and Pre- and Post- natal fitness instructor. They serve the West Midlands, Dudley, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Stoke, Stafford & Birmingham.
You can reach out to Reign here