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I recently had the opportunity to speak with best selling author Suzanne Arms about her 30 years as an educator and activist. With passion in her voice, she shared her struggles as well as her hopes for the future.
Arms is frequently, yet mistakenly, thought of as a midwife. She says this occurs because she writes books about midwives, speaks about midwives, and speaks of the midwife holistic model of care. Her description of herself is that of an "activist about issues relating to consciousness and childbirth, and healing." Her healing focus is on preventing and healing trauma for both mothers and babies.
Arms has written seven best-selling books. Her first book, A Season to be Born, published in 1973, is her personal story of pregnancy and birth. She states that, at the time, there were no books about pregnancy written from the woman's perspective. There were a few books written by doctors, and a couple of books about how to give birth with the Lamaze method, but nothing about the emotions of a woman going through a pregnancy. Arms states, "I was a college educated woman, ignorant of my own body, and frightened about birth. This was the predicament of most women in 1970."
While more information is available today, and more books pepper the shelves of Borders and B. Dalton, she says that women still don't have easy access to information that will give them confidence about the experience of pregnancy and childbirth.
Immaculate Deception, her second book, and New York Times best seller, was written as a means of investigation. She wanted to know why birth had to be "so awful" for women. Her question, "Why can't women birth?" was the main question behind the book.
With two books published, Arms began speaking, teaching, and doing more research into the nature of birth in the western world. She was driven with questions about the birth process. She wanted to know, "what has driven us to the practices that have been, and that we have now."
Arms' dedication to empowering women led her to write additional books on adoption and breastfeeding. Adoption: A handful of Hope, explores issues of not only the birth mother, but the birth father, adoptive parents and adoptees. Bestfeeding, co-authored with two British midwives, is a comprehensive book on breastfeeding.
In 1994 Arms wrote Immaculate Deception II, because, as she states, "much was different, but nothing had significantly changed." She goes on to claim that a case could be made that things were worse than in 1975. "The cesarean rate had climbed to almost 25% and the epidural rate was rising to almost 75%."