The Power of the Drum

January 6, 2018

When I was working in Toronto, partnering with another Aboriginal midwife, our goal was to take on any Aboriginal woman who wanted midwifery care, regardless of where she lived in the GTA.

In one of the more rewarding experiences of my career, I worked with a young Anishinaabe couple expecting their first child, striving to respect traditional ways on their journey to becoming parents.

This young woman labored through the night and into the day, well supported by her partner and family. When she finally arrived at the pushing stage, however, her energy had reached a very low point. We tried various positions, techniques, and encouragement to help her push the baby out into the world. Her pain was intense and she was starting to give up.

With my fellow midwife, we strategized about what else we could do to help the birth along. We knew that if things did not continue to advance, the woman would need to be moved to hospital. Sensing the gravity of the situation, this woman’s sister picked up her hand drum and went into the adjoining room and began to drum and sing, asking for help from Creator to bring this baby forth. The energy in the room began to change and the labouring mother was visibly revived. In fact, we were all revived and renewed.

The woman’s determination and strength was restored and she began to push with new energy. Our efforts to coach and guide her flowed along with this new energy. The song from the other room ended, and I immediately went to ask for another.

“It’s working! Keep singing! Your song is helping to bring this baby!”

Not long after, the baby was born to the sound of the drum and his auntie’s song exactly as his parents had wanted things to be — surrounded by the love of family and community and in his own home. It was an incredible experience for us all.

— Kerry Bebee
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