The Spirit of Birth Conference in Damanhur, Italy, May 2011 photo 1

The Spirit of Birth Conference in Damanhur, Italy, May 2011

Nestled within the Valchiusellla valley in the foothills of the Italian alps, there lives a community of conscious souls who endeavor to create a life that honors the earth and each other. This community is called the Federation of Damanhur. I had the good fortune to be invited here last year, in 2010, to speak at the World Birth Summit. This year, I was invited back for the Spirit of Birth conference, a smaller affair, but no less powerful in terms of the passion and energy of the founder, Farfalla Vitalba, her Damanhurian colleagues (a small group of midwives, healers and psychologists), and fellow presenters and participants.

Again, midwives, doctors, educators, mothers and concerned citizens of the global environment and practices of obstetric and maternal care gathered to share their unique message on the topic of the spirit and spirituality of birth. As you may have gathered from my past blogs here, this is a topic and a work that I have dedicated my life to, so being in this milieu is a great blessing.

Here, a brief re-cap of some of the powerful messages shared over these past days: Gino Soldera, President of the National Association of Psychology and Prenatal Education (ANPEP – Italy’s APPPAH) spoke of the vital importance of the role of the father to engage with his mate consciously during the prenatal period and how this positively impacts the birth, his relationship to the mother, the baby, the family and ultimately, society.

Team Damanhur offered a talk on the “The Social Uterus: The Vessel for the Spirit of Birth”.  Their talk focussed on the importance of community in supporting conception, pregnancy and birth and how the need for a couple’s own inner work on their consciousness, talents and limits is necessary. In their words, “Through the joy of exchange and an awareness of needs, we obtain experiences that enrich our emotional world and create an appropriate container for a new soul.”

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Rev. Amanda Edwards, a birth doula, asked us “What is Spirit?” and on a whiteboard we offered meanings in English and Italian: Essence/Essenzia, Oneness/Unita, Love/Amore, Power/Potenza and many more. She then asked us “How do these words make us feel?” Our answers, she said, were the clues to the fact that each one of these definitions is within us, and that we have the power to access these experiences and feelings of Spirit when we attend births.

Faye Read, a midwife and childbirth educator from Perth, Australia gave a fantastic presentation on the rituals of birth of the Aboriginal people of Australia and the challenges inherent in preserving their indigenous ways in the Western hospital setting.

Yesterday, after a long day of presentations by myself and others, a question was posed to the group by Rev. Amanda, “Are our present day rituals for birth cesarean sections and interventions?” I don’t pretend to have the answer but I feel the question is vital for parents-to-be and birth professionals to ask themselves as they consciously prepare to either participate in or attend birth in this lifetime.

The Spirit of Birth Conference in Damanhur, Italy, May 2011 photo 0

Stephanie Dawn, ALSP is committed to the creation of a new paradigm of birth, where expectant mothers, and all who attend to them, do so in a reverent, sacred and respectful way. She is the author of the Sacred Birth Workbook ~ Childbirth Preparation for the Heart, Mind and Spirit, which is now available in Italian. Contact Stephanie by emailing or go to

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