[WE Talk] Bry Kring: Midwifery in the 21st Century–Uniting Contemporary Medicine with Traditional Practices

Bry Kring

Midwifery in the 21st Century--Uniting Contemporary Medicine with Traditional Practices

On this episode:

  • Advocating for women’s health
  • Connecting holistic traditions of birth with new practices
  • Living and learning in Central America
  • Studying medicine in the South during these charged times

Episode Transcript:

Nita June: Hello and welcome to WE Talk, a podcast that explores the role of Waldorf Education in helping children, parents and families thrive in an ever changing world. WE talk is brought to you by Shining Mountain Waldorf School. And this is your host, Nita June.

Hello, WE Talk wonderful listeners. Welcome to another episode. On today’s show, I bring on Bry Kring. Bry graduated from Shining Mountain in 2012 and she has gone on to pursue studies in midwifery and nursing. Not just here in the United States–currently undertaking a master’s degree at Vanderbilt, but also spending much time in Latin America. She is a young woman full of passion, boldness and fierce determination to do good in the world. I warmly welcome you to the listening of today’s episode. Thanks for being here with us. 

Welcome, Bry, thank you so much for being with me on this episode of WE Talk today.

Bry Kring: Thank you so much, Nita, for having me. I’m so happy to be here.

Nita June: You graduated from Shining Mountain back in 2012. And you hit it off to attend CU Boulder. And Bry, while you were at CU, you majored in Psychology, Pre-Med and minored in Public Health. And were these fields of interest to you prior to your beginning at CU? And what initially drew you into these interrelated studies?

Bry Kring: That’s a good question. I feel like I had an inkling from since I was really young just about my work in the world having to do with the human body. And I wasn’t really sure exactly what avenue necessarily. But I was always super fascinated by just the vessel of the human body and its workings and its magic. So, I just always knew that that would be definitely an avenue I’d be moving down. But it really wasn’t until actually ironically my senior project at Waldorf that I really knew exactly what avenue it would be.

And so, to circle back to the senior project, and I had an opportunity to sit with what would be interesting for me to dive into for at least 100 hours in this summer before senior year. And we had a midwife friend of the family. And I was always like, “Man, that would be so cool to see birth.” I felt like there was this wisdom and this ancient, I don’t know, sageness to it. And I just was like, maybe I should do go to a birthing center for my senior project. So, I did.

I went to a birthing center of the border of Juarez, Mexico, in El Paso. And I saw my first birth there and my senior project was around that. And it was really from that moment forward that I was very sure exactly what avenue of biology and healthcare I would be moving. So, it’s funny because I feel like I have that project to thank for my work now. I do think that my calling to midwifery is pretty deep. And so, at some point or another, I probably would have stumbled upon it.

But I do have to say that project probably made it come sooner and maybe smoother than it otherwise would have. So, that’s the, I guess, the interest in healthcare as a whole. And then, to answer what drew me to those specific studies, it was what would open doors for me because I knew I would be pursuing higher education beyond graduates, or I’m sorry, beyond undergraduate.

And so, that was the just logistical choice of choosing premed because that would fill all the prerequisites. And then psychology, I feel like it’s a study for anybody who’s interested in working with humans at all. And then, the public health piece. I always had an eye towards how healthcare and medicine can be sustainable. And I really feel like medicine and healthcare is really only as strong as it is preventative.

And there’s a really beautiful aspect to public health that has to do with education and empowerment. And seeing people as agents of their own healthcare themselves. And so, that was the piece about public health. And they all tended to tie together nicely and open doors to be able to move forward into a very specific healthcare field.

Nita June: Blessings to you that you have that clarity. The summer before we had the opportunity to receive that clarity, the summer before your senior year. So many students don’t have that and so many adults too as they’re moving further on into their life, but that calling was pretty deep within you even at that time. That’s wonderful.

Bry Kring: Yeah, I feel very lucky that that was the case. Definitely.

Nita June: So, prior to your senior year at Shining Mountain, did you feel that you were prepared with the courses and the classes in the sciences that you took at Shining Mountain for your studies at CU? And were you supported in your dreams and your visions by the faculty at Shining Mountain at that time?

Bry Kring: Yeah. Something that I’ll say very honestly is I really feel like no matter what subject you choose to pursue, or what field you choose to pursue, I really do feel like my experience at Waldorf did set me up for success. Not necessarily in these subject matters themselves but in instilling a value in me of really becoming curious about something. I think one of the beauties of the Waldorf Education is that it really helps the students to be wondrously curious and inquisitive about something.

And I feel like if you have wonder and inquisition and courage, then that lends to success in any subject. So, I do feel like I was prepared to set myself up for success because of that curiosity and willingness to ask questions and state when I didn’t understand something. And so, I will say I don’t necessarily feel like I took an AP level biology course so I was academically super prepared. But I was prepared in being able to gather all the resources to be successful.

And something that I think really helped me be successful at a large research university like CU Boulder was just that value of student and faculty relationships that is so innate to Waldorf Education. I mean, they really normalize that and encourage that. And so, when I got to CU and started studying in their biology department, which is huge, and it means a huge department, I knew my teachers. I would spend time in their office. And I feel like being a Waldorf student and never feeling like I was lost on the number.

And feeling like my individuality was really honored. That taught me to have those same values for myself. And I took that into a large university and a large department. And it made it feel a lot more manageable and a lot more enjoyable. And I will candidly share that biology as a subject, my first semester in college was probably the class I struggled the most in, which is funny because it’s now what I do.

But I think it’s because I struggled that it felt like it became so successful because that struggling with it is what really inspired me to dig into my resources that I learned from Waldorf and get to know my teachers and get to know my TAs. And I really lived in the bio department for that semester. And it went from a class that I was really struggling into a class that I ended up being asked to TA the next year. So, it was this really beautiful full circle process, so.

Nita June: Yeah. I’ve heard that so often in these podcasts or just in speaking with fellow Waldorf grads and alums of that feeling of just being on a big picture level like prepared for life. Whether it be in interpersonal relationships, the knowing how to learn and the curiosity for and really love of the world. I hear you say that too. That you were like really interested in all these things. And love how you said that fascination in your answer prior to this one of the human body. And of how we work and think and move and specifically, how we are born.

Bry Kring: Yeah. I think it’s so much easier to teach someone something like a factual thing, to teach someone science is much easier than teaching someone to be curious about that science. And really on their own volition, want to do more digging. And you did ask about faculty support. And I’ll speak quickly to that. One of the privileges of my Waldorf Education was being a student of David Blair’s for almost 10 years. Yeah. And he was my advisor all through high school.

And then, he ended up becoming a really dear friend of mine in life. So, my faculty experience was really wonderful. And I don’t think this was just for me. I think this is a value, and I don’t think it was just David Blair. It just happened to be that relationship was really strong. But I think something about the faculty at Waldorf is that they give their students space to listen to their own hearts and souls and callings.

And then, they also give them trust to move forward with that. And so, I felt really supported in my pursuits towards midwifery. And I feel like I would have felt really supported in any other pursuit that I would have taken as well.

Nita June: Yeah. I love to hear that. You named David Blair and I knew him for a short time. I was so touched by my relationship with him. He affected so many young adults and adults’ lives in an incredibly positive fashion. Yeah.

Bry Kring: Absolutely. I still feel like sometimes I receive little teachings from him here and there.

Nita June: I love it. He’s sending little things your way. Absolutely. So, bringing it back to another question. On your time, a bit of time spent in high school and then later on in CU. This interest in Latin America and that while at Shining Mountain, you spent some time attending a high school in Mexico. And then, later at CU, you were the public health leader in a nonprofit organization that worked in rural areas of Latin America, where you designed and implemented two different pilot programs. What was your initial draw to Latin America and the culture and the people there? And can you share a bit about these pilot programs with us?

Bry Kring: Yeah. So, as far as the year in Mexico, I think it’s fairly unique to Waldorf Education to be so open minded to allow a student to pitch this idea of spending a year in another country, and just roll with it. So, I think that just speaks to their commitment to well-rounded education however that looks for each student, understanding that that will be an individualized process for each one of us. So, I definitely think that that was really amazing that I had that opportunity to pursue that interest.

And I come from a family that really values travel. Starting at 18 months old, they would take us all around the world into very unique places. And one of the places that we traveled was this small town in Mexico where I ended up living for a year in high school. Part of the reason they valued travel and wanted to teach us to value travel as their kids was just that it really it’s a big perspective shifts that you get to have.

And it’s getting outside of what might seem normal and expected and really experiencing that humility of seeing something immersed in a different culture. And so, I think my initial draw to Mexico was bred into me from a young age of just being curious about these different horizons. And then also, really desiring to be fluent in Spanish, knowing that that would be something that I worked with in my life.

And my mom is fluent in Spanish, and she always stressed to me that you really can only learn by being immersed there. So, I’m just so grateful that Waldorf, that Shining Mountain, didn’t necessarily give me that opportunity but it didn’t block that opportunity. It actually allowed that opportunity to come to fruition. And it gave me the opportunity to really fall in love with a culture that I have continued to work with and will continue to work with in my career and life.

And then, speaking to the pilot programs that you asked about, so these pilot programs, one was a public health education program. And then, one was a sexual health and wellness program. So, the nonprofit that I was working in for a few years, it was a healthcare nonprofit, and that the design of the clinics was like a mini-clinic style. It was a little bit like, people came in with ailments, and then they would state those ailments to the provider.

And then, they would receive a prescription and then they would leave. But what I started to notice being involved for a few years was history was just repeating itself. We started to see really similar ailments every year. And so, I decided to dive into the data of the previous years. And I just noticed that there was so many of the same ailments that we were seeing. We saw tons of UTIs and tons of bacterial vaginosis and parasites.

And I was just like we’re not really doing anything if everything is just repeating itself. You can only prescribe so many antibiotics and then the thing is just going to happen again. And so, what I saw was really the missing or the weakest link was the fact that there was no education happening. There was no behavior modification. And there was no personal investment in what can we do to not just cure, right, but educate and prevent.

So, there’s that realm of public health coming in. So, I designed a pilot project. It was a meeting between the consult with the physician or the provider, and when someone would go visit the pharmacy because we had pharmacies in the clinics. And so, it’s like this window, while people were usually waiting anyways, where there would be a one on one educational setting with either a local professional or a completely fluent foreigner.

So, there was not that language barrier. Just to talk about what the ailment was and why it happens, and how you can prevent it, rather than just like, “Here’s your course and buy antibiotics. Take the full thing. See you next month for the same [crosstalk 00:18:13].” So, yeah, that was a really cool thing too. When you make a pilot project like that, it’s like you get to start with a question that you have and watch it unfold into this being of its own.

So, that was a really cool experience. And then, the second project was just revamping the sexual health program to encompass a little bit more wellness and interpersonal relations. And rather than being physiologically informative, I think that’s like the dullest portion of sexual health and wellness is the physiology of it. No one cares, and everybody knows about that, everybody knows what to do, but what’s missing is the personal connection to “why do I care about this? Why do I care about not getting pregnant?” And so, having time for that reflection. Because when people have that why, that internal motivating force, there’s a lot more connection to an outcome rather than like, “I guess I’m doing this because I’m supposed to or it just creates that deeper personal connection.”

Nita June: Yeah. Wow, really incredible programs. And Bry, were you instrumental in being there and doing this work with a pilot programs too? Or were you doing this work from Boulder?

Bry Kring: A little bit of both. I traveled down to Nicaragua three times with these projects. But then, a lot of the ground, writing the manuals and all that was done while I was in school at CU on the side. And then, traveling down was part of it as well. So, I guess it was, to answer that question, it was both of those things.

Nita June: Yeah. So, after you graduated, you continued this pursuit, as we know, of your passion for women’s health and sexual reproductive health and service among the Latino community. And Bry, you moved to Guatemala, which is just amazing to me. Why Guatemala? Why at that time? What drew you there? Can you share with us just about your work and this inspiration to head there after graduation?

Bry Kring: Yeah. So, I’ve always been, belong the same vein of the love for Latin America, the interest in that, and also the coming in a vein of service as well that Guatemala has pretty difficult, I guess, political situation and also maternal morbidity and mortality. It’s the second after Haiti for maternal mortality rate. And so, I had the opportunity to be connected to this really beautiful, incredible birthing center in the highlands of the region of Quetzaltenango. It was this little mountain rural town, really beautiful.

And I lived and worked in a three birth room clinic that was completely run by indigenous midwives. Which I mean, that’s amazing anywhere you go, but incredibly amazing more so because being in Guatemala, there’s so much sexism. There’s so much racism towards indigenous people, let alone indigenous women. And so, I was working with these incredibly empowered women who were dealing with double oppression every day of their lives. And so, I really was like, wow, I’m truly on the frontlines of feminism.

And with these women that are pioneering, it’s easier to be a feminist when it can be culturally accepted. But when it’s not, it’s like, oh, wow, that’s another level of commitment to the work and to the evolution for women. So then, to talk about what I did with them, so I was an intern. So, I did everything that interns do, both cleaning and learning. Just soaking in any information that would come my way and I would go with them to appointments and provide prenatal care with them and attend the births and the postpartum cares.

Some of which were actually at the homes which was really incredible to see. And we’d walk there just in these mountains and quiet. There was this one house we went to and the woman had given birth the night before. And she had walked home after she had given birth. I know. And we walked the next day, and you can’t imagine the stairs and the hillside to get up to their house. And we thought, it’s hard to do this without having just given birth. And so, it was pretty incredible. And yes, I worked with them for just under a year.

They were incredible, incredible women. And so, I guess, to give a little background, there are two routes to becoming a midwife in the United States. There’s a Certified Professional Midwife route, and then there’s the Certified Nurse Midwife route. And a Certified Professional Midwife is all out of hospital, almost all home births or birth clinics. And then, a Nurse Midwife, which is the route that I’m going down is 95%, they work in the hospitals. And it’s a lot more of a westernized education system.

And so, because I knew I was going to be pursuing, I guess, more of a Western route, and I chose that for no other reason besides just the logistics of having full practice authority and being able to work in every state or any state and have my own practice if I wanted. So, just to open more doors for me. But because I knew I was taking more of a Western route, I really wanted to have an experience of learning birth before I learned in a Western way from women who it’s completely traditional there.

And they view it as completely natural and they use local herbs and cultural practices. Something that’s true for the West and Western culture is that birth is often really feared and it’s really medicalized and it’s seen as an ailment and something to be fixed. And I just always knew I really don’t want to practice that way. And in order to not practice that way, I needed to learn from the experts in the natural physiologic process. And there’s really no better teachers in that world than the Mayan midwives.

And some of which had a third grade level of formal education that had been present at 3,000 births. So, I’m like, “That is the person I want to learn from”. That formal education piece doesn’t necessarily equate to being a good midwife. There’s something deeper, right? And in Guatemala, they view midwifery as they call it “a calling from God”. And they say that if you have received this calling, your hands have been blessed to do this work.

And so, what I gained from them was much more on the side of midwifery that you can’t really learn in a formal education setting, which is the wisdom and the sageness that one has to embody to hold this work. Yeah. So, that was my work at the birth center. And then, I also did a bit of work with a French Canadian medical doctor and has Master’s in Public Health and PhD. She was one of those people that you have no idea how she has time to eat or sleep. She was running a maternal mental health program through community building and women’s circles. And she was also doing a lot of academic writing. And so, I got to work with her and coauthor what ended up interestingly becoming a chapter in a textbook about indigenous practices in childbirth. And so, that was a really interesting experience from an academic standpoint to learn about academic writing in that way.

Nita June: What a rich time, Guatemala, wow. So, that was just a year?

Bry Kring: Yeah, yeah. It’s packed. It was one of those years that felt maybe 20 years.

Nita June: Yeah. So much learning going on. It sounds like on so many different levels also. Wow. So then, after that year, actually during that year, you started your applications for graduate school. And you were applying for schools that had nurse midwifery programs. And gained admission into Yale, Columbia, and Vanderbilt. Well done, my dear. What initially prompted you to return to the states?

You spoke a little bit about that earlier that you have this bigger picture vision for your life. But yeah, I’d love to hear just how that transition was for you to return back to the states and what attracted you in the end to Vanderbilt, your current school, over those others?

Bry Kring: Yeah. So as you spoke to, I feel like I always knew that although I did buy one way to Guatemala, and perhaps didn’t want to return because I was there in 2016 and there were some political things up in 2016, which is another time for another podcast, so it wasn’t necessarily excited to return to my American citizenship but I knew it was necessary. I felt like my time in Guatemala was it was a chapter, it needed to happen. And it also needed to come to a close.

I think physically and emotionally, I was probably pretty ready to come back. And yeah, like you said, I mean, I always knew that I had a bigger plan to return back to nurse midwifery school. And I didn’t realize when I was in Guatemala that without a license, there’s only so much service you can really be of. There’s doula work, which is wonderful. But I just knew that I needed more than that. And I wanted to ultimately be able to be a provider and not just an intern forever as glorious as that life is.

And so, the decision for Vanderbilt over the other ones was because it was difficult, to them, it was easy like all wrapped in one. I think when it comes to very niche fields of study such as midwifery, it’s surprising which schools are top ranked. It’s different than undergrad when Yale is really a top name no matter what field you go into. That’s different when it’s something very specific. And it does happen to be that, and I say this, I guess, with as much humility as I can muster, but Vanderbilt has a really strong reputation in the world of midwifery.

And it’s actually the top ranked school and whereas the other ones aren’t. Not that they’re bad or anything but yeah. And I also think part of it too was there was that draw, the number one school draw. There was that ego draw. And also, because just for the reputation. But also, I come from, I guess, a family of Yale goers. My parents met there and I just felt like this was my story that I got to write and choosing a different way.

And I have no family in the South. I have no lineage ties to the South at all. So, it was like this big step into a very different direction. And then, also just a more logistical boring stance. I did get a good scholarship to Vanderbilt. And I did get into their dual program, which allowed me to do a double master’s of nurse midwifery and family nurse practitioner. And yeah, I mean, that was really the final piece. I mean, all the other things played a part in the decision.

But really, I couldn’t turn down that because having those two degrees completely expanded my scope of practice. And not only could I work with women and babies, but I could work with children and men. And something that is really valued in the Guatemalan system that I got to see was that midwife is not simply to say women’s healthcare provider. She’s a pillar of healing for a whole community. And I thought just having a wider scope is not something that I would ever regret. So, I guess that’s why Vanderbilt.

Nita June: Yeah. Smart choices there. Smart and practical and wonderful wrapped into one. So, here’s more of a question that relates to our current times here. We are in a very active age of social justice and spotlight on health reform and healthcare reform. What is your experience been like at Vanderbilt, which is a historically conservative academic institution in the South?

Bry Kring: That is a really wonderful question. Yeah, I think there’s definitely a lot here to talk about. I think the fact that Vanderbilt is in the South brings with it a very interesting and at times, pretty challenging layers historically and socially and politically. And I will say it has been, yeah, it’s been interesting to study midwifery and women’s healthcare in the South because it feels like it carries a particular weight of reality and responsibility to it. I think that the education specifically in the field that I’m in feels very potent when being in the South.

Especially currently in light of their current political and social movements that we’re seeing a lot of threat to women’s rights and choices around our bodies that historically, we’ve fought really hard for. Birth control coverage and abortion. I think, yeah, just some of the changes that we’re seeing under our current administration with budget cuts to Planned Parenthood. All of what we’re experiencing right now is just experienced that much more in the South. Yeah.

Because it’s not a place that you can at all blissfully ignore any of that that’s going on. Because the anti-abortion laws are being passed or attempt passed in all of the neighboring states and in Tennessee. Just a couple of days ago, they signed a new bill that made abortions essentially impossible to get. And also, not to mention, and very topical and potent at this time is the really, really atrocious racial disparities that we see in maternal care, especially in the South. And so, because it is literally impossible to ignore these truths that are happening.

They’re not just theoretical like, “Oh, yeah, they’re happening somewhere in the world.” They’re happening right here and they’re happening right now. And so, it just feels like a very deep responsibility as a healthcare provider and a future provider to really use my voice about. And something I think I didn’t realize, and perhaps maybe wouldn’t have realized to this degree had I not gone to school in the South, is just such a huge job of being a midwife and healthcare provider is actual political and social advocacy and justice work.

I really didn’t realize that that was so tied in with this field. So many lawmakers and lobbyists that pass medical bills have no medical background. And it actually falls on the shoulders of healthcare providers to use their voices to step up and speak about that. And some kudos to Vanderbilt actually. In a class, my first year, part of an assignment was actually researching a bill that was attempting to be passed at the state level, and actually going to City Hall and meeting with that legislator.

And talking about why that bill from a healthcare perspective doesn’t make any sense. And so, a colleague and I chose a bill that was particularly close to home for me. It was an attempt to ban prenatal care from all immigrant women who are pregnant in the US and in Tennessee. And as you can imagine, particularly potent soft spot for me. So, we did our due diligence and we gathered evidence. We didn’t come at it from a humane, moral or ethical standpoint as it definitely fills all of those.

But we met him where he was at, this man who wrote this bill. We met him on a very fiscal perspective and explained to him that prenatal care is one of the cheapest investments you can make in someone’s future health. And without it, you actually accrue so many more challenges and financial burdens for hospitals in the government without it. So, it was interesting because, of course, I wanted to come at it in a very moral way.

But through that assignment, you realize that you have to meet people where they’re at. You have to meet people in the language that they can speak. And that’s an aspect of healthcare that I didn’t realize was so important was that rhetoric. Really.

Nita June: And did you change his view?

Bry Kring: So, I can’t say. I can’t take credit but the bill did not pass. Thank goodness. I mean, I’m definitely not going to shoulder the credit for that. But it just felt really good to take what we are experts in or becoming experts in and say, “This is our field and we understand this, and let us help you understand why this is fiscally a horrible decision.” So, it was interesting to learn how to meet someone on a political realm where they’re at, and use our voices. So, that was great.

And then, yeah, and so, one last thing and I know this question definitely is packed for me. But one last thing I will speak about which maybe is a more important point is just that I feel like going to school and working in healthcare in the South has really taught me a lot about really, really deep compassion and compassion that permeates beyond any illusion of political or social separation that we like to cling to.

I think healthcare is a pretty equalizing experience, given that nobody is exempt from the basic means of needing help when they’re sick or when they’re giving birth. I’m definitely not equating those two. I’m just giving two examples. But as a healthcare provider, and being with somebody in the throes, for example of the transition stage and labor or that moment of pure ecstasy and love when they have their baby placed on their chest for the first time.

And then also, outside of the labor world, if someone’s afraid and alone and sick, it’s like you get to experience a really deep level of vulnerability with another human. And unless you’re part of someone’s healing journey, you may never get to that level of compassion and vulnerability because it’s something that we just bury as humans. We keep it untouchable and we create these illusions of separation through labels of certain political parties and all these things.

But when it comes down to it, you’re in humble service to the person in front of you in a basic human need, and in that moment, everything else falls away. I mean, you just get to really witness somebody in that just pure pureness of existence and humanness. And you start to realize that that’s no different from what I experienced. And I think that this is especially potent when it’s somebody who maybe otherwise you would have been labeled as different from you socially, politically, et cetera.

So, I think to wrap up that question, I feel like there’s maybe a part of me, a wiser part of me beyond my mind or ego that chose to go to school in the South because it’s a place that would really fiercely expand my heart and my compassion.

Nita June: What bravery and courage you have. I am imagining you coming out of your studies, out into the working world and what a gift and a blessing you are going to be to your patients. Really exciting. And you speak so eloquently and with such passion and heart. Thank you. On a bit of a different note, Bry, you noted to me earlier in a conversation that you were “a true Waldorfian” in seeking balance outside of your studies.

And with such things as an act of yoga practice, you’re also a teacher of yoga, your love for writing, and your continued interest in creation of watercolor artwork. Why do you feel that these respective– I’m going to rephrase that. What do you feel that these three respective arts bring into your life? And why do you think you return to them again and again?

Bry Kring: So, I think I’ll start to answer this question by sharing something that I have come to believe about Waldorf Education and I feel like it’s an opinion that I have gained being eight years out and having been through the whole 14 years of it. But I feel like we talk about Waldorf teaching art and balance and well-roundedness, but I actually, I don’t really think that the Waldorf Education teaches these things. I think that it reminds us of things that are already innate to us inside.

I feel like we are all already artists and already creatives and already naturally well-rounded as humans. We’re already deeply connected to the earth and her changes and all of that really without learning anything. So, I feel like the education, in air quotes, the education that Waldorf brings is actually just reconnects us to a reminder of these things that are already inside of us. It’s like it strengthens that muscle, so that we can bring that forward into a society that tends to value separation and doesn’t really value that deeper connection. And in and in a society that sees art as a hobby and something that you do but actually, it’s something that you are.

And so, I just feel like through Waldorf Education, we don’t learn these things, we just remember them. And so, to answer your question of what they bring to my life, I feel like my art and writing and painting and gardening and yoga, which is more of a physical art form, are truly lifelines for me.

I mean, they are my ability to understand myself so much more honestly. And then, also understand the earth in a deeper way. I feel like it’s my connection to something bigger than myself and it’s a connection back into really the magic of life. And so, yeah. And then, to circle this to midwifery because I think it’s appropriate and relatable, that I think midwifery really is an art form. 

And it’s me being in touch with the deeper parts of myself that I only learned through art and through connection to the earth that only serves to make me a better midwife. Because midwifery also has that art form within it. And I think midwifery is a field that it straddles an interesting line of science and art. On one side, you get this very biology-based scientific risk assessment and that’s really important when in emergency situations and in protocol.

But then on the other side, you’ve got another leg and something so much bigger than the self, the little “S” self. And there’s really this magical side to a woman moving through something big and creating space for an energy to move through her body to bring another being forward. And so, I feel like it is actually my work as a midwife to be an artist as well in my personal life, to be able to hold myself accountable and that integrity to hold space in a deeper way because that allows me to show up for this energetic experience that is earth.

Nita June: I feel like I could listen to you for days, Bry. But I have just one last question for you. What is your vision for yourself in work and in life for the future? And how might this tie into your, yeah, your vision for healthcare, wellness, women’s rights and more?

Bry Kring: I think I have a few different visions, some shorter term, some longer term, some still unfolding. But on the short term or the shorter term and I guess coming up a little quicker is my plan to work in the Navajo Nation. So, that’s my next midwifery step. I think my last placement of school will be with the Navajo Nation at the Indian Health Service Hospital. And so, that’s my next step. And then, longer down the line, I do have a vision to have my own practice.

And it’s something that I feel coming on, but I know it’s going to take years of experience and gathering the right people to be a part of it because what I see it being is not really just a birth clinic, but actually really like a whole integrative human center. I feel like I want it to be full of different healing modalities. Because I think a mistake that the Western medical field makes, there are many, but one in particular is this idea that healing happens like in a silo.

And I just don’t think that that’s true. Healing is a multifaceted body, mind, spirit engagement. And so, that’s my dream for this clinic is that there would be Western healthcare providers, Eastern healthcare providers through acupuncture, somatic PT, physical therapists for the pelvic floor after birth. And then, there will be a yoga studio and it’s just a very multifaceted approach to one communal setting being a place where people can come and heal body, mind, and spirit.

And also get really good evidence-based up to date care. So, that’s like my vision for that clinic and how that ties into my deeper vision for healthcare and women’s rights and healing is that, and this is going to sound really simple, but that I’m going to take insurance. And I know that’s like a superficial thing to say, but I guess on a deeper level.

What I’m saying with that is that I’m not only going to serve one type of person from one particular background. I get very fired up about and really rejecting the notion that healing is a wealthy thing. I think it’s a human thing. I think no matter who you are or what your background or race or gender or socioeconomic status, everybody has the right to really good, sound healthcare and also a really safe and empowering birth experience.

And also, further still space for deeper spiritual growth. And I think investment in health and healing is not only an investment for that person, but it’s an investment for the next generation. Because birth especially is a very, can be a very fragile experience where it can very quickly go from being really empowering to incredibly disempowering, something that that person hold with them for the rest of their lives.

And how a woman gives birth is often how she’ll step into motherhood and that we know plays a big role in the next generation. So, I feel like investment in birth and in women is an investment in a whole community and an investment in the whole next generation. So, I feel like taking my education from a really great school is it’s my job to take that and be of service in a way that’s sustainable and reaches a lot of different people.

Nita June: Right, thank you. Thank you on so many levels. I’m so excited for you for your future and for all your patients and all the lives that you are going to be possibly affecting both as mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, the little ones. Just really, really wonderful work. I wish you all the best. And I can’t wait to check in in maybe a couple years and see where you are at.

Bry Kring: Yes, absolutely. I would love to stay in touch. I love this community, so.

Nita June: Thanks so much, Bry. I wish you a wonderful rest of your day.

Bry Kring: Thank you so much, Nita.

Nita June: Thank you for listening to WE Talk, brought to you by Shining Mountain Waldorf School and hosted by Nita June. WE Talk is made possible because of listeners like you to invest in the production of the show. Share your appreciation for what you’ve heard today. Help us explore the value of Waldorf Education in preparing our children for the future by going to patreon.com/wetalkpodcast. If you’d like to be interviewed, have a suggestion for an episode head or simply wish to share feedback, please email us at wetalk@smwaldorf.org.