Many people imagine that the thing I love about my work as a doula is the beauty of a baby being born or a love of natural birth. It’s not.
Don’t get me wrong, witnessing the emergence of a new human being into the world is a beautiful and magical thing, as is watching new parents see their baby for the first time. That cliché “the miracle of birth”, well, it truly is.
And natural birth is not only pretty damn cool, but when you look at the science behind it, it’s clear that, medically speaking, natural birth makes sense.
Today is my birthday. Every year, in the days leading up to my birthday, my mom and I go through the same, routine. I get the very same play-by-play. It goes something like: “I think my water is going to break pretty soon.” And “I think the baby is getting ready.” Etc.
Basically, I get the moment-by-moment what was happening right now, in the year I was born.
These memories are playful, joyous, funny, and I can hear the emotion and hints of recalled excitement and trepidation in her voice as she remembers awaiting my birth, the birth of her only child.
This is a movie review of a new documentary called "Birth Story". "Birth Story" sets out to document the life and work of Ina May Gaskin. It does just that.
I just read an article in the NY Times blog that lays out the latest research - published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research shows that, "mammograms increased diagnoses and surgeries, but didn’t save lives". This is really important!
Mammograms increase diagnoses, but they do not save lives.
Much of the time, after a woman gives birth, she experiences a kind of shaking or trembling that resembles shivering, except she doesn’t feel cold. For years, I was told and believed this to be normal. That it is the result of the big hormone shift that happens after a woman gives birth. This is the commonly held belief, that I know of, in the birth world.
But a few years ago it dawned on me that I couldn’t recall seeing this shaking/shivering at homebirths and so I began to wonder; what is this shaking and trembling really? Is it normal and natural? Is it part of the healthy postpartum hormone shift? Or is something not quite right?
I just heard this story on NPR about research that illustrates the ways that teachers’ expectations shape how students perform. It makes absolute sense and I think it applies to more than children or education. I think it applies to all of us in life.
Everyone is up in arms about Todd Akin’s comment about “legitimate rape”. Rightfully so. But I’ve been feeling irritated by everyone’s Tweets and Facebook posts and I’ve been trying to figure out why.
It finally clicked for me when I read Eve Ensler’s beautiful Huffington Post letter to Akin.
What I realized is that I feel angry because many people of the people who are so up in arms about this Akin’s remarks are also quick dismiss women’s rights in childbirth and support violation in that arena.
Most of the time when a woman gets an epidural, everyone around her repeatedly tells her what a good decision she made and why it was such a good decision. And when I say repeatedly, I mean repeatedly.
I don’t see it at every epidural birth, but I see it a lot.
And it doesn’t sit right.
So I’ve been trying to figure out why this is bothering me so much. What’s wrong with everyone telling her she made a good decision to have an epidural? I do believe that if a woman wants an epidural and is happy with an epidural then it was a good decision for her.
But I kept finding myself thinking, why isn’t anyone ASKING her if it was a good decision? Why isn’t anyone asking her how the decision feels to her and how the epidural feels to her?
Today I went to the dentist for one of my regular twice yearly cleanings and I found myself in the midst of a similar dynamic that many of my clients experience with their doctors during pregnancy and labor. The difference for me, today: the stakes were low. Very low.
I have healthy teeth and gums free of any discomfort. I could have easily walked out and gotten my teeth cleaned another time by another dentist. There was no one else and nothing else to consider but me and my teeth. All this is different from a pregnant or laboring woman.
But it really got me thinking about how difficult it is as a patient to express our questions and preferences, and how ruthlessly many doctors will work to keep us silent so they can do things their way because “I’m the doctor”.
Today a friend of mine emailed me a video she took of her 6 year old son conquering one of his big fears. This video my friend sent me brought tears to my eyes and made me think of what all birthing mothers, really all human beings, need.
Since my friend's son was a baby, he's been frightened by his head getting wet. Over the years the fear of this has diminished but he was still not keen on learning to swim. This year, however, he started swim class but still had a lot of fear about jumping in. Today he did it.
Looks like US moms could learn a bit from the Swedes. Also looks like US newspapers could learn a bit from European newspapers.
According to a recent survey, carried out by the Swedish magazine ‘mama,’ found that one-third of swedish mothers have sex with their baby in the same bed. They also found that 48 per cent of moms manage to have sex once or twice a week, while four per cent claimed to get amorous with their partners every day.
Seems like folks on the other side of the Atlantic are more relaxed being sexual around sleeping babies and the news is more willing to put into print information about mothers and sex without a judgmental bent.
There is a beautiful article in the New York Times Magazine about the legendary midwife Ina May Gaskin and the growing interest in homebirth in America.
I am thrilled that Ina May and her ideas are represented in an honest, accurate and comprehensive fashion. I am equally thrilled that the author of the article, who was pregnant when she began researching the piece and gave birth before its publication, represented her own experience with honesty and vulnerability, free of defensiveness.
I've been radio silent for a while, mostly because I see and hear so many things that need addressing that I tend to get overwhelmed and not sure where to begin.
But last week Time magazine came out with a cover story that has had the blogosphere, the internet, the radio, and television news a buzz. And I can't let this one go unaddressed because I think this is more of a womens' issue than a mothering issue or a breastfeeding issue.
Carlin recently posted about breastfeeding in public not being a big deal. Some of her Facebook friends got pretty worked up and it sparked quite the conversation. So I thought I’d post some beautiful pics of Maggie Gyllenhaal nursing in public and say a little something more.
I love everything about these. I love that she nursed publicly and obviously. I love that the paparazzi took pictures. I love that she and her baby look so comfortable and that you see joy in her face. You can see the intimacy she and her baby are sharing. You can see pleasure and play.
Here are two stories from the same day about dad's delivering their own babies. We hear these stories pretty frequently - mom labors so quickly she ends up birthing in the car, at home, on the subway with no one there to help except the father....or the train conductor, or cab driver, etc.
I like these little stories. Sweet and human reminders that when left alone, it usually works just perfectly and with a fun story.
In the second of these two stories the reporter says things were going so fast, "dad pulled over...and delivered baby HIMSELF!"