Natural Family Planning Methods for TODAY’S Families

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Do you ever wish there was a way to prevent pregnancy that was affordable, reliable, consistent and that didn’t carry the additional risk of pumping your body full of hormones and dealing with their potentially dangerous side effects? The good news is that there is a method that provides all those benefits and so much more and that millions of couples around the world use it to prevent pregnancy and even to plan pregnancies when they’re ready to expand their families. It’s free, easy to use and the only investment to get started with incorporating it into your family planning repertoire is a bit of education about about how to properly utilize it.

The answer is Natural Family Planning (NFP), a method of achieving or avoiding pregnancy by simply following a woman’s natural fertility signs. These signs are typically easier to recognize and interpret that you may think and they include taking note of fertility signals like cervical mucous, cervical position and basal body temperature. NFP requires very little time investment on the part of couple using it and is absolutely free of chemicals, synthetic hormones, barriers, or other invasive implements. It utilizes a women’s own fertility cycle to either help avoid or to plan a pregnancy.

It really is an amazing method because it’s not just for managing fertility. Aside from being used to space children and plan pregnancies, NFP can also be used to help identify and treat gynecological problems, or just to help a woman and her partner become more familiar with her body and its natural fertility patterns. NFP is not the “rhythm method” and is more than simply tracking a woman’s menstrual periods on the calendar to take a guess at when she may be fertile. Since NFP uses biological markers to track fertility, it can be used for women who have even the most erratic cycles in addition to women who suffer from PCOS, women who are breastfeeding, and women with many other conditions or environmental factors that may cause fertility to be otherwise unpredictable.

Why use NFP instead of another form of contraception?

Although NFP may seem like more work than taking a pill or having a device implanted, it is well worth learning. NFP, when used correctly, has a nearly 100% success rate for avoiding pregnancy and is a great tool for trying to conceive as a woman and her partner will know with certainty of when she is fertile. Hormonal contraception carries increased health risks including higher incidences of female cancers, blood clots, stroke, miscarriage, damaged fertility, and a lowered sex drive.

Hormonal birth control is a class-one carcinogen that is bad for environment, too. In contrast to implants and barriers, which carry health risks such as infection, perforation, or allergic reaction, NFP has absolutely no harmful side effects! NFP empowers women and their partners as they learn about and embrace their bodies and their fertility, instead of treating fertility as if it were a disease in need of medication and artificial management. A wonderful complement for healthy intimacy, NFP doesn’t carry the risk of interfering with natural attraction between partners that synthetic hormones do. Couples can discern from month to month whether they are ready to have a child, and they will know when they are fertile by closely monitoring fertility signals. When a couple is ready to conceive, there is no waiting for synthetic hormones to leave the woman’s body or for a device to be removed and also no worries of lasting effects on the woman or their unborn child.

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What are some NFP methods?

There are many NFP methods, all of which work on the same basic priciples. Some are religiously-based methods that are offered by churches and some are unaffiliated with any particular religion. Regardless of a couple’s religion (or lack thereof), the NFP principles can be applied and used and carry the same benefits. Some of these methods offer online courses and some of them certify instructors who teach classes in their local areas. Here are some NFP methods that are available to couples today:

Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) The BOM involves tracking the consistency and quantity of cervical mucous, as well as other sensations.

Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System (CrMS) This method is a modified version of the BOM, but is the basis for NaPro Technology (see below).

Marquette Method integrates the ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor, in addition to tracking other biological signs.

Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) STM uses the cervical mucous observations that the BOM and CrMS methods use, but adds the tool of tracking Basal Body Temperature (BBT) to its arsenal. The BBT is checked by using a Basal Body Thermometer (found in many drug stores, and reads in 0.01 degree increments for detecting even the tiniest of shifts) to check the body’s temperature at roughly the same time each morning upon waking, but before rising out of bed. A woman’s temperature will change depending on whether she is fertile or not.

NaPro Technology is used to identify and treat infertility and gynecological disorders, by using the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System. Many women use hormonal contraception to treat certain conditions. While in some cases hormone therapy is absolutely necessary, it is often prescribed as a one-size-fits-all treatment and becomes a way of “bandaid-ing” symptoms rather than getting to the root of reproductive health concerns. NaPro Technology can help identify problems and find ways to treat them at their root.

We hope that this article has helped to explain the basics of NFP and to clarify some misconceptions about using NFP. We highly recommend finding an instructor (in person or online) to coach you and your partner and work with you both on learning about fertility signals and how they can help you as you plan your family. You can follow the links above to learn more about each method, find an instructor, and decide what is right for you and your family. Stay tuned for more on NFP in the coming months!

- Ashley Tolin

WMC Weekly Events: Pizza, Yoga, Sushi and an Art Show featuring YOUR kids!

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Hello Beautiful WMC Mamas!

Another lazy summer weekend has come and gone, maybe a little too quickly! Never fear, WMC has hand-picked some events for the upcoming week that are sure to appeal to our mamas and your kiddos. In this post, we’ll be covering events through Sunday, August 3. There are quite a few affordable and fun things in the area coming up this week… some are even FREE! Feel free to share this post from your Facebook pages and with all your local friends.

On July 30 (TOMORROW!!) at 11:00AM, WMC is hosts a Chuck E. Cheese SUPER SAVINGS GROUP RATE Playdate exclusively for WMC Playgroup members and their kids. For $5.99 (per child) you get 16 game tokens, two slices of a one-topping pizza, one soft drink with free refills and a seat at our reserved table for 90 minutes. If you’re interested in this fantastic deal, be sure to RSVP on the event page so we have an accurate head count. For more info, go to the WMC Playgroup events page and look for the event. Open the event page and hit the “join” button and then meet us at Chuck E. Cheese (4180 Dowlen Rd) tomorrow morning for a couple of hours of cheap fun including lunch! This offer is for one day only so be sure to take advantage of it.

If you’re in the mood for some laughs and adult fun, then join the WMC Playgroup mamas for our monthly Mom’s Night Out – Sushi and Cards Against Humanity Style! Dinner is at Koi, located at 3350 Dowlen Rd. Suite C in Beaumont. Koi is a Japanese/sushi restaurant with excellent reviews. Following dinner, we’ll head to Rao’s for coffee, dessert and a game of Cards Against Humanity. Rao’s is located at 4440 Dowlen Rd., which is conveniently right down the road from Koi. If you have a sweet tooth, Rao’s is sure to please. Warning, though… their desserts are addictive! Cards Against Humanity is a uniquely hilarious (x-rated) game that often results in uncontrollable laughter. If you don’t have plans and haven’t been to a WMC MNO event before, come and meet some other local like-minded mamas and make some memories with us. You will not regret it! Young nurslings in mama’s arms or a sling are welcome as long as they are content to be in arms throughout the evening. Please leave older babies, toddlers and kids with someone else for the night so we can enjoy a mostly kid-free event. Feel free to invite your local mama friends even if they’re not in the playgroup…the more, the merrier!

Now, for the FREE events we promised. Drum roll, please…

Free yoga, free yoga, and more free yoga is what’s on the WMC radar this week! Free is one of our favorite words… especially when it pertains to something we enjoy doing…like YOGA! There are a variety of yoga classes being offered that are FREE, donation based or at a low cost all the time in Southeast Texas. This week’s offerings include several classes throughout our area. FitLife in West Orange offers a free yoga class on Fridays. It’s a special event that’s being offered this summer from 6:00-6:45 pm at the West Orange City Hall Park (2826 Western Ave. in Orange). Don’t forget to bring your own yoga mat! If you want to squeeze in some yoga this weekend, Sun Tree Yoga (4435 Calder) offers a donation based class on Sunday afternoons. The class is held in a small room so be sure to arrive early to guarantee a spot. Class starts around 4:15 at the studio. For those who live in Mid-County area, Wesley United Methodist Church (3515 Helena Ave ) offers a yoga class for $5.00 on Monday nights from 6:15-7:15 pm. Gail Pickens-Barger is the instructor and she does have a few extra mats but requests to bring your own if possible. If you’re new to the class, she suggests you get there by 6:00 pm to set up and sign in.

This Wednesday at 7PM, Bicycle Sports hosts has planned a conversational speed bicycle ride around Beaumont. No one is left behind and speed is adjusted to slowest rider. If you’re interested, contact Bicycle Sports at 409.860.5959 for more information!

The Beaumont Public Library System also hosts lots of free events throughout the summer and this week is no exception. In fact, there are some really exciting things happening in our libraries this week! The Theodore Johns Library (4255 Fannett Road) hosts a Preschool Storytime this Wednesday (TOMORROW!) from 10:30-11:30AM. Elmo Willard Library (3590 East Lucas Drive) hosts their Summer Reading Club series activity at the same time (ALSO TOMORROW!). This week’s activity is a visit from a very special guest, a soldier from the Army Reserves! On Thursday, R.C. Miller Library (1605 Dowlen Road) has a “Legos for Kids” event that’s sure to be a blast for the Lego lovers in your life! One of the MOST exciting things from the Beaumont Public Library System this summer is an event that will continue through August but started on July 28th at Willard Library (1605 Dowlen Road). YOUR kids can participate in and have their artwork displayed as part of an art show! In celebration of the local community’s talent, the Elmo Willard Library is offering the Second Annual Art Appreciation Show & Reception. The Reception takes place from 10:00am – 12:00pm on Saturday, August 9 but the art show will take place throughout August.  All ages are invited to display their artwork in the library during the month of August.  Artwork may be brought to the Willard Library at 3590 East Lucas Drive beginning July 28 through August 2.  The Artwork will then be displayed in the Willard Library through August 29.  The artwork can be picked up at the library through September 6th.

Don’t forget about the Beaumont Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning! BFM starts every Saturday morning at 8:00AM and ends at 11:00AM at the Beaumont Athletic Complex Basketball Court (950 Langham Road). Why should you shop at your local farmers’ market?  You’ll find fresh, ripe foods that are in season and grown locally. They are usually picked that day or the day before. BFM offers the freshest local produce in our area! You can also pick up locally-made soaps, eggs, honey and even grab breakfast at the market. The atmosphere is very kid-friendly and there’s a playground within walking distance for the kids to enjoy.

The last WMC pick for the week is also on Saturday morning and it’s the Neches River Adventure Cruise that happens every Saturday morning. The trip departs from Beaumont Riverfront Park (801 Main) at 10:00AM and reservations are required. During this outing aboard the Ivory Bill, you and your family will explore the ecologically diverse Neches River and travel into the Big Thicket National Preserve. The Neches has been called “The Last Wild River” in East Texas, with its unique ecosystem and dense bottom land forests of hardwoods and pine trees. The Neches is home to more than 200 tree species, 47 mammals, 300 birds and many reptiles and amphibians. As you view nature at its best, your tour guide will tell you the history of the river and talk about its vast and diverse ecosystems. Ticket prices are as follows: Adults, $15. Children (12 & Under) & Seniors (60+), $10. Children (3 & Under), Free. To make reservations, call Neches River Adventure Cruise at 409.651.5326.

This wraps up this week’s WMC events picks! We’ll be on the hunt for new events each upcoming week and hope your week is full of love, laughter and cuddles!

- Danica Selkirk

#JenniferIsNotAlone

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If you’re a birth junkie like some of us at WMC whose intimate circle consists mainly of other mamas in the local crunchy parenting scene, you may have noticed a hashtag popping up on just about every birth activists page in the world today on various social media sites. #JenniferIsNotAlone is trending among the likes of lots of birthy Facebook pages including VBAC Facts,  ICAN, Improving Birth, and the Facebook pages of countless doulas, midwives and women’s rights activists across the country. You might also be seeing chatter about the story behind the hashtag on birthy blogs and other online publications like RH Reality Check, Advocates for Pregnant Women, and IndieGoGo. There’s also a Change.org petition going and a Facebook event page that, as of press time has been sent to over 7200 people with over 1400 having responded that they’re “attending”. The event invites attendees to take a picture of themselves with a sign that includes the hashtag and help spread the word about what the #JeniferIsNotAlone fuss is all about.

What IS all the fuss about??

The story goes something like this… Jennifer Goodall is a Florida mama to 3 kids and is pregnant with her fourth. If she hasn’t delivered as of the time this blog post (and we’ve not seen anything about a birth when reading the most current sources of information on this story) and the dates that are widely being spread are correct, she is 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant today. The three babies that have made their way OUT of her belly have done so as the result of cesarean section births.  With this baby, she has opted to exercise her right as a patient to informed refusal of a repeat cesarean in favor of a Trial of Labor After Cesarean (commonly known as TOLAC). According to our understanding, Jennifer is lucid and of sound mind and, as such, should be able to comprehend the risk she intends to undertake by entering into a TOLAC.

We won’t downplay those risks and this blog post isn’t meant to imply that there are any decisions in birth that ultimately guarantee a good outcome. However, the risks and benefits of TOLAC and VBAC are well documented even if there is no reliable research on the safety of TOLAC or VBAC after multiple cesareans. Don’t be confused by the lack of research, though. There is no solid research upon which to base the decision to deny Jennifer her right to informed refusal of a repeat cesarean, either. In fact, according to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s (ACOG) practice bulletin from August 2010,

“…the chance of achieving VBAC appears to be similar for women with one or more than one cesarean delivery. Given the overall data, it is reasonable to consider women with two previous low transverse cesarean deliveries to be candidates for TOLAC, and to counsel them based on the combination of other factors that affect their probability of achieving a successful VBAC. Data regarding the risk for women undergoing TOLAC with more than two previous cesarean deliveries are limited.”

Even ACOG says that TOLAC is reasonable for otherwise low-risk women with more than one cesarean delivery. They don’t go so far as to explicitly advise TOLAC for women with more than two cesareans, they don’t warn against it, either.

We aren’t sure about many of the details of how the situation between Jennifer and her provider progressed to the point it is right now, but we do know that Cheryl Tibbett, Bayfront Health’s chief financial officer,  sent Jennifer a letter on July 10th. According to RH Reality Check, the letter stated, among other things, that:

“…her prenatal care providers intended to report her to the Department of Children and Family Services, seek a court order to perform surgery, and perform cesarean surgery on her “with or without [her] consent” if she came to the hospital.”

In response to the letter, National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) and Florida attorney, Patricia E. Kahn filed a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the hospital from following through with the stated threats. When we think about Jennifer’s situation and the situations of many women who have had similar threats made against them, the question of who has the right to make medical decisions for patients just begs to be answered. When and why does a provider’s concession that they not be forced to “perform” a procedure (which isn’t really a procedure at all) trump a patient’s right to bodily autonomy? When is forcing major surgery on a lucid, non-consenting patient ever considered “doing no harm” or appropriate? These are the kinds of questions that Federal District Judge John E. Steele failed to answer in the wake of the ruling that he handed down when he denied the request filed on Jennifer’s behalf. Judge Steele stated in his denial that Jennifer doesn’t have the “right to compel a physician or medical facility to perform a medical procedure in the manner she wishes against their best medical judgment.” Does that mean that the physician and the medical facility have the right to force Jennifer to undergo a medical procedure that she denies consent for? Apparently, Judge Steele believes that they do. In fact, it’s clear that he believes that the rights of a businesses (and providers) trump the rights of individuals and consumers. The Change.org petition makes this same point:

“…vaginal birth is not a procedure.  It is a normal biological process and the absence of a forced surgical procedure.  Put another way: what Ms. Goodall and other mothers in your area seek with vaginal birth is the absence of a forced surgical procedure, so that a normal biological process may take place.” 

Judge Steele has essentially ruled that federally sanctioned medical assault is legal when women attempt to exercise their right to informed refusal. Informed refusal is a right of every patient that is based on multiple instances of case law and no woman should be forced to undergo major surgery if she is uncomfortable with the risks and denies consent.

What the hospital and the doctors involved in this case have essentially done is force Jennifer and her family into a position where they have no real options. If Jennifer presents in labor at the hospital, she faces an adversarial group of providers and the very real possibility of medical assault being perpetrated against her. Her other option isn’t much better. If she chooses not to go to the hospital when her labor starts, she could end up delivering her baby at home without trained attendants there to help in an emergency situation. From what Jennifer has said, she is terrified to go to the hospital. What would you do in her position?

Does the precedent set here scare you as much as it does us? If so, take a few minutes to show your support for Jennifer by signing the Change.org petition and RSVPing to the Facebook event (and participating in the #JenniferIsNotAlone hashtag).

WMC stands firmly behind Jennifer and with the organizations that have come together to support her during this very difficult process. In closing and to Bayfront Health and the providers there who are involved in this situation, we share the sentiments of the organizers who are petitioning on Jennifer’s behalf:

“Again, we call for your compassion and respect for her constitutional rights. The women of Florida, the United States, and all over the world are eagerly watching to see if you make the right decision.”

- Amy Jones

Family Night at Nederland Pool TONIGHT!

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We still have a good portion of summer left and we know some of you are pulling your hair out looking for ideas to keep your kids entertained. Lucky for you, Nederland Parks and Recreation has a solution to help you out of this predicament! Every Thursday throughout the summer from 5:30-8:00 PM, they host a Family Fun Night that includes swimming, food, and a movie for the kids. Various other activities are provided as well. This summer it kicked off on June 12 and the last day for family fun will be on August 21. If you are reading this today (July 24, 2014), then you’re in luck! Tonight’s theme is “It’s Summer, Have a Cow with Chick-Fil-A”. Food is provided by… you guessed it, Chick-Fil-A! Their spokescow will be on hand for face painting and additional games.


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Pricing for this summer series is reasonable considering all that is included in the deal! The Nederland Recreation Center and Swimming Pool (2301 Avenue H in Nederland, Texas 77627) sets pricing by height and has a different pricing structure for residents and non-residents.

Nederland resident pricing is as follows: Under 41”~FREE, 41”-49”~$2.00, over 49”~$4.00.

Non-resident pricing: Under 41”~FREE, 41”-49”~$7.00, over 49”~$10.00.

The price is a bit steep for those on a budget and especially if you are not a Nederland resident but with the food and activities provided, we still think this is a sweet deal! You can check out the Nederland Recreation Center facebook for more information.

After tonight’s Family Night, there are 4 more until this summer series ends. The July 31 event is “80’s Night with Nederland Domino’s”,  August 7th is “Shark Week!”, August 14th is “Life’s Just Beach-y with Nederland Domino’s”, and August 21st is “Back to School Splash with Nederland Library and 5 Point Credit Union.” If you haven’t had a chance to check this out or you’re just finding out about it, make plans to get the kids out of the house for a night. Your wallet may a bit lighter but you can’t put a price on memories, right? Enjoy!

 

- Danica Selkirk

Baby Fever Like Whoa

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I’m not going to say that’s the most ridiculous blog title ever (this is the Internet, after all) but it might be its second cousin. And odd appellation though it may be, it’s kind of perfect.

When people ask me “When are y’all going to have another one?!”- which is and has been rather often, since our Single Child just turned 8- that usually ends up in the conversation. “Don’t you have baby fever?”

“I have baby fever like whoa.”

As you can see, I am clearly quite the linguist. But honestly, the silliness of it is appropriate. I experience anamount of baby fever that is just… silly. I’ve been jonesing for more loin fruit ever since our not-so-little one was still wearing diapers and mumbling her own language. I always assumed I’d have my many babies (and I do mean many… I thought I’d have like 5 or 7 or 30 or whatever) between 18-24 months apart (you can’t see it, but I’m lol-ing at the idealism of my younger, stupider self). Yet here I sit, one beeb that will be a teenager in 5 years, and no other beebs to speak of. Five years ago I had a very early miscarriage, and almost immediately went on birth control, a decision that had many factors. I had the Implanon implant for two years, and really enjoyed it. No menstrual cycles to get hung up in, and no possible pregnancies to worry about. I had it taken out a little over two years ago, and pretty much from the moment I had the green light (with a few months hiatus in the middle) it was go-time. We’ve been trying ever since, but with no success. I hate to say it that way… “success”. Like we’ve spent the last decade building a firm foundation for a nationwide company and are now reaping the benefits. It’s not a complicated thing. Unsuspecting teenagers do it often enough that there’s a show or three about it, and in the olden days it was referred to as “falling” pregnant. I am super good at falling, you should see me. How hard can getting knocked up really be, right? Well, the answer is, “way”. It can be way hard. And it sucks.

Against my better logic, I take every pregnancy announcement and ultrasound upload on Facebook personally. If you’re my friend/ relative/ acquaintance from high school, and I’ve congratulated you on your fruitfulness within the last several years, I lied. And I probably made a snarky comment about you to the nearest person when I learned of your condition. Sorry, dude, just bein’ honest. I was not happy for you. Or at least, not at the time. (Probably not ever, but that sounds harsh.) And every idiot out there who engaged in the act of coitus and wound up pregnant, and laments about it or can’t take care of the offspring they have, or whatever, I hate them. Asinine, but also true. Why them? Why not me? God doesn’t think I’m doing a good enough job with the one I got? The Universe felt BootyShorts McSmokes-a-Lot’s genetics needed to be propagated more than mine? Have ya seen my kid? She’s effing adorable. And smart, and strong. What, the Earth doesn’t need another one of her walking around? It’s during existential diatribes such as this that my husband offers me a glass of wine, and I accept, because it’s not like anyone’s getting fetal alcohol syndrome up in here (I just pointed to my uterus).

I  take it to a dark place. I’ve gotten to the point that I can make jokes about it, I can be funny. I can even offer kudos to new mothers-to-be in person without spitting (much). But it doesn’t mean that every fiber of my being doesn’t cry out for a baby every time I see one sleeping or nursing or just being. Or every time I go to one of my mommy groups, and I’m the only one there without an infant or a toddler. It doesn’t stop me from buying that brand new olive green Moby wrap at a garage sale a few months ago. And while time has enabled me to not feel quite so “you’ll see the Lifetime made-for-tv movie about me and my craziness” when I buy something baby related and when inevitably asked if I have a baby/ am pregnant and say no with my big fake smile, it doesn’t keep me from feeling that one day I will actually go insane, carrying around an old cabbage patch doll and trying to breastfeed it. It doesn’t keep me from having to stop typing this several times to keep from getting tears all over my new keyboard. I don’t know if That Point is somewhere I’ll ever be. Maybe this longing, maybe my soul crying out for a baby this long will help me appreciate the baby I do have one day (soon?!), because God knows that as a young mother I took my first for granted. Or maybe it will just make me grow bitter and spiteful, unable to feel anything for any other fertile woman but contempt. Who knows. Guess I’ll just have to see.

We’ve made lots of really great lifestyle changes to up our chances of conceiving. I’ve cut out nearly all gluten and dairy- and honestly feel worlds better for it- as well as tracked my cycles for the last 8 months (they’re crazy, of course), trying to pinpoint the optimal baby-making times. I’m trying to lose weight, which should help, and I’m drinking red raspberry leaf tea daily, which has had a tremendously positive effect on my monthly cramps and the nearly constant ovary pain I was experiencing the rest of the month. There are other things we’re looking into as well, so hopefully we won’t have to go all the way to medical intervention. If we do, however, I’m up for it. Anything short of actually snatching a baby is pretty much fair game. I don’t care how clever and chic Orange is the New Black is, I am not tough enough for lady prison.

If what we’re doing works, you can be sure I’ll be back here gushing and sharing and making you all sick. If not, I don’t know. My post will probably be too salty for the likes of WMC. But hey, that could be fun, too. Motherhood isn’t all about nursery rhymes and loveliness. Sometimes it’s about f-bombs and wine, amirite? But hopefully, fingers and toes crossed, wood knocked upon, candles lit and prayers said, I’ll be back here writing a post entitled In Need of Sleep Like Whoa.

Because I had a baby. And it’s up at night. And I’m tired. Yeah, you get it.

posted by Anna Sites,
Whole Mothering Center Featured Blogger

All the Cool Moms Breastfeed

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If you’re a breastfeeding advocate/activist who is currently lactating, I’m going to preface this by giving you an assignment. I’m asking you all to go grab your sweet nurslings and get the oxytocin and prolactin flowing before you delve much further into this blog post. I need you to go to that place in your brain and heart where you have the capacity to see the good in all of humanity. I want you to nurse for a few minutes and to think about the fact that the very child that you’re nurturing will someday grow up to be a very different and separate person from you who will hold vastly different personal truths than you. Then, I’m going to ask you to listen to this:

Done? Very well, then. Carry on…

A very interesting article went viral and made it’s way to my corner of the internet last week. I’m sure that many of you read it and felt a wave of outrage wash over you in similar fashion to other people in my life. The article was a piece published by Press Citizen and written by Karla Erickson, an associate professor of sociology at Grinnell College. In it, Karla prefaces with research  from the UK reported by Bahar Gholipour of LiveScience in June which suggests that children who are breastfed may be more likely to reach a higher social class than their parents. She resolves the article after voicing her opinion that breastfeeding is a burden and a power-trip by offering this pledge:

So in a pro-breastfeeding era, I say, “I’m out.” Not because I don’t benefit everyday from that “special connection” to my son, but because I do.

Her choice is based on a theory that she teaches in a Gender and Society course at Grinnell College which asserts that breastfeeding:

…sets up a gendered division of who does what early into parenting. It provides an infrastructure for an unequal distribution of the work (and rewards) of parenting.

As expected, a debate full-scale personal attack on Karla and her husband ensued in the comments section of Karla’s article and in social media threads on Facebook and elsewhere. I don’t take issue with the critical and well-thought-out responses to Karla’s article, so don’t misunderstand where I’m coming from. I do, however, have a problem with some of the comments in the responses which are inflammatory personal attacks and/or outright hateful.  Inasmuch as we claim that we are ‘educated’ women who would love nothing more than to bring the message of breastfeeding’s superiority to our world, our actions sometimes speak much louder. Many of these very public responses to Karla should embarrass us as breastfeeding advocates. Though I disagree with her, I don’t see anything in her article that could be construed as a personal attack on women who choose to breastfeed. Call me crazy, but something in me tells me that even though she’s been the subject of attack since her article was published, she still wouldn’t stoop to that. Conversely, it doesn’t take very much digging to find breastfeeding advocates making themselves look like members of some Militant Breastfeeding Nazi group set out to annihilate anybody who would dare put an artificial nipple in the mouth of an infant or pit themselves on the opposing team in the Mommy Olympics…because (didn’t you get the memo?) being a mother is a game and if you’re not on the winning team…

Well, I’ll just let our friendly neighborhood lactivists explain the rules to you. Here are some shiny, bright examples I pulled from a quick look at a few discussion threads I stumbled across:

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bfnazis4

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bfnazis3

bfnazis

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So…let’s run through this real quickly from the perspective of us well-educated, lactivist types. Because Karla Erickson has drawn a different conclusion than us based on the very real issue (which deserves its due credence) that her baby nursed so much that her husband didn’t have much bonding time which was stressful for their family and she has a (probably misguided) theory about how to fix it which she has the audacity to share with other people, she deserves the full wrath of the entire worldwide lactivist community? According to us, she’s a piece of garbage, a moronic twit and a pompous idiotic ass(hat) caught up in her european BS thinking who shouldn’t be a mother and who is married to a detached, emotionally absent, and lazy man. She makes us sick to our stomachs and we’re appalled that Press Citizen has published her idiotic, selfish drivel because, after all, it’s just the self-obsessed musings of a wealthy, educated person. Does that about sum up which corner the lactivists are in regarding Karla Erickson?

Coincidentally, in the same week that Karla Erickson’s article was published, Improving Birth VP and blogger, Cristen Pascucci published a blog post that went viral as well. I rather prefer Cristen’s blog to some of the opinions of Karla Erickson which are being tossed about so I’m sharing it in the hopes that some of you will spend some time with it. The blog begins:

All my life, I’ve noticed a tendency among women to condemn each other rather than to reach out, and to criticize rather than support.  There’s this territorialism that very effectively divides us.  It exists among women as a whole (“Did she really wear that?  She’s not 21 anymore.”), among women as mothers (“I can’t believe she didn’t even try to breastfeed!  How selfish.”), and among groups of women who can’t work with other groups of women (“Remember when they didn’t invite us to that thing they had?  Never again.”).

I have to say that I’m less focused on Ms. Erickson’s theory or her conclusions (which, coincidentally, there are plenty of people disputing) than I am on the reaction to her from within the natural parenting community. Much of the conversation surrounding this article has devolved into an “us against them” sort of mentality and that approach has been MAINLY at the hands of the natural parenting community…not at Karla Erickson’s hands. That is more damaging than anything she’s putting out there, in my always humble opinion. When applied on a grand scale, it has the potential to do much more harm than good where breastfeeding support is concerned and to create a much larger divide between “us” and “them” than the one that already exists and that is my issue. I think that our attitudes are more dangerous than her teaching is right now.

Of course, I also think she’s teaching a wrong conclusion and of course it scares me to think that there will be women who will read it and/or hear her teach it and buy into it. However…as she clearly states in the article, there is plenty of science to back up the benefits of breastfeeding. Amazing things are happening on a grand scale with breastfeeding support and that’s not going away anytime soon. In actuality, though, the premises she’s starting with are not, contrary to popular opinion, idiotic drivel. Breastfeeding does create a stronger bond between women and their babies and it does give us the advantage in many situations where our interactions with our children are concerned. I don’t like her conclusion or the course of actions she encourages as a result of her conclusion, but I can’t say I disagree with where she’s coming from. I happen to think that there’s a reason for the biological process that are wrapped up in breastfeeding. I believe that the hormonal processes that happen which result in a stronger initial bond being forged between a mother and her child than between a father and his child are purposeful. The fact that there are clear benefits to breastfeeding which are scientifically backed isn’t something she’s disputing. The evolutionary twist that resulted in the processes of lactation happened as a way to help ensure survival of our species and are one of many adaptive processes which contribute to the human race continuing to thrive, plain and simple. For her to ignore that would be foolish and she has not done that, but we can’t discount what she’s saying even if she makes a different choice and draws a different conclusion from the information than we do. The issue that she and her husband found to be a problem for their family is that men are at a disadvantage where bonding is concerned. As breastfeeding activists, our response should address that in a way that is helpful and positive. What she’s getting at with her conclusion is that there’s a gender disparity that exists and it does not diminish our position even slightly to acknowledge that truth in that. In fact, I think it’s the place where we have the opportunity to be on the same “team” as her and work towards real solutions for families who want and need them. Whether she’s taking it to the extreme or not with her conclusion isn’t where our focus should be if we want to affect real change with the women she’s reaching.

We start where we agree with her.

Breastfeeding is hard. It’s grueling at times. In the early days, there’s often not much a father can do to help even if he wants to. As much as my husband would have wanted to be the one to offer our babies comfort when they were newborns, the truth was that most of the time, he couldn’t. That was frustrating for both of us. Most of the time, our newborns ONLY wanted me. There were nights when I thought that my nurslings were surely sucking the lifeblood out of me and that neither of us would see the light of day the next morning because the darkness that was enveloping us was just going to make us disappear. BUT…we focus on why we still believe in it and not why she’s wrong or any of the number of insults and personal attacks that have made their way into our various cyberworld communities. We focus on constructive ways to think about our breastfeeding relationships and we focus on community-building. We love each other and we promote harmony. We encourage and we help each other push through it. She’s NOT working on the opposite team. She’s simply come to a different conclusion and a different solution. Maybe not breastfeeding is the best choice for her family. As much as I don’t want to admit this, the truth is that her child is likely to be fine as will the children be of the women who buy into what she’s offering them. Knowing that, we meet them at the place they’re at. Breastfeeding frustrated her and her husband. We address that. That is where we affect change if that’s what we really intend to do.

If change is not our goal, then we should feel free to sling insults at her and women like her because we’re not doing our cause any justice anyway. BUT, if we’re going to choose that, we should be honest about it and say that we’re more concerned with setting ourselves and our choices up on a pedestal than we are with helping more women and babies make breastfeeding work.

I don’t think that Karla Erickson has set out to be divisive and I don’t think we should respond to her as if she has. I hope that she stumbles across this blog post and that we find some common ground. If our worlds ever collided, I’d ask her if I could buy her a cup of coffee and pick her brain because I think she’s a valuable person. I think she is genuine and I honestly believe that she buys into what she’s saying. I propose that we should start the conversation with and about her from that place, not from a place that establishes her as the enemy from square one…because the ground that we have to cover to get back to neutral at that point is just too immense. These babies we’re nurturing (ours and Karla’s) deserve to grow up in a community where people who believe different things don’t feel it necessary to sling mud just because we’re different.

I think my favorite passage from the Improving Birth blog post I mentioned earlier is this one:

With other groups, “find your overlap” and formalize it. Where do you agree? Go there and stay there.

In a nutshell, THAT is what it’s about for me. What about you?

posted by Amy Jones
Whole Mothering Center Founding Mother
Birth & Postpartum Doula
Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition
Chairman of the Board, Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition
Apprentice Midwife at Bay Area Birth Center

At the Expo: a FREEBIE, a Seminar and other fun!

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WMC

Whole Mothering Center made an appearance at The Cumulus Baby and Family Expo this past Saturday. WMC doulas, Amy Jones and Emily Ochoa, were there to meet and talk with new and expectant parents along with WMC founding mother, Heather Thomas and our featured blogger, Anna Sites. This was Whole Mothering Center’s first year participating in the event and we were so honored to have been asked to present a seminar on “Preparing for Birth and Beyond”.

We drew for and gave away a $575.00 value doula package during the expo. Lots of hopeful familes entered to win and a very sweet first time expectant mom, Dorian Chapman, won the package. Emily and Amy are looking forward to working with her as she prepares to meet her new baby girl in a couple of months. We will be following Dorian in our blog as she gets closer to her due date and updating you all with frequent blog posts after our meetings with her and her husband. Dorian is planning a natural, intervention-free birth in a Beaumont area hospital with Dr. Kevin Waddell, who just happens to be one of our favorite local OBs. Dr. Waddell stopped by our booth at the expo and spent a bit chatting with us and we were all so pleased to see him. Dorian’s going to have a great birth with him and we’re excited to have the opportunity to work with her and offer her support in achieving her goal of a natural birth! As a bonus, we’ll be photographing her birth and we’ll share those photos in our blog as soon as we can get them uploaded once her baby arrives earthside…all of us at WMC are eager to meet Miss Avery Ryan sometime in October!

During our seminar, we began with talking about Whole Mothering Center’s history and services that we offer to the local community. We moved on to speaking about birth plans, including how to write one, why they’re important and how Whole Mothering Center helps our clients work through writing a birth plan. We discussed different pregnancy and labor providers like doulas, midwives and obstetricians, how each of those providers serves pregnant and birthing women, how their roles overlap and how to integrate each into pregnancy and birthing experiences. Informed consent was a primary focus of our seminar and we defined it, talked about how it is obtained, how to revoke consent, what the responsibilities are of the provider who obtains informed consent from a patient as well as what the responsibilities are of a patient granting it, and how doulas can help their clients as they grant their medical providers their informed consent. We also presented birthing location options available to local women. For Southeast Texas, these include birthing at home, at a birth center and at area hospitals which have labor and delivery units. We talked about the pros and cons of each location and what services providers who work in those locations can provide to birthing women. Finally, we stressed the importance of women surrounding themselves with a supportive community as they move through pregnancy and into new mommy-hood. Finding a tribe is such an important part of becoming a mother and Whole Mothering Center offers several free opportunities for local women to find like-minded mama friends who can mentor them and offer advice as they navigate all the scary “firsts” that come along with becoming a new parent! For more information, visit our services page!