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:

bfnazis8

bfnazis7

bfnazis6

bfnazis4

bfnazis5

bfnazis3

bfnazis

bfnazis2

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!

WMC at the Cumulus Baby and Family Expo!

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Hey WMC family! Amy and Emily will be manning a booth at WMC’s first public appearance and official event since 2009, the Cumulus Baby and Family Expo. This is a one-of-a-kind event in our area that’s in it’s third year. The WMC staff have participated in the Expo before as volunteers for our area’s local breastfeeding coalition, but this year, we’ll have our very own booth and we’re pretty excited to meet some new families and talk about our passion for natural parenting in the Southeast Texas area!

We’ll be giving away a FREE doula package at the Expo, so be sure to stop by our booth and enter to win while you’re there. RSVP to the event here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/567828769926380/

Here’s the event description from Cumulus’s Facebook event page:
“Don’t miss out on the fun at the 3rd annual Baby and Family Expo at the Beaumont Civic Center! If you are planning a family, expecting a baby, or already have little ones, this is the event for you. Visit the area’s leading retailers, health care providers, and the products and services available to you and your family. We have lots of fun planned for the kids like bounce houses, painting, games and entertainment. Adults can register for prizes, sit in on a seminar, and shop the many vendors.”

We can’t wait to see you there!

~a

World Breastfeeding Week: Just 10 Steps

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World Breastfeeding Week: Just 10 Steps Aug. 1-7, 2010

For breastfeeding mothers, healthcare professionals and self-styled ‘lactivists’  all across the globe, World Breastfeeding Week is a time of celebration; a time to pay homage to and show active support for something that for many women is more than just feeding or nutrition, but the foundation of a lifestyle of ‘mothering at the breast’.

This year’s WBW theme is ‘Just 10 Steps’, which is referring to the list of 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. While our local hospitals have come a long way in the promotion of breastfeeding in our area, none of the three we checked have mention of these 10 steps being implemented on their maternity floor listed on their websites. In addition to it being our opinion, it’s also the recommendation of UNICEF that these ten steps be followed in order to ensure that those mothers who wish to breastfeed may do so successfully.

Wouldn’t you love to have research-based information, hands-on assistance and access to more trained breastfeeding professionals available in the hospital both during your pregnancy and after your baby’s birth to help you meet your breastfeeding goals? You can help make that happen! One of the ways that you can personally support breastfeeding this week is to call, email or send a letter to the hospital that you delivered or plan to deliver your baby at and let them know that you want to see their active support of breastfeeding through the implementation of the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding initiative. Tell them how your experience would have been enhanced had they fully embraced and promoted the 10 steps, and how much you want to see other mothers succeed. Better yet, do all three! Grass-roots movements have motivated many businesses to change their policies or bend to public demand and our hospitals are no different. We can help make this change in our community.

If such acts of hard-core activism aren’t your style, there are other ways to show your support. One of the best ways is, of course, to be unashamed to nurse your baby when he needs to be fed. Texas law protects a mother’s right to breastfeed her baby in any location that the mother has the right to be. So in other words, if you can be there, then you can feed there. In fact, you can even get a card from the Department of Health Services that states the law!

Another way is to blog about it. Tell about how your experiences have changed you or your family, how you overcame difficulties and how much you enjoy breastfeeding. If breastfeeding didn’t go how you planned, talk about that, too! Mothers need to hear stories of breastfeeding that are successful; that show how women overcame difficulties, stories that tell what you’ve learned and what you’ll do next time that will better your success rate. As a community, we need to share our experiences about how breastfeeding helped make us into the mothers we are today.

This is The International Breastfeeding Symbol. This symbol is recognized all around the world to denote breastfeeding or breastfeeding mothers and the support and promotion of the same. You can read more about the history of this symbol here, and can get you own breastfeeding symbol window clings, bumper stickers, patches and more at the Breastfeeding Symbol Store. Wouldn’t one look awesome on the back of your car or on your canvas grocery tote? If you’re a local business owner, having this symbol on your door is a great way to attract women into your business! You can also get this symbol as a small sticker on your Facebook profile picture as a sticker with the Twibbon application.

Something we hear from many mothers who were the first to have a baby in their group of friends is that once they’ve breastfed successfully, for any length of time, they find that they suddenly become the experts on breastfeeding in their group of friends. We think that’s awesome, and it’s an amazing way to make a real difference in a mother’s life. While we definitely encourage mothers to support their friends, and for friends to seek out peer support, sometimes it’s nice to consult a professional. We have a couple of options in Southeast Texas;

the Christus St. Elizabeth Breastfeeding Warmline 409.899.8523 or toll free 1.800.810.2829, and La Leche League of Beaumont 409.347.1245. Both are free to call and if you leave a message, someone will get back to you. La Leche League International is a breastfeeding support organization that works worldwide and our local group meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 9:45AM at St. Jude Thaddeus in the Education Building, Room 5. The next meeting is Thursday, August 12.

In conclusion, there’s really no wrong way to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. The special relationship between a mother and her nursing baby or toddler is renowned in literature and poetry through the ages, so there must be something special about it. If you’re pregnant and considering breastfeeding, then get out there and talk to some nursing moms and find out what that special something was for them. Find out what makes moms who’ve breastfed several babies keep coming back to it. In a world where babies are pushed to be more and more independent, World Breastfeeding Week truly celebrates the togetherness of mother and child, and we hope that you’ll take part in that celebration with us.

~h

Heather Thomas is a former breastfeeding mom of two with a combined 6 years of breastfeeding experience under her belt. She has worked with La Leche League and in the community as a breastfeeding educator for over 6 years, and is one of the founding mothers at Whole Mothering Center. She is currently homeschooling her two boys and writes at This Adventure Life.


 

 

How TLC Damages Birth

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Without fail, it seems that the moment a woman learns she is pregnant, the first thing she does is start watching TLC and Discovery Health shows like ‘Deliver Me’, ‘A Baby Story’, ‘Birth Day’ and the like. Shows, that for the purposes of this article, we’re going to lump into one and call them collectively ‘birth shows’.

Have you ever thought about how birth shows have impacted our culture? Do you have any idea how many women ‘learn’ about birth from those shows? Do you understand what they are learning, and what that means for birth?

First of all, a clarification must be made. Birth shows are not documentaries, which are usually made for the express purpose of teaching someone about something. Birth shows are entertainment only. That is important, so I’ll say it again: Birth shows are not educational. They are entertainment.You cannot learn about birth from a birth show any more than you can learn about fighting crime by reading comic books.

In order for a show to be entertaining, it must be exciting and in many cases, have conflict. Have you ever been to a ‘normal’ birth? (I hesitate to even use ‘normal’ in this context because our perception of what is normal has been so altered, in part, by birth shows.) In reality, labor is not terribly exciting. In fact, for most of it, it’s pretty boring for everyone but the birthing woman (who is probably working harder than she’s ever worked in her life) and her immediate support person (husband, partner, doula, etc). It’s not until the actual birthing part that things start getting exciting for the spectators – including the doctor! If things go as they should, then the doctor really just catches while Mom does the work. But a television show can’t really market hours of clock watching and moaning/rocking/walking with the laboring mom – though if they did, it would help women and their support team understand how labor works and what a laboring mother needs to do her job effectively better than what they are showing now.

However, if there is a problem, then suddenly there are nurses who have to be bustling around the room, monitoring things. Doctors come rushing in, white coat flowing behind them – everyone is doing something. It becomes exciting – and marketable. Now, just to clarify, we’re not saying that birth always goes as planned or that there isn’t a need for a qualified care provider. Indeed, that’s why most of us opt for some type of care provider to serve as the ‘guardian of life’, because we do know that sometimes, interventions can be life-saving. But that does not mean that the number and increased invasiveness of the interventions we’ve come to accept as ‘routine’ and ‘normal’ have produced better outcomes - just the opposite, in fact.

So right off the bat, you can see that any birth that is out of the norm and therefore exciting to watch automatically gets preference over a normal, non-exciting one. Oh sure, they throw in a couple of normal births – even home births now and then, but the overwhelming majority of births are in the hospital and full of interventions and ‘emergency’ c-sections. What ultimately happens is that the percentage of births shown are skewed – we see more ‘abnormal’ births than normal ones. Because we see more abnormal labors and births, we start to believe as a culture that birth is amedical condition that needs to be managed.

How is this damaging? Well for one, we get scared. Because we are scared, we start letting fear dictate our decisions instead of educating ourselves and making choices that are research-based and logical. We start to loose faith in the natural process of birth and that our bodies (with rare exception) were designed to give life. We forget (or don’t learn) how a woman’s pelvis expands (and how her position affects that) and how a baby’s skull bones move in order to work together to let the baby out. We start to believe that our bodies are not capable of giving birth without a team of hospital staff members to ensure the outcome. We forget that there are no guarantees in life and whatever our choice is,  we’re just trading one set of potential risks for another. Combine that with a handful of unethical obstetricians who realized that they could capitalize on that belief by offering ‘working hours’ c-sections to women and you have exactly the culture we have now: skyrocketing cesarean rates and a body of women who view invasive, unnecessary, major abdominal surgery as just another ‘choice’.

Birth in birth shows is almost always portrayed as a process that cannot safely take place without the intervention and management by a doctor. Women are portrayed as inactive subjects from which a baby must be rescued – almost never as active participants who give birth. The process of a doctor working with a laboring couple is never shown. You never see a doctor coming into the room and informing a mother or couple of their options, alternatives and risks (also known as educating them so they can provide ‘informed consent’) and allowing the parents to choose what happens; instead a doctor comes in, makes a recommendation or gives a command and the couple agrees. You never see instances where the mother disagrees with or chooses something other than what the doctor wants. That, too, is damaging because it subtly conditions us to be ‘good little patients’ and do what we’re told.

One of the most tragic issues with this whole mindset is that we’re losing the knowledge about why vaginal birth is good for you, body and spirit, and why it’s good for your baby. There’s little mention of the hormonal shift after a natural vaginal birth that assists in bonding and breastfeeding, or the pressure that passage through the birth canal puts on baby’s lungs that has been linked to less risk of respiratory issues later in life. There is little mention of the correlation between bad (traumatic, victimized, powerless) birthing experiences and post-partum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder – and yet both are on the rise. Do a Google search on “benefits of vaginal birth” and it’s pages and pages of ‘benefits of VBAC’ – in part because so many women now are having c-sections with their first birth. Combine that with the ban many hospitals (including our own, Southeast Texas!) have placed on VBAC and the relatively few doctors who will even deliver a planned VBAC (NONE in Southeast Texas!), and you have a group of women only just realizing how their lack of real education about birth haspermanently affected their reproductive futures.

We’re also being further conditioned through birth shows to believe that a hospital is where babies are born and that doctors are the only acceptable attendants. Rarely are other birthing locations shown (despite the abundant research that says that birth center and home births are as safe, if not safer, than hospital births and that midwives have better outcomes than OBs do for women with low-risk pregnancies), or alternatives offered. The few shows that did highlight midwife-attended, birth center or home births have been quickly cancelled – and it begs the question, ‘why?‘ Could it be that if women were routinely offered the opportunity to see birth in a more normal context, that the cultural expectation would shift and hospitals and OBs would start losing their income because women would start demanding more freedom from the assembly-line births we’re offered in hospitals now? Already there are more and more women choosing to birth at home or in birth centers with midwives because they’re realizing how much their options are limited when they go into the hospital. They’re becoming educated and empowered – and that’s a threat to the current Establishment. And that’s awesome.

I’ve singled out TLC in this article, but the truth is that several networks are causing just as much harm. Discovery Health is just as guilty. Sensational shows about pregnancy are always on, and the commentary in shows like “Pregnant at 70” and “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” have as much fear-mongering as the birth shows do.

We jokingly forbid our clients from watching birth shows. Though we of course cannot ‘forbid’ our clients from anything, the sentiment is sincere. Watch them if you like, but recognize them for what they are – entertainment, and know that this is what is helping to shape your view of birth. For everything you see that bothers you or scares you, do some research! The internet is full of articles about the normal processes of birth, and how typical hospital policies and procedures often cause the very problems that the introduction of modern technology into birth that they were supposed to prevent. Please educate yourself - let knowledge help you make your decisions, not fear based on what you ‘learned’ from a TV show.

~h

Dad’s Perspective on Home Birth

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There isn’t a lot out there that written by dads about home birth. Something we often hear when a woman decides against homebirth is that her husband wasn’t on board with that idea. While we understand and support the need for a couple to be united in their birth choices, we do want to make sure that those choices are made based on information and research and not misconceptions about birthing at home. There is a lot of misinformation about home birth, and many of us started out being wary of having a baby at home. But after educating ourselves through reading and talking with midwives and parents who’ve experienced it for themselves, ultimately decided that birthing at home is a viable option that is, at least is as safe as birthing in the hospital, and at best is safer.

While ‘real’ information is vital, we also want to support fathers who voice their experiences! We came across this article written by Ven Batista after his wife had their second daughter at home, and we just had to share it. It’s posted at Homebirth.org.uk, which is a homebirth site that’s in Britain but that has a ton of great information if you’re considering homebirth.

For more information about birth, visit our newly updated Birth Page!

~h