This week has been like no other I have ever experienced.
Last Thursday marked the arrival of our beautiful baby boy, and although it’s only been one week since he made his peaceful entrance in to the world, I now can’t imagine life without him. One week in to motherhood, and yes, sleep deprived, sore, and covered in milk, it is still the most magical experience. I can’t help but stare at him sometimes as he sleeps, wondering what he dreams about, but also wondering how I got to be so lucky.
The birth was by far the most challenging experience I have ever encountered, both physically and emotionally, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The birth pushed me beyond limits I never knew I had. It pushed me through intense moments of fear, doubt, excitement, fatigue, pain and finally intense elation, joy and love. Surrounded by love and support, our baby boy was born at home in our bedroom, without intervention or medication, without being rushed, in exactly the way he needed to be born, which was important to me. I was supported with my amazing husband by my side, and fantastic Midwives who knew us both and knew our desires and wishes, and who I love and trust.
The whole experience has reinforced my belief not only in natural birth, but in nature’s design for life and the miracles our body can perform without instruction. As a mommy now, I know the birth of my son will only enhance my abilities as a Midwife, bringing another level of confidence to my practice, and help me to connect with the women I care for on a deeper level.
The journey was wild, but worth every moment. I look back on it with nothing but satisfaction, joy and love.
That Thursday one week ago, June 28th 2012, I will remember for a lifetime.
Whilst in England recently, I came across the ‘Natural Birthing Company’ at a baby show event. They are consist of a group of Midwives with a holistic approach to Maternity care. They offer a number of services including doula support, educational classes and luxurious baby moon packages!
They also have a range of aromatherapy products to pamper moms and moms-to be in preparation for birth and motherhood. This is where I discovered the ‘Midwives’ Bomb’, which I think is a genius product! A yummy fizzy bath bomb which you can either use as a pre-labor treat to prepare your body, or during labor as a labor enhancer. It contains a great combination of goodies designed specifically for labor and birth:
Rosemary – for aching muscles and exhaustion
Vertiver – stress relieving, calming and grounding
Flax Seed Oil – for ripening the cervix
Raspberry Leaf – for toning the uterus and effective contractions during labor
Clary Sage – another uterine tonic, promotes relaxation and reduces emotional stress
Simply pop into the bath (or birth tub), sit back and wait for the magic to begin…
I came across this on Facebook, and it struck me as a fascinating topic, and one in which I’d say affects the majority of women in some way after the birth of their children.
Why is it that we have come to accept our pregnant bodies as a thing of beautiful which is celebrated and praised, yet we are so ashamed as a society of our post birth body.
Why is this subject never talked about?
Margaret Lazarus‘ film BirthMarkings explores our post-birth bodies, and how our self-image changes after giving birth. BirthMarkings reframes the concept of beauty and motherhood, raises important questions about body image, and reveals the incongruity of western standards of beauty with the natural process of pregnancy and childbirth.
How do you feel about your body since giving birth?
Related Topic – ‘Beautiful Whatever’
You’re a midwife?? That’s cool, I wanted to do that when I was a kid. What do you make?” “WHAT DO I MAKE?” I make holding your hand seem like the most important thing in the world when you’re scared, i can make your baby breathe when they stop. I can help you to survive a postpartum haemorrhage, I make myself get out of bed at 5am, so I can care for you and your partner on one of the most important days of your life, and am privileged to do so. I make my family wait for dinner, until I know your family is taken care of. I make myself skip lunch so that I can ensure everything I did for you today is documented. I make myself work weekends, nights, and holidays, because people don’t just birth babies 9-5 Monday – Friday. Today, I might save you, or your baby. I make a difference, what do you make?” REPOST if you are a very proud midwife. I am!
This week I was lucky enough to be able to go to the premiere of the new Business of Being Born documentary, More Business of Being Born, at the Laemmle’s Royal Theater in Los Angeles. As a Midwife, I believe that the first ‘Business of Being Born’ documentary has done a lot to open the eyes of the masses, and educate people about modern childbirth and the maternity system, not just in the States, but around the world. It discusses the huge and somewhat controversial (to some people) topic of homebirth, natural birth, cesarean birth, obstetric care, aswell as Midwives and Doulas-which to the average American, are professions most people had never heard of. I think it has played a huge part in educating people in a topic that they wouldn’t have ordinarily thought about. Most women of childbearing age today, only consider birth once they become pregnant. It is no longer something which is talked about amongst family and friends, or witnessed before becoming pregnant. Since birth left the home around 50 years ago, birth has become shamed, hushed and secret. Something that takes place in a hospital bed, behind closed doors, in private, so that no-one can hear you. As a society we are overwhelmed with images and stories in the media of dramatic, medicalized, traumatic births with emergencies around every corner, where women are passive participants in their care, following the doctor’s every order. These are the only images of birth we ever see. The ones which make the news, or bring in the ratings. This is our only perspective. These births are fictional! We need some reality, and not ‘Reality TV’, but REAL birth stories from REAL families.
I have certainly noticed in the 3 years since the first documentary came out, the awareness of these issues has greatly increased. Many of our clients come to us having watched it, saying that this was the catalyst which launched them in to looking at different alternatives to mainstream obstetric care, or that it made them realize they did have options, or it was recommended to them from a friend or colleague. The birth world in America, and in California especially is changing, and Ricki Lake and her team, have helped to put those wheels in motion.
The new Business of Being Born documentary is a series of 4 mini documentaries, covering various topics which felt needed further explanation. Although the first documentary was extremely informative, it still left people with questions such as, ‘What’s the difference between a Midwife and a Doula?’. Producers Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein hope that this follow-up series will help to fill in a few more gaps. They cover conversations with Ina May Gaskin (America’s leading Midwife), celebrity mothers talking about their birth experiences, Doulas, birth centres, Cesarean and VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean).
At the premiere we watched only the second in the series, ‘Special Deliveries’, which includes an hour’s worth of testimonials from Christy Turlington Burns, Cindy Crawford, Alyson Hannigan, Melissa Joan Hart, Gisele Bundchen, and Alanis Morissette, all of whom describe a wide range of birth experiences, including some tellingly unhappy ones. Their voices fuse into a compelling chorus of maternal will and desire. None of them paint a picture of labor and birth as an easy ride, but they are honest and open about their emotions and their journey.
Even as a Midwife, I found it hugely inspiring to watch. It ignited my passion behind creating an alternative for women and their families. There is a greater issue behind all of this. It is not just all about homebirth, or natural birth, or the hospital. It’s about choice. Something we all have the right to.
‘So if you’re thinking of having a baby, do what more and more people are doing. See The Business of Being Born (and More Business of Being Born). And decide what to do for yourself’.
“Giving birth is our greatest power.”
Brooklyn based artist, Marni Kotak, believes ‘childbirth is the most profound work of art’ and that ‘we should embrace it’, so much so, that she decided to give birth in front of a group of strangers at the Brooklyn Microscope gallery, earlier this week. Her son, Ajax, weighing in at 9lbs 2oz, was born October 25th 2011. Kotak is no stranger to performances that might raise eyebrows. She has been presenting her life-as-performance art for more than 10 years. Kotak hopes others can appreciate the exhibit celebrating life as an art form.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s beautiful. It’s the creation of life. Why should we hide that?”
What’s your take on it?
The Beatiful Dr Nancy (Nancy Salgueiro), an Ottawa birth coach, chiropractor and mother of two, has been kind enough to welcome viewers in to her home to witness her home birth…LIVE!!
Years ago, birth was a normal part of life. Women would often witness many births before becoming pregnant with her own child. Women would support other women through birth. But as birth moved out of the home and in to the hospital, we took away the generations of information handed down from one woman to the next. Birth become shrouded and private. Dr Nancy wants to help change the ‘visual blueprint’ of birth as most women know it today. Many women today have only ever witnessed birth in front of a screen in their living room. ‘Reality’ TV shows such as ‘Birth Stories’, or ‘Birth Day’, or births on programs such as ER, depict birth as an over dramatized, medical emergency-people running around screaming and shouting, dad’s passing out, women out of control and hooked up to machines, treated as passive participants in their care, births lasting no more than 30 minutes, series of unlikely emergencies and events and so on, and so on. All these things are great for viewing ratings, but are not good for creating an accurate image of birth. Women are entering in to birth with no real sense of reality of what is going to happen. Less and less people today are attending prenatal parent education classes, and instead, turning to the internet as their source of information. But we all know how the internet works. There are plenty of good sites out there, however there are many many more that are not!
This is an important issue, and one we need to address if we want our image of birth to change to improve our outcomes, and to stop cheating women out of the true potential of birth.
“For me an empowered birth is one where I am the one who makes the decisions for me and my baby. Where I am in an environment of love, support, and respect for the power within my body to successfully birth my baby. Where I can be free to express anything I need to express; sound, movement, fear, love, ecstasy in a place that my expression will not lead to interference from the outside. I believe women have the ability to create an empowering birth experience regardless of if the birth outcome is natural, medicated, or surgical. When women are making the decisions for their bodies and their babies out of education, faith, belief and confidence in themselves and not out of fear or manipulation they will be empowered. I believe in the human body, in it’s power, and in birth’s ability to transform a person, woman, wife, and mother.” Dr. Nancy, Your Birth Coach.
I just came across this video on YouTube.
Women and couples talk about the many roles their Midwives played throughout their pregnancies. In essence, they experience the Midwife as friend, support, and professional; in the end an advocate for their autonomous role as a mother
‘If a Doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it’
Dr John Kennell 1998
DONA International Founder
I believe every mother should have a Doula.I believe that Doulas have the power to enable women to experience their birth in a way they thought was unimaginable.
Birth is, and should be an empowering, life changing event. Something that, no matter how many babies you have, will be magical and unique every time. Women remember their birth experiences for life. I believe it is our role and duty, as birth professionals, to make that memory as special as possible.
A good birth experience is not about how you do it, it’s how you feel about it.
The concept of a birth Doula isn’t something new, it’s just now it has a name. Women have always been surrounded by loving women in childbirth. As recent as a hundred years ago, 90% of births took place at home. Women were surrounded by a sisterhood of mothers, sisters, friends and neighbors. Women were supported emotionally, physically and spiritually. It used to be common for women to have witnessed many births before she was having her first baby. This gave her a greater degree of comfort, knowledge, perspective and experience that benefited her in her own birthing experience. But times have changed. As birth moved out of the home and in through the shiny doors of the hospital, birth has become a mysterious event. It has become something that takes place behind closed doors. Women are no longer participating in this lesson of life. Birth has become a sterile and separate environment for both mother and baby, and to a large extent, the partner. We have become shielded from this normal life event. Birth has become an event dramatized by technology and interventions, portrayed as a medical emergency waiting to happen on soaps and dramas, and reality tv series, with the true potential of birth being lost along the way.
Since 1970 in the US alone, the cesarean rate has increased from 5.5% to 30% and rising, with no decrease in maternal or infant mortality. This is true in most countries around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) states ‘there is no justification for cesarean rates to exceed 10-15% in any industrialized country’. Research shows us that continuous support from the Doula reduces the length of labor, reduces rates of intervention and the need for pain medications, therefore lowering the risk for both moms and babies. Research has also shown us the support from a Doula increases a mothers’ satisfaction with her birth. We know that post partum Doulas increase the bonding connection for moms and babies, and help reduce the risk of post partum depression by aiding the transition in to parenthood and providing support and education. It is important to recognize the long lasting powerful effects Doulas can have on women and their families.
‘Psychologically for many women, especially those who have had difficulties in their own childhood, there’s potential for internal re-organization…a feeling of higher self esteem and a greater sense of confidence, feeling good about themselves, and feeling good about the whole experience’.
Phyllis Klaus, DONA International Founder
‘I think Doulas have shown very, very clearly how essential they are for mothers…Doulas usually have a great drive to help other women, think of their needs and have the spirit to stick with the mother’
Dr John Kennell, DONA International Founder
Having a healthy and positive birth experience is far more than simply the method in which you give birth. A positive birth experience has physiological, emotional, behavioral and psychological benefits, not just for mothers, but to society as a whole.
This is an excellent informative video from DONA (Doulas of North America), explaining the wonderful impact Doulas can have on women, families and society, and the powerful results they can achieve.
Sarah Buckley, MD, Author of ‘Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering’
Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg, MD & Professor in Physiology, Author of, ‘The Oxytocin Factor’
Pretty convincing reasons why natural birth is not just important for the Mother, but for society as a whole.
Quotes taken from the ‘One World Birth’ trailer. Click here to check out their website
- A ‘Good Patient’: Defined (smiffybaby.com)
- Birth Practices Which Interfere With Breastfeeding (smiffybaby.com)
- Join the Revolution (smiffybaby.com)