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.
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’.
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
I’m really excited as a Midwife and a Doula, and someone who loves all things birth, about the launch of this new project. I’m equally excited that the 2 front runners of this project are Brits!! 2 wonderfully passionate film makers Toni Harman and her partner Alex Wakeford, inspired by their own childbirth journey, decided to launch a new global film project about birth-a video website aimed at birth professionals (and anyone else interested in birth) to empower women to believe that they CAN give birth fully informed of their choices.
What’s great about these videos is that they offer credible evidence-based information and opinions from leading birth experts around the world. Toni and Alex have not just filmed anyone, they have filmed many of the BIGGEST, most influential names in the business, including…Ina May Gaskin, Sheila Kitzinger, Michel Odent, Elizabeth Davis, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Cathy Warwick (RCM), Mary Newburn (NCT), Marilyn Curl (Lamaze International), Dr Sarah Buckley, Professor Soo Downe, Professor Lesley Page, Professor Cecily Begley, Professor Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, Professor Ngai Fen Cheung, Associate Professor Denis Walsh and lots more leading midwives, academics, obstetricians, authors, doulas, birth educators and birth warriors around the world.
The One World Birth website launched today, is a fantastic video resource aimed at birth professionals, campaigners and parents who want to place their finger right on the pulse of what is happening in birth today. It’s an on-going, online TV channel about birth. The idea is that people like you and me use the site as a ‘grab bag’, taking clips that interest us and spreading the word via as many different social media mediums as possible. They want us to post their clips on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, blogs…wherever, to get as much exposure to this information as possible. They want us to power the revolution in birth! Stand up and shout, wave our hands and make our voices heard! The only way the wheels of this revolution will really get moving, is by uniting all of the voices around the world. We need to build a strong, powerful community of passionate followers in order to create a global movement to make change.
They’ve done their bit, let’s do ours!
Save Birth, Change the World.
Join them today at www.oneworldbirth.net
I need some help!! In the build up to World Breastfeeding Week (1st-7th Aug) I would love to collect as many photos as possible of all you beautiful breastfeeding mamas and babies to add on here!!
Does anyone have any good ones which they wouldn’t mind sharing?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your help!
- Breastfeeding Resource for all Mothers (smiffybaby.com)
- Birth Practices Which Interfere With Breastfeeding (smiffybaby.com)
Finally, a TED Talk about birth!
Ginny Phang, a Singapore-based Doula and childbirth educator, discusses why a Doula can be so valuable to a woman in labor.
Ginny believes in enriching a woman’s childbirth experience, supporting couples through their choices and helping them to achieve the best possible birth experience. In her TED talk she tells the audience what drove her to becoming a Doula, the processes of labor, and interestingly how our ideas of birth can shape our own experiences of labor.
Here are her top 4 ways to prepare for a positive birth experience:
1. Eliminate fear. “Get all of the skeletons out of the closet.”
2. Learn coping strategies. Learn how to really relax
3. Prepare a birth plan. A plan A, plan B, plan C…
4. Get support. “The right kind of support… find a doctor and hospital to support the mother and what she wants.” Having a doula with you helps– it makes you realize, “if this mother can do this, I can do this, too.”
A doula helps, “give the power back to women and trust their bodies.”
An article published in the Los Angeles Times, last month, really left me feeling deflated. It brought me back down to earth with a bang as I remembered just how big a job it is to create awareness and change surrounding a topic as huge as childbirth. On the other hand, it did make me even more eager to be part of a new birth movement.
The article is based on a new study led by Dr. Michael Klein of the Child & Family Research Institute and University of British Columbia. Researchers surveyed 1,318 healthy pregnant women, all pregnant with their first baby. The study found an amazing lack of knowledge from the women about various childbirth options. Less than 30% of first time moms attended prenatal childbirth education classes, with many reporting that they informed themselves via books or the internet instead. However, many still couldn’t answer basic questions about the pros, cons and safety issues of many common interventions in labor, including the use of epidurals, episiotomies, cesarean deliveries and other childbirth issues. It seems women are happy to go along accepting the notion that ‘doctor knows best’, when quite clearly (some of the time) they don’t!
Why are women not paying attention to what is happening to them? Why are we not asking more questions? Why are we not doing their own research? Everyday we are surrounded by technology. Technology has become everything. We are at ease with it and find it reassuring. The latest and most up-to-date technological equipment is much prized and sought after in all areas of our lives. We become so distracted by the many gadgets laid out before us-ipads, laptops, GPS, Bluetooth, Tweets, ipods, iphones, apps for everything you could possible imagine, that sometimes, we no longer have to think for ourselves! It is easy to see how this would automatically transfer on to the birth scene. But in the birth world, technology really isn’t everything! Don’t get me wrong, it does have its place, and in some circumstances it can be life-saving, but for the majority of the time, it is unnecessary. Just because a hospital has every gadget and machine to hook you up to under the sun, doesn’t make it the safest place to give birth. Long before maternity units opened their doors to the masses, the only items traditional Midwives carried were their hearts, their hands and their intuition, and despite popular belief, actually had extremely good outcomes considering the times.
If only we spent the same amount of time researching the things happening to our bodies and our babies, as we do the material things in our lives, maybe the birth world wouldn’t look quite such a scary place!
Come on ladies, take control, know your options and inform yourselves!!!
- Natural Birth by Aleksandra Evanguelidi (smiffybaby.com)
- Childbirth: #1 Reason for Hospital Admission for U.S Women (smiffybaby.com)
- Join the Revolution (smiffybaby.com)
Join the live webinar at One World Birth…
Click the link to join in now!!