How Much Say Should the Government Have In Your Birth Choices?

3 11 2014

It’s really hard because the system SHOULD be in place to protect us and to know better than the laypeople, to be the authority in terms of wisdom for our health. They pose as this, but they are not. Common sense is gone, and the average person may often know more about their own health than the doctor they visit. It’s about profit$$$. It’s even about misogyny or patriarchy when it comes to maternity care, although few see it that way.

If I walk into a hospital and demand heart surgery even if I don’t need it, should it be granted because a) I’m the consumer and b) we’re afraid I’ll go do my own back alley heart surgery to myself? If a woman walks into a hospital and demands a C-section at 28 weeks, what of that? I know that’s far fetched, but my point is that we obviously intend to draw the line somewhere. This time, in Oregon, that line is generous at 39 weeks. Big whoop.

You can’t allow potentially off-balance medical consumer$ to order any drug or procedure off the menu like it’s Burger King,

Birth King-- have it your way.

Birth King– have it your way.

and at the same time, our docs and midwives shouldn’t treat us like idiots and force us into procedures or prescriptions that are actually violating and damaging.

Education, education, education. For both doctors and consumers. We need to radically overhaul the whole system, but the system is built on medical arrogance as it is. I won’t hold my breath, and in the meantime we should stop forcing mothers to do things that don’t sit well with them. We are maiming our society.

As for me, I know better, and so I birth outside the corrupted system. Myself and my babies will not be hurt by the essentially crazy practices now standard to “normal” maternity care. And yes, Florida sucks for this topic. But so does the US and lots of places. I wish women knew just how deceived they were and just how actually simple birth was. We would heal the planet and have a million times more peace. We are terrorizing women and babies with false fear, sadistic authority, and brutal practice.

Re: childbirth in its minimal, natural state, free of coercion or assistance, it reminds me of this paraphrased Buddhist quote:

“When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back at the sky and laugh.”

I need to see more women laughing.





Unassisted Birth: What Feminists Need to Know

22 08 2014

 

Lynn Griesemer, author of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love, has a website called unassistedhomebirth.com. On it, she makes the following commentary about feminism:

Unassisted Homebirth and Feminism

In my book, Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love, Chapter 16 is titled Childbirth:  A Feminist Issue?  I do not wish to reiterate the chapter, but only say that if women want to be truly liberated during their birth experience, they need to take charge of their births by deciding what they want and taking deliberate action toward their goal(s).

Feminism has focused on “reproductive rights” and career opportunities, but has largely ignored the important process of childbirth.

One of my future goals is to contact women’s studies programs at colleges and universities and encourage them to consider teaching a unit on empowered childbirth.  Young women need to know that feminism should not be restricted to reproductive rights and equality in careers, but that it extends to every aspect of womanhood, especially childbirth, which is a defining moment / experience in many women’s lives.

 

Feminism does often neglect childbirth, sometimes even leaning more towards the woman’s obvious right to not even begin a family. Still, how can “feminists” have such blatant disregard for the power of or disrespect for the vagina? Childbirth is a battleground for the vagina (as are the politics around our births). Shouldn’t that be a central point or focus?

When feminism DOES address the act of childbirth, it tends to address a woman’s right to powerful narcotics in order to have a il_570xN_193760289humane experience, neglecting that this is still completely dependent upon and stemming from handing our body over to the patriarchal system which is modern maternity care.

It completely neglects that for women to know their TRUE power, they could avoid that system altogether as well as avoid real pain, trauma, or injury (which comes standard with the current system of birth).

This type of feminism lets patriarchy in the back door. [All innuendo contrived from that is completely appropriate.] It does not protect the vagina nor recognize our power. I call this “white coat feminism”, because it’s the feminism that focuses on having the same professions and beliefs as men, wishing to be regarded as logical and [pseudo] scientific only, to the detriment of the actual true fullness of our capabilities. That we have differences in the sexes is cast off as mumbo jumbo, as if clearly the only thing different about us is penis/vagina. We have completely different biological abilities, functions, and motivations. The brain-body connection, hormones, intuition/instinct, or maternal traits are absent in these discussions. Just because we can do everything boys can do does not mean we have to be exactly like them. Why are we disabling ourselves? When you’re striving to be accepted like of the boys, don’t lose the very thing that makes you a woman. That’s not feminist, it’s misogynist! It’s self-hate and denial.

Just think: we are facing our version of being emasculated when we are denied our true power and identity.

Just think: we are facing our version of being emasculated when we are denied our true power and identity.

How feminist is it to remove the qualities which make us female? We’re not talking about removing negative stereotypes, we’re talking about stripping away all things that make us women, including the positives. How in the hell is that “feminist”? If you don’t celebrate women or even believe they have power, you don’t love women and you aren’t a feminist.

Putting on a pair of jeans and holding the same respected professions as men does not make one a feminist. Saying that the only way we can have a peaceful birth experience — the very natural function which defines our sex! — is if we give ourselves over to a system created and run by men so they may rescue us does not make one a feminist. What happened to women are strong, women are goddesses, women are powerful? Is that just something we believe when we want to throw a baseball, but doesn’t extend to the one thing we are biologically designed for to continue the species?

Feminism wouldn’t ignore the dark history of obstetrics and see it rooted in misogyny, continuing today.

Feminism wouldn’t ignore our special powers or keep us in the dark to them.

Feminism wasn’t the fight to be just like men. It was the fight to be women and all the glory that entails and be respected for it.

Feminism acknowledges something in the divine feminine or collective female consciousness, adores us all as symbols of creation, earth mother goddesses, formerly and temporarily oppressed sisters.

Feminism seeks to connect us to how beautiful being a woman is, and asks society to observe it as well.

Feminism wants you to have the choice in childbirth to have addictive narcotics shot into your spinal fluid or to have an amazing empowering natural experience where you can see firsthand how incredible you are (which keeps you and your baby healthy and strong). Both can be painless, but the latter can increase your spiritual and primal awareness of your true nature and potential, is a rite of passage, and an exit from the patriarchy. One of them just happens to be better for feminism because it lets a woman in on the secret that has been kept about her essence for so long.

women-who-seek-to-be-equal-with-men-lack-ambition-29

 

For more wolfy stuff, click here.

For Elizabeth’s book on unassisted birth, In Search of the Perfect Birth, click here.





Protected: It’s a Girl!

24 03 2014

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Share a Birth Bead For My Necklace!

28 01 2014

Those of you who follow the page and the blog might be aware that I am due with my 4th and final child on February 14! It’s coming up so soon. I’m very excited as I prepare for the baby’s arrival.

If you’ve ever been to a Blessingway or Mother Blessing, you might be familiar with the custom of giving a birth bead to the mother. The bead is then strung on a necklace for the mother, which is sometimes referred to as the birth necklace or mother necklace. When a person selects a bead, it might be a certain color of significance, or bear some other intended meaning or symbolism. The necklace as a whole becomes a source of strength, love, and empowerment for the mother. It is a really great idea for something beautiful and creative for the woman about to give birth to know how she is supported. Sometimes, it is even accompanied by specific wishes or words of wisdom for her, special verses or poems of inspiration, etc.

Here’s an example: this one made for me by friends and loved ones during my pregnancy with Sage. (He was my freebirth baby from the book.)

If you’d like to participate in this special moment with me, consider this your invitation! I’d be honored to have you join me for this. I know some of you have gotten to know me over the years, and for some maybe I’ve made a difference to you or you to me, and it’s only right that we are connected during this time. I’ve been “with you” for some of your pregnancies and births and now you can be with me in mine as I close this chapter.

So, if this sounds like something you’d enjoy being part of, send your bead to me ASAP before the due date to:

Elizabeth McKeown
PO Box 1133
Keystone Heights, FL 32656

Thanks so much for being a fan and a friend. I’ll take pictures later to show you all how it turns out.

UPDATE:  Here is the necklace! Thank you everyone! Love you.

100_7764100_7762100_7768





How to Avoid MAS (Meconium Aspiration Syndrome)

7 01 2014

About Meconium Aspiration-
Meconium aspiration is overhyped as conditions to create MAS (meconium aspiration syndrome) have to be right (or, wrong, as it were) for it to be an issue, and even then the attentive parent will observe problems with their neonate and be able to seek timely medical treatment if necessary.

“To date debates continue to rage regarding the optimum
obstetrical approach, resuscitation measures at birth and
subsequent management of the critically ill neonate with
meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS).” – (http://medind.nic.in/maa/t10/i2/maat10i2p152.PDF)

Risk Factors with Meconium Aspiration-
Babies that are being born in a disturbed environment or are experiencing a traumatic birth, particularly via Cesarean, are at greater risk for meconium aspiration. Almost exclusively, full term and post-dates babies are at risk of releasing meconium (not necessarily aspirating, but releasing). This can be stimulated or brought about just from normal stimulation of contractions. Seeing meconium in the fluid should not cause instant alarm and the more easy and natural the birth, and the more time the meconium has had to mix and circulate with the fluids present in baby‘s environment, the less of a threat meconium poses. Aspiration becomes less likely.

In one study of babies born with thick meconium-stained fluid, 39 developed MAS and 898 did not.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/002978449500124A

Another study from Australia and New Zealand says, “A higher risk of MASINT was noted at advanced gestation, with 34% of cases born beyond 40 weeks, compared with 16% of infants without MAS. Fetal distress requiring obstetric intervention was noted in 51% of cases, and 42% were delivered by cesarean section.”

“The incidence of MASINT in the developed world is low and seems to be decreasing. Risk of MASINT is significantly greater in the presence of fetal distress and low Apgar score..”, and “Death related to MAS occurred in 24 infants (2.5% of the MASINT cohort; 0.96 per 100000 live births).”

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/117/5/1712

That same publication remarks on an increase in MAS amongst home births and indigenous (minorities) within the population, but this quite possibly has a lot more to do with how individuals are treated than medical and biological predispositions.

How Do Babies Aspirate Meconium?-
If the baby passes meconium in utero, it typically mixes with the fluids in the womb. The baby has been practicing swallowing these fluids and the fluids are being replenished. If meconium is fresh and thick and the baby is soon delivered, and the meconium is by or in the airways at that time, this would pose a threat of aspiration. Aspiration may then lead to MAS, and could require medical treatment at that time. A baby having a vaginal birth where the fluids have a better opportunity to be squeezed out of the lungs and airways at birth would have less risk for aspiration and MAS. The baby does not take its first real “breath” until after birth. The baby isn’t breathing in the womb. It “practices” breathing in the womb without actually inhaling. Any aspiration would occur upon delivery. Method of delivery and birth then becomes particularly important in the presence of meconium.

This link (http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/lungs/meconium.html#) has some alarmist medical perspectives on meconium, but take note of the following quotes:

This image seems to show meconium already settled into the lungs before the baby has taken a full breath, still in utero.

“Normally, fluid is moved in and out of only the trachea (the upper portion of the airway) when there’s breathing activity in the fetus. “

“Although 6% to 25% of babies delivered have meconium-stained amniotic fluid, not all infants who pass meconium during labor and delivery develop MAS.”

“Most babies with MAS improve within a few days or weeks”

“In some cases doctors may recommend amnioinfusion, the dilution of the amniotic fluid with saline, to wash meconium out of the amniotic sac before the baby has a chance to inhale it at birth.”

This last quote also indicates how meconium which has had the opportunity to be diluted in or cleansed from the amniotic fluids poses far less a threat to the baby. Birth should not be rushed, and meconium present is not an indication that birth should be hastened. A natural physiological birth is still called for if there are no reasons to suggest the baby is in immediate distress. Remember that meconium itself does not equal distress.

Please take heed, this, though:
“However later studies reported that this procedure [amnioinfusion] was
not accompanied by any statistically significant reduction
in adverse foetal outcomes. Moreover this procedure
had fallen into disrepute for its increased association
with foetal heart rate abnormalities, operative/instrument
deliveries and infection. “  (http://medind.nic.in/maa/t10/i2/maat10i2p152.PDF)

“Although MAS is a frightening complication for parents to face during the birth of their child, the majority of cases are not severe. Most infants are monitored for fetal distress during labor, and doctors pay careful attention to any signs that would indicate meconium aspiration.”

And so do parents. Signs of difficulty related to MAS are obvious and will not escape an educated and attentive home birthing parent. These include:

  • Bluish skin color (cyanosis) in the infant
  • Difficulty breathing (the infant needs to work hard to breathe)
  • No breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Limpness in infant at birth

(http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001596.htm)

That last link indicates that a low APGAR may indicate needing help breathing. This is not always the case. I was transferred for meconium in fluid from my homebirth. My baby was given a lower APGAR score for color. His color was naturally pale and he had no actual complications or health conditions.

“In most cases, the outlook is excellent and there are no long-term health effects.
In more severe cases, breathing problems may occur. They usually go away in 2 – 4 days.”

“Meconium aspiration rarely leads to permanent lung damage.”

The link goes on to state:

“If the baby is active and crying, no treatment is needed.”

This was true for my baby and he was almost immediately returned to me upon inspection.

I do not advise automatic hospital transfers at the sight of meconium-stained fluids. Hospital transfer increases risk of trauma from travel, and fear/distress to mother and consequently baby. Fear causes tension in the uterus and deprives organs and fetus of blood and oxygen which increases fetal distress (and meconium release). Emergency efforts are often exaggerated and can be found to exacerbate any issues surrounding meconium (and more). Keeping birth calm and peaceful in a comfortable setting and observing the newborn at birth will be the baby’s best chance of avoiding MAS.

Treatment of Neonates w/Meconium Aspiration-

“the current evidence
suggests that intrapartum suctioning of the oro/
nasopharynx may not reduce the risk of aspiration.”

“Subsequent tracheal
toileting which was earlier advocated has been
challenged on the precincts that it is only the depressed
neonate who runs the risk of MAS.”

“It is likely that MAS
will develop in a small minority of apparently healthy
meconium stained infants, but there is no way of
identifying these neonates at risk during childbirth”

“Meconium is almost always sterile. Yet
several workers routinely administer antibiotics to the
babies with MAS… the consensus opinion does not favour the
routine use of antibiotics in babies with MAS ”

“It is necessary to maintain an optimal thermal environment and minimal handling because these infants are agitated easily and become hypoxemic and acidotic quickly.”

“Several modalities of monitoring and treatment are available, but these are yet to be substantiated with quality scientific investigation.”

(http://medind.nic.in/maa/t10/i2/maat10i2p152.pdf)

Another Good Link:
Midwife Thinking: The Curse of Meconium-Stained Liquor
One highlight: “During labour and birth it is very unlikely that a baby will inhale liquor (and any meconium in it). This will only happen if the baby becomes extremely hypoxic and begins to gasp in utero in an attempt to get oxygen. So, meconium alone is not a problem. Meconium + a hypoxic baby = the possibility of MAS (Davies & MacDonald 2008).”

I am a lay person. I am a self-educated freebirther (unassisted birther). I have left the medical birth system because I have learned how to make birth safer myself, at home. Therefore, none of this constitutes medical advice– these are my observations and opinions as I continue to grow in knowledge.





The Wolf Connection

15 12 2013

Wolves are interesting animals. I am serendipitously finding many connections with them during this pregnancy.

Wolves are among some of the only mammals who are monogamous. They also are extraordinarily skilled at communicating through facial expressions (compared with other animals).

In ancient Rome, childless women would attend the festival of Lupercalia (lupe = wolf) in the hopes of achieving fertility. Women would also go to be whipped during the feast, partly on the promise that childbirth pain would be eased.


On a personal note, my expected arrival comes at the time this festival would happen (mid-February). I also discovered that my baby is due on the full moon.

In the Middle Ages in Europe, wolf-derived ingredients were used to try to ease pain in childbirth.

Before any of this knowledge or this dream, we decided on a name for our baby that has a wolf meaning. I also now come to the realization that that had been my second werewolf dream (that I can recall) in this pregnancy. One earlier I had was very cinematic in which I was somebody else (a man), fighting werewolves, I had made some mistakes and had cowardly let some of my friends get killed, and seemed to maybe become a werewolf by the end of the dream. I was happy, redeemed, and the “bad guys” were gone.

Now, just for fun, What if Women Gave Birth Like Wolves?

  • “A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving.”  - Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With The Wolves
  • “Like in childbirth,” Megan said. “Women can give birth in fear or they can give birth free like wolves.”
  • Pregnant women will begin to remember their relationship with the wild feminine, which has been totally neglected and outlawed by culturally acceptable ways of giving birth, and no longer understood. Pregnant women may have forgotten this calling, but in their bones they know it. The wolf archetype is ultimately the track they want to follow to give birth.

And, Wolves by Strangers, “The Miracle”

  • When you really stop to think about it, the very notion that two individual beings can come together and create a new life that is wholly separate and independent from either of them is truly beyond words. I would not trade my place as a male, but I sometimes jealously wonder what it must feel like to experience the creative and selfless power that resides in giving life to another through birth.
  • I do think that if we value the process of our procreation and view it in a similar light to that of animals, we may learn to have a deeper love and respect for the creatures that we share our planet with.
  • I know that there is no bond that truly compares to that of a human mother and child… but to consider the wolf mother… to know that she as well has held her young ones in her belly… to realize that she as well would die for her young… would kill for them… would do anything to protect them… surely this counts for something.
  • >UPDATE: We gave birth in late February, unexpectedly to a girl. :) She did not receive a wolf name. Here is the birth necklace from myself and friends. 100_7764





Birth, Sex, and Death

14 12 2013

There is this iconic scene in the film An American Werewolf in London in which the main character transforms into a werewolf. It was considered groundbreaking for its time in terms of what it showed, and its effects, its length, and over 30 years later it’s still a great scene. I love it for many reasons, but one of these is that I know exactly what the man on screen is feeling; I have given birth.

I watch that scene and I relate, in maybe what is an unexpected way. Here he is going through something that seems excruciatingly painful, powerful, and he’s experiencing this transformation which is animalistic and supernatural.

Last night I had a dream that I was having sex with someone while he was in the middle of this transformation into a werewolf. At first everything about it was scary. I didn’t know if being around him, being close to him, would kill me. And, it was painful. It was as if I could feel all the pain I perceived that he felt while I was a part of him. But it also felt really, really good. The more and more I was able to let go of the idea that this was painful or scary, the more amazing it felt, like nothing of its kind. All I could feel was our connection. The fear was lost and the concept of pain instead registered as power. We were not feeling pain, we were feeling the power of transformation. This awareness allowed only the good sensations to come to the forefront, so much so that nothing else mattered. It would not have mattered if other people were there, it would not have mattered if I may still die. I was only caught up in the unmatched feeling of surrendering to transformation.

When it was over, I wanted to do it again. I also wanted to get out of there before he completely transformed, the fear of death having returned.

Birth and sex and death are these amazing transformative forces of creation. It is as though the Universe or God is channeled through you, or you are it– the mix and power of male and female energy churning and combining to create some new force or life, the combustion and explosion of new beginnings through this union, every new thing its own Big Bang, everything we know coming together to take us to this other world where we finally witness and realize  some higher potential– we are the vessels of ultimate creative acts in nature. Incredible energy and change rushes through us in our lifetimes, in our cycles as we experience birth, sex, or death. We are more than we realize. The infinite knowledge of the universe and the construction or metamorphosis of all things is in our every cell, every atom, even if the brain doesn’t consciously recognize any of this.

It’s hard not to be spiritual in sight of such seemingly miraculous things.

Perhaps if we understand birth and its sensations as something powerful rather than painful, it will improve the way women perceive the experience for the better. I will carry this thought/concept/lesson with me in the hopes it is of some service to myself; my own little wolf is due in 2 months.

More on wolves on the next post.








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