The Importance of Excluding Onlookers From Freebirths

13 12 2013

If you’re going to be of service to women and want to be taken seriously, having a well-rounded education is important. There are many things you’ll want to know before you can safely feel adequate to provide “care”. One important thing to know on laboring women is, when it comes to witnessing their homebirth, UC (unassisted childbirth) is not a spectator sport.

ImageEven if you allege to be hands off, the problem of the observer is one hopefully known to all UCers and would-be UCers. It is one of the reasons (maybe even a main reason) why many women decide on freebirth at all. One of my favorite writers on natural birth, Michel Odent, talks frequently of the mammalian needs in birth. Of our four basic needs, privacy is one of them. Without it, the mother senses danger and this complicates the labor.

‘To give birth to her baby, the mother needs privacy. She needs to feel unobserved.” –Birth and Breastfeeding, Michel Odent. Any doula, midwife, or doctor should read this book. 

You can read more here: Do Not Disturb: The Importance of Privacy in Labor, Judith A. Lothian, RN, PhD, LCCE, FACCE, The Journal of Perinatal Education- Advancing Normal Birth, from the US National Library of Medicine- National Institutes of Health (PubMed Central). Sidenote: This link also discusses the fetal ejection reflex, for the interested.

Now some may argue that it is possible to give a woman a feeling (or an illusion) of privacy and still have onlookers or caregivers. I will not debate that at this time, but I will state that if one is trying to observe a birth to determine their own readiness to venture into the fields of midwifery and the like, this learning experience is a detriment to the mother.

“There is no privacy without a feeling of security.” –Birth and Breastfeeding, Odent.

Anything you bring into the birthing space, the mother can sense. Any fears, hesitations, reservations, doubts, lack of confidence, lack of understanding of anything, lack of skill, lack of intuition, she spots like a dog smells fear. She taps into her primal state and the neocortex (rational, human, intellectual thought) attempts to disengage. If she has the awareness in any aspect of her consciousness that you are here to test yourself, this can generate feelings of insecurity in the mother. This is particularly true if you are not in an intimate relationship with her. Feelings of insecurity and lack of privacy will, again, complicate labor.

“Most women who understand what is going on are keen observers not only of their own actions, but of the reactions of those about them to every fresh event or incident. I have laid stress upon the sensitiveness of the mind of a parturient woman; if you wish to deceive them, you will fail.”

Confidence rests upon the knowledge of perfect preparation.”

“During labor, women spot doubt in a doctor’s mind as quickly as a kestrel sees a rat in the stubble… However good an actor or however suave a humbug, confidence has no counterfeit.” – these quotes from Childbirth Without Fear, Grantly Dick-Read.

The woman in labor, sensing any lack or fear on the part of anyone present, is hormonally receptive to those suggestions. This initiates the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle. Labor becomes hard or even dangerous for woman and child.

It is more important that we honor and respect the birthing space of the laboring woman and her most basic, primal needs as a mammal than to use her as a test subject for our own reassurance and education.

There are other ways we will be able to give ourselves a proper education on birth and physiology in order to ascertain in what capacity we may be of assistance to birthing women. Like the saying goes, “reading is fundamental”. I urge people to read, read, read, and learn everything they possibly can about true physiological, natural birth and the actual needs of a birthing woman in labor.

Privacy is one very basic and simple method of providing safety in the birth space of a well-prepared woman. We live in a culture, though, where the most basic methods of prevention are overlooked in favor of the most technical hands-on repairs we can put our logical minds to. But, what if we could avoid those dilemmas?

For example– Instead of relying on knowledge of which massage, drug, or herb will treat a post partum hemorrhage, what about understanding the seemingly invisible causes? The brain-body connection has a lot to do with our most commonly feared childbirth complications, and yet our culture does precious little to recognize and avoid creating the issues to begin with. We must look to the interconnectedness of our systems, hormonal responses to environment and stimuli, etc. If we were to know the birth process from an unhindered, natural, physiological perspective, know the stages of labor through all non-intrusive signs, and respect the mother’s primal birth space needs, our shopping lists and interference levels would dramatically decrease. Healthy, normal births would be the result.

I have noticed that there are many UCers or those researching UC are preoccupied with the fix-it methods, though. They read almost exclusively midwifery and obstetrics texts (if they read at all), they focus on which tools or drugs or herbs can be used in a pinch to solve a dilemma or crisis. In the process, we are neglecting the very root of why freebirth is so important– the undisturbed aspect of birth only it can provide. When we more fully grasp what is primal and physiological, our tools and medicines become more and more useless and unnecessary. This is  such a worthy goal! To lose sight of that and to attempt to mimic health care professionals in all regards in many ways defeats the purpose. We aren’t trying to take over their work, we are trying to transcend their methods.

In other words… If I wanted a medical approach to my care, I would hire a medical professional. But, I digress. Because I associate onlooking with interference, I have touched upon the issue of hands-on as relating to eyes-on. Getting back on track–

For anyone questioning if they could handle the pressure of attending births for a living, I would strongly advise they find their confidence elsewhere than at a woman’s freebirth. I would suggest educating oneself to the utmost of one’s abilities, reading books like the ones quoted here (as opposed to a lot of the more mainstream, feel-good, interference-happy “natural birth” literature). I would recommend reading things which are very pro-unassisted childbirth, where lack of attendants is understood and encouraged on a scientific level, because this will provide technical and biological knowledge and a foundation for what makes this birth safe. That is knowledge that would become confidence-instilling for anyone of the right composition to attend women.

Even starting as a trusted doula for attended births of people you are personally close with (at home or in hospital) can give one an idea of their own abilities. Anything… anything to avoid adding hindrance to what could otherwise be an undisturbed birth. This would be one of the gravest insults to natural birth and the natural birthing woman. The needs of a woman in birth are more important than any education we hope to glean from their experience for our own gain.

In order to properly care for a woman, we must first be able to put her needs above our own wants. Anyone unwilling to do that already has the answer to their own question– they are not prepared to attend her. Let us not behave the way that doctors have which caused us to leave the hospital environment in the first place.

“Every woman is different, and so are her needs in childbirth,” you might say. Yes and no. Psychologically every woman is different. The complex thought processes that make up our personalities and make us especially human varies. On the primal level, however, all of our needs are the same.

We are all mammals, we have built-in instincts designed to protect ourselves and the species. We do not deny our other needs as “individual”– whether a woman needs food, water, oxygen, sleep, and shelter is not up for debate based on her individuality. We all require these things as our physiology dictates. As mammals, we have physiological and hormonal reactions to childbirth events and our environment– even over the subtlest of things– that may go unrecognized or misunderstood to the untrained eye. Since it is the primal nature which gives birth, not who we are psychologically, it is the primal which we should be careful to honor!

What a woman chooses is her right, but it sometimes becomes a battle of what she is willing to partake in on the psychological level versus her most primitive instincts. I would not want to battle with the instincts, personally. You cannot reason with them.

So, even if a woman planning a homebirth or freebirth is gracious enough to invite someone to her birth as an observer or onlooker, this does not mean it will not in some way have a negative impact on her birth. A woman would be unfair to herself to promise someone that she would be comfortable with their presence (and it would be unfair for the onlooker to accept, with that knowledge). The primal need for privacy and the intuition of the laboring woman will strongly overtake most conscious psychological desires she has to be sharing, educational, brave, outgoing, or accommodating. Even a peaceful, knowledgeable, and experienced freebirther may find such an invitation to be a naive and inhibiting undertaking in hindsight. Whether it becomes merely a nuisance or precipitates a crisis, the would-be birth attendant must ask themselves, “is it worth it?”

Anyone considering UC for themselves should likewise acknowledge and honor their deepest needs in childbirth and respect the science of the process. This is the way you give yourself the best, safest chance at the healthiest birth.





A Perfect Birth! Freebirth After Previous Induction & Epidural (Guest Post: Birth Story)

6 12 2013

The following is a guest post from a first-time UC-er (unassisted childbirth). She has had one previous birth, with medical assistance (epidural and induction). She was joined by her supportive husband and older daughter. Names* have been changed.

Sorry for lack of times in the story. it was all too quick for me to check the clock. The whole thing was only 3 hours.

I woke up around 4:30 am Saturday morning having some stomach pain. This was not an unusual occurrence as I have been waking up in the middle of the night like that for weeks. Usually once I emptied my bladder I felt better. My husband heard me get up and asked if I was ok. I said I don’t know. He said are you in labor? I said if I am then this won’t take long because there wasn’t much breaks between the pain at all.

I went to the bathroom and closed myself up in their alone. I was trying to figure out if I was in labor or what was going on. I felt like I had a stomach virus, I was on the toilet with diarrhea 3 or 4 times. The pains didn’t come in measurable waves at that moment. My husband says he knew I was in labor lol. So I started to try and clean up the bathroom a bit. If it was labor I wanted to be able to birth in a clean bathroom lol. So I threw a load of laundry in, cleaned the toilet and lastly cleaned the bathtub. All this was quite difficult to do because i had to stop and breath through the contractions. The contractions were now coming in definite waves and there wasn’t much time in between. It went too quick to actually time it. I would say maybe two min a part. I filled the bathtub. My husband kept checking on me and I said I was fine.

I asked him to bring the laptop in and put on a CD my friend Rowan* gave me at my Blessingway. I had previously listened to it about a week prior and I liked the sound. It was beautiful and meditative. He put the music on for me, and lit some candles. He only came in the bathroom and spoke to me between contractions. I liked that he gave me my space. I didn’t need him there I could get in the zone better by myself and he picked up on that. He told me to call him if I need him.

He said he was going to run up to 711 and buy eggs and bacon, lol. Him and Sloan* were hungry, haha. She woke up and was very excited. I asked him to buy me two coconut waters when he came back I was in the bathtub laboring. He brought in my drink.

The contractions were intense, but in my head I never referred to them as “pain” and I never let fear creep into my zone. I just listened to my body and moved around with whatever position felt natural. I was mostly hands and knees. At the point that I got in the bathtub is when I switched from concentrated breathing through the contractions ( which is what I did though out the bathroom cleaning and prepping ) at that point I started moaning through. I honestly didn’t think I would moan like that but it really did help. I remember other friends telling me to try and keep the moaning at a low octave , so I did …

My back started hurting so I drained some of the water and turned the shower on instead to let the water run down my back: it felt nice. But standing was so intense. I just told myself the gravity would help and to just do it. Once it became too much to continue standing I let the bathtub fill up again and got back down. I have a standard tub so it was small but the water still felt good. The water started to get cold so I hopped out of the tub it was hard to move from place to place.

I asked Tony* to get me the birthing ball. I leaned on that for a bit, I was on my knees leaning over the ball. I rocked back and forth moaning. The rocking was good. All I can say is contractions were intense and yes I guess painful, but I kept thinking back to my induction, where there was no break in between the pain, there was no peak, it just felt like my body was being torn in half. So compared to that this was nice. Yes i got the epidural eventually but I still remember being confined to the bed and the machines and the pain. I liked how I could tell that the peak was reached and the sensations started to decrease from there. The breaks in between even tho short were heaven and made it bearable.

At this point I told Tony to get the bed ready. So he made the bed. Protecting underneath with plastic. Sloan helped move my drinks in there, I would have to haul ass to the bedroom. My house is tiny but there was so little time in between contractions. So once one was done, I got up and went to the bed. My lovely husband had more candles lit the bedroom cleaned up and ready and my music. I got up on my bed, hands and knees and this is where it got bad. I think transition. My back hurt a lot so Tony massaged it for a while, he also put massage oil and peppermint oil on it. This felt good during contractions. Sloan fetched the heating pad and we used that on my back too. Sloanie was so much help she got towels and stuff too. I started to whimper and whine and drop a few f bombs. And then apologized. Tony laughed.

I was talking to myself and told myself to get it together. Tried to keep deep growling moans, thought that was better then me starting to Cry. I begged my body for a break, because I wasn’t getting much of a break any longer. Tony ran and got the large pads we got to lay under me. I told him I didn’t know if I should push or what. I was afraid of pushing too soon because I know that can cause a cervical lip, but Tony said I think your pretty close babe, try to push. I still didn’t quite feel an urge, but it hurt so bad that I didn’t know what else to do. At this point I started saying “it hurts, it hurts” LoL. ” I’m crazy for wanting to do this!” Then I just started pushing. And then my water my broke. That was kinda my confirmation of like ok it’s time. So I began pushing and holy hell it hurt. I was definitely screaming.

I knew I had to push harder but I knew I was going to poop lol. Tony was like its ok, he had those pads under me, he was very encouraging, and told me I was doing great and to go ahead and push. I would say a few pushes and she was down there. I started to feel the ring of fire. And Tony and Sloan screamed they could see her head. I was like yeah, I know!!!! Haha. I was scared to push her out it hurt so bad. So she went back in a little, and then I pushed a little , I did this a few times. I told myself that it was good to do it that way anyways I wouldn’t tear. Finally I got the balls to push her head out.

Tony didn’t see a cord. I had to wait for the next wave to come because it felt I was going to need to really try to get the body out. So I waited for a wave, took a deep breath and pushed with all my might and the rest of her body came out. Tony picked her up and handed me her through my legs, he said its a girl!!

She was perfectly pink , let out a cry and starting breathing right away, so I was not worried. We just were looking at her and admiring her in front of us.

Tony asked about the placenta and I said I wanted to try right away, I gave a good push and out it came. Inspected. Looked whole. Sloanie got warm towels from dryer, Tony sterilized the scissors and string. When the cord was done pulsing , we tied and I cut. I tried to breastfeed right away but she wouldn’t, so I went to go clean myself up. I didn’t bleed a lot on the bed. But into the bathroom, throughout my shower and after I kept bleeding, thin red blood.

I was starting to worry even tho I didn’t feel faint or weird, I took two doses of anti hemorrhage tincture my lovely friend Miette* made me, then I made my way back in to be with my girl. Tony cleaned up the mess real quick as I gazed at our little girl. Beata Fayruz Fikru* was born at 7:20 am. Unfortunately the scale I got keeps giving me different readings but she averaged 9 lbs. still haven’t bothered to measure her length lol.

It was literally a perfect birth, exactly how I imagined it. Tony worked perfectly together with me. I was so worried that I should have him do more reading or tell him how to be there for me but ultimately I knew that we knew each other well enough, I knew he would be great. I love him so much. He never doubted me or had any fear from the moment I mentioned unassisted. His faith in me carries me through always

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To learn more about the following subjects that were involved in this birth story, please see the following links! -Elizabeth

Pushing and Knowing When/If/How to Push

Pushing For First Time Moms, by Gloria Lemay, Midwife Thinking
Birth is better left alone and pushing should be at the mother’s cues.

Don’t Push the River, It Flows by Itself, by Laura Shanley (an excerpt from her classic book Unassisted Childbirth), Peaceful Parenting
It is more a matter of “allowing” it to happen rather than “making” it happen.

Pushing: leave it to the experts, Midwife Thinking
A birthing woman is the expert regarding when and how she pushes.

Cervical Lips (Pushing With/Against)

Pushing: leave it to the experts, Midwife Thinking
The most common reason for telling a women not to push is that her cervix is not fully dilated.

The Anterior Cervical Lip: how to ruin a perfectly good birth, Midwife Thinking
Telling women to push or not to push is cultural, it is not based on physiology or research… It does not require management and is best left undetected.”

What You Don’t Know About Your Cervix Can Ruin Your Birth, Birthologie
Not everyone dilates to 10 cm when their body is ready to expel the baby, and you dilate in an ellipse, not a circle.

At some point in labour almost every woman will have an anterior lip (meaning the top of the cervix isn’t completely dilated) because this is the last part of the cervix to be pulled up over the baby’s head.”





I Call For a Return to Primal Birth Wisdom

22 10 2013
from La Razón

from La Razón

Woman in Mexico gives birth on the lawn of the hospital after they refused to admit her while in labor, telling her to come back tomorrow. Irma Lopez was obviously planning a hospital birth, and so understandably was fearful of this unplanned UC. NOT the ideal, at all.

“I didn’t want to deliver like this. It was so ugly and with so much pain,” Lopez told the Associated Press.

Apparently this is an example of the treatment indigenous people in her area are accustomed to. A lot of them are “forced to give birth at home”… wouldn’t it be great if we could help them give birth at home, wean them from a system that mistreats them and which they don’t need? Wouldn’t it be great if we could reconnect them to primal, natural birth so they could actually deliver with less pain and more joy? And there’s an excellent chance we could help them have better success and health in childbirth in terms of outcome, too.

In America, there is a similar problem with the indigenous and minorities receiving less than stellar hospital treatment, having higher maternal/infant mortality and morbidity rates than those in the majority, etc. The assumed connection is that their lives are treated with less value. They are not taken as seriously. It could be argued that their quality of life during pregnancy suffers when compared to the majority, which contributes to poorer birth outcomes, and this also may play some part. Either way, it becomes a racial/cultural/socioeconomic issue that we need to address. This is where birth being an issue of feminism, human rights, and racism all coincide.

Can we foster autonomy for women in childbirth which is rooted in the return to traditional wisdom? Can we re-emphasize the solemnity of birth and honoring your inner wisdom and instinct? Do we do this merely by trying to spread the word?

If so, let’s try.

At the very least, if every woman (regardless of background) were prepared for an unassisted birth (even just in the event that help is not available), she could do so in a much more calm and less feared way than this poor woman endured.

Here, print this book out. It’s a great start.

The following are excerpts from Red Medicine: Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing, by Patrisia Gonzales (which can be purchased here, courtesy of The University of Arizona).

This Indigenous woman’s declaration of the sacred act of birth as a ceremony led me into a terrain of practices, of forms and symbols surrounding birthing squats, of umbilical cords, placentas, and trees of life as I looked for further expressions of this ceremonial knowledge.

During ceremony, we must rely on something beyond our cognizant powers and allow spiritual matter to appear, produce, recede, return.

As I helped Native women birth at home or in hospitals and clinics, the reminders that birth in North America has become increasingly medicalized would present themselves in phone calls. A Native woman would want help to prevent a threatened induction because Western time measurements that dictate clinical protocols asserted that she was overdue…

In the 1970s, US women challenged the medical model of pregnancy and childbirth as they sought to reinstate lay midwifery and traditional midwifery care, which had been banned or made illegal in numerous states from the 1940s onward. Indigenous communities especially experienced a loss of communal ownership and a loss of individual sovereignty for women and families as births moved from home to clinics and hospitals. The ceremonial knowledge surrounding birth became restricted by clinical settings and protocols. And yet, as I would explain my research to Indigenous elders and ceremonial leaders, they would nod quite matterof- factly that “birth is a ceremony”-as if it were so obvious it did not need to be stated.

I have interviewed hundreds of elders from across the Americas regarding Indigenous knowledge, establishing a narrative record of ancestral memories. Beyond the medicine of words, I also began to learn and follow medicinal teachings, exposed again to the teachings of numerous elders.

These birthing narratives demonstrate an Indigenous understanding of birth as a process that is larger than delivery of a baby.

These symbols reveal how pre-Columbian peoples associated sacred powers with birth, particularly feminine powers. These powers continue to be called upon.

“For Gonzales, a central guiding force in Red Medicine is the principal of regeneration as it is manifested in Spiderwoman. Dating to Pre-Columbian times, the Mesoamerican Weaver/Spiderwoman—the guardian of birth, medicine, and purification rites such as the Nahua sweat bath—exemplifies the interconnected process of rebalancing that transpires throughout life in mental, spiritual and physical manifestations. Gonzales also explains how dreaming is a form of diagnosing in traditional Indigenous medicine and how Indigenous concepts of the body provide insight into healing various kinds of trauma.

Gonzales links pre-Columbian thought to contemporary healing practices by examining ancient symbols and their relation to current curative knowledges among Indigenous peoples. Red Medicine suggests that Indigenous healing systems can usefully point contemporary people back to ancestral teachings and help them reconnect to the dynamics of the natural world. ”





“Improving Birth” Concerns Include Midwifery Regulation

5 09 2013

The Improving Birth rallies started last year. I attended one then. I believe in the concept of “improving birth”, passionately. Some, like the wonderful Carla Hartley, will argue that birth itself is not something that needs improvement. That may be true, but the phrasing is not a sticking point for me. I think the idea is improving the current climate of birth, which is birth as we are presenting it to women. It is for this that I joined the rally last year and participated in my own special way this year. There are other sticking points for me, however. I’ll explain.

I was informed by a group of friends that Improving Birth had been involved in pushing for legislation regarding midwifery.

I do somewhat remember these events they say were somehow related to that goal, such as last year’s rally follow-ups: “write-in”, “walk in”, etc.– which actually inspired me to write letters I would never send to my former health care providers. (It was a good catharsis for me, and I didn’t feel it would be beneficial in my particular case to confront these people directly.) There was apparently some outcry within the community and no proof remained of this on the Improving Birth website. The website has gone through several changes since (in the past year), with no mention of any of this, and no official response. If you talk to anyone with Improving Birth, they maintain that there is no agenda regarding midwifery regulation.

Anyway, trying to further regulate (and thus, medicalize) birth alarms a lot of us interested in improving birth because legislation aimed towards midwifery has been harming women’s births. Specifically, my circle of friends linked Improving Birth with The Big Push for Midwives campaign, which they asserted did have to do directly with the cause of midwifery licensure. Now, I had no idea of any of these connections or goals within the organizations– it was all news to me.

A word on laws regarding birth. Why is midwifery legality such an issue? It removes choice. It varies state by state in terms of who women can hire for their births. This in turn affects what type of births women are “allowed”. In some states, homebirth midwifery is illegal. In other states, you have to have a very specific (medical) certification to legally practice as a midwife. In certain states, you can hire anyone as your midwife, regardless of their credentials or qualifications.

I brought up Improving Birth on my page in this thread, expressing my newfound reservations towards the movement. I didn’t want to outright connect Improving Birth with The Big Push or midwifery regulation– I had no proof. I hoped that others could offer their perspectives to shed light on the topic.

Truthfully, before my friends even alerted me to the connection possibly existing between those organizations mentioned, I felt wary. Something didn’t feel right.

signsThe rally of the previous year felt almost ineffective to me. I felt good making my signs and saying what was on my mind, standing on the sidewalk in front of a hospital… but I wondered, did this matter? Was I getting through? Cars watched us and passed. A local news reporter briefly came and spoke to us (it seemed like maybe a couple dozen of us were there). A story ran in the paper. We were all proud to be a part of this, but it didn’t seem like a big deal. Maybe other cities felt differently, with booths, and huge turnouts. Maybe this was a regional issue, I thought. I felt like we were just a bunch of nice ladies holding signs.

This year looked like it could be the same, or worse. Days before the event, they still didn’t have a location. It appeared that only something like 10 people had committed to attending the event.

Other things that irked me that year creeped up again this year as the rally approached.

The idea that “this is not a protest”. Why is that so important? If someone accidentally calls it a protest (and not a “rally”), we’re afraid of all being seen as militant? Is protesting something mean, naughty, or has it ever done some good in this world? Okay, maybe that’s just me.

The idea that midwives deserve all the love and it’s the bad OBs we are questioning. In my state (Florida) in particular, what midwives are “allowed” to do is highly regulated and under the watch of the state and the medical establishment. In essence, they play by the same rules. Midwives need to have relationships with doctors and hospitals– in case of transfer, they say. And transfer is very likely. Even when transfer does not occur, you are subjected to the many of the same birth routines and interventions as in a hospital. I chose midwives to escape medical trappings, and instead found myself in a new style of snare. I feel personally irresponsible suggesting to women that hiring a midwife would solve all her birth troubles. Yet, this philosophy seems like a large part of this movement.

“Know Your Rights” (a great, popular Improving Birth sign) doesn’t save you if your midwife is telling you they can no longer legally serve you if you don’t submit to XYZ. That’s about the law, rules and regulations, and care not based on scientific evidence nor humane childbirth rights. That’s not at all about respecting or being with woman.

The idea that our main dilemma is C-sections. I think the C-section is the ultimate intervention when we think of medical birth, that’s true. The numbers are outrageous. Many are unnecessary, that’s true. I’ve never had a c/s and I care, and I talk about this and how to avoid surgical birth all the time. Still, I get the strong sense that we are trying to tell women to merely avoid a c-section and their births will be better (and perhaps by merely hiring a midwife). There are other points women make on their signs about informed consent, or questioning their inductions, etc.– but I get the impression that this, too, is specifically to influence an avoidance of the dreaded C-section (and not as much because the induction in itself is unnecessary and harmful, for example).  These are just the impressions that I’m getting.

Now for the new things this year that gave me pause, even prior to hearing the supposed connection of Improving Birth and The Big Push.

signs

“… we are not advocating FOR or AGAINST any one thing…”

Signs should be from this pre-approved list. The same sign suggestions as last year were provided, only this time, there was an extra sense of “stick to the program”. It was discouraged to stray from this short list. This turned me off. Why?

One, I am highly driven by my own passion to speak for myself.
Two, I don’t like being told what to do (this is about Improving Birth… <<<this should make sense!).

Three, the signs they encourage you to use, while often empowering in nature, are vague. “Know Your Options” (doesn’t everyone think they do? I know I did. Wrong!). “VBAC” (Yay, vbac! What about it?). “Evidence Based Care!” (yes, we’re all for this… even doctors say they are. Do they know they’re not giving evidence based care? Do women know exactly how they aren’t receiving it?). “Birth Matters” (yes, yes it does. Who would argue that?). Most people walk away from that feeling not-offended (<goal achieved) and automatically supportive of and even a member of this movement. But, what has changed? You may have people on “your side”, but that’s easy to accomplish when you won’t choose sides.

The reason given by Improving Birth was that “our” message will be more heard if we aren’t all saying different things. They also didn’t want us to sound “angry”. What about my message? My message is part of our message. If birth needs so much improvement, why wouldn’t we be a little angry? I want to improve birth, too. I have great, specific things to say. I want to make people think. I want to change the way they look at birth and present their actual options, through provocative ideas and lesser known facts. So, I made my own list.


We will not be going in front of hospitals this year. Why the hell not? (I don’t know, something from the higher-ups.) We have to obey an entity? That seems familiar. Well, okay…  Where are we supposed to go instead? (I don’t know, some public place… Permits and fines are something we have to think about. I’ll let you know the morning of the rally.) …  o.O

I listened to Birth: Revolution Style’s radio show (scroll to the 90 minute mark) discussing the issue, where an Improving Birth coordinator (Heather Kimble) tried to answer some of these questions. She expressed that one factor influencing location is the wonderful medical professionals– doctors, nurses, etc.– who wanted to be involved in our rallies but could not, for fear of repercussions of doing so in front of a/their hospital.
My problem with that is, they are doing a huge disservice to our cause if we bend to accommodate them so that they don’t get in trouble. The hospital is the most relevant place for this event. Our message stands to be lost or obscured elsewhere. If docs and nurses really want to help, maybe they’d be serving us better in the actual line of duty. That is where we need their support the most.

Truthfully, it sounds like another way we are bending or bowing to the medical establishment.

I want everyone to be able to have whatever birth they choose– the one they feel healthiest and safest with. That can’t happen if midwives are bound by certain medical regulations and standards. There was some talk on my page about legal vs. illegal. I said that I wanted all options to be “legal”. After listening to Magdalena on my page and the male caller from the radio show, I see that the terminology gets confusing. “Legal” implies there is also an “illegal” side to the coin, which means there is something to regulate. “Alegal”, or “lawful”, something which is not hindered by legislation, is perhaps a more correctly labeled goal.

I can’t be worried about certain things, though, such as pleasing medical professionals and working with them on their requests or demands. That’s what is hurting us in our births, after all. I won’t worry about trying to keep my message bland or neutral. I believe it creates positive feelings amongst people, but that this inspires contentedness rather than change.

An example of one of my signs this year.

Something is still unclear about Improving Birth. Did they, do they, or don’t they have anything to do with The Big Push and/or midwifery legislation?

Heather Kimble with Improving Birth was unsure during the radio show (linked above), but answering as best she could from what she had gathered, her feeling seemed to be that at one time IB had aligned with said cause(s), but is no longer after the reaction they’d received. If this is the case and Improving Birth is trying to distance itself from such goals and campaigns, I really think the best choice would be to publicly express this in an open way.  It would really clear the air.

I still believe in women uniting in any way they can to improve the climate of birth. I don’t count it out that I could attend future rallies in person, again.  I think we need to know more about where Improving Birth stands, though. We also would be more powerful and meaningful as a movement if we were free to be ourselves. We were controlled in the delivery room… do we need to be controlled in the rally, too? When can we be trusted as women to lead our own way?

If we’re all on the same team here, it’s okay if we disagree on the best way to spread the message, as long as we are out there doing something about it. I held a virtual rally on my page where I posted my past signs from last year, new ones I made this year, and ones from fans. I was heard, it resonated with people, and it felt nice/productive. The material had lots of shares and lots of positive feedback. Maybe someone learned something or felt more empowered, too. I’m happy to participate and do my part.





How Prevalent is Childbirth Trauma?

13 05 2013

Trauma in childbirth doesn’t necessarily have to be felt psychologically. It can be something the body experiences physically. When it’s classified as “normal”, it is not accepted as “trauma”, but it still is. This is how someone could feel totally satisfied mentally about their birth, but still undergo a level of trauma.

Obviously, the reverse is true too. You could feel trauma on a psychological or other level, even though it may not be apparent physically to some.

Now, because the brain and body work closely together (wink), where there is one type of trauma, there is often the other. If your body feels traumatized on a level you are not conscious of, you may still feel unexplainable psychological effects. When you confuse the body, the brain may follow. And vice versa.

The mammalian needs in labor/birth to have a true safe, physiological experience (as described by people such as Michel Odent) requires an undisturbed birth that honors darkness, silence, warmth, and (relative) solitude (or non-observation/interference).  Human beings are mammals, but we tend to give other animals more respect in birth than we give to ourselves and each other.

Plenty of women who have become mothers have unresolved issues or feel a level of imbalance and cannot trace the source. Trauma in childbirth is one reasonable leap regarding most. Most human beings have a plethora of “issues”, but childbirth and the ramifications of being traumatized during or as a result of is a colossal one– unmatched and practically universal amongst modern mothers. Not only can manifestations from trauma be traced to this one life-altering experience, but we also use motherhood as a way of identifying and defining ourselves. All of these provide for the perfect opportunity and cocktail for depression, emotional breakdown, mommy wars (reasons why women can’t just understand each other and be friends, constant comparison and cattiness), etc. If we felt no level of violence or trauma, and if we felt psychologically sound (in terms of being at peace with our choices, less defensiveness), we wouldn’t feel so threatened by others and so much of a need to fight against people who choose (non-abusive) different birth or parenting paths. Secure, well people do not fly off the handle in order to compete or attack with no provocation. Those who suffer from this would do well to receive assistance and support for healthy management of whatever issues or imbalances lie beneath the surface.

And this is just surmised through the observation of people who can articulate their thoughts. This says nothing for what the babies of traumatic birth feel and carry with them. Their first moments have lasting physical and psychological impacts, it would be logical to assume. Of course sometimes it manifests in an obvious physical way, but even more often it does not.

Looking around at the landscape in the parenting in birth worlds, I can answer my own question– it’s pretty damn prevalent. Looking around at the decay of society, which is the result in part to disconnect between women and children, overwhelming depression, economic and educational lapses, unwanted pregnancies, etc. … is it any wonder we see craziness everywhere we look? Healing the world is awfully hard when we’ve done all that we can to disrupt the natural hormonal and physiological beginnings of almost every new life entering this world.

Modern life and modern conveniences are not foolproof. We’ve made a trade-off when we’ve attempted to mechanize birth in lieu of comprehending birth mechanics.

There’s a reason for the phrase “peace on Earth begins with birth”. I take it quite literally. Helping others to understand it from this angle is my little part in trying to illuminate a pathway to more healing on this planet.





Make Memories & Make it Count

13 03 2013

As I approach the two year anniversary of my UC, thoughts turn to the future child we intend to have.


Parents of multiple children– have you ever felt like you really wanted to make sure you were making the most out of these times in your life, before they pass you by?

We have three children already, and we will probably have one more. And you know, it’s funny… looking back on three different pregnancies and three different births, even three different parenting experiences– all really different and unique in their own ways– we have experienced so much diversity in the way things have gone. And I’m so grateful for that! The richness of experience gives me the understanding of a little bit of everything. It helps me know what works best for me, and in a way, truly live.

So, here is a list of things I’ve never done that I’m wondering whether they’d be worth it to experience next time, since this will be possibly my last chance. Some of them I’m almost sure to do, and others are really iffy, but worth considering.

  1. Not take a pregnancy test (just know naturally that I am growing a baby inside me).
  2. Have an unassisted pregnancy (none of the unnecessary prodding or testing, except probably a mid-pregnancy ultrasound to watch for any conditions which may require medical intervention). Just have a stress-free pregnancy where I look after myself and enjoy the ride.
  3. Not announce my pregnancy to anyone. Just let people discover when I’ve got a baby.
  4. Take pregnancy announcement photos with a professional photographer.
  5. Get my pregnant belly painted, and/or get henna.
  6. Not have any kind of shower or blessing; maybe have a celebration party instead (before or after birth)
  7. Get people to donate frozen meals for after birth instead of making a registry or wish list for me and baby.
  8. Finally baby-wear!

    found at Healthy Mama Info

    I’d really like to try an Ergo Baby Carrier.

  9. Get Hypnobabies and see if it really works to eliminate pain in labor.
  10. Join a due date club.
  11. Blog through my whole pregnancy and birth, and open up, be myself and more personal. Let the readers/fans take the journey with me.
  12. Form a special due date club just for people “due” around the same time I am, for readers/followers of ISOTPB. Give presents, exchange birth beads for birth necklaces, etc.
  13. Be much more physically active during pregnancy.
  14. Really not find out the sex this time (and not accidentally observe it during ultrasound).
  15. Be open with most people about my intentions to birth unassisted before it actually happens.
  16. Not set up a crib this time around. Last time we hardly used it.
  17. Share my pregnancy journey with private birth support groups that I trust.
  18. Get adorable newborn photos with a professional photographer. You know, the kind with props and owl hats, that look like they belong in magazines.
  19. Announce my pregnancy right away, to everyone.
  20. Let everyone in on the name right away (rather than keeping it a secret until birth).
  21. Give everyone a fake baby name the whole pregnancy. >:)

Those are just a few of the things off the top of my head that I have thought about. But here’s the thing– when you’ve had a few kids, and you know that time in your life could be drawing to a close, you have to make it count. These are the memories we will look back on when we’re old with so much fondness, and I want to make sure that I’ve done everything that I really want to do in these departments before that chapter closes.

This is an exciting and thoughtful time, full of possibility and planning.  🙂





A Peaceful Birth For Christmas

29 11 2012

Would you like to give the gift of comfortable birth freedom this holiday season? Now you can. Of all charitable donations you could possibly make, this one might be the most personal and hit closest to home.

Give Birth Freedom for Christmas, Click here

Maria is expecting right around Christmas Day, and just like the Virgin Mary, she is looking for a room for the night. Also like the Virgin Mary, Maria gives birth unassisted. She is not a first time mother and is experienced. She just needs our help to make it happen.

Maria will be staying at a hotel (in the USA). We will not be disclosing specifics to protect Maria and to protect her birth from interference. Her hotel will have a fridge and will cost over $100 a night. She will need at least one night, but if we raise any extra $, it will go towards Maria having more time at the hotel for rest or in case of longer labor. Maria’s hotel will be 2 minutes from the nearest hospital in case of need. She has a local back up OB with privileges at all the local hospitals.

Why the Need?
She does not live alone. Maria had to move into her current home after Hurricane Sandy. Maria’s living environment includes individuals who are non-supportive of the homebirth she seeks, and any attempts to do so would result in interference.

What We Need (Needed: Donations & Volunteers)
One Hotel Room for at least one day (monetary donations; plus tax; we also factor in the fees they charge for us to accept funds in this fundraiser)
Bonus: Extra days in the hotel (monetary donations)
Bonus: food dehydrator (donations of product or $– please contact us if you‘d like to gift the item; these cost around $130; plus shipping costs)
One Treasurer: an additional person with access to the fund who volunteers to make themselves available to myself and Maria when she needs us for the birth. Must be on-call, and must either provide Maria & I her phone # for text or call at any time of day or night, promising to be try to always be reachable. Alternatively, must be reachable by Facebook and constantly accessible by us (preferably via phone app, with immediate and reliable notification abilities). Please e-mail info@theperfectbirth.com to inquire about helping.

Maria’s baby at 15 weeks

How the Money Will Be Used
Once we have enough for the room, it will sit in the fund until needed. Any additional after that will go towards a food dehydrator, which Maria will use for treating the placenta. The money allotted for this will be used to immediately purchase and ship one to her so she will have it on hand when needed. Any additional after that will go towards extra nights in the hotel.

Myself and one other Treasurer (needed, see above) will be contacted by Maria when she is starting labor and ready to check in. Either of us will then immediately book the room for her.

She’s already at 36 weeks, so please make your donations today in case the baby comes early!

Click Here to donate to birth freedom for Christmas, now. Thank you and have a wonderful, warm, comfortable, loved-filled season.

The fine print:  Maria has stated and it is on record that she is solely responsible for this birth. She has in writing removed all liability or responsibility from myself and anyone else donating or participating in this fundraiser.