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Mother Blessing

This is the last article I’ll have published for a while:

Mother Blessings

While I was pregnant with Max I had (to endure) two baby showers. I’m about to out myself here… I’m not a big fan of The Shower. The games bore me and small talk isn’t my forte. During my showers I was the center of attention for several people who were practically strangers (how awkward) and a few that I loved (slightly less awkward). I was subjected to the guessing game, How Big Is Her Waist? (offensive) and to everyone yelling at one another for saying the word, “Baby” (*yawn*). I was honored that people showed up but unmoved by the actual events of the shower. I appreciated the gifts but hated opening them as everyone predictably oooowed and awwwwed over the cuteness of each item. I’m pretty darn sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. Though I may be the only asshole to admit it. After the second shower, I started to wonder if there were any alternatives, in case we had a another baby.

When I found out I was pregnant with baby number two I started to consider having a Mother Blessing ceremony. I heard about this ceremony while pregnant with Max but thought it sounded too eccentric. I thought, “Hmmm, not only would I be the center of attention but people would also be focused on me while talking to me? That sounds intense – and weird.”

As I continued to contemplate what I wanted, I received an invitation to my doula’s daughter’s Mother Blessing. “Perfect!” I thought. “Now I can see what this thing is about before I decide if it’s a good fit.”

Well… OH MY GOSH. I was moved by the intimacy and meaningfulness of the entire ceremony. Every woman in the room shared a bond with the mother-to-be. The sincere words that were voiced were empowering (I think for everyone) and had me in tears. The environment felt communal and supportive. And the bond I felt with the mother-to-be was intuitive, immediate, and beautiful, even though it was my first time meeting her.

Attending this Mother Blessing peaked my interest and put me into research mode. I found out that a Mother Blessing is a ceremony that is adaptable to fit a woman’s personal beliefs. It can take the place of or be held in conjunction with a traditional baby shower. And like a baby shower, it is held before each pregnancy or adoption. The common thread with all Mother Blessings is that it brings together women in your community who want to support your journey into motherhood. I also found out that it isn’t that eccentric (read: weird) at all!

A little bit of history:

A “Mother Blessing” is modeled after the “Blessingway” ceremony that is a sacred ritual of the Dine (Navajo). A traditional Navajo Blessingway is held for a women who is about to give birth as well as for men who are preparing to leave for war. It’s purpose is to bring the Navajo community together in support of the person making a significant life transition.

In the 1970’s, American midwives – led by Raven Lang, Jeannine Parvati Baker, and Nan Koehler – adapted the Navajo Blessingway into the modern ceremony that many pregnant women celebrate today. Out of respect for the sacred ritual of the Dine (Navajo), many people are starting to refer to the Blessingway ceremony given to a woman as a Mother Blessing, Birthing Way, Belly Blessings, or Alternative Baby Shower.

Modern culture has become focused on the baby-to-be and has lost sight of the mother about to be born. I felt this way during my own baby showers. The event was completely about my unborn baby, leaving me feeling like a vessel without a life of her own. I was present, but the party wasn’t for me. If only I could have removed my womb and sent it instead. Though, I would have missed out on all the yummy food.

A Mother Blessing is different than the typical baby shower. It’s purpose is to honor the mother-to-be by acknowledging the profound rite of passage labor and mothering brings. It also provides a safe space for the mama to express her deepest fears about labor and to receive words of encouragement and support. In short, the Mother Blessing is all about the mama. It is about empowering the mother-to-be. And of-course, gifts can still be a part of the event.

Having a Mother Blessing:

First step: Who do you want to invite? This is a very important step!

I chose to invite only the women in my life who have been supportive of my transition into mothering. This list comprised of women I knew but wanted to know better, women I always felt supported by but only spoke with occasionally, and women whom I already shared a deep friendship with. It was important that those invited brought a good attitude and positive energy with them. I didn’t invite anyone who had a history of doubting my mothering choices or anyone who ignored my mothering life (um, except my mother-in-law but I have a lot of love for her so she was a worthy exception to the rule). I didn’t invite people because of fear of hurting feelings. A Mother Blessing is meant to be an intimate and meaningful ceremony. So, the idea to keep in mind is “quality before quantity.” Invite only those who lift your spirits.

Step two: Making the invitation – get detailed!

The invitation needs to include an explanation of what your Mother Blessing will entail as well as instructions if your guest are to bring items with them. For my Mother Blessing, guests were asked to bring a flower and a bead. Those who were unable to attend still participated by mailing these pieces. Relatives and friends from far away mailed flowers, beads, and thoughtful letters to be shared during the ceremony. I also had loved ones who live close by send these goods because they had prior engagements or were uncomfortable with the intimacy of the ceremony. Allowing people the option to mail the ceremonial pieces gave my guests the freedom of relinquishing their presence but the ability to still participate.

Step three: What do people do at a Mother Blessing?

The ceremony can involve rituals from your religion or rituals that you create. Many ceremonies include: making birthing necklaces and bracelets, hair brushing, foot washing, sage burning, sharing positive birth stories, passing on wisdom and blessings, singing, gift giving, and feasting on potluck fare.

The woman being honored usually has a primary role in planning both the guest list and the ceremonies. I made the guest list and picked out what ceremonies I wanted to have at my Mother Blessing. My closest friend hosted it at her house and made the fabulous spread of food while my doula facilitated the actual ceremony. We worked as a team and the entire event went without a hitch. Not to mention… because the three of us had a role in making it happen, it was a relatively stress-free process to getting it done.

Following is an outline of what we did during my Mother Blessing:

# 1 – Introduction.

Taking turns, each woman lighted a candle, placed it on the table, and introduced herself. And since this ceremony is about the power of women she also acknowledged her mother, grandmother, and her children. The introduction sounded like this:

I am Michelle, daughter of JoAnne, granddaughter to Elizabeth, and mother to Maxamilian and BellaGrace. I light this candle in honor of, ______, to support her journey into motherhood.

Seeing Grandma Harmon shuffle over to the table while introducing herself in her shaky grandma voice brought tears to my eyes and bombed my chest with esteem and love. I suddenly felt incredibly privileged to be sitting amongst the women who filled the room.

#2 – Bead Giving Ceremony.

Everyone was asked to bring a bead that reminded them of me, meant something to them, or was symbolic for a sentiment they wished to share. A bowl was passed around the room and each woman placed the bead into the bowl sharing words of support, wisdom, and gratitude.

This part was very special and touching because every woman brought a unique element of wisdom to the room. Afterwards, my closest friend made a beautiful necklace out of the beads. This necklace was worn while I was in early labor to remind me of the connection I have to all the women present at my Mother Blessing.

#3 – Umbilical Cord Ceremony.

A long string of yarn was passed around the room. The yarn represented my connection to the baby in my belly as well as the alliance I had with each woman in the room. Once the circle was complete each woman cut the yarn and tied it around their wrist or ankle to make a bracelet. While this was being done my doula explained the purpose of the string: With the wearing of this bracelet each woman is reminded of Michelle’s upcoming labor. Michelle is also wearing the bracelet to remind her that we support her journey into mothering two children and have confidence that her baby will be born complication-free. This bracelet will give her the wisdom to know that she can give birth and that we believe she can do it.

Upon finding out labor started, each woman “cut the cord” sending me their prayers and well wishes.

#4 – The Flower

Each guest was asked to bring a flower with them. The flowers were placed in a bowl that sat on the table in the center of our ceremony. I took the bowl of flowers home and it became the center piece on my kitchen table – another reminder of the love and support I had been blessed with. I am looking forward to passing on both the necklace and dried flowers to BellaGrace. They are now family heirlooms.

Fifteen people attended my Mother Blessing and the entire event took about 2 ½ hours. While everyone was arriving and introductions were being made we all munched on the amazing spread of food and talked. After the ceremonial part of the Mother Blessing, we ate up the rest of the food and chatted. The energy in the house was amazing. Women who had never met before were sharing personal stories of their own lives while long time friends enjoyed the excitement of the gathering. I was loving the environment and company so much that I had to be reminded to open the baby gifts! It truly was a blessed event that gave me the support and empowerment I needed to birth my 10 pound baby girl.

Info Box

Web Sites:

http://www.birthbeads.com/Blessingway.html

http://mother-care.ca/blessing.htm

Books:

“Mother Blessings : Honoring Women Becoming Mothers,” by Anna Stewart

“Blessingways: A Guide to Mother-Centered Baby Showers–Celebrating Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood,” by Shari Maser

“ Mother Rising: The Blessingway Journey into Motherhood,” by Yana Cortlund

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I’ve made a big decision. I decided to stop writing for Mommy Magazine (a bi-monthly newspaper). I’ve been their natural parenting columnist since the second issue came out, September of 2005’.

At this point I’m not sure if this will be a temporary leave or permanent. I haven’t had a chance to actually tell my editor. I’ve been waiting for her to call me since, Sunday, so I’m hoping she doesn’t read this blog. I’m fairly certain she will understand. She’s the one who originally suggested that I take a break from writing in order to adjust to the whole “two kids thing.” When she made the suggestion I was still pregnant and had no idea how stressful I would soon find the responsibility of a deadline.

However, it’s not just the stress of a deadline that makes me want to stop. It is the amount of time it takes to actually crank out an article… it is too much. I spend at least two days writing and then have to spend another two days after I get the edit back. I’d rather be spending that time with my family.

My editor, though I have no other experience in which to compare, seems a bit over zealous in the editing department. Up until recently I’d get my work back already edited and had no idea what was changed unless it was painfully obvious (in which case I’d be upset). Also, I rarely felt like I had the final say in the articles that were printed and a couple times I felt they had been butchered. To be fair, I do think she’s a damn good editor – a bit on the tough side – but good. Also, I know a lot of my feelings are shaped by the fact that this is my first time writing for a publication – in other words… I’m still pretty green and have a lot to learn. I’m just not in the right head space to do this kind of work. The true bottom line to this complainy rant: I’m spending more time working on an article than I’d like. If I were writing for Brain, Child or Mothering, I *may* not mind so much – oh, and if I were getting paid it would be a different story, too.

My experiences with Mommy Magazine have taught me a lot – one thing being… when it comes to writing I need to *feel* in control of the final output. Having to write to please an editor has made me question my original desire to go to school for journalism. Obviously if I ever get a chance to write for money, it will be under the pretense that I’m writing to “please someone.” However, I’d much rather deal with that kind of pressure when I’m no longer a new mother of two small children… and when I’m getting paid.

Maybe I’m over analyzing this. The fact is, writing for MM was a good fit in the beginning but isn’t anymore. Maybe it will fit into my life in the future and maybe it won’t. All I know is that I can’t keep writing for them for fear of never being published again.

It’s not just the stress and the amount of time I spend writing an article, either, there’s more to it than that. It is also that I pay for it physically. I have rheumatoid arthritis. Between the time Max was born up until shortly after Bella was born, my pain levels were pretty low. Now, it seems that on a scale of 1-10, it’s at about a six on a daily basis.

Most of the pain I experience is a direct result of too much time typing. Though, it is also a result of normal daily repetitive movement. If I’m going to take in physical pain for my work right now, I should be writing for more than the benefit of others and my ego. Therefore, this blog is the only place I’ll be giving my time to write. It feeds my soul, sanity, and desire for a feeling of production and creativity. And while it’s nice to know I have a few readers… I’m still writing just for my own pleasure.

After giving birth I go into a protective mode with my energy. The only output I’m interested in is endeavors that give me strength and smiles back. Any free time to be found is sacred. All mothers know this.

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My Breastfeeding Story

Part I

The Painful Truth

While pregnant with Max I knew that we would breastfeed. I wasn’t well versed in any medical, scientific, or health reasons to back up this conviction. All I had was a feeling of “this is what I should do.” Besides, having a baby was going to provide me with the grand opportunity to use my boobs for something other than arousing my sexual conquests! I’m of the belief that boobs are by design sexual objects but just like our other sexual bits they are multi-functional and have a deeper purpose than to simply arouse the human species. Nature, after all, is complex and beautiful.

So, when I gave birth and attempted to breastfeed my beautiful new baby boy I was bewildered as to why nursing didn’t come easy. This is supposed to be natural! I had heard too many times how deeply bonding and natural it was – but it certainly didn’t feel this way for me the first few months.

The first day Max was born I struggled all day long with getting him to nurse and by the time night arrived I was exhausted and frustrated. It never felt “right” and Max would always pop off and start screaming bloody-hell-find-me-a-new-mom! Of-course, being a lactating woman, his screams not only affected my eardrums and patience they also caused a physical reaction that was analogous to a pipe bomb going off in my chest. This explosion did me the grand favor of turning my breasts into steel shields with tacks on the inside panel. Yeah, my boobs were really sore.

The first night-nursing session with Max had me up from midnight until four in the morning struggling with his latch. After cursing to the Air Fairies for about an hour while I sat alone in the living room with my starving child I broke down and dragged my husband, Hal, out of bed for support. And by “support,” I mean I needed an actual adult to curse at. Although Max was a toothless newborn I was convinced his gums were hiding retractable piranha fangs that drew great pleasure in secretly gnawing at my nipples. I knew he had to be latched on wrong but had no idea how to do it right. As Hal laid quietly across the couch while I blamed him for ALL my troubles, I desperately flipped through the pages of a breastfeeding manual to unearth the secret to correctly latching Max on. No one was safe from the wrath of words coming out of my mouth. I cursed THE WORLD. My poor baby.

The following day I cried on the phone to my midwife who immediately came over to help us get it right. When she got to my house and checked out Max’s latch she was like, “Oh yeah, he’s latched on right.” What. The. Fuck??? How can this be so? Apparently, the little buggers sometimes get it right and sometimes don’t. It’s when they don’t that the nipple lashings come into play. She recommended I try some nipple cream to protect and heal my skin from the chapping (lashings) and to just, “hang in there, it will get easier.” Oh my.

The first two weeks were the toughest. Every time Max latched on and it brought tears to my eyes I contemplated using formula. But, I bitchingly “hung in there.” I knew this was the healthiest choice for him and I had faith that eventually it would feel like the best thing for me as well. More often than not, that faith waned in the background of every cuss word.

The next six weeks were filled with a variety of challenges but at least the excruciating pain finally went away. My nipples healed whilst my boobs softened and grew. The sting of cracked nipples was replaced by an awareness of an odd pulling sensation akin to rubber bands being stretched out and snapped. This feeling was strongest when I nursed lying down and was in fact my milk ducts expanding. Each day was an experiment in getting comfortable while nursing. Whereas the pain completely subsided by the end of the third week I still had a lot of learning to do in terms of holding, positioning, and most importantly… leaving the house. Additionally, to keep me on my toes it was during this time that Max became an automatic pooping machine who operated something like this: struggle, latch correctly (Yay!), nurse, POOP, pop off the boob, relatch incorrectly, and then REPEAT.

By the third month I began to feel what I had heard about and longed for since Max was born. I felt like we were bonding and was able to relax and enjoy my newborn as he nursed. It was also around this time when I felt that intense love I had always heard mothers gushing over. Every nursing session stopped the world around us and I truly began to see what it meant to live in the moment.

Oh, I should add in case you are wondering, it is absolutely normal to not fall head over heals in love with your baby while they are still in utero or the moment they are born. Many women are tremendously overwhelmed by their new role as “mama” and don’t experience a great deal of feelings outside of tiredness or shock.

Also, in case this story is freaking you out about nursing… EVERY WOMAN has a different experience to share and I hear each subsequent baby brings about a whole new world of events. This is just my story. Many, many, many women have an easy go at nursing.

I’m happy to say, by our fourth month of breastfeeding I was a self-proclaimed pro. As my confidence grew and the discomforts subsided I was able to feel more relaxed nursing in public. Even though I was UN-phased by the possibility of offending someone in public, I still wanted to be discreet about what I was doing with my bigger-than-life-boobs when I needed to handle or adjust them. I never have been an exhibitionist with my body. My rambling thoughts, however, now that’s an entirely different story.

With lots of practice I learned how to use a Maya Wrap sling and soon dubbed it my most valued piece of baby paraphernalia. I was able to nurse anywhere any time: standing in the check-out line, sitting on a bench in a busy store, in front of my in-laws, even walking through a bookstore as I browsed for another baby book. Nursing became as second nature as using my hands to speak. Additionally, my boobs became these sacred objects of nurturing power. Sadly for my husband these powers were now reserved for our child. But, really, Hal didn’t mind. He always openly supported me breastfeeding our son (even though it did make him squeamish to see me fondle my boobs in public) and never once did he suggest I use formula. Sometimes I wonder if partners suggest formula because they loose patience. I mean, I fully admit it must have been hellish living with me those first few weeks. I was getting annoyed with myself.

Anyhoo, as my confidence in breastfeeding continued to grow, so did my head. I fell into the well-known mama trap of egotistical righteousness. Instead of seeing what I was doing as being best for my baby, I saw breastfeeding as an act that made me (and everyone else who nursed their babies) a better mother than those who didn’t nurse. As I type this it pains me to know that I ever judged other women this way. It was a passage into knowledge and humbleness that made me realize how wrong it is to judge a mother by whether she nurses or formula feeds. Heck, to judge a mother at all seems iniquitous to me, now. It was also a journey through the politics of breastfeeding that helped me understand the vast reasons women either chose not to nurse or are unable to do so in our country.

I’ll share this journey through the politics of breastfeeding with you in Sarasota Mommy’s next issue. Also, I’ll be discussing the perks and peccadilloes of breastfeeding a toddler, nursing said toddler during pregnancy, and tandem nursing (nursing more than one baby at a time).

 

Info Box

Beginning Breastfeeding Tips:

  • Nurse on demand. It encourages good milk supply and reduces engorgement.
  • Nurse at the first signs of hunger (stirring, rooting, hands in mouth) – don’t wait until baby is crying.
  • Prepare your partner. Let him/her know how important it is to you and that you need 100% support.
  • Get yourself a 50 gallon mug for water… drink it all day every day!
  • Buy some nipple cream before you give birth. Apply liberally. We used the brand, Lansolin, but you can also order vegan creams online.
  • Ignore any nay-sayers who aren’t supporting your choice.
  • Give it time. This may be your first major lesson in patience and endurance.
  • Create a private environment for at least the first month to month and a half. You may rather walk around topless or just in a bra. Sometimes a shirt can be annoying to get around. Plus, you may not want anyone else hearing you curse their name.
  • Pacifier use is best avoided during the initiation of breastfeeding and used only after breastfeeding is well established.

Resources:

 

Internet:

  • http://www.kellymom.com/index.html – This website was developed to provide evidence-based information on breastfeeding, sleep, and parenting. It has been my #1 resource from the beginning.

Books:

  • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: Seventh Revised Edition – by La Leche League International
  • The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning – by Martha Sears, William Sears

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I just started working on my next article which I am very excited to write. This one will be considerably less stressful to finish than the last one (see “Articles” link on “Categories” side bar) because it is about something that I live everyday. It’s about… BOOBS. My boobs, specifically, and their experience with breastfeeding.

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This article is discussing my prenatal care with both an OB and an independent midwife while I was pregnant with our first child, Max. I also included a section describing what my birth experience was like because I just LOOOOVE sharing it with the world.

 

My OB experience…

My plan was to birth Max intervention-free. For about the first 32 weeks of pregnancy I saw a Sarasota area OB who has two certified nurse midwives (CNM) on staff. Around this time I began to acknowledge that, although my OB is a highly regarded practitioner and a very nice man, I was less than relaxed during each visit.

I was shuffled from the waiting room, to the bathroom, to an examining room for a short encounter with a nurse who took my vitals and asked a few routine questions. After the nurse left, I waited some more. Then, my OB– who was always in a hurry to get to his next patient– came in and asked a few more routine questions. Hardly looking up, he’d check me over, give me a few orders, and then disappear out of the room. Unless I was armed with a list of questions it was impossible to convey anything meaningful about my pregnancy.

Essentially, my prenatal care providers were not able to spend quality time with me. They had too many other patients to attend and had the difficult task of balancing out the needs of all of them. Furthermore, it always felt like I was taking up too much of their time when I did have that list of questions ready to rattle off. I felt uncertain about the normalcy of my pregnancy and nervous to speak up about anything. Despite the kindness of everyone I encountered, the experience of being shuffled from one place to the next, the impersonal interactions with the staff and OB, and the lack of intimate conversation made it feel like my pregnancy was being treated the same as a routine check-up at a walk-in clinic.

Who can provide the professional and compassionate quality care I’m looking for?

Giving birth for the first time was the most emotional and life altering event I was ever going to confront. It seemed below standard that my OB and the CNM working under him didn’t have time to talk about what I was really going through or what my body was experiencing. I began to re-evaluate the term “quality care.” Did I need to hire a psychologist as well as an OB in order to address the non-physical changes I was undergoing? Was it possible to receive quality medical care with emotional/intellectual support as part of that care? Am I the only one who feels that being pregnant is not just about my body changing and the baby growing inside of me, but also about what I’m thinking and feeling because of these events? How will this emotional disconnect from the OB affect my labor and delivery? I contemplated these questions as I carefully researched midwifery care in the state of Florida and across the world. It soon became apparent that the kind of care I was looking for could only be found with an independent licensed midwife.

My midwife experience…

When I tell people that I had a homebirth with my son, their first response is usually, “Wow, you are brave!” I smile and tell them that I don’t consider having a homebirth to be an act of bravery, but it was the most empowering experience of my life thus far. Trusting that your body knows how to birth a baby has more to do with education and knowledge than bravery. My reasoning to give birth at home– and certainly this is true for many women who choose midwifery care in our country– was based on a desire to have an honest opportunity at a natural childbirth without any interventions to start or augment labor. Equally as important was to have my needs and Max’s treated together and not as separate units, because they are symbiotic needs. With an experienced and licensed midwife all of my standards of care were met… and then some.

Our first visit together was a two hour appointment in which we talked for about one hour 45minutes and did the exam within 15minutes. Each additional visit was roughly 45mins of conversation time and 15 mins of exam. Although I began my care with her at 33 weeks pregnant, by the time I gave birth I felt close to her, confident about what my body was going through, and had a clear sense of what labor and birth would entail. I also stopped having nightmares about going into labor. Rather than feeling isolated and fearful, I started having dreams about feeling safe, loved, and protected as I went into labor.

Is homebirth really safe?

Yes! Florida actually sets a notably high standard for midwifery education so as to make the option of homebirth as safe as an intervention-free hospital birth. Midwifery has been legal here since 1931, and The Midwifery Practice Act was last updated in 1992. The revisions are based on World Health Organization standards and successful European direct-entry midwifery programs. To become a licensed midwife in the state of Florida, an applicant completes a three-year program of academic and clinical education and must pass the North American Registry of Midwives national certification examination.

With the midwifery model of care, birth has an astoundingly low rate of interventions. Scientific medical academia consistently shows that the less interventions a laboring mother has, the less likely she will end up having a cesarean birth. In 2002, a study titled, “Outcomes of Planned Home Births with Certified Professional Midwives: Large Prospective Study in North America,” was organized by, Kenneth C Johnson and Betty-Anne Daviss and published in the British Medical Journal. This study included 5,418 women in the U.S. and Canada who intended to give birth at home as of the start of labor. Throughout their pregnancies all the women were attended by Certified Licensed Midwives. Although many people have a knee-jerk reaction to assume homebirth is dangerous, the results of this study clearly prove otherwise.

The study concluded “…home birth is safe for low risk women and involves far fewer interventions than similar births in hospitals.”

Info box:

Results of the 2002 survey, “Outcomes of Planned Home Births with Certified Professional Midwives: Large Prospective Study in North America”

  • 12.1% transferred to a hospital either during or after delivery and only
  • 3.4% of these transfers where considered urgent. Most transfers occurred for failure to progress, needed pain relief or exhaustion.
  • 9.6% electronic fetal monitoring
  • 2.1% episiotomies
  • 0.6% vacuum extractions
  • 3.7% cesarean section (as opposed to in 2004, Sarasota Memorial Hospital delivered 3,461 babies with a c-section rate of 36.95%, and Manatee Memorial Hospital delivered 2,164 babies with a 31.10% c-section rate).
  • 1.7% of the mothers said they would choose a different type of caregiver for a future pregnancy.

 

What Giving Birth at Home Was Like For Me…

I have never in my life felt so at one with spirit and body as I did while in active labor. I could have been laboring a million and one years ago and it wouldn’t have felt any different. The connection to my primitive spirit was beautiful, powerful, wild, foreign, and uninhibited. As labor progressed, I began to move on instinct alone. I was able to walk around, drink juice or water, and eat whenever I wished to do so. I vocalized the pain and moved my body as needed. By my side at all times were my midwife, my husband, and four of my closest friends. Labor was intense and painful but manageable, especially while resting in warm water. Of course, I had moments of doubt that I’d make it through. But, instead of someone asking me if I was ready for drugs, I heard a soft voice of encouragement telling me I was beautiful, doing great, and that everything was progressing normally. The lights were dim and I felt safe, like my midwife was a guardian watching over Max and me. She checked Max’s heartbeat often as well as my blood pressure – all was perfect. I moaned, moved, cried, and eventually became what I was doing. I found my way to that sacred place within that only I could travel and where my greatest inner strength was revealed. Pain at this point ceased to bring fear with it and became a welcoming means to an end– Max in my arms.

Ultimately, regardless of who is surrounding us or how many machines are available, we all give birth alone. It is the birthing woman who is left with the most powerful memories, good or bad, of the birth experience. My friends and husband played important roles in my labor memories; however, it was my midwife that had the power to “make or break” my confidence. She was the one I entrusted to make decisions about our safety. This power that we give to someone is a gift. Whether we give this gift to an OB or a midwife it is vital to choose our birth attendant(s) wisely. It is our birth attendant(s) and their philosophies about childbirth that have an enormous influence on how our labor progresses and how we feel about the birth experience overall. Maxamilian was born into my husband’s arms in a tub of warm water after 12 hours of intense, meaningful work… without any complications.


Recommended Reads:

Book Resources:

 

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin: I recommend this book over all others! Ina not only provides great information about natural childbirth, it also has a very comprehensive and honest section dedicated to interventions.

 

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer, Rhonda Wheeler

 

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England, Rob Horowitz

Internet Resources:

 

    http://www.motherfriendly.org – The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS). Here is a great place to learn how to find a provider that has built a practice around mother centric values.




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