Posted by doularama | Filed under Uncategorized
My Children love this.
I have been thinking a great deal about fear and birth. We teach and learn the importance of relaxation for a laboring woman. Lets not forget, though, the importance of eliminating fear from the labor room entirely.
All of my students have heard me talk about the gazelle laboring on the savanna. She will go off alone, at night to birth in private and SAFETY. If she senses that there is a lion nearby, her labor will stop so that she can flee. She doesn’t think about it and plan her getaway. It just happens. The hormones of fear drive the hormones of labor down.
What a great system this gazelle has going on! She shares it with other mammals, though, including humans. The problem with the humans is that our lions come in many forms. Instead of stopping labor to escape a predator, we are stopping labor because we’re so smart and we can think of all sorts of things to go wrong. Women’s labors stop or slow en route to the hospital, upon arriving, because the wrong doctor is on call, because they think they are progressing too slowly, because the next contraction may be too hard. Sometimes their cervices even close after being open! It happened to me for one of the above reasons.
So we tell women to relax and trust birth. We massage them, breath with them and hypnotize them. They are now buttery, unaware of the goings on around them, producing nary a hormone of fear. But how about everyone else?
Some people believe that a woman in labor is psychic. I think we can keep the conversation on a more tangible plain while addressing this same idea.
We give credit to other animals for smelling our fear, but no one talks about it with humans! Perhaps we think we are too smart, that we can communicate and pick up on fear in other, more obvious ways. What if we are giving off pheromones in the labor room that say, “I don’t know if this is going to work!” or “This looks really hard. I feel so bad for her?” Might a laboring woman smell our fear, psychic or not?
Frankly, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s pheromones or something else being sensed, but, as a doula or friend (or grandmother someday), I don’t want to be responsible for introducing an energy of fear into the labor room. The fact is that a new mother will not remember your fear, but it may very well have affected her labor.
Before you go into the labor room, make sure that you trust the birthing process, relax, have a massage, take some Rescue Remedy. Save your fear for the lion lurking around the corner of Broadway.
*My last blog post was over a year ago about eating dates in labor. Last week, I noticed other people talking about this no-longer-recent study. I figured I should blog more often in case there’s other stuff I’m ahead of the crowd about. Not likely, but here you have it anyway.
Posted by doularama | Filed under Recommendations
While pregnant, many people will tell you to take a babymoon or at least a date before your baby is born so that you can enjoy time to yourself or as a couple before your life changes forever. I don’t disagree with this, but that’s not the kind of date I’m talking about here. It turns out that preliminary studies have shown that eating date fruit in the weeks prior to
your estimated date of birthing decreases the latent phase of the first stage of labor, increases the rate of cervical dilation and decreases the overall need for interventions during labor, including induction and augmentation.
While more studies are warranted, consuming “the fruit of kings” is a small addition to your daily routine with great potential. The women in the study consumed six dates per day starting for weeks prior to their due dates. We already know the importance of eating fruits while pregnant, so go out and buy your dates and plan your date night too!
I am thrilled to share September, my birth month, with Karen Brody’s BOLD movement, celebrating five years and NYC’s Birth Focus, celebrating ten. They are co-producing a fabulous reading of the new script of BIRTH which includes a VBAC!
Register now to watch the live webcast this Monday, Labor Day, or watch it when it is re-aired every five hours on September 17th and 24th. When you register, you will be entered to win one of many great prizes a grand prize give away of full tuition to Karen Brody’ Birth Facilitator Training Program, FEAR to FREEDOM. The prize is valued at $697 and they are giving away 2, as well as a bunch of other great prizes like books, tshirts, mugs and more. You do not want to miss this raffle!
This is really exciting! Please join us!
Posted by doularama | Filed under Birth Stories
I think most of the people scanning the pages of Midwifery Today understand the potential of the positive birth story—how empowering it is to know from someone else’s experience how beautiful birth can be, the trial and triumph. It is also important, however, to understand the power of the negative birth story and why it is told.
Perhaps many of the women who share stories of woe need validation or closure. It could be that they are still trying to understand what actually happened during their births. It is also possible that they are all about the spectacle. In a culture that doesn’t value women and their powerful role as mothers, a good sob story can be a source of pride.
I sadly admit that I told my negative birth story, too. I tearfully offer my public apology to the dark-haired woman at the Hale and Hearty soup shop. Honestly, I think I was jealous. I think I needed to convince myself that I hadn’t missed out. I regretted it almost immediately but it was too late. She, with her big belly, sat next to the table I shared with my baby girl and told me that she was having a homebirth.
“I wanted a homebirth,” I said, “but my husband and my mother weren’t comfortable with it. It’s good thing, too, because I think I would have died if I had been at home. I hemorrhaged right after she was born and again the next day.”
The words flowed effortlessly. At the time, I believed everything I had said, but why did I need to say it? Before the woman started eating, she put her hands together and prayed. I can guess what she was likely praying for. After, she gazed dreamily out the window while she ate. I hope she tells a beautiful birth story, and maybe includes a bit about the horrible woman she met one day at lunch.
For a long time after my daughter was born, I mourned the loss of the birth I had envisioned. There were so many things I didn’t know when I was pregnant, and only discovered after giving birth. That is why I became a doula, to help give other women in our society the chance to know.
Last year, I was saddened to receive an e-mail from a client who, at 39 weeks, perfectly comfortable in her strong, robustly pregnant, yet delicate, petite body, wrote:
Lately I have been bombarded by women who want to share with me all their negative stories, how much pain I will feel, how I will want to give up, how I don’t know what pain is until I try to labor without an epidural. All of it really disturbs me. Why would they want to transmit such images into my mind right before I birth? It seems like they think they are being helpful. Yesterday I was meditating and thought of all the thousands of women who’ve been passed these images of pain and who pass them on to others in kind. I felt so sorry that it goes like that for most of us. I want to see this as having potential to be anything, and like that woman in the video you showed us, view it like a celebration.
I apologize on behalf of this culture for the way pregnant women are being treated. I don’t know why so many women choose to share such stories. Maybe they feel a need to justify for themselves why they chose to labor as they did. Do not doubt your decisions or your body. For all the women who can tell you their horror stories, so many more have tales of victory and empowerment.
That particular client’s birth turned out to be one of the most beautiful I have ever experienced. It seems to me that, as much as we need to help spread the good birth stories, we also need to listen to the bad ones with a helping spirit. Maybe we can listen with compassion and offer to explain why so many of these births are typical, but far from normal. Mostly, though, we need to continue to help make the positive birth story the only one there is to tell.
This is a preprint of Why the Negative Birth Story?, an article published in Midwifery Today Issue #99, p. 19 Copyright © 2011 Midwifery Today, Inc. http://www.midwiferytoday.com/
Posted by doularama | Filed under Recommendations
When I was new to my doula practice, I made up some marketing materials that said, “Helping you have the birth you want.” I even ended some e-mails by sending people best wishes for the birth they want. I was trying to convey that, my agenda as a doula is not to inflict my beliefs on clients’ births.
I still feel this way. I try to give people the knowledge they need to make informed decisions without my biases. I’ve supported families in a variety of settings and scenarios that I would not choose myself. I’ve attended many births that were far from my ideal happily, knowing that the women had their own choices to make.
I’d like to think that I even still wish a little that people get to have the birth they want, especially my clients. It would be great if, after their births, everyone said, “Thanks, doula, that’s just what I wanted.” It might be great on some level, but what I really wish for people is that they have the birth that they need. Unfortunately, we don’t usually know what that might look like until afterwards, sometimes for a long time.
After all, I wouldn’t even be a doula if I had gotten the birth I had wanted. I got a very different birth, the one I needed to bring me to this beautiful place in my life. Every decision I made during those three days of birthing brought me further away from what I wanted and closer to what I needed. In the weeks that followed I had to release my misguided ideals and face the realities of the birthing world, eventually finding that I had a place in it.
Many women wish for fast labors. I’ve seen a couple of fast labors that left the women needing to catch up emotionally. These women often wish things had gone more slowly and need much more time to process. I wouldn’t wish a fast labor on anyone, even if it means overtime for me.
Some women have the coveted “easy” labors. They often overwork their bodies in the postpartum period and pass blood clots or faint in the middle of the street. Worse though, they aren’t connected with their power as women. It’s easy to feel that you can do anything after experiencing the amazing things your body can do in labor.
As a doula, I too have attended births that were, not so much what I wanted, but what I needed. I’ve learned things from every birth, some more than others, and I always need that, to learn and to grow.
It is an honor to be with families as they go through their journeys and grow. It isn’t always easy and it often involves some unexpected things, but it is truly a gift of life in more ways than one.
A couple of months ago I visited my dental hygienist for a regular cleaning and we noted some sensitivity at the base of one tooth. She said it was due to gum recession and recommended that I use Listerine Total Care to help build up the enamel or something.
It took me a few weeks to buy it because, when no one is poking me with a sharp metal stick, my teeth aren’t actually sensitive at all. Anyway, I did by the stuff and started using it at night, before bed- half of the recommended time. Within days, I noticed a funny taste in my mouth and thought little of it, but a couple of days later, I looked at my tongue and noticed it was white. The Listerine had offset my perfect bacterial balance and caused an overgrowth of the fungus candida albicans. Now I had a yeast infection in my mouth. It didn’t hurt or bother me, but it wasn’t normal and my husband was basically disgusted by it.
Many of the people I’ve told about it have been disgusted, but I’m sure most of them would happily gobble up any of my delicious mushroom dishes. That’s another issue, though. A few people offered helpful suggestions, but one, offered by two different doulas caused me to write this blog post. Gentian violet. Gentian violet is commonly recommended for thrush in infant’s mouths and on women’s breasts. The recommendation usually comes with the warning that this remedy is very messy and nothing else. The name suggests that this is a natural remedy that perhaps comes from a lovely flower. It is not. Gentian violet works for oral thrush because it is a powerful antifungal chemical. In other words, the living fungi are killed. Sound poisonous? It is. You’re not gong to use nearly enough for it to be a real threat, but I don’t even use toxins to clean, much less to put in my mouth (except for the week of Listerine).
You may still choose to use gentian violet for your baby’s thrush, but do the research first and use it properly. Consider using chamomile, yogurt or bayberry instead. Adults should increase their consumption of good sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and yogurt. You can even empty the contents of an acidophilus capsule onto your tongue everyday.
I’m glad that my thrush has caused me no pain or discomfort and that it got me back to my blog after so long. I hope that it gets a few people to discover and opt for natural remedies for oral thrush.
On march 13th, most of us in the United States and in about 150 other countries will be setting our clocks ahead one hour. Some of us won’t and will therefore be running an hour late on Sunday and some of us may not even realize it until Monday! It doesn’t make much sense that we do this because it doesn’t actually gain us or save us any daylight. The earth will rotate and revolve just the same whether we call the time one or two.
For years I have noticed that my children start adjusting their waking time all on their own and usually, when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, they are largely unaffected. My children are unusually well-rested, however, and are early to bed, early to rise. I imagine that many children probably have a harder time with the sudden time change, so here I offer my suggestions for an easier transition for the whole family and anyone else who might spend time with your children. Afterall, studies have shown that a great number of “behavior problems” are actually due to a lack of sleep.
First you need to know when you need to change your clocks. Even if all of your electronic devices will automatically be updated and you don’t own a watch or analog clock, you should be prepared this year to “lose” an hour on March 13th. The magic shift is supposed to happen at 2am, but I always cheat the system by changing my clocks at about 9pm the night before. I always make up for it by cheating myself by a few hours at the end of DST.
Especially if your child needs to go to school on Monday morning, you should try to gradually ease him or her into the time change. Start about four days in advance by making bedtime fifteen minutes earlier on Thursday, thirty minutes earlier on Friday and forty-five minutes earlier on Saturday. On Sunday night, bedtime can be at the regular time which is now one hour later, but only fifteen minute later than the night before.
Whether you take this advice or not, you should at least be mindful of the fact that the time change will likely affect us all. Remember that children aren’t the only ones who misbehave when they’re tired!
Posted by doularama | Filed under Uncategorized
In reading Marion’s Message Family Planning and Safe Motherhood in the latest issue of Midwifery Today magazine, I enjoyed learning of the work that Marion Toepke McLean is part of , of the education and help that is being made available in Soroti, Uganda, but I was particularly grateful to read, “As an American in Africa, I constantly examine myself for cultural imperialism. Was I trying to impose my own ideas about what African people should do, or working for them to help them realize their own dream?”
We have taken our technology and advancements all around the globe, bringing people further and further away from normal birth. When we go outside of our culture to “help” we should always pause and scrutinize our actions for the effects they will have in the long run.
So much work can be done internationally, but it’s important to remember all the work that’s yet to be done here.
Tags: Midwifery Today