I just watched this short video and started to cry. Stop rolling your eyes, it’s about my passion, besides it could’ve just been the music. The video states my reasons for becoming a doula. The fact that the information presented in it is not common knowledge or openly discussed among women in their childbearing years is truly sad. So many of us just do what we know, whatever everyone else is doing without knowing that we have a choice. I am not saying that everyone should share my ideal for birth. I just want women to know that there are options so that they can feel empowered when they choose, and therefore decrease the likelihood of regret.
The other day I got calls from three different doulas who were seeking support. One of them called me excitedly to report that she was on her way to a birth and then again, about six hours later to tell me that she was on her way home. She told me how fast and easy it had been and, of course, that she was very happy. I listened to a few details and then she went home to rest.
The next doula called me a few times throughout the day. This birth wasn’t going so smoothly and she thought she was calling me for advice. All I did, though, was listen. She presented a situation and told me what she had said or done and I just held her hand over the phone so that she wasn’t alone.
The last call was from a doula who had been at a long, emotionally-charged, yet satisfying birth. It was over now and she just needed to release. How else would she have been able to sleep that night?
Each of these doulas needed a sounding board. They didn’t turn to me for my expertise. They just needed a pair of ears with a heart that could relate and perhaps a shoulder to lean on. Perhaps everyone needs to debrief at the end of the day, but clearly some of us need it more than others. I think doulas can be a particularly needy group. After spending so much time supporting others, we need a little support ourselves.
Twilight sleep is a state of finely balanced semi-consciousness. In 1902, doctors in Germany started injecting laboring women with morphine and scopolamine. When combined, these drugs induce a semi-narcotic state which allows women to have the experience of childbirth WITHOUT THE MEMORY OF PAIN. The goal was not anesthesia, but amnesia.
It wasn’t long before this was the popular birthing procedure in the U.S.. The method was said to dull the pain yet women were restrained and strapped to gurneys for their own protection as they thrashed around in bed, freed from their inhibitions by the drugs, but not entirely freed from the pain. Some had their legs clamped in stirrups for hours in order to be ready when the doctor arrived.
The women, while responding somewhat to pain, did not remember it after delivering their babies. They didn’t remember the pain or the actual deliveries.
At the time, the medical consensus was that scopolamin-morphin was without danger to the babies.
This idea would eventually change as the negative side effects of twilight sleep came into the light.
Some of the complications noted were emotional. Removing the mother from the experience of childbirth, leaving her with no memory of the labor or delivery of the child is definitely a side effect.
However, more severely, the drugs had depressive effects on the central nervous systems of the newborns. This resulted in a drowsy baby with a compromised breathing capacity.
As if this wasn’t enough, let’s take another look at the following phrase: the experience of childbirth without the memory of pain. Is this not colossal disrespect!?! Ironically it was the suffragists who rallied for it to become standard procedure throughout the country.
By the mid 1970s, twilight sleep was no longer being used, but the labor and delivery staff of the previous generation had lots of stories to tell while the mothers had none. They just couldn’t remember.
Have you taken a look at the other pages on this blog? There are some great books and links listed in addition to interesting and fun videos. I’ve just added a couple of new videos including one depicting the birth of an elephant. For a long time I was hoping to find a good mammalian birth video to add and this one is perfect. Notice how the elephant moves in labor, swaying her hips and stomping her feet. She opens her mouth as her baby emerges. Many people think that opening the mouth correlates to the opening of the birth canal. How did the elephant know that? Enjoy!
Well, I suppose cold and flu season are upon us. I’m not going to get into the flu vaccine discussion. Please do the research and make your informed decision. I personally have never had the flu and can’t imagine that I would ever get the vaccine. Anyway, that’s not what this post is about.
I rarely used to get even the common cold. Then I started to work with children and, you know, those darned bodily fluids were a-flowing all over the place and sneezes and coughs sprayed generously. Now I have a couple of my own germ transmitters and one of them is in school!
Last week, when I dropped my daughter off at school, I heard someone ask her teacher how she was feeling. The teacher’s nasal voice proceeded to complain about how sick she had been and that she was feeling a little better, so I wasn’t surprised when my daughter came home sneezing soon after.
Now my son, who for months was only nursing upon awakening, has recently been asking for breastmilk several times a day. He hasn’t gotten sick at all, that too is another post, but it seems to me that his body is keeping him healthy by making him a frequent diner at Mom’s Breastaurant.
My daughter got a minor cold, the worst part of which was the sound of her cough. Of course, the cough was mostly at night and, although she seemed to sleep through it along with her father and brother, I could not. The next night, right before she brushed her teeth, out came my magic cough syrup. My son loves this concoction, but my daughter has a more normal palate. Luckily, it works so well that I just need to remind her of it’s effects and she happily drinks it. You might add garlic for it’s antibiotic properties, but if this is for your child, you probably shouldn’t push it.
All you do is stir well equal parts of apple cider vinegar and honey. Half a tablespoon of each is really enough. (Please do not give honey to children who are less than twelve months old.)
The Mayo Clinic agrees that honey is a great cough suppressant and you can read more on apple cider vinegar here.
Ina May Gaskin’s new book has just been released. I was at a seminar with her last year and saw a couple of the photos she wanted to use for the cover of this book. One was the photo of a mountain which she took herself. It looks just like a breast, with color variations and all. Below is the other set she wanted to use. My daughter delightedly exclaimed “leche” when she saw a nude statue in a museum once, and my son took another nude statue as a reminder to ask me for my own milk another time. In the end, her publishers got their way and the book has a very conventional cover.