In case you’ve wondered where I have wandered off to recently, let me cordially invite you to Lamaze International’s Science & Sensibility research blog site–which I am now managing. I am thrilled, humbled and excited to be steering my writing and childbirth education work toward an actively (and internationally) accessed social media site where I gain the honored opportunity to interact with brilliant writers, researchers, maternity care clinicians and professionals and normal birth advocates. Please drop on by, sign up for an RSS feed from Science & Sensibility and, most importantly, join the conversation! (And invite your friends and colleagues to do the same!)
Tag Archives: Lamaze
Check out this interesting debate, spear-headed by Henci Goer on Lamaze International’s blog, Science & Sensibility, over what constitutes “normal” in terms of labor length. Gone are the days when every first time mom ought to be held to the expectation that her baby should be delivered in 12-14 hours following the onset of labor. But still, plenty of folks are holding women to that standard. Read up on the debate (and my response) here.
We all know it: the collective media including television, radio, newspapers (and, in my mind, the film industry, too) has enormous power. Even if its various news companies have consolidated under a couple massive corporate umbrellas. So when I see articles or images about childbirth–newspaper blogs, print media or otherwise– I perk up right away, my interest tainted by an undercurrent of pessimism. “How bad is it going to be, this time?”
Although I’d like to think that folks are becoming progressively savvy about the mass of information flooding their consciousness on a regular basis, I know there are still plenty of other people out there who accept “the news” as gospel truth.
Just think for a second on how childbirth tends to be represented in film and media. What images come to mind? Blue gown-draped women strapped into narrow hospital beds raised half way up to the ceiling so everyone in the room has a front row view of her intimate space…wide opened legs secured into stirrups…sweating, screaming and panicking as a ten-pounder comes barreling out the birth canal? If we’re talking mainstream media and film, this is the type of image most typically portrayed.
Thankfully, there are more and more documentaries arising that demonstrate the softer side of birth–the emotionally empowering, life celebrating, ecstatic side of giving birth. Unfortunately, the mainstream media refuses to embrace this image of women during labor and delivery.
This morning, I came across a newspaper blog post in which the author, a mother of a three-year-old who is pregnant with her soon-to-arrive second child, comparatively discusses her emotions during her first baby’s birth, and the impending change in her family’s life as baby #2 arrives. The title of her post: Childbirth Means Your Life’s Forever Changed.
A great title, really.
Suddenly optimistic, and hoping to read about how this woman might have been empowered during her first baby’s birth–how she scaled her own personal wall of difficulty, only to emerge on the other side stronger and more confident in her ability to handle the difficult challenges life will inevitably throw her way–how childbirth changed her for the better, having given her a glimpse into the true depths of her being… I read about a woman who approached her first birth encompassed by fear and hesitation.
In her own words, recalling her emotions prior to her first child’s birth, “The path is set and you have few options but to grin and bear it. Or in my case, hit the epidural early and hit it hard.”
Few options? What a regretful mindset to be in.
When I read an article like this, my response is two-fold: 1) What a missed opportunity this person bypassed to learn the true depths of her strength as a woman, a mother, an individual. 2) How many women have read this same article and, once again, have had reiterated for them the unfair notion that childbirth is little more than a sentence to hours of optionless misery that you can do nothing other than “grin and bear it” through?
For women who are so frightened of birth, I wish them the time, courage and opportunity to watch films like this and this and this. And then, perhaps one or even a few of those women would be willing to go here for ongoing support in seeking/considering/planning for a gentle childbirth experience.
As Andrew succinctly captured in his post today, we had an awesome party at our house yesterday afternoon with several of the Lamaze class couples I have taught in the past several years, along with their kiddos.
Because of the work I do, (okay, because of one of the several hats I wear) I get to hear some really amazing childbirth stories. Three top my list right now. In brief, this how they went down:
Story # 1: Amy* and her husband waited and waited for labor to start…refusing to seek an elective medical induction…and finally having labor start on its own right around her 42nd week of pregnancy. As planned, they headed to the hospital and met their cherished doula there. As the end of her 24 hour labor neared, she began the pushing phase of delivering their son. 7 hours later…yes, 7 hours of pushing…their son was born healthy as a horse, and Amy didn’t accept a drop of pain medication, Pitocin, or any other significant medical intervention in the process.
Because of the baby’s abberrant heart beat pattern, she even avoided being hooked up to the fetal monitor for long periods of time. Her nurse simply listened to the baby’s heart rate once in a while with the doppler. End of story: Mom and baby were awesomely healthy! Go Amy!
Story #2: One of the mom’s at our party yesterday had another whopper of a story to share. Pregnant with her second child and also planning for a hospital birth, all the while remembering that her first (induced) labor was relatively quick, she immediately took note when her labor started one weekday morning. Once her husband helped her time contractions, and they found them to be 1min. long and four minutes apart, Jane* decided it was time to think about heading into the hospital. Her husband decided to run their 2 y.o. son to day care first–with the anticipation of getting back home quickly at which point he’d take his wife up to the hospital.
As Jane continued to labor at home alone, things started to pick up quickly. As she went to visit the restroom, she realized the contractions she was now experiencing were PUSHING contractions. Three contractions later, Jane caught her own baby while kneeling on the bathroom floor. “The good thing was she cried right away,” Jane recalled of her three-month-old daughter’s birth. Minutes later her husband arrived back home, and heard his wife “talking baby talk” in the bathroom. He rounded the corner to find mom and baby resting comfortably in the bathtub.
Story #3: Elena* had been anxiously awaiting the home birth she, her husband and their older son had been anticipating for weeks. With a gradual start to labor, and a continually gradual progress throughout labor until the last hour, she had a wonderful experience at home with her hubby, son, two midwives and a doula/friend. Spending the last hour of labor in a warm water birth tub, she worked through the final stages of labor with her awesome birth support team at her side. Her son was there to witness the birth of his five-years-younger brother, and Elena’s hubby caught the baby as he slid out without even so much as a single push from mom. Mom and baby have gone on to practice lotus care, along with a traditional, but nearly long-lost practice in this culture: a 40 day lie-in for mom and baby.
Bravo to all of the women sited in these stories, along with their husband’s and extended labor support teams for incredible childbirth experiences! It is stories like these that remind us childbirth can be safe, normal and lovely (even if unexpected in one way or another) all at the same time, when the process is protected and lovingly cared for.
* Names changed for protection of privacy