Why the Name Change?

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My Gentle Birthing was an excellent journey in my life where I educated, supported, and helped families prepare for their births through childbirth education classes and my work as a doula.  This brought so much joy and fulfillment to my life, since birth is a huge passion of mine.  Since I no longer teach birthing classes, and have put being a doula on hold since I’m new to Alaska, have no childcare, and am expecting a baby (and I eat every 2 hours), it seemed the name change was in order.

So why Normal Mama?  Well, I got to thinking about a new word for “Gentle”, and realized that while I love birth and am passionate about it, that is not all I’m about anymore.  Before I was a birth professional, I was a Mama (since being a Mama catapulted me into being a birth professional), and when I thought about what kind of Mama I am, I decided that I’m pretty stinking normal.  The word “Normal” came from my philosophy on birth.  To me, birth is a normal, physiological process that needs no interruption, intervention or hurrying.  And while I subscribe to many of the Attachment Parenting philosophies, I don’t want to label myself as being an attached parent, so instead, since my parenting evolution had brought me to these philosophies, and they are normal to me, Normal Mama was born.  This also comes out of a desire for parenting in gentle, attentive ways that work for them will become more normalized in our society.  This also happens to be the first time in my parenting that I’ve felt like things that I do are normal.  While in North Carolina, so few of the things that we practice as a family were acknowledged as normal, and so many things were frowned upon and judged (such as breastfeeding in public and co-sleeping).  And since my move to Alaska, I’ve felt as if our choices are normal, in the eyes of society here.  (Not that what society thinks really matters all that much anyway, it’s just that I didn’t feel normal in my choices.)

So welcome to Normal Mama, a blog with a new name, but the same and evolving thoughts on everything in my life.

Promotion of Businesses

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I came up with the idea today, while in the shower (this is where most of my thinking takes place, or at least the formulation of plans – sometimes that get carried out, sometimes that don’t), to take my blog a step further, in the direction of helping others to promote their businesses and services geared toward birth and such.  So here is my idea, and here is how I see it working:  People who like My Gentle Birthing on Facebook may write about a business or service that serves the birthing community in some capacity, and at the end of a 15 day period, the different businesses will be counted up, and the one with the most “votes/nominations” will serve as the following month’s write up.  I’d like to feature one business or service per month, by writing about them on my blog, after doing a brief interview with them about how they got started, how they serve their community and in what capacity, and where they plan to go in the future.  Some of them may even choose to offer giveaways or discounts to the readers of My Gentle Birthing Blog.  I really think this is a great opportunity to promote businesses and services that work hard to serve the birthing communities around them, and for the community to learn more about them.  It seems like a win win for everyone.

If you’d like to participate and nominate a local business/service in your community, please go to My Gentle Birthing’s Facebook page or comment in the comment section below this post, and post who you’d like to nominate and why.  Examples of businesses/services are:  Midwives, Birth Centers, Doulas, Childbirth Educators, Chiropractors, Photographers, Baby Store Owners, WAHMs (Work at Home Moms), etc.  Let’s support our local communities in what they do.  The deadline for nominations is Wednesday May 23.

Comments Welcome.

A L A S K A ! ! !

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Snowflake the Moose

We made a huge move from North Carolina to Alaska and let me just say this, we LOVE it!  No longer do I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb because of the things I believe about parenting and natural living.  I’m still learning so much here in Alaska, since we arrived in March.  I’m finding that the people here are amazing, and have started to network little by little, and am working on making friends who have the same interests as me.  And another thing, there are moose here.  Our snow recently melted, and we have a back yard that is getting there, because my dear husband has been working so hard, and the builders will be coming out again soon to paint our house, and grade our back yard.  Very exciting.  We may not have grass this year, but that’s ok.  But when we did have snow, we had several visits from the neighborhood moose (plural).  Above is a picture of Snowflake, named by my dear sweet daughter.

We also have huge news of our own, as a family.  We are having our second baby sometime in August, and are thrilled to pieces.  We are busy preparing our hearts, minds, home, and daughter for the new addition.

Courtesy of A Heritage Photography

Thank you so much for being a part of My Gentle Birthing, and continue to visit and share with those who you think the information will benefit.  To share your information as a birth professional, photographer, baby store owner, doula, midwife, etc, please email your information to mygentlebirthing@live.com and be sure to include the state you are living in.

Have a beautiful day!

Wake Up & Smell the Breast Milk!

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Ok, ok, ok, so I admit it.  I was a lazy mom.  Really lazy, I mean, the laziness I’m talking about may reach epic proportions.  And I have reasons, very good, valid ones, before you start to judge.  I was lazy because I didn’t want to really wake up at night with my newborn, and because I didn’t want to bring extra stuff in my already full diaper bag (who knew babies came with so many accessories?!), and because it was so very easy (except for the learning curve at the beginning), and because after all the research I consulted, I found it to be the healthiest thing I could do for myself and my sweet little lady.  And in all of this, I am not the least bit ashamed of my laziness, nor will I ever apologize for it.

What was I so lazy about?!  I chose breastfeeding over formula feeding (nearly exclusively for the first 8 months, and with supplementation of solid food and formula from 8-13 months).  My choice was made out of convenience for me, but also for health, environmental, ethical, and moral reasons.  This was my choice, because the preparation of formula seemed crazy, when I had milk stored, ready, warmed, and perfect for my baby, at every stage of her development.  So why would I purchase formula and bottles, and go through a lengthy preparation process (which most people do not do correctly).  Some people say that formula preparation is simple, but I argue that it is not.  As new parents to a newborn who would take about 3 hours to nurse, because she fell asleep so often at my breast, we would undertake a lengthy preparation process (incorrectly, I might add, if you’re wanting to prepare the formula safely according to the preceding link) of bottles of formula at night when she would wake up (and guess what I would do, I’d pump!).  It seems as though I could have known more about bed-sharing or co-sleeping (and I do now), so I could have gotten the much needed rest that all new mothers crave, while feeding my baby.

I soon discovered that I wanted to snuggle my warm baby against my body so I could nourish her with my milk, rather than feed her with a product that was derived from the milk of a cow who was forced to wean her baby way too soon (seems to me the calf deserved her milk, not my baby Sydney).  And we got used to each other, and sometimes we even slept in her rocking chair at night, cuddling with each other, Sydney nursing at leisure, and me getting some rest.  We had a wonderful breastfeeding relationship, and this is one of the reasons I am proud that I was so lazy.

But now, human innovation has developed a product that seems to make formula preparation as easy as preparing your morning cup of coffee.  A new product that touts, “It’s very simple, very intuitive, hygienic and of optimum safety.”, according to Martin Grieder, Nestle’s head of advanced nutrition systems.  And because baby bottle warmers are not enough, people now have the option of simply putting a capsule of pre-measured formula into the machine that provides the proper portion of water, at the proper temperature, so it is (indeed) like making coffee.  All of this, but at what cost?  Allow me to evaluate:

  • Money – The capsules themselves are said to cost roughly double the cost of canisters of formula, and the machine is an additional cost (at $284 US Dollars).  Not to mention the cost of bottles for the formula to go in.
  • Time – Whether a person is preparing a bottle of formula, or a machine is, there is still time that is being taken to do so.  We must also account for the amount of time that a hungry baby has to wait.
  • Environmental – Not only are factory farms milking cows and creating huge waste, but the transportation method used to ship said milk to factories that make the infant formula, and the formula making process itself are environmentally unfriendly.  The canisters or capsules that formula is placed in also clog our landfills and are killing our planet.
  • Convenience – I seriously doubt people are going to bring these machines with them when they are out and about, so it seems that the “convenience factor” goes right out the window.
  • Health – Research has proven that babies that are formula fed are at a much greater risk of developing many diseases and health problems (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, ear infections, cancer, and the list goes on and on and on).  Additionally, mothers who do not breastfeed also do not reap the health benefits such as a reduced risk of cancer and diabetes.
So I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.  Many of you know me well enough to know that I’m not a fan of formula, and I do not think it should be given to babies.  I do believe that all mothers should at least attempt to breastfeed, and should have excellent education and support while breastfeeding.  But, since we do not live in a utopian society, and since our society seems to be driven by convenience (which seems counterintuitive to formula feeding), and our society seems to think that breastfeeding is repulsive, embarrassing, and something women should be ashamed of, most families in the United States choose formula over breast.  So here is my argument against this product.  
  1. The only milk that is perfectly portioned, the perfect temperature, and perfect for a baby/toddler/child at all stages of development is (human) breast milk.  
  2. The cost of breastfeeding is minimal when compared to infant formula.
  3. Breastfeeding is the most convenient way to feed a baby – unfasten bra, pull bra down, pull shirt up, latch baby on, look deep into the eyes of your child whose love is unconditional and unending, and enjoy.
  4. Mothers who breastfeed actually get MORE sleep than formula feeding mothers.  Breastfeeding mothers can pull a baby to her breast and fall back to sleep.
  5. Breastfeeding mothers are not using another species milk to give to their babies.
  6. Breast milk is always going to be the most perfect food for babies.
  7. Mothers of all socioeconomic backgrounds can breast feed, and it will not break the bank.
Not only is this product another barrier to breastfeeding, but it also proves to me that people are craving more convenience in feeding their babies.  So I say, as I always do, why not breastfeed?!  If you don’t want to spend your child’s college fund before he/she even has a chance to get there, and you want to get more sleep at night, and you want more convenience, and you’re tired of cleaning bottles… then why not?
Comments Welcome!

End of a Chapter

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In May of 2009, I went to complete my HypnoBirthing workshop to learn how to teach HypnoBirthing classes.  I convened with incredible women who were all there for the same reason, to help expectant couples have the most gentle birth possible.  I completed the training, all of the requirements, and received my certification in August of 2009.  Shortly after, I began teaching my first 3 couples, all in private classes, in their own homes.  I did all of this while attending school to complete my Social Work degree, and it was so very fulfilling to teach birthing classes.  It filled a space in me that I never knew existed, and helped me to feel very complete and fulfilled in life through the work I was doing.

From the September of 2009 and May 2011, I taught so many different couples, traveled to so many different homes, met so many different, wonderful, beautiful couples, and helped build their confidence about their upcoming births.  Some of the couples I taught invited me to their birth in the role of a doula, and that was an added bonus.  My cup overflowed.

Much has happened in life since August of 2009, so much has changed, including me.  This year alone, we have experienced two major losses; the baby I was growing in utero, and my husband’s grandmother.  Following that, there has been much uncertainty about what might happen to us, career wise, and so, because of other things on my plate at this time, I have chosen to discontinue teaching HypnoBirthing classes.

I want everyone to know that I am not in distress.  I only say this because I think many people were concerned when I posted that I would no longer be teaching, on Facebook.  I really am fine, I am taking time for myself, exploring my options, healing from our losses, and regrouping.  I will be back, and I do plan to stay in the birthing community, networking, helping, supporting, educating.  And since I have taken a job as a nanny, I do not have the full availability I once did, and that may have to be put on hold too, but for now, I am keeping options open.

I do thank all of you so very much for your support and love.

Comments Welcome.

The Questions to Ask

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Last night at the Natural Birth Meetup in Fayetteville, we talked about different topics.  The main topic of the night was Placenta Encapsulation, but it morphed into many other subtopics, as these meetings always do.  I am always so refreshed to hear other women’s experiences, and to share some of my own.  I felt compelled to share the experience I had with our OB when I was pregnant with Sydney, and during my birth.  I stated that often, women do not ask the right questions, so this post is going to be a guide, of sorts, in dialogue form, to help you with the right questions to ask your provider.

The Wrong Questions:

Sally:  I need to ask you some questions, do you have time?

Provider:  Sure, (glances at watch).

Sally (feeling rushed and embarrassed for even asking):  My partner/husband and I would like to do a natural birth, are you okay with this?

Provider:  Of course.

Sally (feeling more confident, now):  We would like to remain pregnant until 42 weeks, do you see any problems with this?

Provider:  No, not really.

Sally:  We would like to avoid induction, unless medically necessary, will you suggest medically unnecessary induction?

Provider:  No, we do inductions that are necessary.

Sally:  We would like to avoid c-section at all costs, do you have ways to help us do that?

Provider:  Yes, we have many ways.

Sally:  I would like to push in a different position than on my back, is this okay?

Provider:  Sure, why not?

Sally:  We request skin-to-skin bonding, where the baby is placed on my belly/chest immediately after birth, will you do this for us?

Provider:  Yes.

Sally:  We would like for the cord to stop pulsating before clamped or cut, will you honor this request?

Provider:  Um, sure.

Sally:  (Feeling peppy and like she’s chosen the right provider)  Thank you so much!!! We know we have chosen the right provider for us!

This line of questioning could go on forever, I could list so many more, but this line of questioning is all wrong.  Notice how the provider does not say much, provides no detail, and really is not answering the questions.  This is no indication of how the doctor might respond during birth.  The questions Sally is asking are the right questions, but need much more detailed answers.  She asks closed ended questions, or questions that do not require much more than a one or 2 word answer.  So I will outline the correct line of questioning.  This puts the ball in your court, and you can make a much more educated decision about your baby, your birth, and your provider or your place of birth.

The Right Questions

Sally:  Dr. Moe, my pregnancy and birth experience are very important to me, so I would like to ask you some questions quickly (pulls out a sheet of paper and pen).

Provider:  Um, Ok.  (Sits)

Sally (feeling empowered and confident.):  My husband/partner and I are preparing for a normal physiological birth (expound as much as needed: intervention free, few interventions, pain meds free, whatever you want to say), how many of the births that you’ve attended have been this way?  And, how will you help me to achieve this?

Provider:  (Slightly taken aback with this open ended question) Most of the births I attend at Candy Hill Hospital are medicated with epidural or some other form of pain management.  I have only attended maybe 10 unmedicated births.  I am willing to help you achieve this by allowing you to labor for as long as possible without intervention.

Sally:  Okay… We would like to remain pregnant until 42 weeks, unless it is medically necessary to take action before hand.  How many of your mothers have you allowed to continue being pregnant until 42 weeks?  And what are your reasons as a provider for requesting birth sooner?

Provider:  We generally don’t allow women to remain pregnant until 42 weeks, our cut off is 41 weeks.  We don’t like women to continue pregnancy until 42 weeks because the risks of a larger baby/aging placenta/elevated blood pressure/etc go up.

Sally:  (Red flags going up, immediately, she’s done her research):  Okay, I understand your reasoning, and I’d love to see some written research to support this reasoning.  But, in our case, we would like to request a non-stress test following 41 weeks to ensure everything is fine with baby and me, and to ensure that everything is going smoothly in my pregnancy so we can go until 42 weeks.

Provider:  I guess we could do that, we will talk about it more as time gets nearer.

Sally:  Sounds pretty good.  Since we would like a normal physiological birth, we would like to avoid induction, unless medically necessary.  What is your induction rate? And what are the reasons you induce?

Provider:  Our induction rate is pretty high.  We induce because the baby is too big, the baby is late, there are medical problems with the mom such as high blood pressure, diabetes, other issues, and to help the mother to be more comfortable.

Sally:  Oh, ok.  (Increasingly more uncomfortable with the answers her provider is giving)  We would like to avoid c-section, unless medically necessary, first, what is your c-section rate? And, how would you help us to avoid c-section?

Provider:  Our c-section rate is right along with the national average of 32-33%.  We would monitor you and baby, to make sure that both are okay, and allow you your trial of labor, until it is deemed that c-section may be the best option.

Sally:  (Thinks she may want to switch providers, at this point)  All right… I would like to push in a position other than semi-sitting or flat on my back.  How many births have you attended in which the mother was in an alternate position for pushing?

Provider:  Since most of the patients I attend have had an epidural, we require the mother to lie flat during birth.  I have not attended many births where the mother wanted to push in a different position, but I guess I’d be okay with it.

Sally:  Okay.  We would like our baby to come directly to my belly/chest following birth for immediate skin-to-skin bonding.  Are there reasons you would not allow this? If so, what are they?

Provider:  We generally take the baby directly to the warmer to do the assessments of the baby.  While we understand skin-to-skin bonding is beneficial, we like to get the assessments done as quickly as possible so you can have your baby following.  We could maybe do skin-to-skin bonding for a few minutes.

Sally:  (Disheartened)  Wow.  Okay.  We would like for the cord to stop pulsating before it is cut or clamped.  Will you honor this for us? If so, why not?

Provider:  We like to clamp the cord and cut it immediately, so the assessments can be done on the baby, and with the baby attached to the cord, we cannot do that.  I guess we could do that so you could have a few minutes with your baby before we have to do the assessments.

Sally: (Feeling disheartened, discouraged, and frustrated, yet she knows she can switch providers) Thank you so much for answering these very important questions, we have some decisions to make.

Like I said, the questions are endless, and they all depend on what is important to you.  In this line of questioning, Sally receives the complete picture of what her provider is like during labor and birth, and is able to make more educated decisions about whether she would like to switch providers.

Let me say something else, if you decide to switch providers, it is YOUR decision.  You will not hurt feelings or step on toes, and if you do (Say this out loud to yourself), “IT IS MY BIRTH”.  What happens at your birth should be the well thought out plans you’ve decided on, not that your provider has decided on.

My personal experience with this was much more like the first line of questioning.  I can blame it on being a first time mom, being uninformed, or whatever I’d like it to be about, but what it came down to was I chose my provider for the wrong reasons.  My neighbor at the time wanted a fully medicated birth, and said her provider was “really nice”.  Well, most providers are really nice, they wouldn’t have much of a practice if they were ogres.  So my decision was made because my neighbor, who wanted a totally different birthing experience than I did, suggested the doctor to me.  If you want an intervention free birth, unmedicated birth, natural birth, normal physiological birth, however you want to describe it, DO NOT CHOOSE YOUR PROVIDER BASED ON THE CRITERIA OF “NICE”.  Ask open ended, detailed questions that will require thought, words, and an indication of the actions your provider will take.

Also, remember that you may always decline any procedure.  Simply say no, stand firm, and ask to sign a document saying you declined, if necessary.  Again, I will say this, and again, I want you to say this out loud (let this be your mantra), “THIS IS MY BIRTH.”

Please share comments, experiences, input, whatever you want to say, myself and my readers would love to read it.

Thank you so much for reading. Have a beautiful day!

The Truth About (Medicated) Birth

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I read an article today that really lit a fire under my butt, made me extremely frustrated, and wanting to say a lot.  The article was about how a member of the media “delivered” his baby at home, and how it was made to be so dramatic.  This spurred me to think about my passion for birth, how much birth is made out to be an emergency, a medical event, or something that needs to be managed or fixed, and about how little truth women tell other women about how they gave birth.  The natural birthing community is often shunned because of how people who had medicated births perceive the natural birthers’ stories as bragging.  Come on, now, people!  We need to hear more of the natural birthing stories, they often have so much more vivid detail than the medicated birth stories.  Wonder why?!  Because the women who give birth without the use of medication actually remember their births.  That’s one reason, but I think that women who have given birth with the use of medication don’t necessarily want to tell the WHOLE story.  I know that after I had my epidural (after not planning or foreseeing such a thing taking place in my labor), that I didn’t want to tell the details.

Now, please, don’t get me wrong, I know there is a time and a place for interventions such as medication to be used during labor.  Sadly, though, these interventions have been so overused that now it’s a problem, a BIG problem.  Women and babies are suffering, and some are dying, because of the overuse.  Babies are being forced out of their mothers’ wombs because they are “too big”, “too late”, and for many other reasons that are not medically related, and this has affected their health, growth, and has caused some of them to die.  Mothers are not being given time and patience to labor and birth, instead, they are put on hospital clocks, and often hurried along with the use of induction and augmentation drugs, which ends in cesarean sections.  While cesarean sections are sometimes very much needed, they also have MAJOR risks, and repeat cesareans put women at further risks.  Women are dying because of the overuse of cesarean sections.  Yes, interventions are sometimes needed, I know that, but not routinely.

What we need to do, as a society, is expose women to what birth is intended to be.  Make birth this glorious event, instead of an event that’s shrouded in dark mystery, with hints of disaster and doom.  So here is what birth is, to me.

Like all mammals, humans are designed to give birth, and in most cases, women are able to give birth, with little or no intervention.  There are many things that must happen within the body for labor to begin, one of which is that the baby must be ready.  Because the woman’s body is so perfectly designed, with a flexible pelvis, that moves to accommodate her baby, birth is entirely possible.  If a woman is able to let go of all fear, the muscles in her birthing body should work correctly, and a sort of birth dance happens, where muscles work together in perfect harmony, to help the baby move down, turn, maneuver to a perfect position for birth, and finally be born.  The mother’s perineum, which is strong and muscular, if it has been massaged adequately in the weeks leading up to birth will stretch perfectly for the baby to make his entrance.  The baby is so perfectly designed for birth, the skeletal structure is pliable, and the bone plates in the head (fontanels) are able to overlap each other to make descent into the vaginal canal, and out of the body possible.  Much more happens in the body, cervical changes that include so much more than dilation and effacement, and oh how I WISH providers would teach this to their expectant couples!  Hormones (specifically oxytocin, the love hormone) work in the body to drive off stress and fear, and make birthing easier, help the cervix to open, help the labor to progress, help the baby to be born, help the mother to BOND with the baby, and help the mother to feel protective toward her baby.  Many other things in life produce oxytocin (love, like-minded women communing, intercourse, breastfeeding, etc).  As I said before, this is the watered down version of what birth truly is, what it’s meant to be.

So let’s look at what happens when women do not go this route (for whatever reason).  And let’s address that many women are told (by media, friends, culture, family, doctors, language, their own experiences, etc) that they are not capable of giving birth without the use of interventions/medications.  Women who give birth with the use of interventions are mammals, still, there is no denying that, but different things happen in the body once medication and other interventions are introduced.  The lovely love hormone, oxytocin, that I talked about above, when pitocin (artificial oxytocin), epidurals, and other drugs are introduced is cut off.  This means that the lovey, floaty, euphoric feeling that some women feel during labor, that counteracts pain, is gone.  What I didn’t say about the hormones in the body, above, is that these also help the baby, because what a mother experiences, so does the baby (if a mother is experiencing a comfortable labor, so is the baby, and conversely, is a mother is experiencing a painful pitocin driven labor, the baby no longer has a hormonal love cushion to protect him).  Epidurals also cut off the oxytocin, and cause the baby to feel a much more painful labor and birth.  And when mothers feel threatened in labor, their bodies stop working in perfect harmony, the cervix will not want to open (a protective instinctual mechanism to keep baby from harm), and labor stalls.  The mother’s pelvis and baby’s fontanels still function, but once an epidural is introduced, babies often have to be born when their mothers are on their backs (the least conducive birthing position, because baby has to go against gravity to be born).   This is the version of interventive/medicated birth that people often describe, without the “what happens in the body” mumbo jumbo.  I will tell you more… Here is the part we often do not hear.

With pitocin, contractions, or surges as HypnoBirthing calls them, often feel like they never end.  I’ve heard pitocin contractions described as one big one that never let the mother regain composure, catch her breath, and was extremely painful.  So when we hear about inductions and augmentations, the whole truth is not being told, I fear.  And with pitocin, epidurals are often right behind, because labor is so traumatic with pitocin, that it’s like cruel and unusual punishment to have pitocin WITHOUT an epidural.  And with pitocin and epidural, especially combined, cesarean section rates rise.

With epidurals, tearing is a lot more prevalent, as is malposition of the baby (baby’s face not facing his mother’s back).  Episiotomy (cutting of the perineal tissue) is more common as well.  And here’s the kicker, because the mother is numbed, many things can be done, without her knowing anything is wrong (legs being cranked back so far that hip damage is possible, episiotomy, breaking of the bag of waters, or release of membranes as HypnoBirthing calls it, etc.)

Cesarean section is a major surgery that has a long and painful healing course.  The art of VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) is being lost among obstetricians, and so women who have primary cesareans are often put under the knife for no medical reason, other than the primary cesarean, for subsequent babies.  And the hard truth about cesarean sections, though some of them are truly needed, is that some mothers die following surgery.

My own experience was not what I expected it would be, partly because of Sydney being turned “sunny side up”, with her head resting on my tailbone, which made my labor much longer than I’m sure it would have been.  After 20 hours of unmedicated, unmessed with labor, I asked for an epidural, after having researched the risks and benefits.  What I never anticipated was how it would affect me, how it still affects me now.  Because I could not feel anything, my OB was getting my perineum ready for birth (which we had explicitly asked not be done (perineal massage) during labor, in our birth plan), and she tore me.  My legs were cranked back to my ears when I was pushing, to “make more room for the baby”, and I still have hip issues today (stiffness, pain, loss of flexibility).  After Sydney was born, I felt emotionally dead, all of my protective instincts I thought I would have were deadened by the narcotics present in the epidural.  Bonding with Sydney was near impossible, and took at least a month, if not more.  She had a poor latch to begin with, because of the drugs in her system from the epidural.  Sydney cried incessantly for about the first month, and I’m convinced that she had some sort of birth trauma from not being cushioned by my cocktail of love hormones during labor and birth.  I felt distant from her, and did not want to hold her, comfort her, and be with her, nor did I make an effort to learn how to.  I could probably go on, but you might imagine that this tore at me as a mother, and still does.  I don’t view myself as a failure at all, because at hour 20 of my labor, my body had reached a level of exhaustion it had never reached, and was ready to give up, and I was quickly heading for a cesarean.  So as a mother, I look back on my experience, and want desperately to do better, do more, educate other mothers, help mothers, help babies, just speak about this.

My point in saying all of this is that birth is not supposed to be scary, dramatized, medical, or an emergency.  When it is made to be these things, women lose their ability to think about what their babies might need, and instead think of simply getting through it.  With interventions come risks and consequences (lower rates of bonding, harder times bonding, lowered protective instincts in mothers to protect their babies, lower breastfeeding rates, higher infant and maternal mortality rates, higher infant and maternal morbidity rates, birth defects, emotional trauma, physical trauma, and the list goes on).  So here is my challenge for you.  Research everything, if you’re having a baby, research everything (your provider, hospital, interventions, alternatives, birth plans, having a doula, how your partner can better support you, etc).  And for those of you who have had beautiful experiences, PLEASE share your story (post it online, share it on Facebook, I’ll share it too!)!!!!

As always, thank you so much for reading this, and your input is always appreciated!