As soon as one becomes pregnant, they often become innundated with questions over what choices they have or will be making - what information they will find out about their baby during pregnancy, where they will birth, how they with birth, how they will feed/diaper their baby, where the baby will sleep, daycare or stay at home... the list of surface-level conversation points seemingly never ends.
Beneath the myriad of choices people have for their birth experience, is something more universal - the rite of passage that each parent crosses through in the childbearing year, the threshold between one being and two, the baby being on the inside and making his or her way Earthside. For me, as a doula, it's less about the how, and more about the human experience that these new parents are moving through. How are you navigating that?
It's less important to me what choices you make in your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period, and more important to me that you feel like you HAVE a choice. Enough people around you will be asking questions about things such as vaginal vs. cesarean, epidural vs. unmedicated, breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding vs. formula...
Although as a doula, I will go over the various options available and the parents' preferences, what I truly want to know is this: Do you trust the people on your care team to help you to make informed choices that feel right to you? Do they respect your autonomy and boundaries? Do you feel as though you have a voice in your care?
In this first of many resource lists over the coming weeks, I'll be sharing with you some of my favorite online articles that provoke those considerations for my parents. I hope these can be of benefit to you or a birthing person in your life!
How to Mine an Uninvited Birth Story for Gold, by Nikki Shaheed (Birthing from Within):
"From the moment a parent (or their midsection) announces their pregnancy, they are inundated with a barrage of birth stories from friends, family members, and even strangers. These stories tend to center around themes of pride, shame, or blame. Most parents-to-be listen politely while looking for the nearest exit, and a few bold ones will tell people that they would rather not hear negative stories as they prepare to meet their baby.
However this scene plays out, it’s an awkward interaction. The pregnant person feels imposed upon, and the storyteller may feel some temporary relief from not being heard, but they will ultimately lack a feeling of resolution from this one-sided interaction. Perhaps there is another way, where everyone can benefit…"
Being a Good Girl can be Hazardous to your Health, by Aviva Romm MD:
"From our earlier years we’re taught to be 'good girls.' We’re told to be polite, be good, to not interrupt, to say thank you and fake appreciation even when we don’t like something, to be pleasant, not make waves, to be seen and not heard, to not question authority, not stand up for our rights, not be bossy, share when we don’t want to – the list of how we’re taught to “be good” is endless. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be decent citizens with good manners, but that’s different than not speaking up for ourselves and accepting what just feels wrong. Our inner “good girl” usually starts at home, follows us through school, and stays with us in our jobs, relationships, and business dealings.
And she comes with us into the doctor’s office and the hospital."
The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Time of In Between, by Jana Studelska CPM:
"To give birth, whether at home in a birth tub with candles and family or in a surgical suite with machines and a neonatal team, a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey.
We need time and space to prepare for that journey. And somewhere, deep inside us, at a primal level, our cells and hormones and mind and soul know this, and begin the work with or without our awareness."
The Holistic Stages of Birth, by Whapio
"In my early years of practice I found myself called to attend women who were building large families. My third client family was welcoming their seventh child, my next mom was having her eighth. I realized very quickly that my personal experience of birthing two children and my three years of midwifery study paled in comparison to the knowledge of these birthing women. I understood, that as their midwife, I would sit at their feet and learn from them. From these many birthing experiences I was blessed to witness, the Holistic Stages of Birth were born."
Motherhood Mantra, by Joanna Goddard (Cup of Jo Blog)
"...What a brilliant mantra, right? There are countless ways to be a good mother (and person), and we should trust our guts; we know that intellectually. Still, at certain moments, it can be hard not to sometimes compare yourself to others, and then doubt yourself or wonder if you’re at odds if you’re taking different paths. But in the end? Good for her! Not for me. Brilliant."
* * * * *
Happy reading, and let me know in the comments which article resonated most with you!