So You Want to be a Doula (2008)
Doulas and Cesarean Birth (2011)
Dads and Doulas (2010)
Sacred Moments (2011)
I Heart My Perineum (2010)
“Yes, we support natural birth.” Knowing full well that most first-time mamas are induced so it is a moot point entirely. The average gestation for a first time mama is 41 weeks 1 day. When do most OBs start suggesting induction?
“Yes, we support VBAC.” Until you fail to follow the standard protocol and suddenly you’re told (in LABOR!) that you can no longer have a VBAC.
“Yes we welcome birth plans.” Until you submit yours at 38 weeks and the OB crosses a line through the things she won’t do. And it is awful tricky to find a new OB willing to take you (the difficult patient) after 38 weeks.
Think I’m exaggerating? Think I make this stuff up? No. The families I work with are handled this way all! the! time! I have so many stories.
Let’s take today, for example.
My student switches to a practice recommended for their wonderful VBAC support. She cancels her regular prenatal appointment because she believes she is in labor. She is told to go straight to the hospital with her bags packed.
Her contractions are just 1o minutes apart. This may be a practice run. This may take a couple of days. She decides to stay home awhile. And then a receptionist calls to tell her she will no longer be “allowed” to have a VBAC since she didn’t go in when they said.
How do you disallow someone from having a VBAC? The baby will come out. There is no stopping it. It is a normal, bodily process. It would be like telling someone they were not allowed to digest their lunch.
This manipulative and insulting treatment has got to stop. It must.
“My cousin’s sister’s friend had a 12 lb baby and let me tell you what it did to her girl parts.”
“You need to get the epidural the minute you get to the hospital.”
“Are you sure you can handle natural birth, sweetheart?” (actually said to me)
And the not-so-subtle, “Whoa, you are HUGE!”
And don’t get me started on what care providers say to expectant women.
People really should be required to take a class before they interact with pregnant women. Really. Pregnant women are in an entirely unique hormonal state. Even tiny comments can feel very personal and hurtful to an expectant mama.
Now, certainly I’ve messed up, too. I’ve said really dumb things. But I do take my dialogue with expectant women seriously. I know that they will likely remember words spoken to them near term or during their birth. I know, particularly, that they will remember how they are made to feel during their birth. Ask a 90 yr old woman about her births and she will probably give you some very specific details about how she felt.
I have a fantasy. I imagine a world in which pregnant women walk about veiled like priestesses. They are surrounded by vestal virgins who buffer them from harmful comments and TLC baby shows. People stop and give a nod of honor when they pass. Maybe throw flowers at their feet. Or chocolate.
Likewise, postpartum women are in a unique hormonal state. I wish we still had “lying-ins” for new mothers. They could spend 40 days being served nourishing foods and massaged daily. Their only job–to nurture and discover this new soul given into their care.
Now nursing moms–well, in my fantasy for them, they are not veiled.
Ah, the pregnancy superfoods. Some of the top foods are blueberries, dark chocolate, walnuts, flax, and salmon. I’ve been trying to eat more of these lately. So, I revived a recipe I shared almost a year ago. I switched out the carob chips for dark chocolate and behold: these easy cookies pack in three of my superfoods (walnuts, dark chocolate, and flax).
I’ve also learned to cut the prep time by using bags of walnut chips instead of chopping my own nuts. I just made these cookies and the prep time was six minutes.
Here is the recipe again:
2 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp unrefined sea salt
1/3 cup ground flax (I grind mine in a coffee grinder just before using. You can buy it already ground as flaxseed meal)
1/3 cup carob chips (or chocolate)
1/2 cup maple syrup plus 2 tbsp
2 tsp vanilla
Add all the ingredients in the given order and mix well. Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten each mound slightly with a fork. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Cool before eating.
Note: these are not cake-like cookies. They are more like nut-clusters. I get about 2 dozen cookies from one batch.
What do you do on a due date such as this? Today I should be bulging with belly. I would complain with some pride about my backache and my difficulty sleeping. I would be toying with ideas of spicy food, acupressure, sex, herbal teas, or maybe, the dreaded castor oil. I would spend hours doing Yoga. I would make final preparations–are those tiny cloth diapers spotless and handy? Is that a dog hair on my chocolate Moby? Have the ceilings been scrubbed? Video camera charged? Birth supplies ready? I would be vibrating with the excitement of birth. Would it be as beautiful this time? Would I choose waterbirth or something different? What new strength would I find? What newness would I learn of God?
Instead, here I am–drinking caffeinated coffee with flat(ish) belly; knowing I’ve already learned new lessons and God is as with me today as he was in September. And the strength–I have already found it and carry it with me today. My husband already caught this baby and we have already held him.
Today means that I can release the last breath I’ve been holding. And breathe in the deep of the Child already given to us whose name is Peace.