Saturday, March 03, 2007

Childbirth Issues: Another Passion of Mine

As I was driving home today, I was thrilled to see this message on a billboard prominently located in our town.

To me, the message is a big DUH. Of course babies are meant to be breastfed! But it seems that not everyone agrees with me. In fact, I wonder whether the corner being ripped is a result of our very wet recent weather... or of someone protesting the existence of such a "controversial" sign (oh puh-leeeeese!) in our little town?!

I don't think I've mentioned on this blog that I'm a Certified Childbirth Educator and birth doula. During my seven years as a stay-at-home-mom, I became more and more interested in helping families prepare for and birth their babies -- especially because I had three such varied childbirth experiences (one completely natural, one with an epidural and a C-section). I approached our local hospital one day and asked what I needed to do to one day teach childbirth classes there, figuring I'd work towards certification and then come back and apply for a job. Turns out, they needed instructors and offered to pay for my certification if I'd start teaching then and there -- which I did. And I absolutely LOVED it! Of course, I got very attached to my students -- especially those who asked me to be their doula -- and I've stayed in touch with them for years since. I miss teaching childbirth classes and helping to birth babies and wish I could somehow fit it into my busy schedule, but alas...

Even after I stopped teaching childbirth classes, I stayed very active with the birthing community online. You'd think this would be a cohesive, agreeable, supportive group, wouldn't you? Well, you'd be dead wrong! The vile, vicious fights that take place within the birthing community -- between the "granola" crowd and the "drug-me-quick" crowd -- are incredible! I fell somewhere in the middle, believing that how a woman chooses to birth her baby is a very personal decision and that her only real obligation is to educate herself and then her decision, whether she births in a tub in front of her livingroom fireplace or hooked up to pain relief in a hospital, should be respected. I think a woman's memory of her birthing experiences are critical and she should do what she needs to do to assure the most positive memory possible -- keeping the baby's health and safety as an utmost consideration, of course. Believe it or not, I got attacked from BOTH sides for my stance! The "granola birthers" accused me of selling out, and the hospital crowd accused me of not being supportive!

For all our in-fighting, though, many of us remained friends -- and some of us even became friends IRL (in real life). I haven't been back to our birth board in a while (AOL's birth options board) though, and I really wonder how everyone is doing. (I just found my way back and posted a hello...)

After my mom died, Dad talked about beginning another phase of his life, and I wondered how he could see his life in phases. But I think I get it now -- and the various phases of my own life are beginning to crystallize and come into focus -- childhood, teen years, young adulthood, "first career," stay-at-home mom and childbirth focus, second career, empty nesting... It's a pretty interesting ride and I can't help but want to sneak a peek at the next chapter!

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Chaplain Deanna said...

What a cool sign. Of course babies are meant to be breastfed. What does it say about our society that we need to put up a sign to say that?
P.S. I'll bet you know my daughter Shirlena.

Maria said...

I will be leading the breastfeeding charge this summer while in the U.S. I've become very accustomed to no one caring in Germany when I feed The boy everywhere and anywhere.

Re: birthing options. I appreciate your approach. I took it from quite a few people for saying that I am going to do my best to stay natural, but wanted to know all of the options in case things were not going well. Lucky for me, I knew the options, because my birthing experience was anything but smooth! I'll spare you the details, but they are here: if you want to read them.

vailian said...

Does it also have to do with the fact that there is such a stigma attached to feeding in public in the US? Here it is normal to see women breastfeeding in restaurants or parks... there is no big spectacle involved, and it is done discreetly, but I bet if there were less of a social taboo about it in the States, you wouldn't have to have a campaign.
Speaking of birthing: the wife of one of my colleagues is a midwife, and worked for several years in Yemen and Egypt. The stories she has to tell are frightening indeed. In many of these communities, male doctors are not allowed to see, touch, or even speak directly to a female patient. There has to be an intermediary who relays the questions to the patient. And of course women are not allowed to study medicine.

Home's Jewels said...

LOL - this was a fun post to read. I guess you would probably put me in the granola category even though I had only had hospital births at the time we were posting together.

I've enjoyed your blog. How many years has it been? I think 10 years since HvH board.

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