“If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.” ~Diana Korte & Roberta Scaer, A Good Birth, A Safe Birth
I betcha think I just pull all my birthing ideas out of my hat, right? But no, I really did some research! I suppose it began back when I was still a teenager, reading some of my mom’s books. Other ideas are from ‘official’ sources such as peer reviewed journals and things (Justin has those stats--they vary from epidural info to swaddling to bottle feeding) and the rest has either come from books from the library, birthing videos, or other women who have been ‘in the trenches,’ so to speak, and write in their blogs.
And of course, there were my Bradley classes! For our Bradley childbirth classes, our main ‘text’ was Susan McCutcheon’s Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. We also had our workbooks and a LOT of supplemental information gathered from various journals and studies by our instructor, Betsy. I enjoyed reading McCutcheon, though I was grateful for the additional info Betsy brought us; it really fleshed-out the classes and gave us a LOT of choices to think about. Very empowering.
Another book I’ve just finished reading (borrowed from the library): The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer So good! Comprehensive information on cesareans, breech births, induction of labor (stripping of membranes, Pitocin, and breaking of waters), food & water during labor, electronic fetal monitoring, slow labor, epidurals and narcotics, episiotomies, OBs vs. midwives vs. family practitioners, doulas, place of birth (home vs. freestanding birthing center vs. hospital). I was impressed by the studies noted and the lists of ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ to various procedures and methods. And not a difficult read at all--the sections are short and to the point.
And a read suggested by one of my midwives: Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England, CNM, MA & Rob Horowitz, PhD. England’s book focuses on having healing births--births that not only calm your fears about parenthood, but can issue-in a strength via a successful rite of passage. England suggests that women are often told to ignore their feelings of nervousness about an upcoming labor or to set-aside their disappointment after a traumatic or ill-handled birth, with people telling a mother that ‘all that matters is that you have a healthy baby.’ She counters this idea, saying that the birth experience itself is such a powerful one that its place at the beginning of motherhood should be recognized for its importance. Far more important, she gives example, than the wedding is at the beginning of marriage. Yet, how often do you hear brides bemoaning some calamity during their ceremony or reception, and people lend their ear and understand how upsetting it was? Compared to how often a woman might say her birth wasn’t what she’d hoped for, yet the listeners brush off her concerns, telling her to ignore that disappointment or despair--just focus on the baby? All too common, even in my limited experience.
Birthing from Within calmed many of my fears about how my birth should or should not be (according to my own jittery mind) and included some good exercises about pain management. It has many ideas (many of them via visual arts media) on how women and their partners can explore their fears about childbirth, includes information about how best to avoid the all-too-common ‘necessary’ un-necessary medical interventions, and suggests healing rituals and paths to restoration after unsatisfying births.
And for blogs: check out Joy’s blog, Breast and Belly (now called Housefairy). I started reading it about 4 or 5 months ago, when Joy was pregnant with her 5th child and planning a home birth. She then decided upon a last minute elective cesarean instead, and her more recent posts, while fewer and further between--not surprising since she’s been recovering from major surgery, nursing an infant, and caring for 4 other children--are so honest they grip you and really make you think. Check her out--and go back through her archives a few months--the journey she’s chronicled is so interesting that it well worth the digging.