(Photo by Meg Wintory)
“There is power that comes to women when they give birth. They don’t ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it.”
(Photo by Meg Wintory)
One day, three weeks before my baby’s due date, I started feeling bouts of teeth-clenching pain at about eight in the morning. By 11, I was settled into a hospital room, marveling at how effective my epidural was, but terrified about giving birth.
Within a few hours, the medication wore off, and I felt the uncontrollable urge to push. (For those who have never delivered a baby, imagine the feeling of an urgent bowel movement, times 10,000.) My doctor, however, had left to see other patients. The only people in the room with me were my partner, a labor and delivery nurse, and a medical student. The nurse asked me matter-of-factly if I could try not to push until the doctor returned. I panicked. Of course I couldn’t not push—my baby was coming. Perhaps noting the look of terror on my face, the med student quickly grabbed a pair of gloves and a mask and positioned himself below me. The nurse muttered something about having to do additional paperwork, but readied herself as I started screaming about it being “go time.” Seconds later, the med student handed me my daughter.
(Click link above to read this piece on vice.com)
Before I had my daughter, I wasn’t particularly interested in mother’s milk. Now I’m literally awake at night thinking about it.
To produce breast milk, mothers melt their own body fat. Are you with me? We literally dissolve parts of ourselves, starting with gluteal-femoral fat, aka our butts, and turn it into liquid to feed our babies.
Before and after giving birth to my daughter 10 months ago, I was inundated with urgent directives from well-meaning, very insistent health practitioners, parenting book authors, mommy bloggers, journalists, and opinionated strangers that “breast is best.” The message was clear: In order to be a good mom, I had to breast-feed.
But breast-feeding is more than being a good mom. And breast milk is much more than food: It’s potent medicine and, simultaneously, a powerful medium of communication between mothers and their babies. It’s astonishing. And it should be—the recipe for mother’s milk is one that female bodies have been developing for 300 million years
(Click link above to read this great article by Angela Garbes)
(Click to read the blog on mother.ly)
As an anthropologist who studies human fatherhood at the University of Oxford, I’ve run up against a widespread and deeply ingrained belief among fathers: that because their bodies haven’t undergone the myriad biological changes associated with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, they’re not as biologically and psychologically “primed” for caretaking as women are.
As a result, they feel less confident and question their abilities to parent: Will they be “good” parents? Will they bond with their babies? How will they know what to do?
As my own personal and professional experiences dictate, the idea that fathers are biologically “less prepared” for parenthood is unlikely to be true. Much of the role of parenting is not instinctual for anyone. (I remember the steep learning curve of those first days of motherhood — learning what each of my baby’s cries meant, mastering the quick diaper change and juggling the enormous amount of equipment necessary just to make it out the door.)
And while the biological changes fathers undergo are not as well understood (nor as outwardly dramatic) as those of mothers, scientists are just beginning to find that both men and women undergo hormonal and brain changes that herald this key transition in a parent’s life.
In essence, being a dad is as biological a phenomenon as being a mom.
(click link at top to read on nytimes.com)
“Is he sleeping through the night?” asks a stranger.
“She’s too clingy. You really need to stop picking her up.” says a friend.
“Is she a good baby?” asks a woman at the park.
“He should be self-soothing by now. Consolidated sleep is critical for healthy brain development.” proclaims a sleep trainer.
“You’re creating a rod for your own back.” exclaims a grandmother.
“I hope you’re putting her down drowsy but awake.” advises a mother at a meetup.
“Feed, play sleep! Feed, play, sleep!” chants a daycare worker.
“You’re not nursing him to sleep are you? That’s a bad sleep association. How do you expect him to learn to fall asleep on his own?” questions a health nurse.
“Oh, he’s just manipulating you, dear. He’s got you wrapped around his tiny eight-week-old little finger.” says a mother-in-law.
“If you don’t put your three-day-old baby down to sleep in a crib on his own you’re risking suffocation and death. It is the only way babies are safe from SIDS.” states a pediatrician.
These are the loud lies of infant sleep that our culture repeats from one generation of new mothers to the next, as if on autopilot.
Without questioning the roots or validity of these statements.
Without an understanding of the biological needs of babies.
Without knowledge of what normal infant sleep looks like.
Without an appreciation for how most cultures around the world care for their babies (and why).
These mistruths are dangerous, not only because they’re false, but because they’re full of unrealistic expectations that set a new mother up to feel like she’s failing. To doubt her own abilities. To worry that there may be something wrong with her or her baby.
(click link at top to read blog in entirety)
Giving birth draws you deep into your body, yet you’ll depend on others to get through it. Whether you have a brief labor eased by an epidural, deliver on all fours in your own living room or have an unplanned C-section, what matters most is how you are cared for and if you are listened to by your providers. The best way to advocate for yourself in the delivery room is to begin the process well before your swollen feet ever step into the space itself.
It is possible to get compassionate, respectful care from many kinds of providers — midwives, obstetricians, family physicians and nurses — and in settings including hospitals, birth centers and your home. But, according to a recent international survey, up to one third of women experience some trauma during birth, which means that at some point during labor, they felt that their emotional well-being or even their — or their babies’ — lives were under threat. And according to the latest Listening to Mothers report, one in four American women who underwent either labor induction or a C-section reported experiencing pressure from a health professional to do so.
(Click to read this great piece by Angela Garbes on nytimes.com)
Mama, I see you crying in the shower.
I hear your thoughts as they mislead you into believing that you’re failing.
I sense your fear. Your worries. Your uncertainty.
Your overwhelm. Your grief. Your yearning for the life you’ve left behind.⠀
And I see something else.
I see you holding your baby as your tears fall.
(Click to read post on raisedgood.com)