One Friday morning five years ago, I peed on a stick and a pink plus sign appeared. I didn’t know anything about babies, pregnancy or giving birth, but finding a respectable doctor and a good hospital seemed the most appropriate course of action. If someone had ever suggested having a home birth to me, I probably would’ve rolled my eyes or thought they were just a little too “out there” for my taste. This was, after all, my first birth and I wanted the safest option for myself and my baby. Clearly, that meant giving birth in a hospital with doctors and nurses and the opportunity to be numbed up to my neck if I needed that. Right? (click link to read)
I often see or hear of women pushing themselves to return to normal as quickly as possible after birth. In a hurry to get their life and body back they jump into a myriad of activities at warp speed, often just days after giving birth. Riding on the birth and baby high, pumped full of adrenaline yet restless from the last few weeks of pregnancy, particularly if they felt like a watched pot, these women fill their schedule, attack their house, and find new projects determined to not be slowed down, impatiently trying to control and master this new version of normal. These women are often viewed with admiration and awe and the media highlights celebrities that are back to their prepregnant weight by 6 weeks or were spotted out jogging at 3 weeks or were back on the set of their TV show at 10 days. This is held up as the epitome of a strong woman, give birth, bounce back, conquer world. After all, women in China squat in a rice field, push their baby out and throw them on their back then return to work, right?
It’s as though we’ve forgotten to celebrate. We’ve forgotten how important it is to rest after a hard work and enjoy the fruit of our labors. We’ve forgotten that while pregnancy and childbirth may not be an illness our bodies still need to recover from the taxing physical and emotional demands of the endeavor. Pregnancy, labor and childbirth may be a normal part of life but it is anything but easy. The change a woman’s body goes through are massive to say nothing of the emotional journey as well. Ignoring this reality can have serious consequences for our bodies, our emotional health, our breastfeeding relationship with our baby, our mothering, and our families. Do not underestimate the potential for damage if we neglect our postpartum healing. (click link above to read a fantastic blog about postpartum recovery)
More about Postpartum Recovery in the Postpartum section.
When Kate Kellogg became pregnant with her third child, she decided to give birth on The Farm, a midwifery center in Summertown, Tennessee, run by world-renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin. Some might think this is a surprising decision, given that Kellogg, 33, is a doctor. But after watching the documentary Birth Story and learning that The Farm’s 1,700 acres were just an hour from where they were living at the time, Kellogg and her husband became intrigued with the idea of giving birth there.
(click link above to read Kate’s story)
#4 Get a Damn Doula
Have you ever cut your hair yourself? It might turn out okay, but then you get it done at the salon with the hypnotizing head massage and the mysterious, magical products and the blow-out-you-can-never-replicate and you realize, yeah, that was better with professionals. That’s kind of what doulas are to birth. (click link to read a great post on improvingbirth.org)
Well done! (click link above to see blog on Huffington Post)
Leza Besemann first heard of doulas—women whose job is to provide continuous emotional support during labor, but who are not medical nurses—at a natural childbirthing class in the early 2000s, when she was 30 and preparing to have her first baby. “As soon as my husband and I heard about the role of doulas, we knew it was something we wanted to do,” Besemann said. She has since given birth to four children with the help of a doula, whom she says is “like a member of the family.” (click to read on The Daily Beast website)