Did you see that Facebook post going around? You know the one where the “best” OB says that he’s completely brilliant and that birth plans will just cause disappointment, so do what he says and everything will work out OK. The post has been removed, but if you look carefully you’ll find screenshots floating around.
Well I agree! Yep, I’m a childbirth educator and birth advocate and I agree!
I agree that strict birth plans can set people up for disappointment. We can’t control birth! As a matter of fact a large part of birth is letting go of control. But before we get all excited and my fellow birth warriors hunt me down let me explain.
I love a good birth plan! Plans are just that...plans. If you’ve ever made plans before you know they don’t always go as “planned”, hence the sarcastic saying “the best laid plans...”.
When it comes to birth plans I refer to them as an educational tool to explore all of your options. So go ahead and pull up that giant 8 page birth plan you Googled, I’ll bet you’ll learn something. Maybe there’s something on there you’ve never heard of, something on there your practitioner didn’t mention because maybe it’s not the norm or most people don’t ask for it...or *gasp*...it’s not what they want or prefer for patients to do.
I’m not saying take a giant 8 page birth plan to your doctor or midwife and tell them this is what you’re demanding. I’m saying take a look at it, look at all of those options! Research the things that you’re unfamiliar with, make a list of questions to take to your next appointment. Once you’ve decided what works for you go ahead and print that out, I recommend trying to keep it to one page so it’s simple. Just some keynotes that your birth team can refer to and that you can share with your nurse (if hospital birth) and the practitioner that is caring for you. Birth plans make a stellar communication tool for you and your birth team.
Study after study shows that a birthing person’s satisfaction with their birth is certainly related to their involvement in the decision making process. Which makes total sense! Who doesn’t want autonomy over their body?! I don’t like to be told which way to fold towels let alone how to birth my baby. Active decision making is a huge part of birth experience satisfaction. This is not to say that we should be combative with our practitioners, this is to say that we should be asking questions and doing our research and being our own advocates.
Have you ever built a house? I’ve never been fortunate enough to have that luxury, and if you haven’t either bear with me. Think about the plans that one has when they’re looking to build a house. You do research, hire professionals, and you make plans. Talk to anyone who has ever built a house, those plans rarely ever go “as planned”. Throughout the process you use your gained knowledge from research and communication with your contractor (the professional) to make decisions about rerouting these plans when things go off course. In the end you’ll still have a house built. The house you wanted and a house you love. The important part is that along this rerouting YOU are part of this decision making process. Imagine if something (non-emergency) went off course and your contractor took it upon themself to just build your house the way they built the last house because that’s what most people like. Not cool, right? See where this is going? It’s all about YOU being an active decision maker.
When I talk about birth plans in my classes I like to have you think about them them as if they are a vacation itinerary.
For example: “These are the things that I prefer to do on my vacation, but in the event that it rains the whole time or I get there and end up with the stomach bug I will still enjoy my vacation by...(Fill in the blank)”
A favorite activity of my childbirth education students is one where I have them lay out their “perfect birth” with cards (options would be things like epidural/no epidural, induced/spontaneous labor, music/no music, directed pushing/mother-led pushing...) and then essentially three options at a time I have them destroy that plan by flipping the cards over to the opposite of what they’ve chosen. So in the end they are left with is a “healthy baby” and hopefully “active decision making”.
Are you sensing a pattern about active decision making?
So yes, I do agree that strict birth plans can set you up for for disappointment. I also agree that you should talk to your practitioner about your birth plans as soon as possible. It’s pretty important to ensure that your choices are safe for you and that your chosen practitioner is on board or offers satisfactory alternatives if not.
What I don’t agree with is discouraging out of hospital birthing classes. Some hospital birthing classes are fantastic, that is true. But be cautious because some will teach you not your options but instead how to be a great patient. This will have to be a conversation for another day.
I also don’t agree with discouraging Doulas. One Google search about Doulas will turn up multiple studies showing how Doulas improve birth. Again, another conversation for another day.
To wrap this soapbox up I’ll say this. If you don’t know your options, you have none! Do your research, hire a doula, find a practitioner that listens to you, take a non-biased and evidence-based birth class, and be the boss of your birth!!
Shauna Rich, BS, LCCE
Co-Founder & Childbirth Educator
Mother Rising Women's Studio
We've been hearing a lot lately about body positivity, learning to love and accept our bodies big or small, embracing "flaws" and finding new found love for our postpartum bodies. We're seeing more ads on tv with women of all shapes, sizes and color and beautiful boudoir shots displaying a variety of builds. The movement is meant to empower women and encourage self love and acceptance which is fantastic but that doesn't mean its easy.
For most of my life I have been not only thin but fit as well. Even after two babies I was impressed with how my body " bounced back." Learning to accept my stretch marks was difficult but seeing that so many people I know had them it wasn't too bad. I could easily hide them under a tankini and even went and had my belly button pierced to add a little glam to my interesting new belly button. After my third baby though my body decided it was time for a change once again. Slowly over the years my weight crept up, each pant size feeling more and more frustrating and my self esteem sinking more and more. I hated myself. I would even go as far as saying I felt like I had lost my identity.
As my daughters ( and sons) have gotten older I have realized that I didn't want them to feel the way I did about my body. I had listened to the women in my family voice their dissatisfaction with their bodies and even though I never saw them as anything but beautiful women that shame had taken over me as well. I new if I didn't learn to love myself that my children would follow in these footsteps. I started by recognizing that I had friends who were voluptuous women whom I found gorgeous! I would see them in bathing suits, fitted tops, skinny jeans and leggings and they always looked amazing to me. Why couldn't I see that in myself? I started with purchasing myself some skinny jeans. I was so nervous about wearing them but to my amazement I felt really good in them and people told me I looked cute. I started to realize that part of what made me cute wasn't just my jeans. It was my confidence. As I started to learn to accept my body I realized that what made me beautiful was my self esteem. I realized that part of all the women I see big and small we look beautiful when we feel beautiful! I had to let go of the thought that my body was my identity. It never was. I'm so much more than the size on a clothing tag. So are you!
It's not always easy though. I have found that sometimes you fall. Sometimes I question myself. Just when I thought I was confident enough to buy myself a bikini, I had a dream that I was skinny again and thrilled about it. Imagine my disappointment when I awoke still a chubby girl with a muffin top. Just in time though I saw this post on Instagram by Bodyposipanda. It really hit home for me. Learning to love and accept your body over years of dissatisfaction is a learning curve. It's not a decision that you make one day and never go back. It's baby steps but with every step you're moving forward, not just for you but for all of us.
Danielle Breach CD(DONA)
Today is Nurse Appreciation Day. I've had it marked on my calendar and have spent a lot of time this week thinking about what I would like to say. I have been a Doula for 8 years and have attended births at 10 different hospitals in the greater Cleveland area. I am pleased to say that the vast majority of my encounters with our local nurses has been nothing but fantastic. We are so blessed to have so many caring and compassionate nurses.
Nursing is hard. The schooling is hard, the hours are hard, the work is hard. It is both physically and emotionally draining. Often times they are doing shift work which, if you've ever had to do that, it's literally the pits. Many of them work 12 hour shifts and on a busy day are lucky to get a lunch break, let alone time to sit. I can remember the days when I worked at our local hospital, running into the nursing lounge to shove a packet of saltine crackers in my mouth, chase them with a glass of orange juice and head back to work. That was my "lunch break". We had a wonderful nursing supervisor who would occasionally order us a pizza so we could run in and grab a bite without leaving the floor on the days when we had an outrageously busy surgery schedule. Nurses work on the weekends and they work on the holidays. There is no calling off for bad weather.
Nurses wear many different hats. They went to school to be professional caregivers, to help people. What I bet most didn't realize is that they would also be housekeepers, secretaries, gate keepers and peace keepers. They are accustomed to a wide variety of patient personalities; from the person who wants ALL the drugs RIGHT NOW, to the woman with the 10 page birth plan, to the scheduled cesarean. They strive to keep their patients happy while also complying to their hospital and doctor's policies. ( As a Doula I know that can be difficult sometimes and may I just say I work very hard to make sure my clients understand the hospital policies before they birth there and that if they choose to write a birth plan, that it is realistic for the setting in which they are choosing to birth in. I also encourage them to take it to their providers before birth to address any concerns before the big day!)
Labor and Delivery nurses are a different breed of nurses though. The dynamics of a labor and delivery room are always changing. Although families are there to have babies, the way in which it unfolds can be unpredictable. We are saddened when someone dies, and we are even more saddened when it's a child. A little person who did not get to snuggle into their mothers breast or have the sunshine touch their face. Often times as a Doula I have had people say to me, "Wow, your job sounds so fun; you get to watch babies be born!" I know the same words are said to these nurses. But the fact of the matter is sometimes it's not fun. Sometimes its horrible and heart wrenching. These nurses support families through, miscarriages, preterm births, stillbirths, births with congenital defects and other traumatic experiences. Of course they witness positive, empowering births as well, but not always, and at the end of the day they still have to go home to their families. They go to their children's baseball games, the grocery store, date night with their partner or even into the next delivery room, with a smile on their face even moments after a somber or traumatic experience. I have cried with these nurses. I have cried in hallways with nurses as we watched babies be whisked off to the NICU, uncertain of their fate. I have cried with nurses as we watched a mother bring new life into the world with her own hands. I have cried with these nurses as a mother experienced a successful and empowering VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), or watching a mother find relief after a cesarean once her baby was laid on her chest.
Nurses love what they do; they have to! Why else would they choose such a physically and emotionally demanding job unless they were passionate about caring for others? So to all the nurses I have had the pleasure of working with, thank you for all you do. Thank you for getting anesthesia ASAP. Thank you for standing there holding the monitor so mom could labor hands and knees for a while, for emptying the emesis basin and for the warm blanket. Thank you for providing confidence and reassurance when a mother is discouraged. Thank you for the praise when a woman calmly works through one more contraction. Most of all, thank you for welcoming me into your work space and helping my clients to achieve the best experiences possible.
Danielle Breach CD(DONA)
In honor of cesarean awareness month, I have decided to share my birth experience.
It has been almost a year since my son was born, and although I'm still healing, I want to share some things that helped me become more accepting of my delivery.
In my head, I knew that a cesarean was a possibility, but I also knew that the statistics were in my favor. I tested negative for Group B Strep and gestational diabetes; I was very active throughout my pregnancy and took all of my vitamins and probiotics; I went to a chiropractor, and had a midwife that was extremely supportive of my preferences for no interventions or medications; my fiance and I attended all of our childbirth education classes together, so I knew I could rely on him during my labor (not to mention my phenomenal mother and doula Danielle :) ). I researched all of the possible outcomes of my birth and tried to mentally prepare myself for anything that could happen. My two biggest fears were getting an epidural or a cesarean, and I guess in my mind I had ruled those out as a possibility even though I knew I shouldn't have.
The day I went into labor I was so excited. I felt fully prepared and supported, and was mentally and emotionally ready to take on my beautiful, all natural labor and delivery. At almost 41 weeks, long walks, red raspberry leaf tea, and even clothespins on my toes (acupressure) while relaxing poolside was how I spent my early labor. At 11:00 pm my contractions started to become regular, so I decided to go to bed. I was woken up at 3:30 am by contractions that were intense enough that I couldn't lie down any longer. When they got to be two minutes apart (and after a call to my midwife) I finally decided we should head to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital at 7:30 am, and I was already 8 cm! I spent the majority of my transition in the shower. I eventually got out because I was cold and I had to use the restroom. Things happened very quickly after that, and I didn't remember much of it till a few months later, after I had processed my birth a few times.
I laid down in bed because my arms were very tired and let my midwife check me again. I was 9.5 cm and she told me that when I felt the urge, to go ahead and push. After pushing for a while, she noticed that baby did not seem to be coming down at all, and I gave the OK to break my water so he would hopefully come down. Soon after, baby's heart rate dropped drastically with my contraction. I was reminded to breathe through my contractions, but after several more like this, I was rushed back to the operating room (OR). I remember being in there on my hands and knees because that was the only position baby would tolerate. While in this position, his heart rate went back up to normal and stayed that way, so they hospital staff decided it was OK to take me back the the delivery room. It was suggested that I get an epidural in the event that I would have to go back to the OR. At this point I was pretty scared, but my team and I agreed that it would probably be best. After the epidural was inserted, I had to lay on my back, and baby's heart rate immediately dropped again. It was down a total of seven minutes after they had gotten me back to the do the surgery. My epidural had not kicked in yet, so I had to be put in a "twilight sleep". I woke up not remembering what had happened, and feeling uncontrollably shaky. My son was placed on my chest after I was brought back to the room ( which I vaguely remember; I couldn't focus my eyes yet). His cord had been twice wrapped around his neck, constricting the blood flow in the cord the lower he got down the birth canal and causing his heart rate to plummet. He and I were transferred to a hospital with a NICU where we spent a total of 6 days. Luckily after all the testing came back un-remarkable he was discharged in perfect condition and continues to be a happy well adjusted little guy.
I tried not to think about my birth for a long time because it upset me so badly. I still tear up sometimes when i tell my story, but I have come to accept that what happened was completely out of anyone's control, and was not an effect of something that I, or anyone else, did. Talking about it helped so much; going to Birth Story Circle at Mother Rising was like a lifeline where I could connect with other mamas, both who had the births they wanted, and those whose birth didn't quite go as planned. It was comforting to hear from people that it was OK for me to have time to grieve the birth I didn't have, and in the end I knew that it could have ended a lot worse, so I am very grateful that my little man is happy and healthy as can be! I have found support in ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and reading the inspirational stories on the Birth Without Fear page. The most important part of healing for me (and I would suggest this for any mom!!!) is having a healthy support system in place; family and friends to listen to your story and spoon-feed you comfort food ;)
Authored By- Juliannah Childs
We know that a woman's birth experience leaves a lasting impression on her.
We also know that personal control significantly affects a woman's satisfaction with her birth. This is not surprising, right? Even when things don't go as planned, you can still have an empowering experience through education and open communication with your care provider and birth team.
So what is one supposed to do? In my childbirth classes I'm often asked,
"Don't I have to do whatever my Dr/Midwife says?"
If they are telling you it's urgent or an emergency, then of course, yes. But the answer is not always yes. Hopefully you've put a lot of thought into who your practitioner is and hopefully you have built a trusting relationship with them throughout your pregnancy. With that said, they are part of your birth team. Like putting together any other team that you are in charge of, you get to lead it. You don't have to lie there and be told what will happen to you. You get to ask questions, a good practitioner will not see this as you "questioning them", but will see it as you advocating for yourself (or your partner). This should lead to a discussion where you get to learn more about the situation and your options.
An easy way to lead this conversation is by using your B.R.A.I.N.
B - Benefits. What are the benefit to doing this?
R - Risk. What are the risks involved in doing this?
A - Alternatives. Are there any alternatives to doing this?
I - Instincts. (Don't underestimate this one!) What is your instinct telling you to do?
N - Nothing. What if you do nothing right now and wait until later or even another day?
Let's take a look at how this might play out in labor:
Your Dr/Midwife suggests that she break your water. You immediately try hard to remember everything you learned about having your water broken (aka artificial rupture of membranes).
Keep in mind that you are in labor which can make decision making more difficult... but luckily you have your Doula with you (wink, wink)!!
You: I don't know, I'm not sure what to do.
Doula: (to you) Do you have any questions for your Dr/MW about having your water broken? Maybe about the benefits and risks?
You: (to Dr/MW) What are the benefits to breaking my water now?
Dr/MW: Breaking your water at this point while while you are having consistent patterned contractions will probably speed up your labor.
You: (to Dr/MW) What are the risks of breaking my water now?
Dr/MW: Once I break your water your contractions might become more uncomfortable and harder to manage. Also after your water is broken we will want you to deliver the baby within 24 hours, if not then we may want introduce additional forms of labor augmentation (ways to speed speed labor up).
You: What are the alternatives to having my water broken?
Dr/MW: There are no alternatives without using medicine. So the only real alternative is not to have it done.
Doula: Would you like some time alone with <insert birth partner's name> to think about this?
The room clears and your doula will ask you what your gut says to do. She will also respect and support any decision you make about your birth.
There is no power struggle or pressure. It's just you and those you've chosen to be with you in birth, empowered to make the decision that you feel is best for you and your birth!
Learn more about how to have a empowered birth experience, even if it's not your first baby, by taking a childbirth class at Mother Rising Women's Studio. Click here to see our latest class schedule.
Shauna Rich, BS, LCCE, HBCE
Co-Founder & Educator
Mother Rising Women's Studio
September 1, 2016 we will experience the new moon. The new moon marks the beginning of a cycle and the full moon the end of a cycle. During the new moon we should sew our seeds of intention, during the full moon we watch them bloom. The power of intention is strong and so is the power of the moon, combining the two for manifestation only makes sense.
To harness the ebb and flow of the moonlight is simple, we just use the basic Law of Attraction.
Try this ritual out:
We have power to manifest anything that we need in our lives. We just need to know what it is that we need. Taking some time to discover mentally and emotionally any blocks you might be holding on to will help your manifestations come to life. Maybe some meditations, yoga, reiki or cranial sacral therapy? Not into that stuff? Maybe just a walk in nature or some uninterrupted alone time in a peaceful place.
So go set your reminder for September 1, 2016. Get that paper out and manifest some greatness for yourself then tuck it away safely for two weeks until the full moon.
On September 16, 2016 we will experience the full moon! Get those papers back out, burn them and spread the ashes with gratitude to the Universe!
If you’d like to be part of a group spreading of ashes then bring the ashes with you to our Harvest Moon Women’s Circle on September 16. We will meet at Observatory Park located at 10610 Clay St in Montville
(we know it's far, but it's worth it!!)
Geauga Observatory Park is offering a free Harvest Moon program on this evening. We will learn what makes a full moon, share some harvest myths, then observe the rising "Harvest Moon" using the park telescopes!
The observatory program goes from 8-9, we would like to meet after to gather in circle, spread our ashes and to share in the energy of the moon as we walk the grounds. I hope to see you there!
Shauna Rich, BS, LCCE, HBCE
Co-Founder & Educator
Mother Rising Women's Studio
I know you've heard it. Maybe you've said it. Maybe you've felt it. That animosity between women. Those phrases like:
"I just can't be friends with women."
"I hate working with women."
"I only have guy friends, it's easier."
"Women are catty."
As a woman do you ever feel like we are all in some kind of giant worldwide competition where all other women are the judges? No one knows what the prize is....you just know you don't want to lose. Why is this? What is going on? Is it jealousy? Insecurity? Can we blame this on the media too?
I will admit, after a bad female friendship experience in my teens I swore off making female friends. Most of my best friends were guys. Guys made great friends, plus I didn't want to be lumped in with and seen the way I saw other females, so I distanced myself. I convinced myself it's where I belonged. I prefer old converse and tee shirts and I loathe shopping. I prefer whiskey and beer over wine and cocktails. I don't need a lot of attention and I don't like chit chat. I was fine, and I never felt like I missed out on female friendships. Looking back there was definitely some competition, jealousy and insecurity involved with my behavior, not to mention I was putting myself and others in a made up "what a girl is" box. This was the case for a long time, until I started interacting with women in my birthwork.
As my passion for childbirth grew, so did my love for women. I have met some of the most amazing women. Women who birth their babies and raise their children and support one another with such fierceness! Women who step outside of the "what a girl is" box and still harness their feminine power. It's truly awe inspiring. What I have learned as I have developed these relationships with women is that the more I love them, the more I love myself. I see myself in them, and I see things I want to be in them. Instead of jealousy, I now feel joy for their success. Instead of insecurity I feel empowered to do better by other women that might have achieved something I haven't achieved yet. Instead of cattiness, I now try to think about the bigger picture...what's her story?
As a birthworker I've met a lot of women who were into gathering, goddess circles, women's circles, red tents...I really didn't know what it was all about but I was curious. I started attending red tent ceremonies, and women's circles and opened myself up to other women and listened to their stories. It's eye opening when you sit face to face with a woman and realize that we all have a story to tell. It's a refreshing change of pace from my snap judgments in the past or the ever popular online communities that can get so ugly. When you look into the eyes of a person and really witness them you can see their emotion, you can see if they have tears in their eyes or a smile on their face when they convey their words. It's beautiful. I have learned to welcome the differences of the women around me and the wisdom of the women that came before me. I still prefer converse and whiskey, but it's such a relief to have disqualified myself from the competition and accepted that my version of "what a girl is" is perfect for me.
If you have never attended a women's circle, especially if you think you don't get along with other women, please give it a try! I always learn something and I always leave feeling high on the vibes of sisterhood!
On August 26 we will gather in circle at Mother Rising in Chardon to discuss the dynamics of female friendships and sisterhood. We encourage you to come, try it out. Bring a friend, the unlikely kind, you know the one that thinks you are witchy and weird for even inviting her to such an event. She will thank you.
Our women's circles provide a safe place for confidences and support, we meet the third Wednesday or Friday of each month at 7:00 P.M. Take the time to find your tribe. You deserve this.
Shauna Rich, BS, LCCE, HBCE
Co-Founder of Mother Rising Women's Studio
Today is October 15, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. With that in mind, I thought I would share my story.
When people know you are a birth worker you often get the “I’m pregnant! call” before they ever tell anyone else. Often I get asked "When should I tell people that I'm pregnant?” I hear this too “I don’t want to tell everyone and then have a miscarriage.” Our society sets this standard that it’s not ok to tell before 12 weeks. I’ve asked around as to why people don’t want you to tell and the consensus seems to be that it’s better to just sweep that lost pregnancy under the rug because no one wants to talk about something unhappy like that and you shouldn’t want to either. I know a lot of women who planned to keep it a secret 12 weeks then end up grieving alone when they suffer a loss because no one even knew they were pregnant. That’s heartbreaking.
When I lost my baby I was just creeping toward my second trimester, I was a little over 10 weeks along. I had already told everyone. At the time I was a high school teacher, I had even told my students and they were making an educational bulletin board to follow the fetal development as my pregnancy progressed. It was a parenting class, how perfect! When I found out I was pregnant I was bursting at the seams to tell people! I was excited! There was no way I was keeping that secret. I’m no good at secrets anyway. Some people thought it was tacky or taboo to tell so soon but looking back I am so happy that I did. I was glad to have support during and I had people to grieve with when I lost the pregnancy.
When I realized I was miscarrying, I had to take a trip to the ER. My nurse was so wonderful and compassionate, I can’t remember her name but her face is still clear. I left the hospital feeling ok. I had opted not to have any medical procedures but to allow my body to naturally clear the remainder of the pregnancy from my body instead. That decision helped me emotionally; it made me feel in control and also reminded me that this was a natural process, much like birth. I took a few days off of work and during that time I received so much support! My husband, my parents, extended family, friends, co-workers, they were all so understanding and supportive as I worked through my grief. I received cards, flowers, hugs and phone calls. I even have a little keepsake box with mementos of my pregnancy and the support I received when I miscarried. When I started to share the news women in my life shared with me stories of their losses. It was very healing for me and also for those mommas that got to talk about their lost babies. I was shocked when I realized that some of them had never told anyone before. My husband experienced similar support. In the days following he was called into his boss’s office to talk about it. Apparently this man and his wife had also suffered a loss at some point and he shared that with my husband along with his sympathies. I can’t imagine leaving the hospital and pretending like I was fine. Never telling anyone and just sweeping it under the rug. The love and understanding surrounding us was monumental in our healing process.
So when I get that call and a very excited newly pregnant woman asks me when the right time to tell her family is, I share these few thoughts with her:
-Don't live in fear.
-Tell anyone you would tell if you had a miscarriage because you're going to tell them eventually either way. -There is no "safe zone" losses occur at different times for different pregnancies.
-If you do have an unfortunate loss you will need support.
-It's fun to share your joy and excitement with those closest to you! It's hard to keep a secret that wonderful!
-Don't miss out on celebrating the first weeks out of fear.
-You have to do what works for your situation and family. There's no "right way".
My heart goes out to all mothers who lose a pregnancy; I hate to think some grieve alone.
Tonight at 7PM Danielle and I will light candles in our homes in remembrance of all of the lost pregnancies and infants. Join us.
Shauna Rich, BS, LCCE
Co-Founder of Mother Rising Women's Studio
Today I want to talk about something that has sat heavily with me lately. Several subjects have been on my mind but this one was on my mind a lot today! When the studio was nothing more than some ideas on a sheet of paper, we discussed what we wanted to call this idea. We chose the name Mother Rising for several reasons, but mainly we wanted it to be an uplifting space for women to gather and we wanted the name to represent ALL women not just those who were expecting. You see, women, no matter what age need to be supported. We need each other, and here is why-
I became a mother a pretty young age. Most of my peers were not having children yet, which made it hard to find “mom friends.” The women I felt most supported by during my pregnancy were my mother, grandmother, a few neighbor ladies, and a childbirth educator (whom by the way, was the first one to introduce me to the word Doula!) I can remember dropping my daughter off at daycare surrounded by older mothers and never was a conversation had between us. I can also remember later on standing at my daughter’s ballet classes surrounded by chatty mothers planning their next get together and bringing each other coffees while they waited. I didn’t fit in. At this point I was neither young nor older. Perhaps I feared judgment and perhaps they did as well. As my children got older I started making friends with other parents, but was always looking for the moms that seemed to be the same age as me. One day, I sat next to a woman at my son’s football game. She was older than me and well dressed. I don’t remember what I was wearing but considering my five children and crazy work hours I can only imagine I was quite disheveled! We talked briefly about our children out on the football field before I found out that she was a Psychologist. I immediately felt intimidated. I really liked her but wondered how could we be friends? We have nothing in common. Part of me still felt like I was that young girl with a baby in her arms even though I am surely not anymore! How silly of me to assume that we had no common ground. We are both mothers and we are both women! We have a lot in common! after many discussions we realized that we have many similar interests and passions. A beautiful friendship had blossomed between her and I and we have even joked about our age difference with her believing that I could be her daughter!
See, we need each other. Mothers need each other. Women need each other. We are a village working to raise not only children but mothers! I have had the opportunity to chat with a few women recently whose children were grown. Some told me that they were not having babies anymore so they wouldn’t be any help or need our services but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As a young mother I could have used an older mother’s guidance and I could have used a friend regardless of their age. I have also noticed that many women, even those who are grandmothers enjoy sharing their stories of becoming a mother and obstacles they overcame. Some didn't realize the trauma that they had experienced until they were able to be open and have their feelings validated. I’ve also had my share of clients who were starting their families later in life, many not by choice. They too at a place of in between much like I was. They are surrounded by younger mothers at their birth classes while the women their age are heading to PTO meetings. We cannot and should not assume that because a women is a different age that we cannot connect with her, that we cannot find comfort or learn from one another.
I hope that this post will encourage you to reach out to each other. When you see that mama at the dance class who is either younger or older than you, talk to her. Build relationships that are wholesome based off of womanhood and parenthood. Your age does not matter. Your education level does not matter. Your marital status does not matter. You are both women and you have so much to offer one another!
We welcome you to come to our Women's Circles, Birth Story Circles and Young Parents Circles. Come support one another and make friends in the process. Check our calendar for dates and times.
Danielle Breach CD(DONA)
Co-Founder of Mother Rising Women's Studio
The first time I ever had to take one of my children to the dentist for a cavity I was kind of freaking out. As she sat there I used all of my Doula skills to keep her (and myself) calm and distracted. Just before the dentist put the needle into her gums she said to my daughter "I'm going to use this to make your gums really really cold, let me know if it's too cold." She proceeded to give her the shot, and to my surprise my daughter didn't even wince! When the dentist pulled the needle out of my daughter's mouth she looked at the dentist and said "Boy that WAS really cold!" She wasn't afraid, no one told her to be.
Uhhhhm.....What in the world does this have to do with birth?!
When I say the word “birth” what's one word that comes to mind? I start all of my childbirth education classes by asking that question. As you can imagine, most of the answers are negative.
This is not to say that I don't get some answers that put birth in a positive light.
In general women don't look forward to their labor and delivery they just look forward to the baby. A lot of women are downright terrified! I've even heard "I wish I could just be knocked out like in the 50s and wake up to my baby lying next to me."
Why are we so afraid? We say things like "It can't be that bad, women have been doing it for thousands of years!" Yet we're still scared. It's our birth culture. It's the way we talk about birth. It's the way birth is portrayed in the media and talked about among women. Think about it...
Were you told scary stories during pregnancy by your friends and family? Women loooove to do this other women! In the words of Ina May Gaskin on the topic, it's just "bad manners".
Why does our culture do this to women?!
Why do women with easy, fast, simple, or beautiful births feel like they are bragging if they share their birth story?
Why do we shame a woman that says she wants a natural birth or a woman who says she enjoyed labor or is looking forward to her birth experience!?
So back to the dentist, what did that story have to do with birth? I wholeheartedly believe that if we didn't tell women horror stories going into birth that they could go into it with an open mind and an open heart. They could experience the sensations for themselves and call them what they would like. Much like the dentist referred to the needle as cold instead of as painful or pinching, maybe mothers would refer to childbirth as miraculous, beautiful, and exciting instead of painful. What if you weren't afraid of birth! What if no one told you to be?
You can make a change for yourself and for all women! Let's change our birth culture!
Seek out positive birth stories! Shut out the bad ones! Share your beautiful experiences without fear of making someone else "feel bad"!
We invite you to join us at Mother Rising for our birth story circle. Even if you don't have a birth story to share, please come and listen. Holding the space for women to tell birth stories is an important job.
We meet the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 PM.
Shauna Rich, BS, LCCE
Co-Founder of Mother Rising Women's Studio