Posts Tagged ‘pregnant’

Grace Under Pregnancy: Responding to Negativity

Monday, April 27th, 2015
Created using Canva.com

Created using Canva.com

We’ve all seen those blog posts listing all the hilarious, snarky retorts we can have at our disposal when well-intentioned people make comments about our pregnancy, parenting, or birth choices. There is definitely a place for a well-placed one-liner, but not everyone will see the joke. Those remarks are most often only appreciated in theory, not in practice. Of course, it often helps us to alleviate the stress of constant, unhelpful remarks. Who doesn’t need a good laugh after several “Haven’t had that baby yet” moments?

Granted, most of us just politely smile, nod, and walk the other way, keeping our irritated sarcasm to ourselves. We think sarcastic thoughts, or post them on Twitter, but we choose manners when we are in the moment. We none of us really want to be rude, even if we feel like it. We know that answering rudeness with rudeness often just escalates the situation.

Some people, of course, are just rude. It’s best to just walk away in that case. But, what can we do when we feel a strong need to respond in some way? Are sarcasm and snark the best approach? Sometimes, probably. Some people need the wake-up call. However, most people don’t realize that they’re being rude — however well-intentioned they may be — and grace goes a long way. You never know. You might be the one who helps someone treat the next pregnant lady a little better. Isn’t that worth biting back a stinging remark, then going one step beyond and extending grace?

So, what does responding in grace look like?

“You’re having a home birth? Aren’t you afraid of –insert random, rare emergency here–?”
Snark says: “You had hospital births? Weren’t you afraid of –insert random, common intervention here–?”
This kind of response is designed to shut down conversation, and while the person may deserve snark, isn’t a little kindness more powerful?

Grace says: “I appreciate your concern, but no, I am not afraid.”
There is no need to explain your decisions to anyone since you are the one who walks it out, but this kind of response may invite questions and conversation that could benefit the hearer in long run.

“Wow! You are getting sooooo HUGE!”
Snark says: “Thanks! So are you!”
While hilarious in theory, (I’ll admit, I chuckled) two wrongs don’t make a right. People really don’t know what to say, and aren’t necessarily comfortable with just a friendly silence.

Grace says: “Thanks! I’m so excited to be able to grow such a healthy baby!”
This can encourage people to view the full-term pregnant body as something beautiful, normal, and healthy, instead of just weight gain. They won’t expect the kindness.

“Let me tell you ALL THE HORROR STORIES surrounding my births!”
Snark says: “Well, at least you have a healthy baby, right?!”
This can add another layer of sorrow or regret to the woman who opened up to you, and can be just as hurtful to hear as her horror story was to you. Again, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Grace says: “Wow – what a rough ride. If you could go back and change anything about your births, what would it be?”
Women learn in community. It’s why we write and read blogs, attend La Leche League and MOPS groups. Such things have replaced the old quilting bees. It’s also why we are compelled to share our birth stories, positive and negative. Perhaps, this woman has only ever been told she should be grateful, because her baby is healthy. Maybe no one has acknowledged her experience, or made space for her to process it. Maybe you have just been given the chance to help a fellow human being take one more step toward healing by your validation of her experience. Plus, you might learn something.

Kindness goes so very far when we see others as humans who make mistakes. Really, haven’t we all said insensitive things without meaning to, only to learn our mistake later? Can’t we all recall that one time we really blew it by putting our collective feet in our collective mouths? We all cringe at such memories, right? How beautiful was it, in those moments, when someone extended grace to us?

Well, why not make those moments a little less cringe-worthy in your turn by extending grace to our sometimes clueless fellow human beings? Maybe they don’t deserve it, but we all have undeserving moments. That’s the whole point of grace– it’s unmerited favor.

Remember: In the end, it is love that wins the day, not wit or cleverness.

What would you add? When have you responded with grace instead of sarcasm? What other comments can be hurtful, and what might you say or do instead?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

That Pesky Due Date

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Women and babies are not made with a pop out button like some Thanksgiving turkeys indicating being done. That pesky due date becomes such great topic of debate. It can lead to unnecessary interventions (such as induction, provider change because of regulations or cesarean), emotional unease (I am broken, this baby is never coming, I am LATE one minute past 40 weeks), physical distress by way of decreased pregnancy change tolerance, and mess with a woman’s work schedule (when to start maternity leave or return to work date).

Prior to home pregnancy tests and ultrasound dating, the due date was much more of a due month. Now it seems everyone has bought into this mysterious due date being something very hard fact and unfailing.

Henci Goer wrote a tremendously helpful article called “When is that baby due? ” several years back that sheds light on this very issue. She states: “When it comes to determining your due date, “things,” as the Gilbert and Sullivan ditty goes, “are seldom what they seem.” The methods of calculation are far from exact, common assumptions about the average length of pregnancy are wrong and calling it a “due date” is misleading. Understanding these uncertainties may help to curb your natural impatience to know exactly when labor will begin.”

The most common way women are finding out the due date of their baby is by using an online calculator such as this:

However, this even from the federal website does not take into consideration ovulation, only length of cycle (which is an improvement over straight up LMP dating).

So how do women handle this notion of a due date? I asked the question and here are some responses.

  • KZ –    “Last time, I told everyone my due date, and when E had other plans, I got the, “Have you had that baby, YET?? How long are they gonna make you go?” *cringe* This time, I’m wising up and saying Spring. That’s it. Spring.”
  • SL – “I used a “due season”. I told my three year old that the leaves would change on the tree and we would probably have Thanksgiving dinner and she would be here sometime after that. :)”
  • KMC-M -“I love the Ish… december-ish”
  • CLM -“I always give very generic answers to avoid the annoying “aren’t you due yet???” comments. I’ve also written on Christmas cards … “baby #3, due Spring 20??”. Once I was due at the very end of July. My well meaning neighbor was asking … “are you STILL pregnant?” on July 4th. Ugh.”
  • LE – “Whenever someone asked my due date I always said, “he’ll come when he’s ready” or “when God decides he’s ready”
  • SC – “Mid to late month was the closest I’d get.”

Seems these particular women either have previously gotten bitten by the pesky due date or learned in the first pregnancy not to put too much stock in an arbitrarily determined date. I say good for them!

As a midwife assistant, I now participate in the baby assessments. Some of these post birth assessments gestationally date baby. Often the dates are different than the due date assumption. Some earlier and some later.  This happens even with women who knew exactly when the last menstrual period, ovulation, and conception occurred along with cycle length.

Only the baby (and God according to my belief) knows the due date aka when he or she will press start.

Early is not one day prior to 40 weeks EDD just as late is not 40 weeks and 1 day over EDD. Full term pregnancy is defined as 37 weeks-42 weeks gestation.

I think it is high time “we” layoff pressuring mamas and their babies. “We” must stop trying to evict them earlier than they desire without a true medical reason. One day to any adult is nothing, but even a day to an unborn baby coming earthside can mean the difference between alive and thriving.

Do It Your Way – Birth That Is

Friday, September 10th, 2010

In the past months I have become very aware of the deep notion in our birth culture, and yes even in the natural birth circles, that there are so many do it this way and don’t do it this way put upon women or she is wrong or not quite right.

The truth is, women do a variety of things in labor and birth. They do not all need the same education, need the same type of support, need to birth in the same type of location, or look the same during the process.

Women sometimes prefer:

  • Touch and movement
  • Solitude
  • Sound
  • Quiet
  • Bright light
  • Dim light or darkness
  • Smells
  • Lack of smell
  • To eat
  • To drink orally
  • Deep connection with those around her
  • To have direction and encouragement
  • To do it her own way with no outside input
  • To vocalize
  • To be inward
  • To have clinical assessment
  • To have no clinical input
  • To have a care provider
  • To be her own care provider
  • To catch her own baby
  • To have another person catch her baby
  • To be coached through labor and pushing
  • To physiologically push and deliver her baby
  • To have a doula present
  • To be totally alone
  • To have a crowd around her
  • To have it be very intimate
  • Birthing at home
  • Birthing at a birth center
  • Birthing at the hospital
  • and many, many things

It breaks my heart to see women beating up other women under the guise of being helpful.  Women are not plug in play in need of a prescription to make her do labor and birth right. We need to trust that women will do what is most beneficial in labor and birth when the space and opportunity is given to do so.

Bottom line: We need to stop making women feel badly for just doing what they want to do. We need to encourage women to trust their instincts. We need to continue to give women information on healthy birth. We need to not make it about US and let go of other women’s choices.

Technology and the Prenatal “Diet”

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

In westernized countries, television and the internet have almost completely replaced the generational teaching and learning found in the “circles” of the past. Women would gather over sewing, quilting, canning, and life events including pregnancy and childbirth. They offered support, told their stories, spoke of family life, shared their everyday knowledge, wisdom and expertise while the children played at their feet.

At first glance it seems that through these technologies women are able to gain vast amounts of incredible knowledge regarding childbirth.  There are very popular websites, message boards and forums to meet and greet other women who are expecting the very same month.  Any topic is available to explore. Excellent places for a sense of community and belonging. The information is so prevalent that some women even eschew childbirth classes because they feel well enough prepared from all the exposure. Fantastic to be sure, at first glance.

Upon a deeper look  with a critical eye at the most popular shows and on-line communities, it becomes pretty obvious that overwhelmingly the messages and scenes actually have little to do with real encouragement and instilling confidence in a woman’s design and inherent ability to birth.

Let’s start with the satellite/cable television shows on the learning and health channels. Stop for a moment and think of what occurred during the last episode you viewed.  Did you see a spontaneous labor from entry to hospital to birth without augmentation, epidural, or any other intervention except for intermittent monitoring and perhaps a saline lock (IV port) placed? Was it an induction with an epidural? Was it a cesarean or a vaginal delivery? Did she have adequate support? Was her background given in any detail? Who made the decisions? What about informed consent? Was the laboring woman paid attention too or were the machines heeded more? What sort of comfort measures did she employ? Was she ever out of bed? Who delivered the baby?  What response to her baby did the mother have? Who saw her baby first? With that clear memory in mind, how did you feel after viewing it? What thoughts came to your mind? Now consider that essentially all of the births shown take place in a hospital. In fact any birth that does not, is often touted as extreme or some other like descriptive.

Let’s move on for a moment.

Now let’s take a look at the most popular pregnancy websites, message boards and forums where women connect with one another.  The “conversations” and threads are filled with all things related to the impending birth. Chatter about baby showers, maternity leave, body changes, vaccinations, previous experiences, breastfeeding, nursery preparations and so much more. Really anything under the prenatal sun. Inspecting further though, there seems to be an inordinate amount of discussion regarding the need for scheduled inductions and cesareans and very little conversation or even support for natural or spontaneous labor and birth.

With intervention appearing to be the ruling majority within the technological communities and filling the television, how is a pregnant woman feeding her eyes, heart, and mind on this type of diet supposed to feel confident, uplifted and excited about her upcoming birth? I am uncertain that she can with the seeds of inadequacy, fear, brokenness, helplessness, and lack of options being sewn into her being at such an alarming ratio.  Sometimes yes interventions are needed, however, in practice it isn’t a need for many women and babies.

These shows and internet locales are like junk food. Like all junk food they are not to be an integral part of a healthy prenatal “diet” that will be encouraging, expand useful knowledge, grow confidence, spark self-advocacy, promote self-awareness, ignite excitement, and offer joy to the expecting mother.

How can an expecting mother improve her “diet” regardless of the type of birth she is planning? What are the better places to “shop”?

  • Turning off the TV
  • Check out and attend local groups and support meetings. Educational sessions and workshops are often free of charge. For example: Doula Groups, ICAN, Midwifery Groups, Birth Network, Birth Circles, and similar.
  • Try some different message boards, forums and sites. See Blog Roll and Resources listed on this site.
  • Seek out positive free videos to watch on You Tube.  https://prepforbirth.com/2009/07/30/birth-videos/
  • Talk to women who have birthed in the hospital, birth center and at home. Get a variety of positive stories.
  • Try some different reading on for size. https://prepforbirth.com/books-videos-and-more/
  • Rent or borrow movies from Netflix, a doula or childbirth educator, such as, Business of Being Born, Pregnant in America, or Orgasmic Birth to name a few.
  • Take the challenge to learn about and be open to the variety of birthing techniques, locations, options and provider types that women are utilizing.

Bottom line, the most prevalent “food group” in a diet is going to positively or negatively affect the parts and the whole of the journey to having a babe in arms.  No matter what the mother and baby live with the outcomes from the birth. Enriching the prenatal “diet” is not a guarantee of outcome or path to the birth. It does however give much more possibility and opportunity for both mother and baby to have a better birth and start together.

Sisterhood of the Scar Revisited

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Many years ago I wrote this piece after attending my very first ICAN conference in San Diego in 2005. I read this and part of me weeps for her, for the me I was and for the women who are becoming part of this sisterhood willingly, wittingly or not.  My pain has been transformed into outstretched hands and heart. It has given me a sensitivity and awareness of the birth world I would probably have never achieved on my own had my births been perfect, idyllic and without this trauma.

I love you dear sisters and my life would be far less without each of you.

Seems a long distance the ivory tower to the ground.  The surprise in finding the thorny bushes with burrs that dig deep and puncture again at will? Well meaning onlookers say “Well a hundred years ago you both would have died?”  And the farce begins.  Stuff it down because it is crazy not to be grateful for the surgeon’s hand.  Smile and pretend all the twisted darkness inside doesn’t really exist.  The oft daily chore mixed with joy of caring for a baby whom we are unsure is truly our own.   The continuing assault during lovemaking when a cringe comes from the depths when a loving and hungry hand brushes the incision site.  “How can he think I am beautiful?  How can he possibly want this?”  Another thing of beauty and perfection quashed underneath the burden of the surgeon’s handprint.  Oh no say it hasn’t already been a year.  The birthday.  THE birthday sounds so exciting but terror strikes.  Preparation to be happy, preparation to feel joy.  Preparation not to shortchange our amazing gift of a child under the pain of the surgeon’s knife print.

The anticipated day meant to birth us into motherhood and my child into my waiting hands to my craving breasts, I was birthed into the Sisterhood of the Scar forever.

Some thoughts on birth and being a consumer.

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

While “teaching” childbirth class the topic of being a consumer is addressed often in a variety of ways.  I have a firm belief that a woman has the ability to understand, be well educated, and make her own decisions. It is in no way in my job description to tell someone else how she must birth or how to do it in the right way.  She is the one who needs to take the information, explore it and apply it to her self and situation.  Being a consumer in her childbearing year is a key component.

I have a great and deep sense of obligation to give truthful, helpful, real life applicable information to the families I am blessed to work with.  Because of this my mantra is,  “You go home or stay home with your baby and are the one who must live with the decisions and outcomes from them. Not the doctor, midwife, nurse, doula, educator – no one else.  We all go home to our own lives. So if you have to live with all that happens then do your best to choose wisely to what you can live with.”  No mother escapes the outcomes and the legacy it leaves behind forever no matter who makes the decisions for her. Even if it seems easier at the time to allow others to call the shots, I can hope the epiphany of this will help the pregnant woman to push for what she really needs and wants instead of being a passenger in her own process.

Birth options are integrated into prenatals and/or class structure as we discuss birth philosophy, birth planning, re-interviewing care provider, realistic expectations for chosen birth location, and interventions and medications.  Most often I find that women have no idea that there are so many options available for the asking or available in a reasonably close proximity to our local area.  This tells me that care providers expect the burden of knowing the options is to be on the pregnant woman to find out about, explore, and ask for.  She may find that in this process she and her care provider/birth location are either well on or not on the same page with her needs and desires.  This is where she can decide if needed to seek another provider and/or birth location.  There almost always is a way, it may mean more work, effort, and at times out of pocket expense. Some women choose to relocate, ask for help with out of pocket expenses in lieu of baby shower gift, petition insurance to cover the “right” provider…

Really as a consumer the burden is on her to find the right fit and go for it.  It is not for her to fit into whatever is the local expectation for her as a birthing woman.  This comes down to something akin to buying a car because the dealer tells you this is the car you must buy because everyone else has bought it and even though it clearly does not suit your needs, you still buy it.  I have never heard of that happening, yet I hear of women day in and day out having this sort of exchange from prenatal care through the birthing day with their care provider and/or birth location staff.

When it comes down to it, I really want women to have what is individually needed and desired. Who is paying the bills? Who is keeping the hospitals, birth centers, ob/gyns and homebirth midwives in business? Those caring for birthing women ought sit up and take notice. You all wouldn’t exist without birthing women paying for your services.

Every provider or birth location has a practice style, protocol base,  etc.  So why not honestly explain expectations, protocols, practice style in detail at the first visit or during the tour so the mother who is hiring you or birthing at your location can decide whether or not right off the bat if this is a solid fit? No one provider or location is going to fit with every mother nor is every mother going to fit with every provider or location.  Whatever a provider or birth location is good at, expects,  and is striving to be, put it out there so the mother coming in knows what she is buying in to.

My dream is that every birthing woman will know all the options and subsequently exercise her want to the care she desires even if it means walking with her cash or insurance card, since ultimately she lives with all that transpires positive, negative, or in between.

Shocking quotes regarding maternal choice to VBAC birth

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Joy Szabo has been in the news lately for desiring a second VBAC for her fourth baby (vaginal birth, emergency cesarean, and vaginal birth).  She has been denied locally in her area of Page, AZ to have a vaginal birth. Due to this situation, the International Cesarean Awareness Network has been assisting her in fighting the VBAC ban along with seeking out additional options.

After reading the latest article regarding Ms. Szabo, I am completely dumbfounded by the remarks made by other readers of her story.  I am stunned by how it seems the general populous regards a woman’s autonomy and medical rights.  I am also including positive comments as counterpoint. Where do you fall?  What do you believe? Many of these comments point me in the direction of what is so wrong with the system.  That of physician and hospital trumping patient.

You decide is the comment pro or con?

“…..it seems like many people do not grasp malpractice and insurance companies. This is not about the hospital, but about medical professionals and hospitals not wanting litigation. Can you blame them? After spending tens of thousands of dollars on an education before making a dime, I would do what I needed to to avoid a lawsuit, too! … we go to doctors because they DO know what is best for our health! Like another poster said, in health care, the customer is NOT always right.”

“My son was born by c-section, then my daughter vaginally, with no adverse affects. While I agree it’s the doctor’s decision to take the risk or not, it seems over-the-top conservative. Does the doctor’s insurance premium go up if this procedure is performed? Then charge more and give the patient the option.”

“C-sections are done in the US more routinely than in any other developed country but our infant mortality rate is not lower but higher. Doctors do not want to deliver on weekends, at night, if the mother is one week over her electronically determined due date. Yes complications can happen, more so if you are made to stay in a bed hooked up to monitors, a monitor screwed in to the baby’s head, your water broke prematurely, inducement before the baby or mother are physically ready to give birth. All of this leads to more injuries and deaths than needed. Doctors look upon birth as an illness, not the process that it is – an inexact human birth. I am not suggesting giving birth in a field alone, but a c-section has a greater risk than the V-Bac especially if she has had one already. C-sections for true emergencies yes, otherwise no.”

“Did anyone else notice that when they list the risks of a C-section, they failed to mention that the mother is 4-7 times more likely to DIE than with a vaginal birth.?!?!?! They also fail to mention all the potential complications to her health, the roughly 30% rate of problems following the surgery (some severe enough to require rehospitalization) and the challenges associated with caring for children while recovering from major abdominal surgery.  Good for this mom and I hope more mothers will take courage from her”

“This story is exaggeration. If the woman wants a vbac, she just has to show up at that hospital in labor and refuse a section. They can’t force her to have a c-section no matter what they would prefer she do. You can’t force a woman to have a c-section under any circumstances, so as long as the docs and nurses say she and the baby are tolerating labor, she has no reason to fear being forced into an operation.”

“I worked in the hospital for 5 years and then in a birth center for the last 4 years. I had to get out of the hospital because I started feeling guilty about my complicity in that system in which so much goes on behind closed doors of which the patient is never informed. I’ve had docs tell me in the lunch room that they are doing a c-section because they have an important golf game, fishing trip, or hot date. Then they go into the room, lie to the woman and say, ” oh your baby is too big, your progress is too slow, it’s never going to happen.” the woman believes them and thanks them so much for saving their babies lives. Over and over and over again. In Miami we have over 50% c-section rate, and it’s way more convenient for the docs. If VBACS are not allowed at more and more hospitals, the rest of the country will soon be like it is here…..”

“I find this decision by the hospital(s) to not do a VBAC as a little crazy. My older brother was born (in 1955) by C-section; both me (in 1958) and my younger brother (in 1962) were born vaginally. NO COMPLICATIONS. It could be done 50 years ago, but not now??”

“The risk of MAJOR complication from a second cesarean is TEN TIMES that of the risk of uterine rupture in a VBAC mother. Someone please explain to me how an “elective” repeat cesarean is safer than a VBAC? Especially since more than 75% of uterine ruptures occur PRIOR to the onset of labor. How is a scheduled cesarean at 39 weeks (which is the ACOG recommendation) going to save the mother who ruptures at the dinner table at 34 weeks? Using their logic, we should all go live at the hospital the moment we become pregnant after a previous cesarean, just in case our uterus blows up and we need an OB and an anesthesiologist “immediately available”.”

So what do you think?  It worries me that is seems the mother’s rights do not count for much. That in some of the comments the idea of  forcing a cesarean is no big deal if it makes the doctor’s position safer.

I think that most people are woefully under educated on childbirth and what safety really means.  A conservative physician errs on the side of evidence not defensive practice.  Do your own research. Be your own advocate.

Preparing For Birth – Affirmations

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Guarding what you put into your eyes, ears, and mind is such an important part of pregnancy and birth.  As women we learn socially, from one another.  When we allow the pervasive negativity (TV, horror stories, fearful education, good patient education, unsupportive comments, etc.) to take root we lose so much inborn knowledge and wisdom of all the women who came before.  I encourage you to read the below affirmations, use them, tweak them, and then write your very own. Place affirmations everywhere that you are. Encourage others around you to also speak them to you. whenever you think of labor and birth, recite your affirmations.  Build in the positive at any opportunity. If someone gets a negative experience out to you, stop and ask what she would have or could have done differently if she was able.

  • I will take labor one contraction at a time. I can do ANYTHING for a minute or two.
  • I am able to make the best possible choices for a healthy, joyful birth.
  • I TRUST my body to labor smoothly and efficiently.
  • My design is PERFECT to birth my baby.
  • I trust my baby and body to choose when labor will begin.
  • I will receive the start of labor and I will labor well.
  • I accept the unknown of labor and birth.
  • My baby already knows how to labor and come into my arms.
  • I am well equipped to mother my baby.
  • I can make choices and decisions based out of love/evidence not fear.
  • I embrace the concept of healthy pain.
  • I am welcoming my contractions.
  • I have enough love to go around.
  • There is always enough love for me.
  • I am strong, confident, assured, and assertive and still feminine.
  • I am helping my baby feel safe so that she can be born.
  • I am a strong and capable woman.
  • I am creating a totally positive and new birth experience.
  • My pelvis is releasing and opening (as have those of countless women before me).
  • I am accepting my labor and believe that it is the right labor for me, and for my baby.
  • I now feel the love that others have for me during the birth.
  • I will treat my mate lovingly during the birth.
  • I will have exactly who I need supporting me for my birth.
  • I am birthing where I will be the safest, most peaceful, and most encouraged.
  • I have a beautiful body. My body is my friend.

If you would like to add to my list, please email me at desirre@prepforbirth.com.

Preparing For Birth – Question of the day #1

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

What are the top three things you wish you would have known prior to pregnancy, labor or birth?