arah Buckley’s book, Gentle Birth Gentle Mothering, is the most comprehensive, holistically minded, and scientifically sound book on pregnancy, birth and early parenting that I have read so far. Part 1 of the book is focused on gentle birth, the hormones of pregnancy, birth and mothering, and the best ways to keep those hormones from being interrupted. In the first few chapters she offers the ideas of instinctive birth, and undisturbed birth as templates for understanding the kind of gentle births that are possible when we leave well enough alone and let the process unfold as it was meant to without interference, interruption or intervention.
Ultrasound is a technology that works similarly to the way bats use echoing sound waves to fly and hunt at night. Ultrasounds within the context of pregnancy and birth are used to get information by creating images of the baby, the baby or placenta’s blood flow, or listening to the baby’s pulse. The ultrasound wand that is placed on your belly sends a beam of fast (ultra) sound waves at the baby which then bounces off of the baby’s body and back to the beam. The sonogram machine turns that information into an image of the baby. The Doppler technology turns it into an audible rhythm (and sometimes an image) of the baby’s pulse.
What does a midwife do? What is the role of a midwife within the vision I hold of healthy, vibrant, empowered communities? I’ve been trying to answer this question succinctly and clearly in my brain for a few weeks now, as I feel myself getting pulled into discussions (and sometimes arguments) over the topic more frequently. This post is as clear and succinct as I've gotten so far.
I haven’t written anything new in a while now because for the last two months I’ve been in the midst of my own pregnancy experiences again, waiting until I actually felt like I had something I could say about any of it. It’s hard to write about pregnancy and birth from a third party perspective while I’m in it, and I didn’t think a whole post just about how terrified I’ve been would have been too useful. So as I round the corner into the second trimester, I wanted to share my experiences so far dealing with pregnancy after previous loss.
We are subjected to fitness tests and body fat percentage tests in our public schools, and we are taught over and over again in so many ways that our weight and our size determine how much we are valued by our communities and our loved ones. Most of us are not taught about nutrition, quality of ingredients, how to grow or prepare delicious whole foods, or most importantly, how to tune into our own intuition about what our body needs. Some thin women still think they are too large, or may alternatively feel shame or embarrassment about being thin. I have yet to have a conversation about weight and body image with anyone who had no experience struggling with their own. So this message is for everyone, because it affects everyone. This has GOT TO STOP. This is completely insane, disordered, and is taking away our time, energy and power as amazing, radiant, beautiful human beings.
I am 13 weeks pregnant now, and this is the point in pregnancy where most people either have found a midwife, or are in the process of finding a midwife to work with. There is wide variation in the timing of this, but most people have a first appointment between 12-16 weeks it seems. Luckily, I don’t have to do this since between myself and my dear friend Maryn, I have all the pregnancy and birth support a lady could want. I say luckily because I have seen what a “make or break” process this can be, and I don’t say that in a fearful way.
I am super excited to share my recent experience with ordering my own lab work. I have a pretty clear plan for this pregnancy as far as what labs I want and when I want them, and I have been fortunate enough to have a very good friend and naturopath order my early pregnancy labs for me. I have been intrigued by the websites that claim to let you order your own lab work though, and for my most recent round, I decided to give them a try, especially if I want to order something ASAP, and just to feel that sense of autonomy in my own care.
Sometimes I forget that the idea of doing your own prenatal care isn’t something most people have ever thought about or heard of. Someone asked me about my pregnancy at a dinner party the other day, and another guest asked if “they know what I’m having”. I explained that I’m not having any unwarranted testing or interventions, and that there is no “they” that would know since I’m doing all my own prenatal care. The (very nice) woman was a little baffled, and a friend person told her that I’m “a midwife” (not sure how I feel about that). This seemed to satisfy everyone, since of course I could do my own prenatal care if I am a midwife. I felt really annoyed about the whole exchange, because 1) my supposed expertise made it acceptable for me to be doing my own prenatal care and 2) these women and many others assume that they have no place in doing prenatal care for themselves.
I’ve heard the journey through pregnancy described in so many different ways, so it is really fun to be experiencing it for myself. Most sources talk about months and trimesters, which we of course know is based in sort of arbitrary notions of time. That said, there does seem to be a common rhythm and flow that happens during pregnancy at different mileposts, however you’d like to think of them. I know that holistic birth writers have hypothesized that the stages of pregnancy (loosely defined as happening in 3 nearly equal lengths of time before birth) are similar to all life transitions and rites of passage. The beginning is about excitement, anticipation, growing accustomed to a new identity...
hear from women regularly about their homebirth experiences. And being in the business of rabble rousing and questioning the status quo, many of these women who seek us out are unhappy with the care they received from their midwives, not just OBs. There are plenty of variations on the same theme. Midwives aren’t listening to women anymore. Midwifery care feels just as cold and clinical as OB care, just with a rocking chair and some nice music in the background. The rules and regulations are more important than the mother’s wishes. The midwife says she is hands off, or flexible, but when it comes down to it, she really isn’t, and the mother is left with few options at the end of pregnancy or during the birth – maybe the baby is breech, or she is getting closer to 42 weeks, or doesn’t want to transport but the midwife is unsupportive.