Save the Date! March 24th, 2012 the 12th Annual Family Centered Maternity Care Conference will be at the Doubletree Hotel in Monroeville. Featuring renowned homebirth midwife, Tonya Brooks of The Natural Birth and Women’s Center in southern California. She has caught over 5000 babies, and has devoted her career to making homebirth a safe option for mothers and babies, as well as researching risks and benefits of modern obstetric practice. It should be an amazing, and informative conference.
Archive for the ‘Doula to Doula’ Category
Yesterday I joined some friends in the birthing community in learning techniques for spinning babies from Gail Tulley. We were shown many techniques to help a pregnant mom get her baby into an optimal position for birth. One of my favorites was the forward leaning inversion. Gail said, one inversion a day for 30 seconds each, is good for the round ligaments and helping position the baby.
After the mother inverts herself, she gently crawls down and then sits up fairly quickly. This helps her balance the round ligaments holding her uterus in place. If her uterus is in balance, her baby will find the optimal position for his birth! It was a fascinating class. I’m going to practice these elements so that I can offer them to the mothers that I help with birth.
The mother is the sunshine of her home. When she cries, the clouds appear on her family’s horizon. Yet, she who steps on her misery, stands higher. (This is a paraphrase from the German poet Friedrich Holderlin.) What causes a mother to cry the most? She worries about her children. If her children are fine, she worries about the suffering of other mothers. That is the point of the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. It is not just your own children who are the future, it is everyone in your community’s children. We need to support those mothers who are struggling in their families. That is one of the things that doulas do. We also point out where help may be needed, so that other friends and family of a struggling mom can bring help. What is help? Maybe it is a listening ear. Maybe it is joining in with prayers. Maybe a hot meal for her family. Sometimes, the deepest worries can be lessened by a helpful community of mothers who care.
In the news, two of Norway’s prime minister’s male cabinet members are on paternity leave. The Reuters article then goes on to let us know that in Norway both parents get an automatic two weeks off after a birth. Then they are offered a combined 46 weeks of fully paid leave or 56 weeks at 80 percent of their normal pay.
Ten weeks are reserved for the father and are lost if he remains on the job (So, the other 36 of 46 weeks are for the mother. These can be taken concurrently with the father’s leave, or divided up between the 2 of them). Many fathers take more for themselves as their wives head back to work.
Later this year the maximum leave in Norway will expand to 57 weeks, with 12 weeks to the father, and the government intends to expand the father quota to 14 weeks later.
What do U.S. parents get? According to the Wikipedia article on parental leave, we provide no paid leave at all for mothers or fathers, but parents can have 12 weeks of unpaid leave. “The United States is the only Western country that does not mandate paid parental leave, although the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 mandates unpaid parental leave for the majority of American workers.” This also puts us behind almost all of the countries in the world, including Trinidad and Tobago where moms get 13 weeks paid leave. In Guatemala, the mother gets 84 paid days leave and the dad gets two paid days off for the birth of his child.
So here I am screaming, “Why should we be so far behind in this“? We are better off economically than Guatemala and they can afford it. Therefore, we should be able to!
We need to step it up, for mothers, fathers and baby’s sakes!
Now I want to talk to you about the “A” word. There are few words in the childbirth arena that are as loaded with negative connotations as the “A” word. I am talking about abortion. For women who are trying to have children, abortion is usually the last word on their minds. But miscarriages occur.
If a woman loses a pregnancy or baby before approximately the 22nd week of gestation, it is a miscarriage. Women who were celebrating this pregnancy and longing to hold a baby mourn this loss. Sometimes they mourn publicly. Often they mourn silently. Still more often they mourn with no one to really support them. Their midwife’s job is done when the womb is empty. But their doulas’ job is not done. Here is a grieving woman who needs support and empathy.
However, why do we use the “A” word with this woman? Our society is strongly divided (almost to the point of civil war) over whether women should be allowed to have an abortion if they wish one. But that is not the case here. Here we have a woman who wanted a baby and whose heart is torn asunder. Why is her midwife or doctor using the “A” word with her? Why is she hearing that her abortion is now complete? Medically, a spontaneous abortion = miscarriage. Emotionally, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When a woman is beginning the mourning process for the loss of the child she had longed for, please let’s not use the “A” word with her. Miscarriage is tearful enough. Abortion in this context is hurtful.