sábado, 26 de diciembre de 2009

Three last things to say

As the year draws to a close and we focus on drawing the light back I want to say more about what I know right now:

Your birth is yours. Make sure you know that and understand the dark and light side of that. The light side of that is that you are responsible for it, that it is YOUR BIRTH. If your husband wants a cesarean and you want a homebirth, then he can go and have his cesarean. The light side is that you MUST choose wisely and on your own that where you birth is where you will birth the best and that is nonnegotiable. The dark side of that is that your birth is your responsibility. Whatever happens in your birth is your creation. You called it, you created it, you are responsible for it. That includes unexpected outcomes and death as well.

Women need Women. It is absurd to expect men, who have never been with us through the blood mysteries, move into them in the 1970's and know how to behave. It is absurd to retreat in the postpartum into a home occupied only by your husband, a man whose father barely survived by smoking cigarettes outside the labor room when his mother was knocked out for his birth, or maybe learned some Lamaze style labor coaching. It is absurd to expect this man, with all of his well intended heart to help you negotiate your shadow through breastfeeding, meeting yourself as a mother and understanding that you- YES YOU, your body, made and pushed this little baby out. It is absurd that the first and only time that women are at birth is their own birth (as a baby and as a mother) and that we expect women to be able to birth learning through classes and books. It is absurd that women are expected to peel their babies off their dripping breasts at 6 weeks, 6 months or any time, and drop them off in an institution overcrowded with other babies, bacteria and strange young "infant development experts". It is absurd that women are expected to concentrate at work knowing that their baby in day care may be screaming and in nobody's arms. It is absurd that women complain ALL THE TIME about how they don't have time for themselves, for their relationships, for their children, for anything, as they excel as mothers, leaders, goddesses, dominatrix's and more. It is absurd that women break down in Childbirth Education Class saying, "I've never told anyone this but....". Where are the other women??? They are all alone, as well, at home! Can someone please put women together??? PLEASE!

The government needs to get out of our bodies. This means that they need to stop telling us whether or not to do things (birth, mammograms, abortions), how, where, at what age, and under what conditions. It means that they need to listen to us and ask us what we want. It means they need to take us seriously. It means they need to stop assuming that because they think they can control our uterus', they know what's best for it. It means that they need to acknowledge our diversity as women and support the health of that. That means everything- abortions, homebirths, mammograms, maternity leave, equipped neonatal intensive care units... Whatever it takes to keep our mother's healthy and our communities healthy, because our new members are coming in THROUGH our mothers, and our mothers are welcoming them (or not). And how a mother and a community welcomes a new baby has everything to do with how things will go for that child later.

And may 2010 listen to me carefully, me and all other women!!

sábado, 19 de diciembre de 2009

A message for this Winter Solstice

This is the time of darkness, the longest night. This is the darkest place in the year, in your life. This is that transition in labor, where you are somewhere between 7 and 8 centimeters and you are not seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel" yet. You aren't feeling like pushing and you don't feel like you've gotten anywhere in the last few hours. Its quiet, its dark, you are alone. It may feel like it will be this way forever, but it won't. You must call the light in.

You must call the sun back.

We must call the sun back.

As we prepare for the darkest night it is an opportunity for us to retreat within and think about the year. Where do we stand in our greatest darkness? How do we feel right now, right here?

I've had, as usual, an intense year. They always are. I've had moments of the brightest, most brilliant light. And that has been accompanied by the darkest, most bleak dark. This year I witnessed three little ones decide that their brief time with us was enough. This year I witnessed the closest I've ever felt to many beloved people. This year I witnessed several family's throw their anger and fury at me. This year I witnessed my increased ability to understand what I am responsible for and be honest about that. This year I was disillusioned by some people close to me who didn't meet my expectations. This year I was guided to look within myself and release my high expectations of myself.

This has been a year of dark and light.

And as I retreat to the cave of my winter wonderland, I am called to ask myself three questions which apply daily and they apply to any withdrawal or retreat. These are sublime questions that any couple pondering labor should ask themselves, that any woman contemplating motherhood should ask herself. And in the meantime, if you aren't a mother, or if you have been one for a while, this also applies:

1. What image have you, or others created about yourself that keeps you in fear to break?
2. Can you disappoint another to be true to yourself?
3. How responsible do you feel for your own creation?

Thank you for walking with me this year and as the light returns to our world, I hope you are still in it.

martes, 15 de diciembre de 2009

Why Homebirth reduces Carbon Footprint

As the leaders convene in Copenhagen to dice out our future, a homebirth midwife in southern Mexico convenes under the rain- (it never rains in December) to ponder the carbon footprint of her life. Recently someone close to me decided to birth in the hospital and digesting that along with watching the daily updates on the Climate Summit in Copenhagen, I decided to ponder why homebirth is more environmentally sound.

To begin with you go to the hospital IN A CAR. Now, that for starters is a massive carbon footprint. What if you get stuck in traffic? The Carbon footprint of just driving to the hospital is immense.

Next you check in to the hospital, they look for your chart, take you, probably in a wheel chair to a room made of plastics. Plastics? Yup, all kinds that are washed down with very toxic antibiotic chemicals. Then you take off your clothes and put on a robe. A robe made in a factory. More carbon. Then someone will come in and check all your vital signs using more tools and toys made in a factory. Then someone will come and check your dilation. Using a plastic, disposable glove that will go to a landfill and sit there for about 100 years before it disintegrates, maybe. And the plastic glove was made with rubber in a factory in Indonesia and imported, using a boat or a plane to somewhere else where it was distributed by a truck to somewhere else before it finally made it to the hospital. If you are at a teaching hospital 2 or 3 more people will also check your dilation. More rubber gloves in the trash.

Then they will probably set you up with an IV. This means using a rubber (again, from Indonesia) tourniquet, rubber tubing, using rubber gloves, rubber, rubber, rubber. The needles are made of stainless steel that was extracted from the earth somewhere where people are probably lacking food and drinkable water. They will probably set you up to the fetal monitor which is a machine created in China with all kinds of copper and stainless steel tubing and parts, imported from the US and Europe, reassembled into a doppler type machine that is strapped to your body. That strap was probably made in the Phillippeans and taken to China to attach itself to the fetal monitor which was then imported to the US, again like the gloves. More Carbon.

If you are wise at this point you will call your Doula, who will get in her car and drive across the city to meet you at the hospital. Again, she may also get stuck in traffic. In her Birth Bag she will probably carry homeopathic medications made in California (you are in New York), herbs harvested in Colorado, tinctured in New Jersey and purchased in Virginia. She probably carries Ayurvedic Massage Oil imported all the way from India.

The the ritual continues- dilation checks with more rubber gloves every two hours, opinions, consultations, more gloves, more machines, more technology imported from China. By the way, if it is December the entire hospital will need to be heated. Oil from....??? Venezuela (right)

Eventually someone will suggest a series of medications: Epidural made from coca from Bolivia, Pitocin extracted from cows in New Zealand, Prostaglandin gel made from some bizarre sea urchin in the North Sea and antibiotics extracted from the Amazon Rain Forest (hey, you are in a Hospital, who knows what infections you might get!).

If you are lucky enough to push your baby out vaginally, then a Pediatrician will drive (more driving, more traffic) to the hospital to check your baby out. If you end up in a Cesarean like most women (don't kid yourself, despite your birth plan, you aren't that special to the HMO), that involves ridiculous amounts of rubber, stainless steel, vicryl (a plastic used to sew your guts back together), all sterilized with bleach which is then dumped into the sewage which goes into the water systems and bleaches bacteria from our soils.

After all at that your in laws and parents will drive (yet again) to the hospital and eventually you too will drive home. Only to drive to the hospital in a weeks time for your stitches to be removed, baby to be weighed and all those other postpartum rituals.

So think about it, you may eat locally grown produce and bike to your Yoga Class, but your hospital birth may be worth considering. Consider homebirth, for more reasons than you ever thought!

sábado, 12 de diciembre de 2009

The Community of Motherhood

This month what has most struck me is that women are talking about community. They are happy with their care, the one hour prenatals where we pick an issue and talk about it indepth; they like the library where they can browse or borrow a book; they like how their muscles feel after yoga class, but most of all, they LOVE their community.

Through the different spaces offered at Luna Maya- yoga, childbirth education, mother's group, workshops such as infant reflexology and just our physical space, women are talking, talking and talking. And through all that talking comes bonding. And it turns out that pregnant women, even though one may be indigenous and struggling to understand our imposed rituals, another may be mestiza and struggling to understand why a scheduled cesarean might not be the safest choice, and another may be a women's rights advocate who never really considered what might happen when a woman "chooses" motherhood- have a lot in common. Almost everything really.

What I most love to watch is how racial, economic, social and tribal lines that have divided us over centuries start to dissolve as the belly's stretch forward. It turns out that we are all secretly, or vocally, pretty scared of labor pain. It turns out that during pregnancy we all have a day where we feel that no one understands us, not even ourselves. And it turns out that when we sit in circle with other women in that same place, we don't feel as lonely anymore. And we aren't expected to fix it all by ourselves either.

Denying community to pregnancy is denying a basic physiological reality. Until recently babies were always born to a community. There was a tribe waiting on the other side of the woman's skin to welcome the baby in, teach important rituals, pass on tradition and name and honor the child. Nowadays we sometimes are lucky enough to be able to "hire" a doula- a surrogate sister who will walk us through the steps of the postpartum shadow until we know it won't go away and we know it is part of us. Nowadays women are tired and alone and drop their babies off at the day care "community" as quickly as possible. This is absurd. And its not community.

So, I've been thrilled to hear the women lingering, chatting, walking out together to get a coffee, or making plans to walk together. This is community. A community who cares that your baby was born and will hold you through it. Just as we can't expect women to birth alone, we can't expect women to mother alone.

sábado, 5 de diciembre de 2009

It turns out that ACOG supports VBAC


Well, Who knew??? Who would've ever thunk it?? I'm stunned!!!


Get out!!

I can't believe it!!

But they do. Read this:

"In the absence of contraindications, a woman with one previous cesarean delivery with a lower transverse uterine incision is a candidate for VBAC and should be counseled and encouraged to undergo a trial of labor (A: II-2).
A woman who has had two or more previous cesarean deliveries with lower transverse uterine incisions, who has no contraindications, and who wishes to attempt vaginal birth should not be discouraged from doing so (B: II-2)."

I didn't write that, ACOG did.

Now, go out and tell your obstetrician that the American College- HIS (or HER) American College has stated that women with one or two or more previous cesareans who wishes to attempt vaginal birth should be supported, encouraged, accompanied, loved, protected, through it.

And guess who is really good at supporting, encouraging, accompanying, loving, protecting women through spontaneous vaginal births.......