Thursday, April 06, 2006

Sustenance Means Alot of Things...

Well, tonight I will be attending a meeting of women interested in midwifery with my friends/sisters, Mary M. and Lisa C., ...this will be such a wonderful opportunity for me, since I trust that I can make it to midwifery training myself and need to keep my motivation up.

I am going to be 48 this fall. I am not afraid of being too old to do this. I've been tired of feeling isolated for so many years, now, and last year a blessing came to me: the courage to reach out to Lisa and Mary in the work they began together forming Adirondack Council for Birthing Women ( ) . It was every bit of courage I had to reach out to them, but I had to. They filled me in on a conference that was coming to the area last year, and I went- it was my return to the field of Birth.

A year has passed since I met Mary and Lisa at that local conference titled, "Promoting Normal Birth", sponsored by Greater Adirondack Perinatal Network (GAPNet). They are both doulas and childbirth educators, and launching toward their midwifery education/training very soon. I am relatively new to Doula work, but am trained in both birth doula and postpartum doula work, anticipating certification through CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association, ) for Postpartum doula work, in early '07- Am trusting I can complete the work toward birth doula certification later that year or maybe early the next. I have been trained by Penny Simkin, doula trainer for DONA International ( ) a birth doula, but have not had the opportunity to practice that yet, but trust I can do so later this summer, for the first time- nothing solidly planned, just a hunch. This summer I will be refreshing in a DONA International- approved birth doula training held locally, and conducted by another dynamic leader in the field of doula work, Debra Pascali-Bonaro - if you are interested, inquire as recommended at the link.

So after a whole year, working with Mary and Lisa, it feels like an anniversary of sorts. They have believed in me, valued my skills and gifts and talents. They invited me to work with them and now, I am one of them- with presence on the website for the organization they founded together as co-directors : ( )

Since that time I have had my first postpartum doula client, which was a thrill... and currently actively seeking another few for spring, summer and fall. I took winter off this year to complete more reading and writing required to complete the postpartum training which I am doing over a distance. I wish I had been able to afford travel to and attendance at an in-person postpartum doula training, because it would have been much quicker and maybe easier, but I will have done alot more work in the long run and I am fine with that. It feels right to me. I have invested alot of resources of all kinds in it. It's worth it.

So tonight we (Mary, Lisa and I) will go to this meeting- a group of women to the south of us, attended the Midwifery Today Conference last month and brought back lots of info!!! I am so psyched!!! This is sustenance!!!

(The following is my rant and in no way is meant to reflect or speak for either Mary, Lisa, nor represent Adirondack Council for Birthing Women)

For me (a very active political person), birth is political- mothering is political- HIGH POLITICS, in fact! If we birth in peace and raise peaceful people all over this world, there will be peace.

The power to birth is something no one can control...yet (and I am sorry if I offend by saying so...) there seem to be folks who seem to want to control it: where it happens, who is there when it happens, what happens to the baby afterwards- even in situations where nothing goes wrong. Now don't get me wrong- I CERTAINLY want there to be resources: places, ways and means- for the utmost modern medical technology to come to bear when absolutely necessary- heck that is what it is for, right?! Oh yes! I want that to be available for sure- it's only right and fair for all to have those resources available... BUT... they don't have to be manditory for every single woman!

I had two of my three children at home. That's right! And you's not that I was just was that I took charge (with my husband) of my pregnancy, my labor and my birth experiences. I realized there are NO GUARANTEES- that negative outcomes happen in hospitals all the time!

So... I did research, I didn't just trust my caregiver because she knew more than I...I looked into things before I did 'em or before I took her advice, or before I ingested substances meant to support optimum health for both myself and my baby. I questioned everything, because I wanted to have the best chance of success. I think women like me should have the option and access to care and attendants who don't have to practice underground! Home birth will never be completely eliminated and those who attend homebirths will never be stopped- there will be another waiting in line to take over, even if someone is stopped from practicing homebirth attendance.

Again...I do think that women who don't want homebirth, or need and want more structured care, should have that option- but it doesn't have to be the norm for everyone! Women are capable of determining where/how they will birth and with whom in attendance. Some things like the assumption of location of birthing, are just wrong- automatic, routine episiotomy is wrong, pseudo-support of comfort measures while undermining empowerment by encouraging and tempting with epidurals or other analgesics is just wrong. The very high C-section rate in this country is just wrong. The primary roles that the businesses and industries of birthing: Medical technology corporations, Pharmaceutical corporations and the insurance industry- have come to play in the process of birthing is just wrong. Offering and in doing so, in essence marketing free artificial substance for infant feeding to women at such a vulnerable time as just before their milk comes in, in the setting of a hospital where they may feel least powerful and able to resist, often undermining the sincere wish to breastfeed, is wrong.

Women's bodies, by and large are built to birth and feed the baby they've grown. With patience, and with the benefits of good childbirth education, and the service of a doula (long-known statistically to have great benefits and to support empowered and positive outcomes, and a role that's been around since women have been birthing), most women can birth normally, without needing "rescue" by some medical intervention. Most women can also breastfeed their newborns with support and knowledge.

Neither should women, who do choose to birth out of a hospital, be given a hard time if they must transport to a medical facility. Often these women feel punished by the attitudes of staff and doctors- why not just treat these women with respect and get on with compassionate women-centered, baby-friendly care? Anyone?

Let's work to that end...let's support and sustain our power of birthing and of breastfeeding with evidence-based education and care! Let's stand together as activists for the Peace and Power of Women!