Thursday, June 24, 2010

Baby Mammals

Our chapter leader Amy has long wished to write a blog post about the Pittsburgh Zoo, and I don't want to steal her thunder. But I just read something interesting in my Zoo Insider that made me think about the way our society regards birth and the postpartum period.

There's a little article in the Insider about how one of the sea lions is pregnant. The article says sea lions have about 15% infant mortality and that a huge factor in survival is the mother/baby bond. It emphasizes how crucial it is for moms to accept their pups and begin nursing right away.

When I think back to the way my birth experience affected the early days of my mothering experience, I shudder. I had such a difficult time bonding with my baby, mostly because I was wigged out of my mind on drugs for several weeks, but also because I was in a bad way emotionally. The fact that I didn't even get to lay eyes upon my baby right away meant we instantly got off to a delayed start for our bonding process. But, because of various medical complications from my birth, it was literally weeks until I even looked at my son without painkillers and steroids affecting my vision.

I just feel like it's a little backwards when we totally emphasize the mother/baby bond for zoo mammals and write newsletters about its importance, but yet deliver 33% of our human babies in such a way that breastfeeding and bonding is compromised. What sort of difference might it make if OBs and regular old American families got newsletters about mother/infant bonding, urging everyone to root for new human moms and their babies in this way?

Of course I am rooting for Maggie and her new baby to have a great experience. I also want society at large to know that birth matters and that mothers' experiences are really, really important for getting our human families off to a strong start.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

An ICAN friend leant me a copy of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. I am about halfway through reading it and find it a very emotional process.

The first half of the book consists of beautiful birth stories. There are 130 pages of women describing their natural births. I finish each story in tears, either because the story was so beautiful or because I learned something about my own body or birth that makes me feel...well, just really eager to try again.

Of particular interest to me were the VBAC stories in the collection. I felt like the mothers in this book did a fantastic job of verbalizing my own thoughts and feelings about birth and I really felt like I rejoiced with them when they placed their own newborn babies on their stomachs or started nursing right away.

I am just a few pages into the second section of the book, where Ina May discusses the birth process and what I assume will be her guidance through a beautiful labor. She has a lot to say about fear and its affect on the cervix. I find myself wondering (well, who am I kidding! Fixating!) whether my anxieties about motherhood and my fear of medical interventions lead to the chain of events resulting in my c-section.

I feel like if Ina May had been in that LDR room, she would have told me first to blow raspberries and make out with Corey during contracts, then to verbally tell my body to open, and then she would have made me feel like 18 hours is still a "normal" time for a cervix to open up. Yes. Even 18 hours.

One thing I feel certain of is that this book is a fantastic read for any birth junkie and probably should be essential reading for pregnant women. I'm so glad Emily let me borrow it!

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I haven't written in awhile. Yes, I have been busy with work, but mostly I've been afraid. Somewhere on facebook, I saw a discussion about (of course!) birth and one mother mentioned something frightening about her c-section. This mother had been convinced by her OB that she was in an emergent, dangerous situation and needed what she believed was an emergency cesarean. Later, this mother reviewed her medical records and saw the word "elective" instead of emergency.

I haven't been able to sleep since. I am so terrified to even request my records. What if mine reflect the same thing? When I've tried to talk to some friends about this, they typically say, "What's the difference?" How do I begin to explain the wide, wide world of difference there?

The fear that my surgery was an unneccessarian has been clouding my ability to think. I am trying to summon up the courage to call Magee and snag a copy of my medical record. I don't think I can read it alone. I think it's important to know, though, what it says about me, right? Why should I let someone else tell my story without my input or knowledge? But what can I do if I disagree with the story it tells?