Thursday, November 20, 2014

I Have a Flabby Tummy, But I Still Love Maria Kang


Have you heard of Maria Kang? The "No Excuse" mom. Three kids, hard body, bikini pictures, calling us all out on the carpet for our excuses. "What is your excuse," she asks?

Wow, she really (and I mean REALLY) ticks people off. (I have been trying to use big letters less, channeling my inner and more subtle, Elmore Leonard, but in this case, they are appropriately used.)

I write for Mothering Magazine online and I read a post on there the other day about Maria Kang written by someone who obviously didn't adore her. Well, I think she used the "F" word and talked about hitting her. So the author seemed pretty upset...

Maria has upset a lot of people with her "No Excuse Mom" movement. She challenges us to take care of ourselves, exercise, eat right- basically to show ourselves that we love ourselves by caring for our body rather than what many of us do- hurting it. She boldly declares that having children isn't an excuse for not taking care of your body as best you can.

Oh, and she posts a fair amount of bikini clad pictures of herself on her social media sites showing that, yes, you can look great after children even without a trainer a chef or tons of free time.

But I still love her. I don't look like her, I don't really follow her advice. I have a muffin top and like cake and get second helpings on dessert way too often. Still she manages not to offend me. "What is your excuse," kind of...inspires me. What is my excuse? Why would I eat poorly and not exercise and then blame it on my children? Is that fair to me? Is it fair to them?

I follow her page on Facebook and she makes me want to drink more water and try harder and find the time to have fun and practice self care that includes things that make me happier and my life healthier. I love it.

I know those excuses. I have them. I don't have a trainer and it is hard to exercise and usually involves me missing at least an hour of sleep and/or work opportunities. I gave birth four times and gained a grand total of 185 pounds in those pregnancies. I lost most of it. But not all.  If you think having that many kids in six years isn't a freaking awesome excuse for being chubby or tired or a full blown alcoholic, then you are an idiot. I have excuses and I also have legitimate reasons for not being perfect physically or in any other way.

Still, it clears my head and makes me feel better to exercise. It allows me to keep up with my kids and bike with them or run with them. It lets me set an example of not just fitness, but of taking time to appropriately care for myself. It helps me yell less and smile more. Exercise helps me feel better about me.

Maybe that makes me shallow, but I think it just makes me honest. We all feel better about ourselves when we are being the best version of ourselves that we can be. We all feel better about ourselves when we set goals and work towards them, no matter what those goals may be. The best version of myself doesn't look like Maria Kang. First, I am not Asian. Second, I have never owned a bikini. But my best version does include me exercising and eating well.

You know what, even though "my" best version and "my" no excuse life involves a muffin top and stretch marks and my hair in a pony tail, I don't feel intimidated by Maria Kang and HER best. Even when I am at MY best even my version looks nothing like hers.

Having no excuses isn't about looking like a fitness model or being tan and swimsuit ready all year round. It is about taking a hard look at yourself and being honest about what excuses you make that hold you back from being the best you can be. I hear people say they are too stupid or too busy or too old or too whatever to do things that they are perfectly capable of doing. Usually what talks them out of being their best self is fear, but the excuses help make it feel OK.

Then, they get a little mad at Maria or someone like her for shoving in their face that it is possible. This happens with fit women, but it happens with many others. I see women seriously offended when they hear that somebody has...wait for it...a natural birth. Oh, but if you really want to tick people off then have a VBAC. Or a VBAMC! "What? That isn't safe so I didn't do it." It happens with women who achieve in business. "She is really aggressive..." It happens all the time. Maria is just bold enough to throw down the virtual glove and call us on it.

There will be no Hawaiian selfies of me seductively walking out of the ocean in slow motion on this blog or my instagram. But Maria Kang, I will take your challenge and try to live with less excuses.

Bring it.

(By the way, her movement has started free moms groups all over the country. I LOVE that.)

"Lean In"- Feminist Babble or Words of Wisdom?- A Book Review

The company I work for, Birth Boot Camp, recently launched  a doula program. I am not certifying to become a doula with Birth Boot Camp (yet), but I figured it would be good to check out the doula reading list. Amanda Devereux and Maria Pokluda put it together and had some interesting choices. They didn't just include the typical birth support books but added a book specifically about women in business. Titled, "Lean In," and written by Sheryl Sandberg, I had never heard of it, but was curious.

I finally have a "fancy" phone and so I ordered it on Audible. I spent the next week listening to "Lean In," on my walks or whenever I had a chance. I mention that because listening to a book is slightly different than reading it, especially when the voice over is not the author. It gives the author a voice that might not sound exactly how I would have pictured it otherwise.

I have to admit that I didn't care for the first chapter. In fact, I almost just stopped listening because it was really not the way I wanted to spend my free time. It just sounded like all the old complaints I have heard a thousand times about women not getting ahead and about equality and history and sad family stories about how hard life is on women.

There was also a lot of stuff about "bossy" girls and how we shouldn't call girls bossy. As a mom of four kids, one boy and three girls, I can unequivocally say that both boys and girls can be bossy and it is equally annoying no matter the gender. It tend to just call a spade a spade. If somebody is bossy then they are bossy. And there is a difference between bossy and assertive. Assertive isn't annoying and rude, bossy is. Assertive stands up for what they know is right, shows leadership, and takes responsibility and works- all traits I try to promote in all four of my children. I probably call my son bossy far more than my girls (though not often, don't shoot me). Truthfully, I really dislike the "no more bossy" campaign. I also don't believe for a second that it is OK for anybody to be bossy whether they have a pecker or a set of breasts. Gag- just stop it. I didn't even KNOW this was a thing that was just said to girls before the campaign began.

Anyhow, but then I got into the book.

You know what- it was one of the best books I have read in a while. I normally fill my mind with birth books and murder mysteries- real deep stuff. I can't remember the last time I read something that could be dubbed "self-help," but I really enjoyed most of what was said in "Lean In".

I have realized in the last year that I am shockingly a "working mother." I don't know why but I felt somewhat ashamed when I was "just" a housewife and now I feel somewhat ashamed at the work I do for pay, even though it is almost entirely in my own home. (I work from home part time and travel five or six times a year for trainings and other events.) I manage to feel not good enough in all my endeavors despite the overpowering love I have for serving my family and the deep passion I have for the work I do trying to improve birth through education.

Talking about this honestly and openly was something that the author, Sheryl Sandberg, did in "Lean In" that was very eye opening for me. What is up with women, myself included, being so hard on ourselves because we have to make choices in our lives? Obviously if we want or need to work some sacrifices will need to be made in our home. The opposite is also true. Priorities must be made and hard choices will be involved. Why do we feel so bad about it and so guilty no matter what we do?

Her chapters about figuring out how to make this whole "balance" work were so helpful to me. Sheryl Sandberg talked about the realities of life- that things have to give sometimes but that isn't always a bad thing. It helped me schedule myself better with my own work. I have a tendency to never turn it off or set aside my computer or my phone. Because I do work from home it is easy to work all day long at the expense of my children and my husband. My desire to do well at my work sometimes trumps my long vision and what is best for our entire family.

Hearing Sandberg's words helped me organize things better and work more efficiently while making time for my family. It helped me see that if the powerhouse woman helping lead Facebook can focus just on her family over the weekend, then certainly, I can too. This was actually a revelation. My life is literally better now.

Sandberg's talk about "coming to the table" and how women often dismiss themselves from the conversation in an effort to be...demure?!...was eye opening. Her talk about working hard and fighting hard for the best job and the best pay is so incredibly important. This in particular is why I believe the genius women behind Birth Boot Camp DOULA chose this book for every single doula to read.

If you truly understand the WORTH of what you do and refuse to give it away, then you can be a powerhouse in your own business. Women need to start valuing their work no matter where they do it and no matter what they do. I have to admit, the fact that many women lack confidence and the self assurance to expect profit from their labors is a HUGE hindrance for all women. This is especially applicable in the birth world with many birth workers giving away their labors or sorely under valuing them in an effort to serve all women. They do this at the expense of their own families and the value of birth work in general. In fact, there is often spite directed at women who charge and apologizes issued from women who dare charge for their work.

Sandberg's discussion about how women who do achieve are often looked down upon or viewed as bossy or "bit#$y" is sadly so true. We see that a lot in birth work too. I think sometimes people are threatened by someone who seems able to accomplish what they haven't. This tends to explain the "mommy wars" too, doesn't it? Why do we care so much if somebody does something differently than us? Why do we feel like failures if another woman has tighter abs or a cleaner floor or a higher paying job? Why do we then lash out at them rather than just appreciate their time and talents?

There was lots more to the book. I loved and appreciated her focus on real things that we can each personally do to improve our standing and our value. Some of it was more applicable to women seeking to climb the ladder in corporate America than me. I will admit that I didn't agree with every sentiment in the book. Sandburg seems to feel that men are just as capable of staying at home and raising children as women are. And while I have to admit that it would be much more likely that we achieve true equality economically if more men stayed at home or more women worked, I don't view that as an ideal.

I am politically incorrect and incredibly old fashioned in my belief that women are divinely designed to be nurturing mothers and should be providing a lot of care for young children. But you can't really say things like that out loud any more.

Realistically though, she is right. We live in a capitalist society and worth is measured by money, usually money produced. While the work women do in the home is worthwhile, it doesn't directly produce income and so they are of no value in a society that measures value with dollar signs. I wish it was different, but it isn't.

Even if I didn't agree with every single thing stated in, "Lean In" and even if Sandberg and I might vote for different people every now and again, I really loved this book. (And I hope she won't be offended that I disagree with her a little. She seems like the type who can handle it.)

And don't worry guys, I think you are good at stuff too. Women are unique in our ability to grow and nurture children, but you are usually much better at arm wrestling. And that counts for something.

If you are curious about the book, this TED talk from Sheryl Sandberg covers a bit of it. The book is much more in-depth an worth the time, but this will give you the basic idea.

http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders?language=en#t-731698

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

You Always Have Options in Birth- Until You Think You Don't

I believe that women will be the driving force in changing birth and lowering the cesarean section rate. This will come from nowhere else. I also believe that women have options in their births- often options they never realized were there.

And while I can freely admit that there are many things making options in childbirth appear diminished or even non-existent (lack of funds, insurance limitations, doctors orders, proximity, health concerns, etc) that doesn't scare me near as much as another much more common problem.

Women, in general, do not believe that they have options regarding how they birth their child. Sadly, we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to choices in childbirth.

The (empowering) truth is this: there are options when it comes to birthing our baby. Some of them may be unpleasant, some scary, some seemingly out of our reach- but they are there. Those options, however, no matter what they are, become instantly invisible when we ourselves deny that they exist.

I don't know how many times I have heard women say things like this:

"I have to birth at this hospital."
"I can't afford a (insert) doula, midwife, home birth, childbirth class, etc."
"That birth center is too far away from me."
"My insurance doesn't cover it."
"I don't have time for XYZ."
"I am too late in my pregnancy to change care providers."

The list goes on. I get it. These are all legitimate concerns. They are also very limiting when we ourselves believe that they are the only thing possible.

I have also been around long enough to see women travel to different states to have a baby with a care provider who believed they could VBAC. I have seen women scrimp, save, trade, or beg in order to afford a care provider or support person or childbirth class that could help them get the birth they wanted. I have seen them make sacrifices in an effort to get the best possible birth for themselves and their baby.

Making the sacrifices, hiring the midwife, paying the doula, doing the childbirth class, reading the books and all these things don't actually guarantee the outcome you want. But they do guarantee one thing: no matter what happens YOU will know that YOU did all you could for this birth. You can look back and know you did your part.

There is comfort in that and there is power in that. There is great peace in knowing that we did the best we could.

We talk a lot about empowerment in birth circles. I have to admit, it isn't my favorite word. I think it is over and misused far too often. Empowerment however is a very real thing. But empowerment NEVER comes to those who refuse to own their own choices, refuse to make their own sacrifices, and refuse to believe that they actually get to play a role in the choices surrounding their births or their life in general.

You always have options, as long as that baby is in you.

The current obstetric climate can be hostile. We all know this. But it isn't all bad. There are wonderful OBs out there. There are amazing midwives who do great work. There are good hospitals and affordable birth centers and people willing to work with you to help you. You can blame the system, but know this- blaming the system (or complaining or being angry or hurt) DOES NOTHING TO CHANGE IT.

YOU have to try. I am tired, (sick and tired), of women throwing up their hands in submission before they have even begun to fight for their best birth. We are often the limiting factor when it comes to getting the birth we want.

Did you hear that?

Yes, at the risk of offending every woman on the planet I am going to say it again. YOU have choices, but YOU have to make them. They won't be easy but they are yours. Stop listening to your own excuses and start working towards getting what you want. Don't be the person who stops you.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Natural Birth For The Mainstream Mama: A Book Review


There are lots of “mainstream” guides to pregnancy and birth. From the “What to Expect When You Expect Everything to Go Wrong,” series to the beloved, “Girlfriend's Guide to Bad Advice You Could Get at a Baby Shower,” the bookshelves are full of mediocre, fear mongering, prepare for your cesarean, fluff.

But entering from stage left, something a little bit refreshing- “Natural Birth For The Mainstream Mama” by Lauren Rauseo is a new kind of “mainstream” birth book. Full of basic, solid advice on achieving a natural hospital birth without the woo present in many other birth books more directed to the home birth crowd, this is a volume that a regular gal just considering natural birth wouldn’t be afraid to pick up.

Lauren’s style tends towards the sarcastic, which makes a subject that can be sensitive for many (natural birth) seem a lot more approachable and normal for your average gal. (There is a possibility that we are long lost sisters since I have been called the most sarcastic person ever...) The information in "Natural Birth For The Mainstream Mama" is solid and covers the basics needed to start on your journey towards a natural birth. She hammers home the most important points in a way any birth teacher would appreciate.

The book is pretty short, so I think additional reading would be great, but it is an excellent start for anybody interested. Lauren also does a nice job citing her sources so you can check out studies that back up some of the more valuable assertions regarding the evidence based care that many women birthing are looking for. (This is really nice actually because many people are under the impression that anything that involves a needle is safer than the alternative. Lauren manages to get some good sources out there for people to peruse without getting too technical or turning us off.) 

Lauren presents things in a manner that is easy to understand, amusing, and incredibly concise. Each chapter ends with some bullet points letting you know what you most needed to glean from it.

Lauren ends the book with her own birth stories, which I think is a nice touch. Her birth stories aren’t necessarily “ideal”. By that I mean that she doesn’t have a textbook, perfect, natural birth. But she does achieve pain-medication free hospital births even against some pretty stacked odds.

This is a powerful reminder of much of what she has taught: that preparation and education for your natural hospital birth are not just nice, they are absolutely necessary. No matter how much you try things don’t always line up like you dream, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great unmedicated birth in the hospital. And frankly, I love personal touches. Evidence is a fabulous thing, but we learn so much from the experiences of others and it helps us know that we too can accomplish hard things even if everything isn't perfect or as we planned. Women will remember her birth stories and they will give them strength for their own births.

While I do think other preparation is necessary for a natural hospital birth (what can I say, I just wish everything was a big advertisement for Birth Boot Camp classes) this book is a perfect start. Personally, I feel that we need more things like this out there that are accessible to your basic woman just starting to consider a natural birth but who is freaked out by the placenta eating talk so often bantered around. (Not that I see anything wrong with placenta eating. It is actually one of my favorite things. That is why I couldn’t write this book, I am too far gone to crazy town.)

If you know you want a home birth, then you may be happier with something a little more crunchy since Lauren definitely seems to feel more comfortable with hospital birth. But, you know what, that is what the vast majority of women feel comfortable with! And I for one am glad that hospital birthing women now have a great resource at their fingertips with some good info that can realistically help them achieve a fabulous and natural hospital birth.

This book would frankly make a great gift too. It isn't too pricey and it is so easy to read without ever being confrontational or too "out there" that you could hand a copy to a relative or friend without fear of offending them. And what a great conversation starter at a baby shower?!

Check out Lauren Rauseo. You can buy her book HERE, (it is also on Kindle and a super great price) find her on Facebook HERE ,

PS- Lauren DOES mention this blog AND Birth Boot Camp in her book so that is pretty special to me. WOOHOO! BUY THIS BOOK! Maybe for a friend! Seriously, they would like it! 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Better Doulas, Better Births

Amanda Devereux, a successful doula in New Orleans and co-creator of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program.

There is something that happens in the natural birth community that we don't talk about often. It happens among birth workers and it is called burnout.

Burnout happens for two main reasons, both tragic to witness, especially among those once so dedicated to a profession and a work.

The first is financial. It is a fact of life that living takes money. We all have bills to pay, families to feed, and a finite amount of time in which to do it all. It can be hard to make a living teaching birth classes or working as doula or midwife. Few teach a small business class for birth workers so they know how to make it, how to charge for something they might want to give away, and how to turn passion into a sustainable business. Any small business owner can tell you that running a successful and sustainable business is hard in a plethora of ways.

The second reason for burnout among birth workers is simply how difficult it can be to watch birth in the modern obstetric climate. Birth isn't always easy, the hours are sporadic if you attend births, you deal with many people and different types of families and relationships all at an exciting, but often stressful part of life.

How do you handle this without guidance, the ability to decompress, or just somebody to talk to who understands?

I have sat in a room with birth workers more than once and heard a doula say that she can just no longer handle attending births- they are too disturbing for her and she can't keep bringing that home to her family anymore. She also just needs to make a living.
Maria Pokluda, an experienced DFW doula and co-creator of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program.

There is a better way!

The world NEEDS doulas and childbirth educators who are skilled, compassionate, who can pay their bills and who are finding joy and fulfillment in their profession. It is possible to do this. 

I love the words of a doula friend of mine and childbirth educator, Tashina Benning-Witter. She openly talks about making a change in the way she practiced as a doula when she committed to herself that she would require a full length birth class of some type for any of her moms. She also decided to openly tell them that she was a doula for natural births.

She found that when she said this, women embraced it. They were WAITING for someone, just one someone, to believe that they could do it. Suddenly she found herself happier as a doula and (pay attention, this is the important part) her clients were happier too. They were having better birth, breastfeeding, and even parenting experiences because of the high level of service she was able to provide for them.

I hope you aren't tired of me talking about Birth Boot Camp. It is my job, my passion, my way to make birth better from the ground up. I love what we are doing in childbirth education. Childbirth education matters. But it isn't enough. We have always included doulas as an important part of the birth team and a person that we encourage every couple to have on their side. Now we are doing more than encouraging doulas, we are now training them.

Yes, we have just expanded into the doula territory. Maria Pokluda and Amanda Devereaux have created together a doula program beyond any other out there. What does it have?

-It specifically trains doulas in supporting natural birth AND the partner that we value so much at Birth Boot Camp. Of course they can handle any kind of birth that comes their way, but for women who know they want a natural birth, a Birth Boot Camp DOULA

-Our doulas will be mentored by other experienced doulas who can answer their questions and help them through tough times.

-They include a comprehensive marketing training so that the doulas can actually run a business successfully. Plus, they can go back and access this marketing information later when they need it. This marketing info is taught by a marketing specialist (Shannon Blackwell, who has years of experience in small business marketing and who has helped launch Birth Boot Camp as a company.) Our marketing training is uniform for all doulas going through who train with us.

-In-depth lactation training is included in the doula training. (And taught by none other than the incredible Mellanie Sheppard.)

-Childbirth education classes to attend are included in your doula training so you don't have to go finding them on your own.

-All your materials for yourself and your clients are professionally printed, beautiful, and ready to go so you don't have to make photocopies or scrounge up your own paperwork.

The requirements and the work involved in becoming a Birth Boot Camp DOULA are significant, but the benefits are incomprehensible. This program is amazing. I truly believe that the more women we have out there with the knowledge and the skills to help women have empowering, positive birth experiences, the more change we can make.

The cesarean section rate can be lowered. America can have healthier babies and women. We can help make that happen. I truly believe that this starts with us. This however, is a big job and we need TOOLS to make it happen. We need experienced birth workers to blaze a trail and teach us how to make this happen.

Women are ready for change. Women want and deserve to have great births. We can be part of making birth better, healthier, and more beautiful. Birth Boot Camp DOULA is one way we can make this happen.

Join us.

http://birthbootcamp.com/

Monday, August 4, 2014

Your Mom is NOT Your Doula

By David J Laporte

I have been thinking about this post for a long time.I’m not sure if I should write it even now. Talking to women in my birth classes, many plan on having their mother present at their births- or even their mother-in-law. (Do you even need to ask what I think of this?!)


Question is, is this a good idea?
Answer is, it probably depends on a lot of factors. But the truth is, I don’t feel that many people want to honestly answer these questions for fear of offending people. Nor are many willing to re-evaluate this choice in the middle of labor.


Some things you might want to remember:


1. Your mother is not your doula.
No matter how experienced your mom is or isn’t with natural birth, if she isn’t a professional doula or midwife, she does not have all the skills that might be needed to help you in labor. A skilled doula can literally work miracles when it comes to emotional support or position changes for mom and baby.


You may feel that you only want people at your birth who know you and changed your diaper at some point, but that isn’t really a skill set that necessarily translates well in labor. A well chosen midwife or doula who knows what the Gaskin maneuver is or can skillfully apply a double hip squeeze or wrap a rebozo or who knows what the word “uterine catheter” refers to, is priceless. 

Priceless.


2. Your mother has a huge emotional investment in your birth AND your pain.
Let’s say for a moment that your mom is wonderful and you want her at your birth. Let’s say that she is also really experienced in natural birth and is excited for you to have one. This is fabulous!


This doesn’t mean she will feel that way at the birth!


Sometimes the noises and things that a woman does in labor aren’t fun for a loved one to watch. I encourage classes for the significant other for this reason: if dad doesn’t know what to expect, it can be frightening when she is vomiting and is sure she is going to die.


If dad has a great birth class then I think he can hang. But your mom, the woman who changed your diaper and fixed your booboos, she might have a harder time watching you “suffer.” (Hopefully a supported woman in labor doesn’t ever suffer, but it might look that way to a person who wants to “save” you.)


I know that for many people the idea of hiring a “stranger” as a doula sounds crazy. Thing is, sometimes the emotional distance provided by a “stranger” is a good thing, not a negative.


As a mother I certainly want to save my kids from unnecessary pain. If you are planning a natural birth and your mom feels like an epidural or a c-section will save you from suffering, how do you think that will impact your birth?


Be honest. This is an important question.


3. You might change your mind in labor about who you want there.
This goes for lots of people involved in your birth, but especially for family. While your bestfriend/mom/dad/relative/etc might sound like somebody you “need” there when you are pregnant, in labor they might throw off a very negative vibe and maybe you will want them to leave.


It is OK to change your mind and have them leave. (Mom should not have to do the dirty work.) The thing with family is, there is often some serious emotional blowback when you ask them to leave an event as momentous as your birth.


Can they handle this? Can you? For the rest of your life?
~~~
I know that this is a hard subject. I won’t even share my experiences and fun stories with it. There are too many. But don’t think that the people at your birth won’t impact it for the better or worse. Every person there will take a side- either supporting you or hindering you. There is no middle ground in birth. Do you know where your loved ones stand? Can you speak to them truthfully?


Mother-in-law jokes aside (you know those are my favorite kind)- I have heard birth stories where the family in attendance seriously stalled things out and resulted in interventions because of the emotional impact they had on the environment.

Food for thought.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Telling Women They Can't Talk About Their Awesome (or Upsetting) Birth Experience- THIS Needs to Stop

That is me. I am holding in my hand a magazine that I have an article published in. I am so stinking happy that this happened to me. (You probably want to buy a copy now, so it was "Pathways to Family Wellness" issue 41, Spring 2014.) And I have every right to brag about it.

Yes, I have come out of my blogging coma to write a tiny bit of angry tripe aimed at some other blogger. Look at me go!

So another childbirth educator I work with shared this little gem on a private group I am on:
 "Pregnant and new moms who boast on social media: It's time to stop"
If you manage to make it through this annoying piece of "I'm so offended you had a great birth," bit of fun then congrats, you did better than I did.

What is wrong with this article? Well, many things. I have contemplated listing them in alphabetical order or in order of importance, but I am just going to go ahead and start.

1. Finding JOY in other people's JOY is a sign of character. 
Being annoyed when somebody else is happy about something awesome that happened in their life...well, let's just say it is a sign that you don't have character. And yes, we should try to find joy in the happiness of others EVEN IF they are happy about something that has been denied us. That is what we try to do when we try to be good human beings.

Is this always easy? Absolutely not. That doesn't mean we shouldn't make an effort and it certainly doesn't mean we are RIGHT when we are grumpy about every good breastfeeding or birthing experience (or job or graduation or family vacation or any of the other numerous things that people post selfies of on social media).

Being a stick-in-the-mud when something good or triumphant happens for another person doesn't just make us grumpy, it makes us jerks.
This mom is overjoyed at her natural birth. GO HER! (shared with permission.)


2. Keeping our mouths shut because we might offend and injure the precious flower that is the ego of woman is downright stupid AND it takes feminism back to the dark ages.
So, let me get this straight...Women are liberated. They want good jobs. They want to make choices regarding their health care and their reproductive organs. They run companies, countries, homes, and tons of other things. They are smart and strong.

But WAIT! Don't post about your great birth on instagram! You might offend one of these powerful women and then she will cry and hate herself!!! OH NO!! You hurt her FEELINGS!

OK. Give me a break. Seriously. I am a woman I can tell you right now that I am way tougher than this. If I can handle the right to VOTE, then I can handle an instagram selfie of somebody who did something I didn't do.

Get off this RIGHT NOW. Because when you talk like women can't handle it when another woman "brags" then you are acting like we are all idiots who basically don't have the basic ability to survive waking up in the morning.

And we do. For goodness sake, give yourself and all of us more credit than that. This makes me absolutely ill.

3. Claiming that women shouldn't "brag" is ludicrous.
This woman had a VBA3C. Yeah, I think she should brag about it.
https://www.facebook.com/casandrahawkinsphotography

You know, I read another article recently too. It was in the Atlantic and it concerned the "confidence gap" between men and women. The authors claimed (and had some decent data to back themselves up) that women lack confidence in general and tend to NOT pipe up with their abilities, ideas and expertise when they should.

The result? They don't get promotions, they don't move ahead in the business world, and this is one more reason women lag behind men in certain areas. Not lack of ability, but lack of WILLINGNESS to TALK about their ability.

The worst part? Women are just as bad or worse at putting the smack down on confident women.

WHA?!

You know what- I am acquainted with many men. And you know what else, it is not unusual for them to have an inflated sense of self. Why are we OK with this in men and not OK with this in women?

I am just going to go ahead and give women everywhere the go-ahead on this one. You do something that makes you proud? Brag about it. It just might get you promoted.

4. Assuming that because women have pain relief or c-sections means they wanted it means you just don't get it.
Yes, some (many?) women want and like their epidurals or cesareans. That is just fine with me.

But you know what? Many women are not happy with those things in their birth.

I love birth and an interesting thing happens when I talk to women. When I tell them I teach birth classes, they tell me about their birth.

And I listen.

I listen if they had a c-section or an unassisted birth. I listen to what they have to say. Because I love birth and I think women have a DEEP need to talk about their births.

You know what I hear when they talk to somebody who is just sitting there listening?

I hear a lot of pain.

Just the other day I talked to a woman who told me she had needed two cesareans for the births of her children. She told me why. She then expressed sadness over those births.

Her sadness wasn't based on an instagram pic she saw of some celebrity after a home birth. She was sad within herself because SHE (nobody made her feel this way) felt like SHE should be able to give birth naturally.

I didn't impose this feeling on her. I did not PROJECT disappointment in her. Nobody did.

And this is the case for many women.

Yes, some are perfectly at peace with surgical birth, but not all. And this sadness (I believe) is not inflicted by the natural birth community. I mean seriously, almost NOBODY has babies naturally! We are a freak sideshow. Women have an inborn NEED and desire to birth their babies the way women have for generations.

Should they feel broken or like failures because they couldn't? Absolutely not and nobody thinks they should! But women DO feel this way, and when we say they only feel this deep sadness and regret because somebody "made" them feel that way, we both discount the free will and power of women everywhere, we also totally discount their feelings regarding their own birth experience.

Frankly, this makes me ill. Again. This article made me feel ill twice.

5. Assuming that women had cesareans or pain relief because they NEEDED it also makes you a fool.

The author assumes that BECAUSE something happens a lot means it is NECESSARY. Ahem...not so. The fact that something happens a lot just means that it happens a lot.

"So, if the majority of women need intervention or pain relief when giving birth" says she.

Sorry cowboy, not true. Just because something happens doesn't mean it HAD to happen. Do I really need to go further with this one? I mean where the heck does this false logic come into play and gain acceptance?

"Well, people in America drink milk every day THEREFORE people in America MUST NEED to drink milk everyday."

I am getting ready to bang my head against the wall right now. GAH.

There is NOTHING that justifies a c-section rate over 30%. NOTHING. So don't say that again. There is nothing that justifies the claim that all women (or 80% or so) NEED pain relief in labor. Nobody likes pain in labor, but seriously, that never killed anybody. Other stuff in labor, yes. Pain, no.
~~
In conclusion, (I feel like I am writing an essay in the fourth grade. I just said "in conclusion.") can we just stop this? I mean really.

I had four babies naturally. They were great experiences. I have done lots of other things in my life that make me happy or that were goals that I worked for and then accomplished. I breastfed for over six years, I have been published, I finished college, I stayed married for 14 years, etc, etc, etc.

I will admit that I don't put that stuff on twitter or Facebook or whatever. That isn't my style. But I don't begrudge other women for sharing their triumph over something awesome.

When a woman has a natural birth (or any kind of birth!!!!) it is a big deal! Birth is hard work. It hurts. It takes a long time. It is an enormous effort. And we have EVERY right to brag about it and talk about it and share our joy!

Our real friends won't tell us to keep it to ourselves or "stop it". They will celebrate with us because they love us. Those that do otherwise...

Well, thank goodness for the un-friend option.




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