Friday, May 20, 2011
Yesterday I spent an hour telling 141 people who registered for my FEAR to FREEDOM Birth Facilitator Training how much I believe we can change the culture of birth. Did I tell them it would be easy? No. Do I think I've found the secret ingredient? Yes and...
Let me explain. The way I see childbirth today pregnant moms have to play a big part in the shift towards a more mother-centered birth paradigm. We can get upset with OBs and hospitals and insurance companies...and I do think the shift needs to come from these and other forces as well...but the bottom line is that pregnant mothers need to take responsibility for their birth experiences. They need to own it. And right now most are not. Most pregnant moms are sitting in FEAR, big time.
And when you're in fear you are not FREE. Fear and Freedom rarely mix.
On the call yesterday I told the story of a woman named "Carol" in my recent pregnancy tele-course who wanted a natural birth, but also knew that where she lives the hospital is not used to supporting mothers to do it naturally. Carol was not able to be on our weekly live calls for the class because she worked during the day. But through the at-home exercises and through listening to the class recordings at 36 weeks she wrote me this:
” I went to register at the hospital and was really disappointed at the reaction to my desire to have a drug free natural birth even though I knew it wasn’t common at that hospital...(no one has requested the squat bar since they moved into this new facility- which was over a year ago...). I decided to use this experience as a “Body, voice, action” moment. So right there, in the way you taught me, I connected to the current in my body, found my authentic voice, and took some serious action! I officially requested the squat bar, told them I was bringing a doula with me, and walked out there feeling like this birth was MINE…and even if I decide to take drugs when I’m in labor NOBODY is taking my power away. I know I rock!”
This is what fear to freedom means to me. It means getting pregnant women like Carol to take the chains off their hands and legs and own their birth power no matter the outcome. Again, I’m not saying it will be easy - anyone who works in childbirth today knows all the forces that push against pregnant mothers to have empowered birth experiences (and I don't think an empowered birth is only a natural birth) – but what I am saying is that fear and freedom are choices in pregnancy (and in life!).
Let's teach pregnant moms to choose freedom! A pregnant mother always has a choice of her internal power: she can blow out her internal power and be fearful or keep her internal power source lit by choosing freedom. Changing the culture of childbirth is not about getting the perfect birth - it's about teaching pregnant moms how to have an empowered birth experience, which I believe lifts us up as a culture.
The problem is we haven't developed a comprehensive language and method to teach pregnant moms how to move from fear to freedom. I think it's time. That's why my FEAR to FREEDOM Birth Facilitators training combines the three main ingredients I think pregnant moms need to own their births: connection to their BODY, finding their authentic VOICE, and the tools to take ACTION.
My FEAR to FREEDOM Birth Facilitator training program pre-launches June 7. You can register now if you work with pregnant moms and want to receive this training...or if you're a pregnant mom in the fall contact me to find a certified FEAR to FREEDOM Birth Facilitator near you. So far registration is all over the world from Georgia to Dubai!
Friday, May 13, 2011
I love being a mom, writer, and activist but most days I juggle the hats so many times I'm not sure who I am on any given hour. The past two days have been different. I'm in major writer mode. Of course dinner is still being cooked and I continue to answer to the tune of "Mommy!" - but what it does mean is that I have carved out a rare chunk of space to do nothing but write.
The result? A new story in the play BIRTH! I've been wanting to add this story for a while. What better way than to premiere the new story on BOLD's 5th anniversary - this Labor Day weekend! Thanks to this occasion and a gentle push from Maude Poulin, who has now produced BIRTH many times (and will do so again next week!) this week I sat down and wrote it.
I know you're wondering...is it a new character? No. Is it a hospital birth? Yes. A vaginal birth? Yes. A...VBAC? Yes!!!!!
It's the character Sandy's second birth story.
Sandy is such a joy to talk with. A few weeks ago I interviewed her about her second birth, an empowering hospital VBAC with midwives and a doula. I know her birth journey is one mothers need to hear.
As Sandy says, "My story was like a total Phoenix from the ashes type moment of moving from a birth that went so horribly wrong to a birth that went right."
She also says, "People said I was lucky to have a VBAC. I wasn't lucky, I was smart."
I can't wait to premiere Sandy's new story this September and raise awareness about VBACs and the alarming cesarean rate. It's time.
I hope you will go see the play this September! And if it's not in your area be BOLD and consider organizing a performance! For details on how to organize a performance check out the BOLD website.
(photo: me, Sandy and her husband Ralph in 2007 at BOLD Boston's performance!)
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about passion. My boys are now ten and almost twelve, an age where they are no longer saying they want to be a superhero when they grow up. Instead, as I watch them grow, I’m noticing more and more that the way to supporting them – and understanding them - is through their passions. Jacob’s is dance; Aden’s is sports. Now that I have them figured out for this moment, I keep asking myself what’s my passion? I’m answering this question more and more every day.
The day I gave birth to my son Jacob was a pivotal moment in my life and relates deeply to my passion. I can almost taste the day right now: it was humid, 105 degrees, and after the midwives arrived my husband Tim’s bread had finished baking and we sat out on our veranda laughing. I even remember saying, “Well, if the baby comes in an hour this will be a pretty easy birth!”
Well, the baby didn’t come in an hour, it came 12 hours later.
“I can do it!” I shouted late in my labor.
“You can do it!” the midwives and my husband chanted back to me.
It took me two hours to push my son out; two hours to totally empty of my self and fill with my True Nature – my essence.
That is the moment I knew my passion. I want all pregnant mothers to touch this empowered place. I’ve never been hung up on the location of where they get it: I see mothers getting it in hospitals, birth centers, and home. Also, while I think it’s easier to connect with your body and sense that “empty-fullness“ in a drug-free birth, I absolutely think mothers who use drugs can get there too. It’s about being conscious. It’s about consciously connecting with your body, finding your authentic voice, and taking action to have your best birth possible.
This week my passion is coming to full fruition. First there was my play BIRTH, then the BOLD movement and the pregnancy empowerment classes I’ve taught to pregnant moms through My Body Rocks Project, and now I am ready to spread my passion wider…to a training program for doulas and birth workers that I think has the power to shift the cultural mindset on pregnancy and birth.
I am taking my experience as a community organizer with women, my alternative health background, and my knowledge as a playwright of birth through women’s stories straight to Doulas and Birth workers on the front lines of birth today. I’m doing it because it’s my passion, my dream, and my commitment to mothers.
If you'd like to be with me on this next leg of the journey. Or if you just want to eavesdrop on what I'm up to, please register for my preview call where I am going to give listeners the details of my new Doula and Birth Worker Training program. I'll reveal the components, cost, and all the other juicy details and I'd love the share it with you Thursday May 19th at 12:30pm or 8:30pm Eastern time.
Click here to sign up for the call.
And stay tuned to your Facebook and Twitter to receive an announcement when the website launches with more details.
I can’t wait for the birth paradigm-shift party to start!
Saturday, May 07, 2011
A few days ago I heard a birth story that made me pause. Every relative the mother knew was against her decision to give birth at a birth center. Even her husband thought she was nuts. Lucy (not her real name) didn’t let that stop her. Her gut told her to give birth in a birth center. The twist is she never told her family. She went through her nine months of pregnancy, went into labor while her husband was at work, drove herself to the birth center and gave birth. Then she called her husband.
Is this what mothers have to do to get the birth they want?
I wrote the play BIRTH because I want to see every mother’s voice during her pregnancy and birth center stage. It is time that birth be about the mother, that families understand it’s the mother’s body giving birth not the grandmother, father, or any other friend or relative.
Tomorrow is Mothers Day - a day to put mothers center stage. Let’s make every day for pregnant mothers Mothers Day. Let’s honor their :
their TRUE NATURE
…and anything else they ask us to honor.
And let’s support pregnant mothers to stay connected to:
their TRUE NATURE.
…and any other tools they need to have an empowered birth experience.
May I never hear another birth story like Lucy’s.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
BOLD Muskoka and BOLD Hamilton both rocked Ontario, Canada only days apart this Spring, selling out performances and raising over $10,000 for their beneficiaries...Friends of Muskoka Midwives, the Ghislaine Francoeur Fund, the Kendall Pearson Resource Fund and the Women's Centre of Hamilton.
BOLD Muskoka shares:
"What were the highlights? Our Vanessa’s interpretation of “butt pain-writhing like a snake” (she was
amazing!); the end of Natalie’s birth story (I watched as faces went from joy when she felt her baby’s
hair to horror when she got cut); MONTY PYTHON!!! (that scene got lots of applause once it was done);
the way we interpreted Sandy’s birth (picture a football coach-come OB with a southern accent
instructing Sandy to “open yer legs wiiiiider”—hilarious yet so sad); and my personal favourite: seeing a
FULL HOUSE give a standing ovation (weeping included) to a group of amateur actors."
BOLD Hamilton writes:
"One of our amazing panel members (they all were!) was Dr. Phillips Shea who is a family doctor who delivered babies in homes for most of his career and he was able to bring his wife and two family friends (who were both patients of him and he delivered their babies at home). They were all blown away by the characters and how the play has this ability to really let you feel what women are going through when dealing with childbirth in North America."