Posts Tagged ‘choices in childbirth’

Attachment Parenting

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

What is Attachment Parenting?

There are a lot of different philosophies out there about how to raise your children.  One of more popular parenting philosophies that’s been publicized in the past few years is attachment parenting.  Many people don’t understand exactly what it is.  Attachment parenting is when the parents try to form a close, special bond with their children.  This strong relationship with their parents is said to help a child develop strong, healthy, secure relationships in the future.

While there are many ways to develop these strong bonds with young children, Attachment Parenting International, a major proponent of this philosophy, has released a list of 8 ideals for attachment parents.  It is important to realize that these are something to strive for, not something most people totally achieve without certain challenges. The ideals they give are:

* Preparation for Childbirth.  This involves educating yourself so you can be an active participant in your pregnancy and delivery.  An active parent should take classes and strive to make important decisions early.  A mother should also try to keep stress on the baby low during pregnancy.

* Emotional Responsiveness.  This is probably the most important philosophy in attachment parenting.  It involves being aware of and fulfilling your child’s emotional needs.  It stresses comforting your baby when they cry instead of letting them “cry it out” on their own.  A parent should develop the ability to interpret and fulfill your child’s needs by spending quality time with them.

* Breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is not only the most nutritious diet possibly for babies; it also promotes bonding between the mother and child through closeness and also hormonal reactions.  Attachment parenting encourages breastfeeding until the mother and the baby are both ready to stop.  It also advocates breastfeeding behaviors even if you’re bottle feeding your baby.

* Baby Wearing.  Wearing your baby in a sling can have many positive benefits.  It allows your child to feel safe and secure, stimulates their neurological development, and helps stabilize their biorhythms.  It also brings a sense of closeness between the wearer and the baby.

* Shared Sleep.  Sleeping in a bed with the parents can make a child feel safe and secure at night because their needs are being met.  If a baby has to cry for a while before a parent arrives, it can shatter their feeling of nighttime security.  With co-sleep, mom is always there to respond to needs immediately.  It also make breastfeeding easier and further strengthens that bond.

* Avoiding long separations from your baby.  Try not to be away from your baby for too long.  This can emotionally damage a child and the bond you have with them.  If long absences are unavoidable, try to find one consistent caregiver who will treat your child as you normally would, ensuring continuity of care.

* Positive discipline.  Attachment parenting stressed forming a strong bond with your child which helps them to trust you.  If they have this trust, you can guide them to make good choices by making them yourselves.  You should keep this trust by trying to understand and empathize with your child’s point of view.

* Balance your family life.  This involves not only being there for your family, but also being there for yourself.  Someone who has a solid support structure and cares for themselves will be better equipped to care for their family as well.

While at times it may be difficult to follow all these ideals, if you strive to reach at least some of them, you will likely have a happy, independent, and well adjusted child. It may not be the easiest or most convenient way of raising children but there is plenty of support out there today for those wishing to increase bonding by parenting in this manner. If you would like support I recommend  seeking out a local Attachment Parenting (AP) group online for support and community.

Birth Control- Does it Really Exist?

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

The answer is yes and no.

I’m not talking about contraception.  I am speaking to the idea that we can control birth. Actually birth itself can’t be controlled. No one has any way of knowing what is going to happen in the birthing time. The birth process is inherently intelligent and when undisturbed takes its own course and happens the way it is meant to. It is only when interference occurs that the process and outcomes are altered and “controlled”.  You’ve heard the saying “nature knows best”, right? What if birth is not meant to be controlled? What if there is something bigger going on ?

If birth is not meant to be controlled, does that mean we give up our power?  No. In fact it’s quite the opposite. The true power is in the surrender. We take charge of and influence the things we can, and let go of the rest.

There are 2 things which you do have control over:

1) How you prepare yourself

2) How you respond to circumstances

So what does that mean?

Just because you don’t control birth doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare your mind and body. In fact, it is essential that you prepare yourself for this unique life-changing event. By preparing mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually you are dramatically increasing your chances of success. You can hope for better health outcomes for yourself and your baby, increased bonding, less fear, more comfortable and shorter labor, more satisfaction with your experience overall, and  more.

When you understand the process, generally know what to expect and feel like an active participant, you can transform your experience. Of course the #1 goal always is to have a healthy baby. Everyone wants that, yet it’s the process, the journey and the experience itself that have the potential to empower a woman to realize her own strength and transform her . Giving birth in full awareness can wake a woman up to how powerful and amazing she is.

In addition to preparing, the other thing you have control over is how you respond. Accepting that many things are out of your control, especially in a hospital setting, can free you from that false perception of control. In any given moment you have a choice. We all do. You can choose your thoughts and beliefs and you can choose your response.  Obviously not easy to consciously choose your reactions, especially while in labor but you can make up your mind before going into labor that you will let go and accept what is and what has to be. I’m not saying just go along with whatever is being done or suggested, definitely not!  I am saying let go of false illusions of control about the way it has to be. Know that if you have done everything in your power to prepare yourself fully and make the best decisions possible, then you will be best served by being with what comes up in the moment and letting go of everything else.

By letting go of the illusion of control and by being flexible enough to adapt to real changes, you are decreasing your chances of postpartum depression, negative feelings about yourself and your experience, including guilt, anger and shame.  Many women have these feelings when they end up giving birth by C-Section or experience other interventions. They feel victimized, traumatized and disillusioned by their birth experience.  No one plans on a C-Section unless of course they plan one, yet 1 in 3 women will give birth by C-Section.  There are plenty of things you can do to avoid an unnecessary C-Section, yet there are times when C-Sections are necessary and beneficial. Knowing the difference and knowing you did everything in your power to avoid an unnecessary C-Section, can be peace of mind if one becomes necessary.

If you prepare your mind and body through education and exploration, consciously choose based on what options are best for you, actively engage in the process, get strong support and then let go of the need to control, you are setting yourself up for the best chances of success. Can disappointment still happen? Sure, but such is life and in the event that it does, you will be better equipped to deal with it.

What are you willing to do to prepare yourself for the trials and tribulations of life? Birth is a great training ground to form new beliefs and gain new tools to use as a parent and for the rest of your life. What will you commit to now in preparing yourself fully and then letting go?

When you set an intention and put it in writing, it is more likely to happen. Let me hold the intention with you. Please share your intentions in the comment section below.

Your Right and Responsibility

Monday, April 4th, 2011

I’ve heard so many people say they do what the doctor says because, ” they are the expert”.  When I first became pregnant I thought that way too. I figured I’d do what everyone else does, listen to the doctor and go to the hospital and have my baby. Thank goodness I was raised in a family who taught me to ask questions.

Through my own process of exploration during my pregnancy I learned a few things. I learned even more when I became a Certified Bradley Teacher and Birth Doula.  One of the most important things I learned that I like to share with my clients and students is to never just accept something because someone says it’s so, even if they are an “expert”. Shoot, don’t even take my word for it. Do your due diligence. Educate yourself, ask questions, get answers and go within.

Here’s the reality. Doctors are trained to practice medicine and do surgery. Obstetricians  are not trained to view birth as a safe and natural experience. If they were trained to see birth as natural and normal, there wouldn’t be much for them to do. They are trained to look for the potential emergency waiting to happen and sometimes they inadvertently cause it through unnecessary intervention. It’s not totally their fault though. Because they practice in medical establishments (hospitals) and administer medical procedures (interventions) they do see many abnormal births and emergencies thus THAT becomes their normal. Because most women give birth in hospitals with doctors, that view has become the norm but is not normal.

Birth is natural, normal and safe. Sure emergencies happen and not all pregnancies and births end happily but life is not perfect. Even the most perfectly designed process like procreation is imperfect. Such is life. While things can go wrong by nature, many more things can go wrong with unnecessary interference.

All interventions pose risks and benefits and it is your job to understand what they are so that you can make an informed choice on your baby’s behalf. Unfortunately, true informed consent, where you are get all the risks and benefits for both sides, just is not happening. Thus the burden falls on you the consumer to ask questions and keep asking until you get the answers you need to feel confident as the responsible party for you own health and that of your baby.

Now I don’t want to sound anti-doctor because I am not. In fact, there are some amazing doctors whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with and get to know over the years.  And what makes these doctors stand out from the rest is their ability to bring a different perspective to the table. They are able to see beyond the limits of the scope of their training and use logic, reason and perhaps even heart, to guide the way they practice medicine. They know when intervention is necessary and when to let nature take its course.  They mostly trust the normal process of birth. They know how to engage their patients as active participants in the process of their own birth experience.  They actually want their patients to be informed and don’t feel threatened when questions are raised.

When you hand over your power to your doctor or other care provider you are buying into the idea that “your birth experience doesn’t matter.” You are giving them the authority to treat your birth experience like they do all the others and not give you the individualized treatment you and your baby deserve. Is that okay with you?

I want you to know that Your birth experience does matter. You and your baby are the only ones who are going to live with it, good or bad, for the rest of your lives. No one else.

I’m not suggesting you become an expert in birth by any means, or not listen to your doctor or others. What I am suggesting is that you own your birth experience by educating yourself, asking questions and getting helpful answers that will support you in making the best decisions possible for you and your baby.

Had I gone along with what I thought I would do in the beginning of my pregnancy, I would have never had my beautiful and empowering home birth experiences. I probably would have never become The Pregnancy Coach, Childbirth Educator and a Doula empowering families in their birthing time, and would not be writing this today.

It’s your birth experience, your body and your baby.  It’s your right and responsibility. Will you own It?