I am thrilled to be posting here today at Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources!
My name is Kelly – I blog at Becoming Crunchy, where I talk about the changes my family has been making toward living more sustainably and healthfully as inspired by the birth of our daughter.
I also talk a lot about what being a ‘natural, attachment parent’ means to me, along with childbirth, menu planning & recipes, sharing other blogs I love and just about whatever else strikes my fancy to write on.
In wishing Happy Birthday to Little Hearts and thinking about what I might contribute to her Wishes Week, I must say it was fairly easy to come up with my wish:
I wish that all moms could have all the informed, loving support and care they need during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
This is something I have become particularly passionate about since giving birth to my daughter in August, 2010.
I was incredibly fortunate to have midwifery care during my pregnancy and postpartum experience (an obstetrician presided over the actual birth in hospital), as well as to have my baby in Canada – which for an American like me is kind of like reaching the Holy Grail (a year of mat leave and free midwifery care? Sign me up!).
All the same, I believe my experience – and the experience of many, many moms – could be better, and I’ve made it my goal since to educate and inform myself along with figuring out how I could actually contribute to helping moms have the best experience possible when it comes to this crazy, vulnerable, incredibly amazing time that is creating and birthing a child.
If there are 5 things I could wish for that all moms could know or have access to, they would be:
1. The Understanding That Pregnancy And Birth Are Not An Illness – Nor Are They Things To Be Feared
The number one question on my mind during my pregnancy was, I think, a common one: What if something goes wrong?
I wasn’t too far out in left field for thinking this either – I had already experienced a miscarriage with my first pregnancy, and that fear was something that didn’t leave me until the day my daughter arrived.
What I wish is that it didn’t have to be that way.
I will never claim that pregnancy and birth are all puppy dogs and roses – things can, and do, go wrong. But I have come to believe that this is the case with the minority – not the majority – and we have been wrong in treating almost every pregnancy as a medical event that must be presided over by specialists.
I believe this understanding could cause a revolution in the way birth is ‘done’ – particularly in the Western world – that would create better birth experiences for moms and babies everywhere, even allowing better care for those who do need the specialized care that obstetricians can offer.
It could also do something else that would be amazing – help women to see the incredible power and ability we have when it comes to something that is unique to us alone – birthing and nursing a child.
2. The Ability To Make Informed Decisions
I am a huge fan of total, open availability of information – particularly when it comes down to what is happening to my own body!
No mom should be told what to do or have to make a decision without having access to all possible options and information. Moms should always be able to trust that their care providers are giving them total, honest information – and that includes moms of every ethnicity and any financial status.
3. Choice Of Care Provider, Including Midwifery Care
Many moms choose to have obstetric care and that is fine – I believe whatever works best and feels best for you is what you should do.
But there are also many moms who would love to have midwifery care but cannot – either because it is not available or they cannot afford it.
There are also many moms who may not even be aware that midwifery care is an option!
I believe that for the majority of pregnancies and births (usually labeled as ‘low risk’), midwifery care is ideal – I would love to see every mom who wants a midwife be able to have one.
4. Choice Of Where To Give Birth
Homebirthing is on the rise, but many who want to give birth at home are unable to do so due to lack of care providers or even legality – in many places it is against the law to give birth at home.
I would also like to see more choice in which hospital a mom could go to (if she chooses to give birth in hospital) as well as more birth centers (kind of a middle step between home and hospital) available – I believe this would both discourage unnecessary interventions and allow for more normalization of birth.
5. Access To A Doula And Other Key Support
This is HUGE!
So many women – again, particularly in Western society, are expected (or even expect themselves) to do the whole thing – pregnancy, birth, postpartum – almost entirely alone.
It is in part due to this fact that the US ranks behind at least 40 other nations in maternal mortality rates according to the World Health Organization.
I believe this is also a factor in women experiencing unwanted interventions during pregnancy and birth, and struggling more than may be necessary with breastfeeding and other factors postpartum.
I know I personally struggled in lack of support during labor and postpartum – my mom and husband were there the entire labor and both were amazing, but I do think having a trained doula there would have been ideal, particularly in avoiding unwanted interventions. In fact, my midwife did save me from getting an episiotomy – if she had not been there looking over the OB’s shoulder I would have had that totally un-wanted intervention for sure!.
I was also unable to be successful in my breastfeeding experience, and I believe a doula and other support options would have made a lot of difference – I know I definitely plan on setting up a dedicated support team for all these reasons next time around!
I would love it if all women had knowledge of and access to such support – no matter their financial situation, ethnicity or even body type.
As to how I’m involving myself in helping to bring about these changes…
#1 right now is my blog and social media interaction – I contribute to sharing information to help make other moms aware of their choices, options and even what they might experience.
I’m also studying to become a DONA certified doula, and hope eventually to become a midwife.
There is no greater life work that I can imagine than helping support moms (and whole families really) during the time of pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
My wishes in this area are not unique – I know many others have the same desires and are working to make these changes happen. They are also not out of the realm of possibility – and it is truly my wish that all moms will be able to have all 5 things on that list sooner than later.
Do you believe this ‘wish list’ is necessary in our world today? If you could add to this list, what would you wish?
Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.