It's an hour-long radio broadcast by a couple discussing their planned unassisted home birth. They explain their reasons, preparations, reflections, and spiritual inspiration. They are of the LDS faith (Latter-day Saint, or Mormon), so the broadcast has heavy religious undertones.
I loved it so much that I saved a copy of the broadcast to my computer, and shared it with everyone I know.
Here's my all-time favorite quote from it:
"Would you want doctors? Yes, to set bones. We should want a good surgeon for that, or to cut off a limb. But do you want doctors? For not much of anything else, let me tell you, only the traditions of the people lead them to think so; and here is a growing evil in our midst. It will be so in a little time that not a woman in all Israel will dare to have a baby unless she can have a doctor by her. I will tell you what to do, you ladies, when you find you are going to have an increase, go off into some country where you cannot call for a doctor, and see if you can keep it. I guess you will have it, and I guess it will be all right, too."
A few months back a friend of mine sent me an email with a link to a job posting on Craig's List. My friend is a freelance writer and was looking for jobs when she came across the job listing for pregnancy writers. Familiar with my blog and facebook page, she told me she thought I'd be a good fit for it.
I wasn't sure. I didn't consider myself a writer, or at least good enough that anyone would want to pay me to write. My friend encouraged me to go for it, and after some thought I decided it would be worth it simply because of the subject matter. It's easy to write about pregnancy and birth because I'm so passionate about those topics. I applied for the job on the website listed, provided a sample of my writing, and I was quickly accepted to start training and writing.
It wasn't until I started training that I found out my articles would be published on the Pampers website. It made me excited to think that my content would be on a mainstream website!
The company that hired me and edits my articles is called Skyword, and they've been hired by Pampers to provide original content for the pregnancy portion of their site. Pampers doesn't know anything about me other than what's been published on their site. I've never used Pampers diapers and I don't promote their products. They don't know that I use cloth diapers, and they don't need to know. It's not what I was hired for.
The process is interesting. The company purchases key words that come up often in online search engines. They train their writers to choose key words from an available list and write the articles based on those words. I submit my written articles to the copy editors, and they either approve them for publishing or send them back to me for revisions. It can take a few weeks for an article to make it from key word selection to publishing, even longer if the article has to be revised and resubmitted. I've had a couple of articles that had to be revised more than once.
The tricky thing about the key words is that not all key words are workable to use in an article because the phrasing is awkward. For instance, once the key words “birth breech” became available and I claimed them immediately, hoping I'd be able to write about my breech birth experience. When I tried to work with the words in their exact order, however, it just didn't work for the article. I tried several times to make it work, but ultimately the copy editors rejected the article because of it. I had to let those key words go and hope for something that would give me the chance to tell my story. A couple of months later I claimed the key words “vaginal birth” and I was able to use that as an opportunity to talk about my breech home birth.
You can see it can be tricky for me in getting my messages across. The company wants me to write from a purely first person perspective, using personal experiences to portray a message. I'm to avoid using my articles to instruct people or teach them about something. Pampers has expert writers (like doctors and medical professionals) that handle that sort of thing. It's hard for me sometimes to switch from my instructional/helpful mode that I use so much on here and on my fan page to the much more passive tone I have to use in my articles. I've also been instructed not to write anything that would paint hospitals, doctors, or any other part of the medical community in a potentially bad light. Sometimes just saying that midwives are good makes people think I'm saying doctors are evil, so that can be a fine line to walk.
There have been times I've had to let an article go that I cared about, because I couldn't get it approved by the editors. There have been other times that I've stood my ground and worked with the editors to get a somewhat controversial article to be published. I feel like I'm balancing precariously between the two extremes of my personal choices and viewpoints and what Pampers wants me to portray.
So, why do I do it?
To get my voice heard.
I look at this as an opportunity to get some of my “underground” perspective out onto a mainstream platform. There are expectant parents who read articles on the Pampers website who might not otherwise even think about topics like epidural risks, home birth, exclusive breastfeeding, doulas, birthing methods, natural birth, and more. These are parents who probably wouldn't even stumble across this blog. My hope is that my articles can help plant a seed of thought in people who wouldn't otherwise be aware of some of these topics, and that seed will grow either in them or someone they know into something bigger and more tangible. It may not be now, but perhaps some day someone might mention something to them and they'll say “Oh, I remember reading an article about that...”
My Pampers articles are written on a more basic level than what I write for my blog here. I feel they're appropriate for, perhaps, a less informed audience than those who follow my fan page or read my blog. So I ask you, my readers, to please feel free to share my article links with the people you know. Please pass them along in emails, on social networking sites, or however you feel comfortable. Even if it's something you already understand, maybe someone you know could benefit from the information.
I always wanted to have natural birth - without medication. There was a desire there from before I ever got pregnant. It was stifled when I failed at my first attempt. I felt defeated and incapable of reaching my dream. I couldn't understand how anyone could have an un-medicated birth because it seemed impossible. That's why I scheduled an induction for my second baby. It was my way of taking control of a situation that felt grossly out of control.
My husband teased me. “You can't handle birth without an epidural!” I shot back “You try it and see if you can handle it!” As much as his taunting annoyed me, it spurred me forward. I still wanted a natural birth, but I didn't know how to do it.
Enter my amazing doula. She was a massage therapist who worked with my husband and had a passion for childbirth. She was certifying as a birth doula and offered to support me in labor and birth. I told her the secret I'd been keeping from everyone for years: I wanted a natural birth, but I didn't know how to do it. She was awesome. She gave me advice, answered my questions, and helped me come up with a plan. A tangible approach to what I feared I'd never be able to touch. With her knowledgeable and caring support I had two amazing natural births in the hospital. I felt I could never have done it without my doula.
When my fourth baby was an infant a friend of mine told me she wanted to be a doula. I thought “That's great for you and you'll be awesome at it, but I could never do that”. Then I had a dream. I was supporting a close friend through the birth of twins. I was the only one supporting her and advocating for her. No one else cared or paid any attention to her. I awoke with the dream clear in my mind. Thinking it was a message meant for my friend who had been unsuccessfully trying to conceive, I called her and told her about the dream. She asked “Are you sure the dream isn't for you too?”
I hadn't even considered the possibility! I decided to pray about it, and I poured my soul to the Lord. I asked if it was His will for me to become a doula, and I immediately knew it was right for me. I was stunned. I never thought I'd do that kind of work myself, but I felt as though a flame had been lit and it was pushing me forward. I was thrilled that I would be able do for other women what my doula had done for me!
I got the list of required reading for doulas in training and ordered all the books on the list. I read book after book, inhaling the information. I had an insatiable thirst for all things birth-related; I couldn't get enough.
When I got to the last book on my list I felt full. I was to the point of information saturation and everything I read was all starting to sound the same. I was done with the books, for the time-being. I started blogging about pregnancy and birth because I had all this new-found knowledge and needed an outlet for it; somewhere to share what I was learning where (hopefully) no one would call me crazy for it.
Somewhere along the line I rented and watched The Business of Being Born, and my eyes were opened to the option of home birth. I had no idea that modern day women were safely giving birth at home! Why hadn't anyone told me about this before?! If I could do it in the hospital with medical professionals doing nothing but watching, I could certainly do it at home!
The flame was burning stronger and by the time I became pregnant with baby number five I was serious about planning a home birth. I knew a wonderful midwife and I felt utter peace about moving forward with my plans. I had an amazing surprise breech birth – at home!
Some time before my home birth I'd been introduced to the concept of unassisted birth. It seemed strange and a little bit crazy at first. But so had home birth when I first heard of it, and that had turned out to be so wonderful that I never wanted to turn back to the hospital.
For the past two years I've been mulling unassisted birth over in my head. Occasionally I'd read a UC birth story or write a blog post about it. I “met” more women online who'd had an unassisted birth. Incredible strong women, so self-assured and at peace with themselves. I felt that peace about my home birth, but unassisted birth seemed to take it to a new level. The topic intrigued me and I cautiously considered thinking about an unassisted birth for my next and possibly last baby. I prayed about it and asked that if UC was right for me that my interest in it wouldn't go away, and that I'd feel peace about planning an unassisted birth. I've felt the peace, the same I felt about planning my home birth. It's been incredibly comforting, and I've been encouraged to keep learning more on the subject.
Recently I felt the desire to read come back to me. It felt like a long time since I'd read an actual book about pregnancy or birth. I'd been doing a lot of online research and that had satisfied my needs, until now. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I craved a new book. I already had a mental list of books about birth that I wanted to read but hadn't been able to get copies of yet. I felt frustrated when I thought of the cost involved in ordering them and having them shipped to me. Money I didn't have. I talked with some of my friends about the books they'd read that I hadn't yet, but it still sounded like more of the same material I'd already read. I wanted something new.
Then it came to me: “Born Free”. A dissertation by Dr. Rixa Freeze about unassisted birth. I'd been following Rixa's Stand and Deliver blog for a long time, but I'd never read the dissertation she'd written for her doctorate. It wasn't a physical book I could hold in my hands and read, but it was definitely long enough that I would consider it a book, and it was available to read online for free.
I threw myself into the dissertation, and I've been loving every bit of it. I want to print copies of it for myself and my family. I'm feeling the flame of my passion for birth suddenly grow in leaps and bounds, and it feels again as though I'll burst with excitement over my new-found knowledge. I've been posting bits and pieces on the Mamas and Babies facebook page, and I can't seem to stop thinking about it and smiling.
I apologize to anyone who might get tired of hearing me talk on and on about the same subject, but I can't keep my mouth shut. I feel an urgency to share what I'm learning with anyone who will listen, and even those who would shut their minds to the very concept or call me crazy.
The flame of my passion burns hotter and brighter than ever, and I'm loving every moment.
Here are links to my most recent articles published on the Pampers website. I'm really excited to write about some of these options for a venue where they can be seen by women who might not otherwise consider them.
My Breech Baby Had a Vaginal Birth - This is one of my favorites, because I finally got the chance to write for Pampers about my surprise breech home birth. It brings back such wonderful memories!
Is Natural Childbirth for Me? - I explain some of the reasons women choose natural birth. We're not trying to be martyrs or prove ourselves better than anyone else. It's a matter of personal accomplishment and doing what we feel is best for ourselves and our babies.
I've made no secret of my desire for an unassisted birth. I've posted about it a few times on here and many times on the Mamas and Babies facebook page. While it's an incredibly personal decision for me, I've wanted to be open with the Mamas and Babies following and hopefully help bring a new perspective to other mamas who may be curious about unassisted birth.
I'd like to explore some of my thoughts about unassisted birth, and how I've come to consider it.
I first heard about unassisted childbirth about two years ago when I was pregnant and planning my first home birth. Kasie shared her beautiful unassisted birth story, and I was deeply inspired by her experience. I thought she was an incredible woman and I admired her for following her gut and doing what she felt was best for her and her baby. I also thought that I probably wouldn't ever have an unassisted birth. My impression was that it was something women chose only if they didn't have access to good midwifery care for home birth. I had access to wonderful midwives and didn't see any reason I would choose to not take advantage of that.
As time went on I heard about other women giving birth unassisted and I started learning more about it. I realized that some women felt drawn to it and chose it even if they had other options available. It wasn't only for the woman who wanted a VBAC and couldn't find anyone who would support her, so she turned to birthing alone. It was something women were pulled to by some unseen force.
I found it interesting that the women I met who supported unassisted birth were not advocating for it. Each one said they wouldn't specifically recommend it to anyone, but it should be an individual choice. It seemed as though it was regarded as a calling of sorts rather than something to aspire to.
I had no aspirations of unassisted birth. I thought it would be really amazing to experience, and that it would make a nice next step in the progression of my birth journey I'd found myself on. However, it was definitely not a decision to be made quickly or lightly. To plan birth without the support of a trained care provider was, in my opinion, a very serious matter.
On the Mamas and Babies facebook page I sometimes found myself suggesting unassisted birth to women in certain situations, with a strong caution that the woman seriously consider all options and make the decision she felt was best for her and her baby.
I'd always believed I could handle anything in birth as long as I had the right support people. In the hospital that was my husband and my doula. For my home birth it was my husband and the midwives. I even had a moment during my home birth when I panicked as a contraction started and I realized I was alone. It was the worst and most painful part of my labor because I was scared and it made everything hurt worse. As I've reflected on that experience I've realized that I'd been depending on a false belief that I had to have certain people there to support me during birth. I've since realized that I'm capable and strong enough to birth even alone if need be.
I've had this feeling nagging at the back of my mind ever since I first read Kasie's story, and it's gotten stronger over time. I'm being drawn to unassisted birth. It's not something I chose; I feel I was chosen for it. I feel it's part of my personal journey.
When I was pregnant with my second miscarriage I had a strong desire to be left alone. I didn't even want to tell my midwife I was pregnant, and I didn't want to have any prenatal care until the second trimester when I'd be able to hear a heart beat and know that all was well. I wanted to labor and give birth alone, without anyone there but my family. I knew part of it was the fact that I'd only recently gone through my first miscarriage and I was terrified of going through that again. I was also depressed and I attributed my desire to isolate myself to the depression, but an interesting thing happened. After the miscarriage I was able to pull out of the depression and feel like myself again, but the desire for unassisted birth has stayed, steady and strong.
I've prayed about it for several months now. I've asked that if it's the best thing for me to plan for an unassisted birth with my next pregnancy then the desire would stay and I would feel peaceful about it, and if it wasn't best the desire would leave or I would feel uneasy. The desire is stronger than ever and I feel extreme peace about it. It's the same peace I felt when I decided to plan a home birth for my fifth baby.
I know from experience how important it is to follow my feelings. I didn't know when I planned a home birth that my baby would end up being breech. Being at home saved me from an unnecessary c-section. I couldn't have known that would happen, but I'm so glad I followed my heart and did what I knew was best. I have the same feeling about unassisted birth.
I don't know why, or what will happen. All I know is that this is what I feel I need to do. Maybe after the birth I'll be able to pinpoint a reason and say “That's why I needed to do this unassisted”, or maybe it will just be a beautiful empowering part of my journey. I know that I have things to learn still, and I feel that unassisted birth will teach me some of the things I need to learn. I'm not being presumptuous about this. It's not something I aspire to as an experience to check off some list of things I want to do. It's something I feel, deep inside my soul, I need to do.
There's a very spiritual aspect to this that I must mention. It's a key part of my decision, and I would be neglectful not to express it. I feel that embracing and planning an unassisted birth is part of my growing relationship with God. By letting go of the trust I placed in my doctors and midwives in the past and placing that trust instead in God, I'm growing. I'm learning to have more faith not only in myself, but in my Father in Heaven who loves me and wants me to be happy. I know that He is guiding me to choose this, and that He will guide me through my unassisted pregnancy and birth just as He did through my previous pregnancies and births. This is the next step, and I'm looking forward to it!
It's because of the resounding peace I feel, that I'm not worried. I realize that I can't possibly prepare myself fully for every possibility in labor and birth, but I'm OK with that. I'll prepare myself the best I can, but I'm not going to worry about the things that are out of my control. I have God for that.
I still don't know specifically what I'll do. I feel comfortable doing my own prenatal care, but I'm not sure if I will. I feel just as comfortable giving birth at home without the support of my midwife, but I'm not sure who else I will want to have there. For the first time since my first baby's birth I want to have my mother and my sister at my baby's birth. That's a big step for me, and I've already started talking with them both about my feelings and my plans because I want them to be ready to support me through labor and birth if that's what I feel I need. They're both cautiously supportive, and I know they're uncomfortable about the very concept unassisted birth. It will probably take some time and more prayers to get to the point of having their full support, but I feel good about it.
It's funny that I'm planning this when I'm not even pregnant yet. The timing is very interesting. I don't know if I would have been prepared to do this if either my first or second miscarriage had remained a viable pregnancy. Somehow, I think this is all connected and I definitely feel there is a higher purpose to everything I experience. I'm grateful to know that, and I'm so glad that my life is being guided by an omnipotent being rather than the imperfect person I am.
I particularly like all the photos. I often hear about different birth positions, but it's really nice to have pictures of them all in one place to get a better idea of how it works.
With all four of my hospital births I was in the lithotomy position, but with my home birth I assumed a classic, semi-sitting position without being coached by anyone. I also found it felt right to stretch my body out as I pushed, rather than scrunching up like many doctors and midwives have women do in the hospital. I feel it's important for women to choose their own birthing positions based on what feels best for their body. As long as mom isn't affected by medications and listens to her instincts she will be able to find the best position for her.
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth, Empty the dustpan, poison the moth, Hang out the washing and butter the bread, Sew on a button and make up a bed. Where is the mother whose house is so shocking? She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking. Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo). Dishes are waiting and bills are past due (Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo). The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo. Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue? (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo). The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow, For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow. So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
Instructions: It's a good idea not to lose your menstrual cup instructions before reading them. I had opened the package to check out the cup and somehow lost the instructions by the time I was ready to use it. I decided to wing it, assuming that I'd already learned enough in my online reading about it.
Support: It's also a good to have friends to turn to if you have questions, especially if you happen to lose your instructions. Online groups are great, but I happen to have some family members who use the same cup I have, so I was able to call someone if I had any questions, of which I had a few.
I had NO LEAKING the entire time I used the cup. I had been cautioned to use pads the first few days or so just in case, but I didn't need them. I was very impressed, especially because even tampons leak when they get full.
Frequency: I only checked my cup every 12 hours, morning and night, except once in the middle of the day when I noticed a little pink tinge when I wiped after using the toilet. I checked the cup at that time and found it was half full, so I dumped it, rinsed it, and put it back in.
Insertion was easy for me. I used the C-fold recommended in the instructions (but I had actually read about this online prior to ordering my cup), and that fold worked really well for me. I tried the 7-fold and punch-down fold but couldn't get the cup to unfold properly after inserted, so I went back to the C-fold.
Removal was tricky. I had been cautioned to make sure I broke the seal before removing, so I thought I'd have to get my finger against the rim and break it there. After asking my sister about this, she told me all I had to do was squeeze the cup and twist slightly, and that worked MUCH better. It doesn't really leak during removal, but most of the time I removed it while sitting on the toilet. Once I took it out in the shower, and simply squatted. It helps to bear down when I want to take it out, which leads to my next point.
Sphincter muscles are amazing! Whenever I laughed, sneezed, coughed, passed gas, used the toilet, or got in certain positions, etc. I could feel the cup slide out ever so slightly, and sometimes more so. The same thing happens with tampons, only because the cup was sealed inside I didn't have to worry about it falling out like a tampon might. The cup always slid back into place afterward. After the first two days I got used to it and didn't notice the movement anymore.
Comfort: The first time I had the cup in I could feel the stem rubbing against my private parts, and it was uncomfortable. I suspected I didn't have it in deep enough, so I readjusted it. At first I thought I might have to trim the stem for a more comfortable fit, but as I got better at inserting the cup it wasn't a problem anymore. By the time my period was ending I didn't even feel the cup.
Cleaning: I boiled the cup before the first use, and each time I removed and emptied it I rinsed it in the bathroom sink before putting it back in. I always checked it in my bathroom at home, which was easy because I only checked it twice a day. I always washed my hands well before removing it.
Leaves no trace! This is my favorite part. There was nothing to throw in the trash can. I always dumped the menses directly into the toilet before rinsing the cup. I also noticed there was no annoying smell. Disposable tampons and pads always have a paper/chemical smell that's distinctive. The only smell was the menses itself, which surprisingly was not offensive to me. There was nothing in the bathroom to indicate I was on my period, and nothing sitting in the trash can making the bathroom stink. My husband didn't even know I was menstruating until I told him, and he's usually the first one to notice.
Overall I'm very happy with my menstrual cup. The first few days were all about figuring it out, but once I got a feel for it I realized it's very simple and easy. I can now see why so many women recommend them, and I plan to use mine for as long as it will last. Goodbye to disposable menstrual products!