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Posted in Birth Stories, Natural Childbirth, Positive Birth Movement, Pregnancy, Western Birth Practices, Your Questions Answered | Leave a comment

What is an Empowered Birth?

“For me an empowered birth is one where I am the one who makes the decisions for me and my baby. Where I am in an environment of love, support, and respect for the power within my body to successfully birth my baby. Where I can be free to express anything I need to express; sound, movement, fear, love, ecstasy in a place that my expression will not lead to interference from the outside. I believe women have the ability to create an empowering birth experience regardless of if the birth outcome is natural, medicated, or surgical.   When women are making the decisions for their bodies and their babies out of education, faith, belief and confidence in themselves and not out of fear or manipulation they will be empowered.  I believe in the human body, in it’s power, and in birth’s ability to transform a person, woman, wife, and mother.”

Dr. Nancy, Your Birth Coach

If you, too, want an empowered birth – join the community at http://naturalbirthbabyandbeyond.com.

Natural Birth, Baby, and Beyond is an online childbirth empowerment course and online community where you can get all the information and resources you need to create the best birth for you and your baby.

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Humanizing Cesarean Birth

As much as we would like to see Cesarean birth rates decline, there will still be moms and babies who need a Cesarean to make it safely through childbirth.

It is possible to create a more personalized, human, and family centered experience. I hope that this will one day become the norm for Cesarean birth in our society. That can only happen through advocacy and women asking for what it is they want for their births, their bodies, and their babies.

You will notice in this video there is no screen separating mom from the birth so that she can watch her baby emerge. The baby is birthed slowly and passed to the mother for immediate skin on skin. He clamping of the cord is delayed so that the baby can gain as much of its blood black from the placenta and stay oxygenated.

Posted in Caesarean Section, Childbirth Activism, General, Informed Choice, Western Birth Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

W.H.O. States: Caesarean sections should only be performed when medically necessary

“Caesarean section is one of the most common surgeries in the world, with rates continuing to rise, particularly in high- and middle-income countries. Although it can save lives, caesarean section is often performed without medical need, putting women and their babies at-risk of short- and long-term health problems. A new statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) underscores the importance of focusing on the needs of the patient, on a case by case basis, and discourages the practice of aiming for “target rates”.”

“Since 1985, the international healthcare community has considered the “ideal rate” for caesarean sections to be between 10% and 15%. New studies reveal that when caesarean section rates rise towards 10% across a population, the number of maternal and newborn deaths decreases. But when the rate goes above 10%, there is no evidence that mortality rates improve.”

Read more here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/caesarean-sections/en/

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“He’s Only Mean to You Because He Likes You”

There are a list of phrases we grew up with hearing and may be passing on to the next generation that are disempowering our kids.

This meme posted by Hot Moms Club is a great reminder that we need to be conscious of the lessons we are teaching our kids when we dismiss inappropriate behavior.

Actress and birth activist Robin Guy explains, “The point is, telling girls that boys being asses is somehow a compliment to the girl sends the wrong message. A boy being an ass needs to learn to behave better. Girls are asses too sometimes, they also need to learn to behave better.”

What lessons are our girls internalizing when we say to them that it’s OK for boys who like them, to be mean? Are we setting girls up to expect poor treatment from those who are supposed to care about them? What are we telling the boys about appropriate ways to treat a girl they have feelings for?

I understand that it can be hard to communicate our emotions, especially when we are young. Instead of dismissing and condoning it, why not give boys some strategies for better communication?  While we are at it, let’s give girls a framework to speak up for themselves and create boundaries of how they expect to be treating by others.

Jacqueline Adderley adds, “We need to teach our little boys to show affection in other, more direct and appropriate ways.”

Adderley continues with, “I would like to delete the phrases “boys will be boys” and “you X like a girl” from our lexicon. One is a catch-all phrase for bad behaviour and the other, in spite of well-meaning attempts to empower the phrase, is derogatory.”

Just like the above meme, saying phrases like “boys will be boys” is giving boys permission to not be responsible for their behavior. At the same time, we tell girls that they need to accommodate their comfort and possibly safety so the boys can express themselves or be comfortable.

The whole thing about saying to a boy “you throw like a girl” or anything else “like a girl” is insulting girls and making it “lesser than” to be in any way like girls. Girls throw perfectly fine and it should not be an insult to say “you throw like a girl”.

It also tells girls that they are not as good as boys and should strive to be male to be good enough. This is something we are seeing en masse right now as women have been taught to throw away femininity in order to be seen as strong and capable. You can be feminine and perfectly powerful.

The whole thing puts males on a pedestal and females below them.

It’s not about trying to make boys into girls. It’s about treating both sexes with equal respect and each individual with respect. An individuals worth is not determined with how closely they resemble their gender stereotypes or how ungirl like they are.

As guardians of these impressionable, young beings who look to us to be models of how to be mature and respectful members of our community, we need to think about what we are teaching in our day to day interactions with our kids.

We cannot condone certain behavior when they are 8 and expect them to suddenly act differently when they are 13 or 21. The whole point of maturation is to learn how to be a mature being. Those lessons are taught piece by piece along the way, not a sudden flip when you hit the age of majority and become legally responsible for your actions.

Posted in Attachment Parenting, Family Life/ Relationships, General, Natural Living, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dancing Your Way Through Birth

Do you love to dance?

A great way to work through the intensity of labor is to dance. Often that ends up being more of a slow dance, swaying with your arms hanging around your partners neck, but this looks entirely more fun. This would be a great way to distract yourself from the intensity, help move your baby through your pelvis, and have a positive birth.

Did you laugh or dance your way through contractions?

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My Mummy Tummy Journey Week 3 Summary

I have completed week 3 of the MUTU System 12 week program.

This week I started with the first set of intensive exercises. Definitely intense enough to get my heart rate going and break a good sweat.

I missed a couple of days of walking due to rain, rain, and more rain, so I took longer walks for the rest of the week. I suppose I could have walked in the rain but I let myself use it as an excuse. I did make up for it though.

I have had people ask me a few of questions about the system so I will do my best to answer.  The MUTU Website does have a FAQ page if you have more questions.

Are you trying to lose weight?

My mom asked if I am trying to lose weight. The answer is no, I am not trying to lose weight. I am working towards strengthening my core muscles so they can hold in the contents of my abdomen and not let everything just fall out.

What types of exercises do you have to do?

Oziah MUTUI have been asked what kinds of exercises the system uses. MUTU focuses on restorative exercises to restore proper body alignment, reduce intra-abdominal pressure, and improve core strength as a whole. It is NOT a routine of abdominal crunches. In fact, crunches are a no, no if you are looking to restore core strength. Crunches can actually make a weak MUTU boysabdomen worse by increasing intra-abdominal pressure during exertion. It isn’t all about the abs either. Your core muscles are the root of all movement and work together with other muscle systems. Strengthening them means getting these systems connected neurologically as they should be. The exercises involve engaging your core while doing other movements, like using your inner thigh muscles or gluts. It isn’t just the abs working but the legs, butt, back and arms, too.

I do like that what the MUTU system is presenting is in line with the core muscle rehab I learned in chiropractic college. I could have come up with something like this for myself but I simply haven’t due to time and priorities. I like that the MUTU system is packaged in a way that helps take out the planning for me.

What is the time commitment?

Tai MUTU The other question that has come up is how much of a time commitment the program requires. I know we live in a busy world and with kids it just gets busier.  Since I am committed to making this work, I have found the time between family, volunteering, and work to get to my exercises consistently. Each day I am walking about 30 minutes outside with my family and dog and doing a 8.5 minute core strength routine twice a day. Now that I am at the point of doing the more intensive exercises, I also have a 23 minute warm up, exercise, and stretch sequence to do 4 times a week. So that’s about 45 minutes on the days without the intensive workout and 70 minutes on the days with. The kids join in so t is a family affair.

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I have to say that so far I am happy with the MUTU  program. Any will hopefully start to see the physical changes in the upcoming weeks.

My previous posts about using the MUTU System 12 week program:

Tired of Looking Pregnant

Week 1 Summary

Week 2 Summary

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Decision Making in Pregnancy and Parenting: It’s Not Black and White

I recently read this excerpt from Emily Oster’s book, “Expecting Better: Why The Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong — and What You Really Need to Know.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/expecting-better-emily-oster_n_3780541.html

In her book Oster presents the model that she teaches university business students to make informed decisions. It is the model we use when buying a business, house or car, even when choosing a mate and it is the model we should be using when making decisions about our pregnancy, birth, and health and lifestyle decisions for our children.
Pregnancy and childbirth is when parenting starts. This is when parents need to become responsible for informed decision making for the health and well-being of their child. Decision making isn’t black and white. I have always said that we all assess risk differently and we assess benefits differently. We can make different decisions with the same information and both people can be right, for them.

“I try to teach them that making good decisions — in business, and in life — requires two things. First, they need all the information about the decision — they need the right data. Second, they need to think about the right way to weigh the pluses and minuses of the decision (in class we call this costs and benefits) for them personally. The key is that even with the same data, this second part — this weighing of the pluses and minuses — may result in different decisions for different people. Individuals may value the same thing differently.”

Unfortunately, it seems that once a women is pregnant she is deemed incapable of decision making and instead is expected to blindly trust the “experts,” not ask questions, and do as she is told.

Let’s use breech birth as an example. The current practice in many facilities is that if a baby is breech at the end of a pregnancy, then a cesarean section will be scheduled as the mode of delivery, typically by 39 weeks. This is a blanket, one size fits all recommendation, and often no one even considers that the mother may actually want to consider a different choice.

The mother  is often not informed that current evidence suggests that the long term risk to the baby is the same regardless of mode of delivery but the risk to the moms health and life go up with cesarean vs vaginal breech birth. Instead, she is told that cesarean is the way it is done and she has no choice. In reality, she is the only one with decision making authority over her body and she must be the one to decide IF she wants to decide on a cesarean birth.

For proper decision making, she should be informed of the benefits of cesarean birth in the case of breech, the risks of cesarean (physical, mental and emotional both short term and long term) to her and her baby, the benefits of vaginal breech birth, and risks associated with vaginal breech birth,and if she has an alternative options (like trying to turn the breech baby, waiting until labor starts to see if the baby turns on its own, etc).

She then needs to take that data and figure out how that information would impact her and her family. Only she can take those numbers and formulate how they apply to her individually. Because of this she is the ONLY one qualified to make the decision about her birth.

What would a good outcome look like for her? How would she process an unexpected outcome? Does the risk to her outweigh the risk to her baby or the other way around?

Care providers may assess this differently than the woman because they don’t have to live with the long term outcomes. They also add in medico-legal risk (the risk of being sued) into their recommendations so they have a different bias. Some will even factor in their personal financial gain or interprofessional relations if they would have to refer you out to get you a qualified vaginal breech provider or if their facility had policies against supporting a woman’s right to choose her birth.

This isn’t a mathematical equation it is a human one and one that only the human whose life circumstance is at stake is able to make.

We have been told that when it comes to pregnancy, birth,and parenting that self proclaimed ‘experts” are the ones who hold the “right” answers. When someone goes ahead and questions that apparent authority and chooses something different, others mistakenly believe that they must be doing something “wrong.” This isn’t true. They are doing something right, for them, even if that is different than what is right for you.

Lack of understanding the decision making process is part of what has contributed to this idea of the “mommy wars.” If I got this info and I decide X and you got the same info and you decide Y, one of us must be wrong, and since I understand my decision making process, it must be you that is wrong.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Both are right, for them.

Next time you find someone who has chosen to live or parent differently than you, instead of telling them they are doing it wrong, maybe ask them how they came to that decision. Maybe they need access to more information to make an informed decision or maybe it is a well thought out conscious choice that happens to be different than yours.

When dealing with care providers, make it abundantly clear what their role is. They are not there to be dictators over your life. They are paid by you to be consultants from which you gather information so you can make informed decisions.  They also serve as skilled providers to give you the care you decide you want. It is your body and always your choice. This applies beyond pregnancy and birth to your child’s health care. Only you get to choose what is right for your family.

Posted in Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding, Breech Birth, Caesarean Section, Family Life/ Relationships, General, Informed Choice, Newborn Procedures, Parenting, Pregnancy, Vaccines, Western Birth Practices | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Girls Education Less Important Than What They Are Wearing

On August 11, Deanna Wolf  took to Facebook to call out her daughter’s school for shaming the female form and putting boys education above girls.

Huntsville City Schools, I would like to ask a question. What are you teaching our children about their bodies and their minds? My daughter was not allowed to go to class, and was held in ILC for an entire class period because she wore this outfit to school. She would have been held even longer had someone not been able to bring her more “appropriate” clothing. I would like someone to please explain to me how this is justified. Why single a student out, put her in a locked room and inhibit her learning because of one faculty member’s INTERPRETATION of her clothing? It boils down to the claim that girls’ “revealing” clothing is a distraction to male students. That the mere idea of a girl even HAVING a derriere (or, heaven forbid, shoulders) is so scandalous that we must stop everything and hide her away. I am sick to death of the public shaming of the female form. You are telling girls that their bodies are to be hidden, and that boys cannot control their minds if they see the basic female figure. It’s disgusting and it belittles both sexes. Not to mention that this whole situation clearly states that a girl’s education has less importance than a boy’s education, and that her right to said education is secondary to providing a distraction free learning environment for the opposite sex. Your misguided attempt at disciplining my child has only succeeded in giving an example of the skewed gender bias perpetuated by society. The lesson she learned today was NOT that her clothes were inappropriate, but rather that the behavior of the school was inappropriate. It’s asinine things like this which push more and more parents to homeschool their children.”

 

On August 13th mother Stacie Dunn shared a similar experience with her daughter’s school.

“So this is my daughter at school today. I had to come to the school because according to her school principal what she is wearing is out of dress code and inappropriate for school. When I got there I found a group of female students standing in the office due to being out of dress code also. This is ridiculous! WOODFORD County High School and the principle have been enforcing a dress code where as girls can not show even there collar bones because it may distract their male class mates. This is ridiculous! Parents are being called away from their important jobs and students are missing important class time because they are showing their collarbones! Something needs to change! PLEASE SHARE MY POST! Something needs to change!”

Apparently girls collar bones are too sexual for school. Seriously? I don’t know if I own shirts that don’t show my collar bones and I am a professional working in a professional setting.

So disturbing that the adults in schools are looking at girls as sexual objects. I am sure it wasn’t a student that complained she was too sexual for school today. It was an adult who sexualized her body instead of focusing on why she was there, to educate her mind. School administrators can you please stop looking at girls like sex objects.

If boys are truly incapable of learning sitting next to a fully clothed woman, how will they be able to function in the workforce? Are we to expect that men and boys are so incapable of rational thought in the presence of women that we need to extract women from society and hide them away? That is what this school is doing. Or should girls be relegated to the back of the bus or the back of the room because the very sight of them is just too sexual for boys to handle.

Please stop reducing boys to nothing more than a walking penis, not capable of being responsible for their behavior.

Please stop telling girls they are responsible for accommodating boys ability to function in society.

Schools, please remove teachers that are looking at their students as sexual objects. Please remove administrators who are willing to violate a woman’s right to education because of misogynistic views of women and their bodies.

As a society can we just stop sexualizing every aspect of the female body? Soon it will be elbows, then wrist and ankles and women will be forced to wear full burqas in order to get an education.

Woodford County High School Principal Rob Ackers said in response to the dress code concerns, “We had a lot of sexual harassment based on what kids were wearing, and unfortunately, it always comes back to what the girls are wearing.”

This perspective is propagating victim blaming and rape culture.  Girls are not responsible for boy’s behavior, boys are. Let’s teach them that from the get go.

This is what the girls of Woodford County High School have learned from the dress code.

“It sends the message to boys that it’s all girls fault, basically any reaction or action that they do is the girls fault. It wasn’t their fault that they were staring or got distracted, it was the girls fault.”

“It puts the guys before the girls because they say how they want guys to have a distraction free learning zone, not the girls.  They are putting guys before the girls and saying that their education is more important than the girls education.”

“It  says that they can’t control themselves and honestly, if I was a boy I would be really insulted by the dress code.”

“It sends the message that guys are perverts. Because girls have to cover up because the administration believes that the boys can’t control themselves.”

“[The teacher said] boys are hard wired for sex at this age…. they don’t know what’s going on and anything can set them off …boys cannot help what they do …date rape happens….when you dress like that, it’s just going to happen and they can’t control it…It told all the girls… that boys can’t help it.”

“It’s teaching young boys that they’re predators..and that the girls are covering up for me.”

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Stop misogynistic policing of young women’s bodies. Teach young men to respect women for being human beings. Stop feeding the rape culture that blames women and our bodies for rape, and start teach young men that they are responsible for their actions NO MATTER WHAT she is WEARING,” Stacey Jackson-Roberts (comment on Woodford County School’s Facebook page).

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Anti-Rape Underwear: Great idea or making women responsible for rape prevention?

I am not sure how I feel about the idea of anti-rape underwear. On the one hand, women feeling safe and empowered to move through the world without fear of rape is a good thing but at the same time just wearing them comes from fear of being raped.

What do we tell ourselves each time we put on our anti-rape underwear. Aren’t we saying that we are not actually safe and need to be protected by someone, or in this case, some thing else. But then again, maybe women aren’t actually safe in a culture that promotes blurred lines about consent to our youth.

Stopping rape should be the responsibility of the people who are doing the raping. Stopping rape comes from a culture that respects a woman’s body as her own and not a product or object to be used or abused for someone else’s gain. Stopping rape comes from teaching our boys and men that they are not entitled to sex, ever. Entitlement and the expectation that a woman owes them for their efforts is part of the problem. That’s not saying they cannot have sex, they just are not ever entitled to it. Even if she initially said yes, even if he spent money wooing her, he is never entitled to have her follow through with the act. Stopping rape comes from teaching our youth what consent really means; an act of will, not an act out of of coercion, manipulation, or altered states of consciousness.

I think the makers of this product are genius to create a way to actually prevent removing someone else’s underwear but the idea that women need to take measures to prevent themselves from being raped is an indication that we don’t live in a civilized society like we think we do.

Are anti-rape underwear a necessary evil for women to be safe in our society?

What are your thoughts?

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My Mummy Tummy Journey Week 2 Summary

I have now completed 2 full weeks of the 12 week MUTU System to help get my mummy tummy under control.

I have to say week 1 was easier than week 2. In week 1 this was something new, something I had just made a commitment to do, so I was motivated.  In week 2 I just wanted to continue with my habit of not doing anything about my tummy at all.  It just seemed easier.

Despite my desire to complete my day without doing my exercises, I did them.  High five for me :).

My true reason for following through wasn’t because I am so driven to get my tummy back, it was because of accountability.  I knew I was going to report here about my progress so I did my exercises despite wanting to skip them “just this once.” I didn’t want to blog about how I gave in to the habit of not doing. I knew going into this that if I didn’t make this a public thing, I wasn’t likely to follow through.

I am going to suggest if you are going to take on doing something like the MUTU system to get your tummy back (or any other thing that takes commitment like childbirth preparation practices), having a system of accountability is key to help get you through the times where you would rather just do what is easier.

The kids have all joined me in doing my Phase 1 core exercises. Last night I was going to do them in my room while the kids were in my bathtub. As soon as I said I would be doing them, three little naked bodies rushed out to join me.

I have researched which barefoot shoes I am going to order and will be placing an order for them shortly, I am just waiting for my husband to decide on his.

I still need a way to effectively get myself to drink enough water.  I have tried reminder apps but then I just ignore them. If you have any tips, please leave them in the comments below.

Sales-page-image-930px (1)I just printed out the Cheat Sheets for the Exercises.  This will be helpful because I did realize I missed a few things when I was doing them by memory.

Week three is the first week with intensive exercises, I have watched the instruction video and will be getting started on the workout today. Maybe I can get some little people to join me to make it more fun.

There are only two types of habits.  The habit of doing and the habit of not doing.  Once I complete week 3, I will have done 21 days of doing, which is how long it takes to create a new habit.  Cheer me on so I make it to the 21 day landmark.

My previous posts about using the MUTU System 12 week program:
Tired of Looking Pregnant
Week 1 Summary

 

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Breastfeeding is Normal

This week is World Breastfeeding Awareness Week.

Why do we need a “breastfeeding awareness week?” It’s because we have forgotten that around the world, across cultures, since the beginning of time, that breastfeeding is just simply, normal. It has been the biologically normal way for infants and young children to gain nourishment and comfort from their mothers throughout history.

 

In honour of World Breastfeeding Awareness (Normalization)Week, I wanted to share some of the images I have encountered of breastfeeding in art around the world.11429940_10152964308896056_1360407941_n

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I was recently in Portugal visiting family.  I was happy to drive by a roundabout (traffic circle) decorated with a historical depiction of fisherwomen at work. One of the three fisherwomen happened to be nursing her baby while attending to her duties. This wasn’t outlandish, strange or newsworthy, just the normal way women worked back in the day.  No one would have been offended by the exposed breast of the woman in the statue and no one would have accused her of being an exhibitionist, told her to stay home to nurse or cover up.  She would have just nursed her child in the way it worked for her and her family, and that would have been normal.

This statue I walked by in Mexico a few years ago.  Simply a woman gazing at her baby, while at her breast. Children at the breast often take that time to study their mother’s face or gaze into her eyes. This precious opportunity is lost when the baby is hiding under a cover.

Bf statue

These are pieces of art I encountered at the Getty Museum in California.

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“Hope Nourishes Love”

Jean-Jacques Caffieri carved this statue out of marble in 1769.  Love clearly isn’t an infant, definitely closer to toddlerhood, and it was still normal to be nursing.

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The Holy Family with Saints Anne, Catherine of Alexandria, and Mary Magdalene 1560s Il Nosadella

The Getty collection also includes many depictions of the Holy Family, all while nursing uncovered and out in public.

Why are there so many images of toddler Jesus and Mary nursing?  Likely because it is a large part of the relationship between a mother and her nursing child. Also, it is normal for children to nurse frequently throughout the day and Mary likely would often be seen with her breast out, nourishing her infant. Besides what other image better depicts the purity of motherly love.

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The Holy Family ~1507-8 Jan Gossaert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breastfeeding an infant, toddler, or young child is normal. Breastfeeding while going about regular life is normal, whether that be at the grocery store, shopping mall, at work, or socializing at the town square.  Breast tissue will be exposed in order to fulfill the function of feeding children, that is normal, no need to stay home or cover up.

The more women understand that breastfeeding whenever and wherever is functional for them and their family is simply normal, the more other women will be liberated to do the same.

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