Tuesday Tidbits: Birthing Bodies

These Tuesday Tidbits all come from the Fall 2012 Pathways magazine. Pathways is a fabulous publication and the best replacement for Mothering magazine that I’ve found!
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…I get that some women want a particular experience of birth—I mean, I really get it now that I have had a birth that left me feeling more powerful, more humble, more focused, and more devoted to my lover than I ever thought I could feel.

But I wish American women were told the truth about birth—the truth about their bodies, their abilities, and the dangers of technology. Mostly I wish all pregnant women could hear what Libby Bogdan-Lovis, my doula, told me: ‘Birthing a baby requires the same relinquishing of control as does sex–abandoning oneself to the overwhelming sensation and doing so in a protective and supportive environment’…

–Alice Dreger in The Hard Science Supporting Low-Tech Birth

Next, in connection to my own series of posts on taking it to the body, I enjoyed Karen Brody’s article, My Body Rocks, in which she describes her experiences in a yoga nidra class, noting that when asked in class to let her intention come from her body, her reaction was:

My body? I was ashamed to admit that, after two powerful homebirth experiences, I no longer felt intimately connected to my body. Pregnancy and giving birth were all about every little feeling in my body; mothering felt like a marathon of meeting everyone else’s needs and rarely my own…Most days, the question I asked was, ‘How are their bodies?’ My body was in the back seat, unattended, without a seatbelt.”

With regard to my own body, I’m re-introducing my daily yoga practice, maintained since 2001 even through the births of my other two children and playing a significant role in my birth experiences, and yet released with reluctance during Alaina’s infancy. It is time to bring it back! On a related note, I have a neat prenatal yoga book/DVD to review and I watched it this week with Alaina practicing with me—when it instructed you to, “put your hands on your baby,” I put my hands on her! ;)

Speaking of toddlers, I’m wearing a little thin with toddler breastfeeding. I’ve commented to friends that some of the issues and annoyances and difficulties that I’ve previously associated with nursing during pregnancy are actually simply issues of nursing two-year-olds. She is rough, wild, pinchy, scratchy, and practically abusive. She’s nursing way too much at night and I’m tired! In the Pathways article A Natural Age of Weaning by Katherine Dettwyler (who rocks), she makes a point that I’ve always felt intuitively and yet haven’t really articulated in writing:
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Another important consideration for the older child is that they are able to maintain their emotional attachment to a person, rather than being forced to switch to an inanimate object, such as a teddy bear or blanket. I think this sets the stage for a life of people-orientation, rather than materialism, and I think that is a good thing.

As I’ve said before, pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding are all such embodied experiences—motherhood in general feels very much a physical commitment. Our relationship with our children begins in the body, it is through the maternal body that a baby learns to interpret and engage with the world, and to the maternal body a breastfeeding toddler returns for connection, sustenance, and renewal.

It is this embodied spirit of creation and connection I feel I draw upon and represent when I create my little birth art figures, a spirit that caught the attention of many on Facebook this week when I shared a photo of a series of four figures that I’d made as a custom order:

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I will write more about these in an upcoming post and I am now accepting custom requests, though there is already a waiting list! I did update my Shop page briefly with some already made figures that I have available though.

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