“The minute my child was born, I was reborn as a feminist. It’s so incredible what women can do…Birthing naturally, as most women do around the globe, is a superhuman act. You leave behind the comforts of being human and plunge back into being an animal. My friend’s partner said, ‘Birth is like going for a swim in the ocean. Will there be a riptide? A big storm? Or will it just be a beautiful, sunny little dip?’ Its indeterminate length, the mystery of its process, is so much a part of the nature of birth. The regimentation of a hospital birth that wants to make it happen and use their gizmos to maximum effect is counter to birth in general.”
–Ani DiFranco interviewed in Mothering magazine, May/June 2008
It is Women’s History Month and we just passed International Women’s Day this Sunday, so today I have a collection of posts either about International Women’s Day or the theme of women’s work in general.
The first is this article about the basics of natural birth intended for the “non-hippy” reader:
“But is that really it? Is birth so simple as that? Is it really so simple as just having faith in your body and protecting and working with your natural hormonal flow?
Well mostly – yes!
It is that simple. Natural birth occurs when women feel safe, feel loved, feel listened to, are surrounded by calm loving people, and go with their natural birth flow. In all its intensity – your body was designed to handle it. Even if you don’t know it yet.
It IS hard work. It IS intense. It does help if you’re a bit bendy. It does help if you are active throughout pregnancy and vaguely fit. But no yoga required if that doesn’t float your boat. All the drugs and pain relief you need are right inside you. All the strength you need is right inside you. If you can find birth attendants who will mirror that belief back at you in their eyes, in their hearts, in their hands, in their attitude and manner, and in their language to you – in effect, saying ‘I believe in you’, you are one step closer to discovering the greatest, and the most ordinary and yet extraordinary power known to woman – natural birth…”
This post made me think of one of my own on the “rest and be thankful stage” that has been linked to a lot over the last few days:
I always make sure to tell my birth class clients about the possibility of experiencing a lull like this, because it is during this resting phase that labor is sometimes described as having “stalled” or as requiring Pitocin to “kick it off again” or as requiring directed or coached pushing. Also, think of the frequency of remarks from mothers such as, “I just never felt the urge to push.” When exploring further, it is often revealed that what the mother actually experienced was no immediate pushing urge instantly following assessment of full dilation. Depending on the baby’s position, this can be extremely normal. The way I explain it to my clients is that the lull represents the conclusion of the physiological shift happening in the uterus—the transition between contractions that open the cervix and the contractions that push the baby down and out.
I came across the not-just-for-hippies post when the author shared the link with me in the self-publishing class we are both enrolled in. (The current class is already in progress, but you can get information about the fall session here: Be Your Own Publisher – the self-publishing e-course.) This course was developed by Lucy Pearce (author of The Rainbow Way and The Moods of Motherhood), who recently wrote a post that really spoke to me about the “labyrinth of self-imposed limitations” we may find ourselves in when pursuing creative work (or any work we feel “called” to do):
Many of us live in a “labyrinth of self-imposed limitations” (thanks to one of my self-publishing students, Linda English, for that phrase).
Especially when it comes to our creativity.
And double-especially when it comes to owning ourselves as writers, or artists, or whatever creative pursuit or ambition we’re holding off on…
I also read this interesting post on the Fortune magazine site about mothering and working and thriving…
I wish I had known five years ago, as a young, childless manager, that mothers are the people you need on your team. There’s a saying that “if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.” That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now.
And, I thought about my past Women’s Day posts, the first about a body prayer that I wrote, but that also quoted some information about the original intention of the day:
“International Women’s Day is not about Hallmark. It’s not about chocolate. (Thought I know many women who won’t turn those down.) It’s about politics, institutions, economics, racism….
As is the case with Mother’s Day and many other holidays, today we are presented with a sanitized, deodorized, nationalized, commoditized version of what were initially radical holidays to emphasize social justice.
Initially, International Women’s Day was called International Working Women’s Day. Yes, every woman is a working woman. Yes, there is no task harder perhaps than raising a child, for a father and a mother. But let us remember that the initial impetus of this International Working Women’s Day was to address the institutional, systematic, political, and economic obstacles that women faced in society…”
The second offering a prayer for mothers:
Fill your body with this breath
expand your heart with this message
you are such a good mother…”
I re-visited a past post in honor of Women’s (Birth) History Month:
“…we need to grasp an honest understanding of birthing history – one that tells HERstory not HIStory. Because birth is about Women. It is a woman’s story. And we need to also understand why and how this herstory compels women to make the choices they make surrounding birth in the present day.
People become the product of the culture that feeds them…”
And, I did my own work creating our March newsletter covering Women’s Day, Shining Years, Red Tent Fundraiser, and More: Happy International Women’s Day! I’ve also made a lot of changes and additions to our website recently including a Womanrunes 101 page and other pages explaining more about our jewelry and and sculpture work.
I have so many ideas for what I’d like to do and create this year (we also have what feels like a lot of kids, including the babiest of adorable babies who is getting so big, so fast!) and I am trying to hard to do what makes sense and to choose wisely. It is hard to tease out the difference between self-limiting (or self-sabotaging) thought patterns and being sensible/practical/realistic for this stage in my life. I made a huge mind map today to try to help me clear some of this stuff out of my brain and I was going to share a picture of it, because it is freaking intense, but it also made me feel (or look) a little crazy, so I decided not to share it after all!