Calling for a maternity care revolution in Australia

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I’ve been doing some more writing for the awesome Whole Woman hub on the Hub Garden.

One thing I’ve been writing and talking about lately is the need for a revolution in Australia’s maternity care system. Women NEED real choice; real autonomy; and real respect. We deserve it. Our babies deserve it. Our midwives deserve it.

Here are the links to the articles I’ve written in this series so far.

Why Australia NEEDS a maternity care revolution

Why I’m joining the birthing revolution – a personal account of part of my daughter’s birth story

A birthing revolution for Australian midwives

There will definitely be more coming in this series so stay tuned!

Baby born on side of road. Birth Plan thrown out.

Every time I read about a baby born by the side of the road I am reminded of the necessity of birth planning – plan for all contingencies!

Beautiful Heart

Looking at the news headlines (yawn) and a ‘road side delivery’ catches my eye. As usual, the mother barely rates a mention and the ‘birth plan was thrown out’.

It is beyond me as to why a labouring woman should have to relocate to the birth location. But that is the standard practise. We are told to ‘stay home as long as possible’, which, of course, means travelling in the intensity of labour which is not safe, comfortable or without risk.

The acronym for roadside birth (and -unplanned- unassisted births generally) is ‘BBA’, born before arrival.

There is another acronym common in the birth ‘industry’: CYA.  Cover Your Arse.

I suggest that this be applied to birthing women too.

Most people do not consider the unassisted scenario in their birth planning. Perhaps it is because I tend to birth fast, so it was an obvious consideration for me, that I encourage…

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Why it’s Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound

I’m reblogging so I can remember to read this later. It looks interesting, but a little lengthy!

Womb Of Light

What many people do not realize is that the core issue at the center of women’s empowerment is the mother wound.

ElizabethBauman

Difficulty and challenges between mothers and daughters are rampant and widespread but not openly spoken about. The taboo about speaking about the pain of the mother wound is what keeps it in place and keeps it hidden in shadow, festering and out of view.

What exactly is the mother wound?

The mother wound is the pain of being a woman passed down through generations of women in patriarchal cultures. And it includes the dysfunctional coping mechanisms that are used to process that pain.

The mother wound includes the pain of:

  • Comparison: not feeling good enough
  • Shame: consistent background sense that there is something wrong with you
  • Attenuation: Feeling you must remain small in order to be loved
  • Persistent sense of guilt for wanting more than you currently have

The…

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Birth Language Series – Part 1

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Hi beautiful followers!   I have moved some of my blogging over to the Whole Woman hub on Hub Garden.  I’ve recently been writing an ongoing series on Birth Language. These articles have been looking at some common terms used in maternity care and the impacts these can have on the care received, the experiences of women and the birth stories we then have to share.

 

Please click on the links below and come check out what I’ve got to say about Birth Language!

 

Birth Language – Telling it how it REALLY is

Elective and emergency – they don’t mean what you think they mean

Birth Language – why it matters how maternity care policy is worded

 

I’ll add links to further articles in the series as it progresses!  if you have any feedback or have any terms you’d like me to address please leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

King of the Babies: Mothering in the 40’s and 50’s

I could no imagine parenting to such a strict routine!!! Heaven knows my life doesn’t operate on a four hourly schedule!!!

Beautiful Heart

This is Truby King (1 April 1858 – 10 February 1938).

 

There once was a Man Named King

Some his praises they sing

But the babies just cried,

The mothers were fried

And it passed as another Fad Thing.

 

 

Only….there are still some who would have you follow the Truby King ways.  This outdated method of baby care has influenced many of the ‘great’ baby training methods being peddled today.  Like the snake oil of yesteryear, these methods promise to fix problems.  

 

The prescriptive methods did not allow flexibility for a mother to trust her instincts. When I first became a mother, my grandmother would not call at 10am.  That was bath time.  She mothered according to Truby King, as most mothers of her era did.  Dutifully attending the clinic, and doing exactly as she was told, even though it was not working for her…

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The Informed Decision

LOVE this! The information that goes into making an informed decision is complex.

Beautiful Heart

                         image

An informed decision is more than just information gathering.

An informed decision = new information + old information + current circumstances.

NEW INFORMATION

Ideally this comes from unbiased evidence-based sources.  The information needs to be relevant to the individual and interpreted into understanding.  This info builds on old info.

OLD INFORMATION

This includes personal experiences, including childhood ones, anecdotal information and even unbiased evidence-based information previously understood.  Old info will influence how you understand and accept new info.  This may mean hurdles, challenges or confirmation of ideas.  It may even lead to rather muddled and confused ideas.  It is important to first unravel the old information, question it, consider it and accept, reject, or alter it using the new info.

CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCES

This is your culture, your main influences, your beliefs, your philosophies, anxieties and fears, your financial…

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The guilt of a work from home mum

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Mummy guilt. I thought that by being a work from home mum I’d avoid it.  After all I didn’t need to feel guilty about leaving my children all day every day to go out to work.  And I didn’t need to feel guilty about neglecting myself and my career while staying home and focusing on my children.  Surely I had the best of both worlds? Wrong. It appears that I caught the mummy guilt bug.

 

My partner gave me a bit of a wake up call this evening which hit me pretty hard: he told me that I am spending too much time in the study and that it’s not nice that I get frustrated when the kids are in there. Of course I interpreted this as “You’re a crappy mother who is neglecting her children”. But also – my time in the study is not all spent in the study and it’s hard not to get frustrated when I have a baby crying or a toddler climbing on me while I’m trying to work. So here’s a “day in the life” of a work from home mum.

 

We all got up at a really reasonable time – about 8:30. The reason we all slept late was because the baby was awake and unsettled all night.  He possibly has chicken pox, or maybe hand foot and mouth. The only time during the night he was not attached to me was when I had my partner hold him while I pee’d and then while I gave him some Panadol. I asked my partner to get up with the kids so I could have 5 mins to stretch out in the bed, alone, with no baby attached to my boob. This doesn’t happen very often. I also yelled out that I’d love a coffee. So DP (dear partner, for those unfamiliar with internet shorthand) and Little Miss almost 3 made me coffee. I got up, grabbed my coffee, advised that the one Little Miss made was far superior, and headed out to the study. This is usually the time when I check facebook notifications and plan for the day ahead. Sometimes I play candy crush while I wait for the coffee to kick in and I jot down some notes for blog posts. I also update my business facebook page with articles and memes found in my newsfeed, do any adminning required on the VBAC support page that I moderate and catch up with my newsfeed.

 

Not long after I headed out I noticed that the kids were playing outside. Then I noticed that they were playing out the front (unsupervised, in other words). Realising that DP either didn’t know where the kids were or didn’t care I popped around the front and spent some time staring at my beautiful children sitting side by side on the step holding hands and engaged in a very deep conversation.  Then I herded them back around the back. And popped back into the study to keep “working”. I telephoned the doctors to book Little Dude in so we could confirm what he has. I herded the kids back around the back.  After discussing the plans for the day I discovered that DP wasn’t all that impressed with the idea that the plan involved him watching Little Miss all day.

 

So, feeling crappy already I popped back out to the study. Within minutes Little Dude was standing at the door crying. So I took him inside for some boob. While we were in there Little Miss had popped outside to help her dad with something.  Then I heard the whipper snipper start up…Great…not much chance of the baby napping with that going on outside his window. And Little Miss sounded like she was outside and upset…But I figured she was supervised and Little Dude looked like he was drifting off. Then Little Miss’s crying became more insistent so I headed out to the door to see what was going on. She was rather hysterical as I let her in, telling me “Daddy ran over my knee with the lawn mower”. So I calmed her down. Then had a (very!) brief shower while trying to keep the kids out of my bathroom cupboard.

 

Deciding that it would probably not be a good idea to leave Little Miss with her dad, I got both kids loaded up for a trip to the doctor. We got there to find the doctor was running late so we went to get a muffin in the hopes that would keep Little Miss amused until the doctor was ready. It didn’t. We managed to get in and out with only one tantrum from Little Miss. The diagnosis for Little Dude is still in dispute – the doctor took swabs and will let me know if it’s chickenpox.

 

Once home I realised I was likely running late for my 2pm meeting with the web designer. And having resolved to take Little Miss it was unlikely I’d make up much time. I (nicely!) asked DP if he could watch the kids for half hour while I prepared for the meeting suggesting that he could give them lunch. When I popped back inside at 1:30 I was told that no-one had eaten as the sausage rolls weren’t ready yet. Okay. I got him to package some up as we raced out the door. Little Miss seemed to be working efficiently and she was in the car and we were away before I knew it…Glad someone senses the urgency!!

 

We arrive with a minute or two to spare and head up to the meeting. I introduce myself and we get set up.  I pop down a blanket for Little Miss to sit on and eat her sausage rolls – asking her to please get the crumbs on the blanket!  I feel rather embarrassed and unprofessional having my child with me at this meeting…but we’ll make do. For the first time ever she’s finished eating within minutes and looking for something else to do. We muddle through. A lot of the conversation with the website guy involves me actually watching Little Miss and I wonder if he thinks I’m rude because I’m not making much eye contact. Anyway – they’re going to e-mail me a couple of quote options. I’m looking forward to getting a website!!

 

Grocery shopping is then achieved with little fuss – YAY!  We get back to the car and I realise I’ve eaten nothing but half a banana muffin and a few cups of coffee all day – maybe that “unexplained” weight loss I was telling DP about isn’t so unexplained after all. When I get home I grab a muesli bar and flop onto the couch while DP brings the groceries in and unpacks them.  I always regret getting him to unpack, because I know I won’t be able to find anything…but today I don’t care.

 

At some point we have a conversation about Little Dude’s doctor appointment and I commented that he wouldn’t be able to go to daycare on Wednesday. I must have looked sad about that as that’s when DP made the comment about how I spend too much time in the study anyway. It’s worth noting that yes I am a little sad that I won’t have a day where I can just hang out in the study, but I’ll also have to miss my personal training session on Wednesday.  And I was planning to take Little Dude to my dietician appointment tomorrow, which now may not be possible. I’ll call them in the morning and ask if they mind if I bring my spotty baby with me. So I was feeling pretty crappy.  In my head I was wondering how I would tell my hypnobirthing Australia trainer that I just wasn’t going to be able to finish my certification…maybe I could just delay it for a while? And it was looking likely that I would be a student doula (instead of a certified one) for the rest of my life.  Then I went out to my garden to find my pumpkin vine was butchered by the whipper snipper.  So I sat in my garden and cried.

 

Now – yes, I know that my irrational feelings stem from guilt. I feel guilty every single time I step into my study. I feel guilty every time I do any work on my phone. I feel guilty every time I book in a client visit as I wonder who I’m going to be inconveniencing by asking them to baby sit. I feel guilty every time I look at how messy my house has become and every time DP does any housework – because he works nights and I’m aware that he needs to sleep sometimes too. I feel guilty for neglecting my friends. I feel guilty because I was considering getting a nanny or a cleaner or something to help me with my guilt.

 

Then I realised something. Why should I feel guilty? The work that I do and that I plan to do is IMPORTANT. It’s important, not just for the women that I help, but for my family as well. I want my children to grow up seeing birth as normal and not something to be terrified of. I want my daughter to grow up knowing that no-one has a right to tell her what to do with her body or how to birth her baby. I want my son to grow up knowing that birth isn’t just “women’s business” and that men can have an important role to play. The aim of my work – that every mother comes through pregnancy and birth believing that she is strong, powerful and capable of making the best decisions for her family – is important. I also believe it’s important for children to see their mothers feeling passionate and inspired. I believe I’m setting a good example, not by working as such, but by doing work that I love. I will never encourage my children to enter careers they aren’t passionate about.

 

So that was my day. Oh, and then I came out here to my study, after both children were in bed and DP had gone to work and I wrote out this blog post. It’s now 11:24pm and I’m giving consideration to getting some things done as I know I won’t be able to tomorrow. A reasonably typical day for this work from home mum – except that I’m usually in bed around 9.  How about you? Any amazing revelations to be found in the chaos of your own day?

Planning for an Induction of Labour

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Many women I talk to about their induced labours say things like “I didn’t know xyz could happen” or “we weren’t prepared for abc” – generally the big ones are “I didn’t know it could take so long” closely followed by “I didn’t know it could be so quick”. Many of the negative aspects of their experience come down to the fact that they weren’t prepared and / or they were not informed about the process. This post isn’t about the actual risks or benefits of an induction of labour – there is heaps of information out there about that – but this is around logistically planning for an induced labour birth experience. Different things that are advised to help keep you feeling positive and prepared during what can be a stressful, frightening and exciting time. Obviously if your induction is more emergent and planned for tomorrow some of these things will not be able to be done and your medical situation could mean some things are not recommended. Which makes the first point, the most important.

Your first action should be to have a REALLY open conversation with your care provider about your hopes and goals for the birth and the reasons induction is recommended or wanted. Ask questions, gather information, go home and think about it all then ask more questions if necessary.

Do your research: BRAIN all the options – you can do this with your care provider and also with your doula if that helps you to get all your thoughts and options straight.

Put together an “induction plan” – like any birth plan it needs to be flexible and take into account the fact that things can change at any moment. The importance of a plan lies in the process of “planning” and exploring your options not the finished product. It also serves as a reminder that you, the mother, are still the decision maker. Ensure that you share and discuss the plan with your care provider and every single care provider you see over the lead up to the induction and during the induction process, amending the plan as needed.

Consider if you want to try “natural” induction techniques for a little while before you start the medical ones – talk to your care provider and doula about different options. If you choose this path I’d suggest starting 1 week before your booked induction date and only do the things you feel like doing – If you don’t feel like sex or hate the smell of clary sage then don’t force it, if going for a walk in the sunshine feels good then keep at it.

Cease natural induction techniques the day before you are booked in and REST instead. Labour is usually a very tiring endeavour and an induction can place additional stress on you. It is very important to be as rested as possible (yes, I know how hard it is to feel “rested” at the end of pregnancy!) before you go in. A lot of people assume that after they have the gel they will “rest” (because this is what the midwives will likely tell you) but please note that resting in hospital is not the same as resting at home. You will be on the maternity ward, possibly in a shared room. There will be babies crying, other visitors coming and going, meal carts clattering past your room, cleaners coming in and out and the midwife will be checking on you regularly. This is before you add on any potential early labour symptoms you may experience like cramping, vomiting or diarrhoea.

Be prepared for things to happen quickly.  Generally if you are having gel you will be asked to come in in the evening to have the gel placed with the “plan” that nothing much will happen overnight and your waters will be broken in the morning. It will be suggested that your partner go home to rest and come back in the morning (in most public hospitals it will be mandatory that your partner leave after visiting hours are over). However it is entirely possible that you could be in labour within a matter of hours.  Have a chat with your midwife about what support will be offered during early labour and at what point your partner will be allowed back. If you feel that you would like some additional support at any time tell the midwifery staff that you need your partner or doula and don’t take no for an answer – it is important for you to feel safe and supported. Ensure that your partner is prepared for the possibility that you will be calling him back in the middle of the night and that he has his bag ready, doesn’t drink and keeps his phone handy. Make sure your doula is kept up to date with what’s happening as well. She’ll need to be prepared for the possibility that she’ll be getting called out that night.

Be prepared for things to take a long time. I’m sure that every mother being induced hopes she will be one of those awesome stories where the gel is applied and bub arrives 6 hours later. And it can be very beneficial to visualise this happening. But it is entirely possible that things will take a lot more time and effort. And the longer you are in hospital the more exhausted you will get. If the first lot of gel doesn’t work your care provider will likely recommend more gel in the morning. I would then recommend spending the day alternating between actively trying to get labour going and restful activities. Walk. It can help get labour going, help with pain, stairs can help ensure bub is positioned well and fresh air and sunshine is good for everyone. Alternate walking with a “resting” activity. Meditate.  Hypnobirthing Australia have some beautiful guided relaxation tracks that can help you to get deeply relaxed – they are great for any labour, but if you are planning an induction I HIGHLY recommend you purchase a couple of tracks. Pack a magazine or crossword puzzle book. Read a novel (you’re not likely to get another chance for a while!). Keep some clary sage handy and sniff regularly. Find a private place and do some nipple stimulation. Keep in touch with your doula for reassurance and distraction. And don’t get disheartened. By this stage you’ve likely had little effective rest for 24 hours and it can seem like your body is just not working and your baby is going to stay in there forever. If you are already aware of how long the process can take you are less likely to add being disheartened and despondent to your exhaustion. Remember that this is normal and many women go through this lengthy process and still have a positive vaginal birth – There’s no reason why you can’t too!

If the gel doesn’t put you into labour a couple of options are available to you.  If your cervix is still hard and closed you may have the option to go home or remain in hospital but continue to wait. This can be a tough option for an exhausted mama to choose, but it is there. Or you may decide that a caesarean is a better option for you and your baby. Your care provider may offer the option of a mechanical dilation aid, such as a foley’s catheter, if appropriate. In any case it is important to again have a very open conversation with your care provider about the benefits, risks and alternatives of all your options as well as tuning into your own intuition and asking “what would happen next?” If they say that “our policy is…” ask them how this pertains to your own individual health circumstances. Ask questions, gather information, talk it over with your partner and doula and take all the time you need to make the best choice for you and your baby.

If your cervix is soft and open a bit your care provider will likely suggest breaking your waters (AROM) and starting the drip of syntocinon.  As always ask questions. There may be options around leaving some time between AROM and starting the drip. For large numbers of women AROM and a good walk is all that is needed to get labour established so talk to your care provider about how much time they would be comfortable with you having. Also talk to your doula. If you are having your waters broken you will likely be needing her fairly soon afterwards so she’ll need to be prepared. If you end up having the syntocinon drip you will have one to one midwifery care throughout your labour as well as continuous electronic fetal monitoring. Have a really good chat to your midwife when she comes in so that she is aware of your hopes and goals for your birth and talk through how she will help you to achieve these. Let her know if you have a doula coming and what techniques you and your doula have previously discussed using.

Many women hold fear about the possibility of an induction and while it can increase risks to mum and bub, women have many reasons why they may consider it to be the best option for their birth. There are also a range of induction options and ways to mitigate some of the risks. As with any birth, being prepared, knowing your options, having a plan and having good support will help to ensure that you still have a beautiful, calm, safe and positive birth experience. Get prepared and get excited – You’re going to meet your beautiful, precious baby very soon!

Shhh…we can’t mention that. The Taboos of Motherhood

We seem to be approaching a time where we can’t talk about pregnancy, birth or parenting at all unless it fits within the confines of “normal”. Great article from Bellabirth about the various taboos of motherhood.

Beautiful Heart

I think that is important, to be mindful of how others feel. It is also important to recognise that how others feel is not our responsibility. If you feel joy, express it. You’re not saying “I am better than you because I had a good experience”, you are saying “I had a good experience, and I feel happy”. Perhaps you can even help those who might feel upset, by asking them to talk about their experience. When they have resolved their own experience, your experience won’t upset them. They might feel sad for what ‘might’ have been, or could not be, but do we really help by suppressing our own joy for concern that it might upset another…

this is fast becoming a taboo in our society. We can’t talk about our lost babies, because it might upset someone or make them feel uncomfortable, we can’t post a photo of…

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Birth – forgotten by feminism

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A week or so ago there was a tumblr thing getting around with a bunch of women holding signs saying “I don’t need feminism because…” I wasn’t going to bother with any sort of response because, well, it didn’t really get my fire going. It made me feel sad, more than angry. I felt kinda sorry for the women who didn’t seem to really understand what modern day feminism can be about and felt the need to try and tear down feminism.

All the signs seemed to focus on “I don’t need feminism because: I don’t hate men, I’m not a victim, and we already got the vote 100 years ago”. Well I don’t hate men (not ALL of them anyway!), I never refer to myself as a “victim” and seriously, if all our foremothers wanted was for us to be able to pick which moron (sorry – fine upstanding citizen) we want to represent us for the next three years then they were setting the bar rather low don’t you think?! Feminism is about more than the vote, but that’s not the issue I’m tackling today.

Today I hopped onto one of the “Jennifer is not alone” articles. This is a campaign supporting a woman in Florida who was advised by her hospital that if she showed up in labour they would give her a caesarean – “with or without her consent”. Simply because she had three previous caesareans. I ignored this particular article as long as I could (someone advised that the comments were rather low), but a friend commented on it and so I just had to take a look. And some of the comments really made me feel ill.  That anger that I wasn’t feeling with the tumblr thing was now in full form!!  My friend made a pretty profound (in my opinion!) comment that “Birth is the place feminism forgot”. This got me thinking about all the reasons why I still need feminism. Here they are:

 

I need feminism because it is not okay for someone to penetrate my body without my consent – no matter how many years he went to school and no matter if he thinks it is “for my own good”.

 

I need feminism because it is not okay for someone to cut a woman’s genitals while she says no.

 

I need feminism because mandatory surgery policies are a human rights violation and poor medical practice.

 

I need feminism because I think it’s wrong for someone I’ve never met to proclaim that they care more about my family than I do.

 

I need feminism because I am capable of making fully informed decisions in the best interests of my family – I don’t need a man to make these decisions for me.

 

I need feminism because the terms “obstetric violence” and “birth rape” even exist.

 

I need feminism because mothers matter too.

 

I need feminism because pregnant women need to be recognised as HUMAN, not another species undeserving of human rights.

 

I need feminism because I want my daughter to grow up knowing that no man has a right to make decisions about her body – EVER!

 

I need feminism because I don’t want my son to grow up feeling safer than his sister – simply by virtue of having a penis.

 

I need feminism because I heard a story the other day of a woman whose friend was upset that the doctor put his hand up inside her while she was birthing – the woman’s response was “Duh. How else is the doctor going to know if the baby is coming out?” Instead of telling her friend that it’s pretty normal to feel violated if someone puts their hand inside you without consent she told her that it’s normal to be violated during birth (and don’t even get me started on how unnecessary vaginal exams are!).

 

I need feminism because women truly believe that it’s their bodies that are broken, rather than the maternity care system.

 

I need feminism because women have told me that I “don’t need to learn about birth” and that I should just “do whatever the doctor says”. Being educated about my body and how it works has become a bad thing.

 

I need feminism because NO MEANS NO! Regardless of whether I’m in a bar, on the street, in my own home or in a hospital.

 

I need feminism because it’s not okay for someone else to make decisions about my body.

 

I need feminism because everywhere I go I am told that it actually IS okay for others to make decisions about my body and penetrate or cut my body without my consent. People tell me that I’m not capable of making a fully informed choice about my own wellbeing. And people tell me that my long term health and wellbeing doesn’t matter.

 

I need feminism because no-one is outraged about the injustices and violations pregnant women are facing.

 

I need feminism because I am a person.

 

So tell me – why do YOU need feminism?

 

Links:

Tumblr: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/i-don’t-need-feminism-because

Here’s a, so far, (I haven’t read the whole thing yet!) great article from Birth Anarchy’s “How we hate women” campaign: http://birthanarchy.com/afraid-big-bad-witch.

Here’s a link to the human rights in childbirth campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/human-rights-in-childbirth

And here’s a link to the (possibly!) first article the quote: “Birth is the land feminism forgot” is from.  http://www.bestdaily.co.uk/your-life/news/a567116/i-was-not-allowed-the-words-that-steal-our-birth-power.html