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Sweet Peas, Pods & Papas: All About Birth, B@@bs & Babies

Strength In Numbers

Our Fall 2010 Series - Easter Reunion:

One completely natural birth
One vacuum delivery
One cesarean
One pitocin augmentation (no epidural!)

Four Informed Families

Four Happy, Healthy, Blue-Ribbon Breastfed Babies!

So you have chosen to have a natural birth…
...and the comments start: 
- Why would you want to do that? 
- Get the drugs because that’s what they are there for. 
- You don’t need to be a hero.
- Are you bringing a piece of bark and some leather to chew on with you?
- You say that now, but you will change your mind.  

These are some of the comments that my husband and I heard when we started telling people that we were taking natural birth classes with our first-born child.  I am sure the list could be much longer, and I would love to hear what you have heard regarding your choice to have a natural birth.  

It can be a very lonely feeling that maybe you are the only one out there making this choice.  I guess it could also make parents second-guess themselves.  Bruss and I are lucky in that once we make a decision based on facts we stay true to our decision and the goal we set.  

For some reason, when we announce that we are natural birth parents it raises defenses in other people.  I have yet to understand why our belief in ourselves and our belief in the ability of mom’s body to do what it was made to do, is a threat to other people.  The important thing to remember is that the comments you are hearing are not about you.  Any criticism, comment or disbelief is a reflection on your counterparts’ beliefs about birth, and their own misconceptions or disappointments.  

An important thing consider when you have started down the path of natural birth, and maybe some of the other choices that follow, is to surround yourself with other people who understand your choice and are following a similar path for themselves.  That old saying “there is strength in numbers” is a very comforting thought when you are feeling like the oddity amongst your family and friends.  

One of the reasons The Bradley Method® classes are designed to be taught in a small group of 2 – 8 couples is to allow parents to meet other like-minded individuals.  Once you meet your classmates, you can be assured that you are not the only one out there striving to have a natural birth for your baby.  It’s also important to note that the Bradley Method® education covers all aspects of pregnancy and birth including exercise, diet and relaxation, all of which prepare Moms to labor as effectively as possible without pain medication.  

You will also hear other reasons why people have chosen to have a natural birth.  We all come from different walks of life, and everyone comes with different reasons as to why they want to have a natural birth.  It is reassuring to know that despite different educational backgrounds or career paths, we all agree that a natural birth is the best for our children.  Once you hear a variety of reasons, you can start to build up a good list of answers to the questions and good retorts to the statements you will be hearing from disbelieving friends, family and yes, sometimes even strangers.  

Whatever your birth story is, it is just the beginning of your child’s life story.  There are going to be other choices you will be faced with.  Where will you give birth?  Are you going to breastfeed? Are you going to practice attachment parenting?  If you have a boy, will you choose to keep his genitals intact? Will you be co-sleeping with your child?  Will you be following an alternative vaccine schedule, or will you choose not to vaccinate?  

Thankfully, breastfeeding is starting to be more prevalent and it is not so much of an oddball decision these days.  Unfortunately, the other options are still considered on the fringe of common beliefs.  You can expect that affirmative decisions in any of the other areas will bring on questions and comments that seek to invalidate your choice, or sometimes blatantly imply that you must be a bad parent if you are going to follow through with them.  

If you and your classmates stay close, it can be the start of a great support group for you.  If you are not taking a Bradley class or for some reason you don’t click with your classmates, see the list below for some other resources for natural living groups in the Phoenix area.  And if you are outside of the Phoenix area, an Internet search for support groups in your area should yield a starting point for finding other people who are striving to live along the same lifestyle you are creating for your family.  

Fellow Bradley instructor Rachel Davis shared that in addition to formal groups, there are many ad hoc support groups of like-minded mamas who meet at breastfeeding or other playgroups, so asking families which other groups they attend can also be helpful.  She suggests looking for MeetUp groups with babies born in the same month or other specific interests.  We also found similar minded families by reaching out to people at story times or activities our children have become involved in.  

The moral of the story is that if you are going to get out of the house, be willing to ask questions and make new friends.  And if for some reason you go to a group and it is not a good fit, know it’s okay if you never go back again.  

I will close by encouraging you to continue to educate yourself and your coach to have the best birth possible.  You are not alone; in fact, you are part of the tidal wave that is building with the hope that we can change the face of maternity care in the United States.  When you feel comfortable, tell people why you chose to have a natural birth and what you hope to provide for your child by giving them one of their first gifts:  a birth in which you and your coach make educated, well-informed decisions to give your child the best start possible.  

Even if you don’t have a “textbook” natural birth, you can rest assured that you will do well by taking childbirth classes and/or reading to learn more about natural birth and the related choices.  You and your coach will make informed decisions and have a better outcome than if you were to walk into your birthplace with no preparation at all.  

Thoughts on responding to the comments:
You can choose not to comment and let it go.  To start seeing a change in the general perception about natural birth, I definitely encourage you to find some words to stand up for your own belief without insulting the other side.  

If you have a strong personality, here is a direct way to answer the “why” or the “brave” comments someone makes about your desire to have natural birth: “People who get epidurals are the brave ones.  Have you seen that LONG needle?  Besides, there is no drug whether it’s over the counter or prescription, that has been proven safe for an unborn child.”  

If you are more of a peacemaker, this is another one that has worked well for me: “Bruss and I researched our options and we have decided that this is the best path for our family.”  

I heard this suggestion from a mom at a support group who found herself in the same conversation with the same person more than once: “Do you really think that I would make a decision to willfully harm my child?  Please respect me enough to know that I have researched this and we have decided to pursue this path.  If you don’t agree with me, then we can agree not to discuss this again.”  

Between these options there are a lot of ways to comment or answer if you feel like you want to stand up for your choice.  I have to admit that the strength of my answer would depend on my mood and whether or not the person I was speaking with was family, friend or a stranger.  

Support Resources – Phoenix Area
AZ Birth Network – Monthly Birth Circle Meetings across the Phoenix Metro area  

La Leche League – Woman to woman breastfeeding support and education - Local - Worldwide

First Time Out – Many moms are nervous about breastfeeding in public.  This group provides an environment that makes it easier to feed your child in the healthiest way possible and with good company.  

NOCIRC – Educational material about the structures, functions, development, and care of normal penile anatomy and offers information about circumcision and the care of the circumcised as well as the intact penis.  

Gentle Moms – A group of mothers who aspire to treat our children, bodies and planet with respect  

Attached families - Meet other parents who are supporters of the 7 Baby B's: Birth Bonding, Breastfeeding, Babywearing, Bedding close to baby, Belief in the language of your baby's cry, Beware of Baby Trainers and Balance!  

Phoenix Mommies – Mission is to provide a safe, secure, FREE place for mothers to find support and encouragement from other mothers and to empower them to be better women, parents and community leaders.  

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

1 Comment to Strength In Numbers:

Comments RSS on Saturday, February 23, 2013 6:33 AM
is the joy and excitement, a partner who is taking time off of work, and usually extended family to help with the baby.  Then your partner goes back to work.  Then your family leaves.  And it’s you and baby, all alone.  HERE are some ideas on building a like-minded community – go!  Get out of your comfort zone if necessary.  We are still friends wit
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