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Having a Beautiful Birth- Not as Radical as it Sounds

by Mary Catherine Hamelin on October 26, 2013

tiffbirth2 Hello new friends!

This is my first post here on Vegan Housewives, so I feel like I should do a little introduction and explain why I’m here. I’m a vegetarian mama of two living in Tampa Florida and I’m a doula, childbirth educator, and midwife assistant. Kortney asked me to join the contributor team to share monthly features on Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum. I’ll reflect on the whole magical “Childbearing Year,” as they say. These are subjects that are near and dear to my heart since becoming a mother myself, and I’m always yammering on about some aspect of birth to anyone who will listen. It’s important–it’s how we get here, and it’s a lot healthier and more pleasant for everyone when the experience is nurtured and well-supported. There are a few beautiful birth stories already shared here that are a great place to start for inspiration!

It’s hard for me to not sound self-promoting when I talk about the work I do and the people I work with. I believe in it, I see how well it works, and the new studies supporting midwives, birth centers, and homebirth kind of speak for themselves (go read the links, I’ll wait). The healthy/”natural” childbirth movement can come off as crazy and fanatical the same way vegan/vegetarianism can, but if you’re already here at this blog reading maybe you can already appreciate an alternative viewpoint or two.

I assist two Midwives who attend births at home, and a common thing I hear from our clients is that their friends tell them how “brave” they are, and how “radical” it is to birth naturally or to choose birth outside the hospital setting. What they usually then tell us is that they feel like their hospital-birthing friends have to be more brave! What if they are cornered into an unnecessary intervention? Subjected to routine practices and policies that don’t benefit their babies or their bodies? What if their care providers who previously sounded so supportive of their plans suddenly change their tune? What then?

Working with a care provider you trust from the very start, or switching to one when you feel like you want more personalized care is the best way to ensure that the people who will be surrounding you during this important transition in your life are truly supporting you.

I also provide doula support for families who have chosen hospital births, and find that as long as everything goes normally with regard to a healthy pregnancy and a normal start to the labor process, it’s also totally possible to have a great birth in the hospital–you just have to fight a little harder to get it. Hiring a doula is a great step in building your support team, but it isn’t a fix-all for an unsupportive care provider/birth setting. We do everything we possibly can for you–physically, emotionally, educationally, but we can’t make the medical decisions about your care that can really write the plot of your birth story. Guess what though? You can!

This is where Childbirth Education becomes really important! Whether you self educate by reading all the right books and watching birth documentaries and real birth videos on YouTube, or by taking a comprehensive Childbirth Education Class with an independent teacher, preparation for such an pivotal event in your parenthood journey is key in knowing what your options are through each stage of labor. I hope to share lots more helpful posts here inspired by the topics we cover in my Childbirth Education classes!

As a doula, I also recognize that each family must make the choices along the way that are best for their own unique situation. I absolutely respect and honor those decisions and unconditionally support them in hopes that they lead to the best possible outcomes. You are stoked on your epidural? AWESOME. I want to help you make sure you get it quickly, that it works, and that its timing gives your body the best chance of birthing your baby in the way that you’d hoped. You planned your Cesarean already? I would love to share how to make that a more gentle and family-centered experience for you!

Desiring a “beautiful birth experience” shouldn’t be radical, it should be something every family can hope for regardless of the way they choose to do it. Of course I’d love it if you local folks give Barefoot Birth a call when you decide to walk the path to parenthood and we get to start planning a rockin’ home waterbirth under your backyard orange trees with your favorite music and starlight setting the mood (anyone? sound good?). I also hope that no matter where you live and what your preferences are, that the things shared in this space will be a reminder to you, new friends, that there are ways to make your pregnancy and birth yours, ways to ensure that you and your baby have the healthiest and happiest possible start together, and lots of ways to have fun in the process. It’s true!

I’d love to hear from y’all–what is one positive thing that you will always remember from your birth(s)? And if you’ve yet to take the jump into parenthood, what is one thing you imagine in your ideal/dream birth scenario?

About Mary Catherine Hamelin

Mary Catherine Hamelin is a mama, doula, birth educator, midwife assistant, occasional blogger, and perpetual daydreamer. Back home in Florida after some gypsy years in California and New York, she now spends her days making magic with her kids and her nights (and days!) serving families at their beautiful births.

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  • { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    Lisa October 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Very nice article

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