Friday, February 1, 2008

A Reason to Break Bread Together

I ate lunch alone today. My son was spending a day with a sitter so I could get some school work done, but I had a work lunch date that didn't show, so it was just me and I was actually pretty sad to be all by myself. I was reminded of some amazing information that I read in Sarah Buckley's book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, about love hormones and how they affect us emotionally and physically both during and after birth. The same hormones that are produced during labor and nursing are also produced while sharing a meal with a friend or loved one.
This goes beyond birth in many ways because in today's fast pace of society, we don't often have time to just sit, share and enjoy...things that we do when we are nursing or sharing a meal. Sure we eat, usually fast and without much thought to what we are putting into our mouths. But do we really enjoy most of the food we consume these days? How often do we potluck, finding ourselves laughing over warm bowls of soup and homemade bread. Finishing over cups of chai tea or hot cocoa. How often do we have the time?
I think to truly share a meal is to put yourself into the food and then reap the benefits of presenting that meal and watching it be consumed with pleasure and zeal...much like a baby nursing at the breast and very much like a mother putting heart, soul and energy into birthing a baby that they then take in with all of their heightened senses;absorbing every smell, movement and sound with unending pleasure.
This is not new information.
I have often wondered about the traditional American diet of meat and potatoes. How it could sustain multiple generations without problems of obesity or diabetes or keep young men during wars healthy and fit, though lacking in vitamin c and other long term essentials. Jerky and hard tack can keep a person alive for a long time if necessary, and with very little ill effect.
Then there is the typical European diet, lots of bread, cheese and red wine, consumed by a population that far surpasses the US in health and vitality, and recently made popular by the book "French Women Rarely Get Fat." Yes, we eat more processed foods now; Yes, we get less exercise, both of these are significant changes. What we have lost most though, over the period of industrialization, is The Family Meal. Not even to mention the need for mothers to have time to spend with friends just being.
Family, Friends, Food. The 3 F's.
The pace of our lives gaining in speed is analogous to the pace of our births. We are rushed into and out of our lives. Perhaps, because of this lack of time, we are missing out on some of the essentials that make us human. Will those hormones continue on through future generations if we no longer take the time to welcome them and put them to good use?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Waterbirth International Needs Our Help!

A few months ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Barbara Harper by phone. It started off with me calling Waterbirth International to get a new copy of a video that had arrived damaged. It turned into a wonderful conversation about my choice to become a midwife, the need for birthing iconoclasts that would uphold the freedom of women to birth the way they choose to birth, and the importance of sometimes disagreeing with the senior midwife who is training me. I learned a lot, I felt really good about myself and my profession after I hung up and I decided right then and there, to never deny a woman her choices just because of my ignorance or personal fear around those choices. After I educate myself further on a subject, if I then still feel unsure of the decision, I can discuss it without passion and emotions getting in the way of logic and trust.
Waterbirth International is all about education. Years ago, when someone thought of water during a birth, the Leboyer bath came to mind...for the baby, not the mother. Thanks to the incredibly hard work of Barbara Harper and other proponents of waterbirth, the world knows what we are talking about and thousands of women birth their babies gently into the water each year.
Now Waterbirth International is in debt and facing the possibility of closing forever. They put together an amazing conference in Portland last year that took all of their available resources and it is up to us, the professionals, students, parents and consumers to see to it that this amazing resource stays around for years to come. Please, please, go to the website: and make a donation, buy a book or dvd, or better yet, buy an amazing Birth Pool in a Bag to either use, rent out to other pregnant moms or give to a midwife that you love and adore. Doing any of the above with help Barbara and Waterbirth International keep educating the public about the joys and gentleness of waterbirth. Any amount you can donate is valuable. Get the word out and a dollar will turn into thousands. Thank you.

A message from Barbara Harper:

I cannot yet imagine a world without the voice and work of Waterbirth International - we get calls and emails every day from women who need help convincing one hospital or another to let them labor or birth in water. If we die - a big part of the movement dies. Waterbirth has shown us all that women know how to give birth and babies know how to be born. Water birth gave us "hands-off", sit back and let the baby out. I see waterbirth mentioned on Blogs every single day, not to mention Baby Story on the TV. I took Waterbirth International to ACOG two years in a row - and was the ONLY booth showing birth films to obstetricians and especially to student physicians. There were tears, laughter and outrage - just the thing to stirup those young crop of doctors. I am finally realizing a life's dream. But now I am faced with letting this dream go. Perhaps I have done enough.Perhaps it is time to quit.

About 18 years ago, maybe it was longer, when Mothering Magazine was facing bankruptcy Peggy did a heartfelt plea asking their readers to consider ordering a Life-time subscription. I think the subscriptions were $1000 or $1200, I can't remember now. I do remember that I couldn't imagine not reading my Mothering. So, I bought two and gave one to my obstetrician's office.

How can you help us stay open to take the next phone call? - to convince the next obstetrician to incorporate waterbirth into his/her practice - to work with the nurse midwives to install pools in their facilities? To educate an entire hospital on the benefits of allowing women freedom of movement in the water. How much is it worth to see waterbirth become the norm in the US, like it is in the UK? I think we only need a few more years to make that happen.
Do women really want waterbirth to be an available choice in every hospital? I think so. Can you help us by getting the word out on blogs and lists?

I had to let go of all of the staff except one person to process orders. Miraculously, we made payroll today, but we can't hang on much longer. We need a miracle. If I need to call every single waterbirth parent personally, I will. I don't want 25 years of work to end over a measly $200,000. The work that we have done the last few years has been phenomenal. How God arranged for me to teach in hospitals and medical schools around the planet- Taiwan, Venezuela, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Holland, Portugal, China,Trinidad, Croatia - I'll never figure that out. I laugh out loud sometimes when I get up in front of an audience of physicians in a medical school overseas - who all want to hear about waterbirth and the incorporation of Gentle Birth practices and principles into their routines.
Think about what you can do and call me if you want to chat or if you have some great ideas on how we can quickly move into the black and keep waterbirth alive and thriving. We need your help. Barbara Harper needs your help. The waterbirth/gentlebirth movement needs your help.

Barbara Harper, RN, CLD, CCE
Founder/Director Waterbirth
503-673-0026 -office
(out of US or in Portland)800-641-2229 - toll free
503-710-7975 - cell phone
We LOVE helping women get into Hot Water!!
And have been doing it for 24 years!!