This month, I did something not quite in line with my philosophy…and put some of our chicken eggs into an incubator. ‘Un” was first on day 19, arriving in an easy hatching, and was soon followed by “petit bleu” who we watched emerge from a little blue egg. They were transferred into the brooder (cardboard box with water, food and heat lamp). They chirped happily, found the water and food, and fluffed up nicely. The next day we watched as “lune” hatched. A yellow chick, transferred once dry, to join the others. Three sweet little chicks.
But I lamented the lack of a mother. One of the hens seemed broody, so on nightfall we collected her, in the hope to introduce the babies and see her adopt them. No chance; the feisty escape artist wasn’t interested. I tried giving her some of the hatch-any-moment eggs.. She did not take them. The next morning, I put the eggs back into the incubator, cold, but one had started pipping (making the first hole). Over the next few hours, it started zipping (opening the egg)…it even chirped a few times.
I named it Gloria. A survivor. Instinct told me I needed to help. The zipping had stopped, but the chick was still moving. I referred to a caring for chicks site, and the warning was clear: interfere too soon and you could kill the chick. Be patient, it can take 24 hours. So I did not help. Then I got busy, watering the gardening, putting children to bed, watching the telly…and by the time I checked on Gloria, she had died.
I took the shell off. I placed her back into the incubator. Deciding to let the children see and to discuss what had happened, so we could all learn and feel sad together. In the morning I buried her in my garden.
The lesson here: always learning, and as a newbie you make mistakes. This was a critical mistake. But it is, never the less, a reminder of the cascade of intervention…or perhaps the cascade of interference.
I had interfered, by moving the egg out of the incubator. This meant the membranes hardened, making it impossible for the chick to get out. I should have kept interfering, as once that pathway starts, it needs to be monitored and watched carefully, with the next intervention on standby. Delay can be, and was, fatal.
Having the contingency pathways in a birth map is no different to my chick hatching activities. By interfering, I put the chick at risk. Then by not interfering I did again. Once we interfere, things get more complex.
From one Mother to another, my book is the power of hindsight,..I want other mothers to benefit from this hindsight and avoid rookie errors. My book gives no answers. There is no one way. The individual can determine for themselves what the answers look like. What we really need, especially the very first time, is The Questions. When we don’t know what we don’t know, the usual response to being asked “do you have any questions?”, is “no, I don’t think so”. We assume our care provider is fully informing us. We often also assume that because birth is a normal biological function, that medical intervention will only happen if necessary. Many women do not know their options when it comes to care providers, or that there are differences between who you choose and the location of the birth.
Studies have shown that the rates of intervention are significantly lower with continuity of care with a midwife. Many people think that using their private health cover to enlist a private obstetrician means they are getting the best of care. Statistics indicate that this care model has the highest rate of intervention.
Understanding the differences means you can choose the care model that best suits your preferred approach to birth.
When I was first pregnant, I had heard that the Birth Centre was the way to go. I put my name down. I waited. Feeling the need to be ‘doing something’, I booked into a ‘shared-care’ model at a low risk hospital. This meant a midwife-led team, with a GP/OBGYN of my choice (from the four that attend). I would not know which midwife would be with me, but would met many of them through the pregnancy. When the birth centre finally offered me a place, I decided to continue with the hospital. Better the devil you know? Maybe. But the midwives were nice, and the hospital had excellent statistics (the best in NSW at the time). I did the hospital offered classes, I read some natural birth books, and was looking forward to experiencing birth.
I was fortunate to have a good first experience, in so far as the birth was wonderful. I was prepared for the birth. I was not prepared for afterwards. I did not know about birthing the placenta…I mean I guess I knew, it must have been mentioned, but I glossed over it…and breastfeeding was something I assumed would be easy. Never assume anything!
One lesson from my first birth was preparing for the ‘what ifs’. So much faith and trust was required of total strangers. Handing over your power to others because you know yourself to be ignorant, helpless and vulnerable is scary. Entering a hospital for a birth requires a certain amount of acceptance in the system…a certain amount of transference of power. We tend to focus on the natural preparation and leave the medical side to the experts…which is not unreasonable but not advisable. It is good to know what the possible interventions are, when they are likely to be offered and why they might be needed…and how particular care models can impact the likelihood of interventions.
There is no one way. And whilst the possible pathways differ, The Questions we need to ask are the same. These questions help ensure we have a full overview of what modern birthing has to offer: when we can see the entire map, we are better able to prepare for our journey. We can see where the alternative routes are, we can see the potential hazards. The Journey is important. It is part of our development, it shapes the parents we will become, it is a major chapter in Our Story.
When we know the questions, we have Informed Birth Preparation. I encourage The Fast Birth Pathway, which as you can see from one of the ‘articles that caught my eye’, is especially important if you have to travel a considerable distance to get to a maternity facility. I divided the questions into stages of labour and vaginal birth, caesarean birth (all three types) and post birth. These are the minimum to ask to create an informed birth map.
After the Questions, I include a section called “Beyond Birth”. This covers some practical preparations to help align expectation with reality. There is a brief outline of the first year. New parents are bombarded with advice, instructions and rules. My aim with this section is to simplify it down to some basic biology, covering some options. There is no one way. We all have different circumstances, different support networks, different philosophies.
I included an appendix to list some recommended reading and cover some special circumstances. Knowing where to find good information, help and support means a more positive experience, even in difficult circumstances. This reduces the risk of post natal depression, birth related trauma and unnecessary intervention.
This year I have decided to open up The Support Group, when you next log on to www.bellabirth,org, you will have access to all the Support Group pages. This includes many pdf resources and a blog of discussable articles and resources. This means I will be consolidating my newsletters. If you are already in the Support Group, this means you will hear from me once a month instead of twice. This is to reduce my volunteer workload but also maximize the awesome I can offer you. So instead of a fee to join, you will see a contribution option in the website and email footers. This might be fiscal, but your reviews and shares are equally valuable.
I have been in the throws of ‘To PhD or not to PhD’ which is going to come down to time management. I do not wish to be butter over too much bread, so your feedback is vital for my decision making. Are you using, or have you used the website? The book? My services? Please leave your feedback here, it can be anonymous. If you are finding my offerings useful, please spread them across your social networks.
A massive part of my decision making is based on the kind of Mother I wish to be, the kind of lifestyle I wish to live and the connection I want to foster with MOTL*. So I use BRAIN to weigh it all up, along with Hollie B’s light/heavy tool. Right now, I feel lighter not doing a PhD, and simply focusing on the awesome I can create with my newsletter and website, the book and my services. This is much more compatible with the lifestyle I am trying to create for my family: one of homegrown foods, movement and being outside. A PhD would see us inside, in front of screens, tired and cranky, with time away from each other that could be spent bushwalking, fishing, singing or dancing, picnicking and frolicking, reading for pleasure…when I put it like that, the choice seems obvious.
I have to ask myself the question: Why do I feel I need to prove what I do is awesome? Why do I feel I need ‘credibility’ from the academic world? Why not just do it? Why not just be?
MOTL will be working 4 days a week from April. This means on Fridays he can join the gatherings. This means I can focus on You, and may encourage other Dads to come along. One Friday a month an Adventure will unfold. Our Community will strengthen. Alternating between Canberra Region and the South Coast…and if we travel further afield I’ll let you know.
I will be organising more picnic gatherings soon, so watch the events page, or sign up to the notifications. You can join us on our family frolicks. Together we do better.
I look forward to hearing from you, any replies will be answered.
*My One True Love
In this Newsletter
Story Time: Theo the Tiger Learns to Roar.
Theo the tiger cub doesn't know how to roar so she embarks upon an adventure, which sees her asking her friends how to roar. This story shows us the value of our voice and celebrates the different voices we have. It also us how to find our voice.
The Cosleeping Haiku published on my wordpress blog on January 5th 2018
breast milk spattered headboard
baby nestled in my arms
Five Reasons to Prepare for an unassisted birth
Whilst the far majority of people plan an assisted birth for their primary pathway when creating a birth map, the benefits of considering unassisted birth are undeniable.
ARTICLES THAT HAVE CAUGHT MY EYE
Sara Wickham blogged about the Perils of Cyperchondria
This one, from renagade mothering, reflecting on 16 years of motherhood.
This news article, from the USA, about the impact of closing rural maternity services. Being prepared for a Fast Birth (unassisted) is crucial to Informed Birth Preparation. Especially if you need to travel over an hour to birth away from home with medical assistance. Taking options away from women is dangerous. It is about economics not safety.
This feminist wordpress blog about "whaterboutery", which can easily be related to maternity services.
This research paper about hospital based childbirth education, highlighting : The midwifes targeted birth preparation more than parenting preparation.
Parents want a balance between birth preparation and parenting preparation.
Parents expressed concerns about what could happened once they are home.
All participants needed more time to discuss with other parents.
This awesome maternity shoot of a young couple using songlines and stories, which makes for some very powerful birth preparation. I would love to hear the birth story!
Gaye Demanuele writes about the politics of homebirth. Just as the above news article highlights, it is about economics, not safety.
Sara Wickham discusses more benefits of water for birth based on two new studies.
A recent review of research looking into Placenta Aging "indicates that the placenta does not undergo a true aging change during pregnancy. There is... no logical reason for believing that the placenta, which is a fetal organ, should age while the other fetal organs do not.”
No bullshit scientist Dr Jess Berentson tells you what you need to know about the latest fear-mongering study aimed at pregnancy. This one looked at paracetamol use.
One of my favourite blogs, The Grubby Mummy, was reflecting on weaning
A UK based study asked What information do women need when choosing where to give birth? and concluded:
"Birthplace choice is informed by many factors. Women may encounter fewer overt obstacles to exercising choice than in the past, but women do not consistently receive information about birthplace options from their midwife at a time and in a manner that they find helpful. Introducing options early in pregnancy, but deferring decision-making about birthplace until a woman has had time to consider and explore options and discuss these with her midwife, might facilitate choice"
Another favourite blog of mine, Evolutionary Parenting, addressed The Golden Rules of Gina Ford. (this link has been added to the Parenting section of the support group discussion (if you have trouble logging in, let me know and I can send your unique link). I also added her newest article on Praise and Self Esteem.
NEW IN THE RESOURCES
The resources page of the member area contains these new PDFs:
SIGN UP HERE to have the newsletter sent on the 17th of each month to your inbox. Here you will find the archived versions of all The Newsletters, covering the topics below.