its spring and i have a new site

so spring has officially sprung. doulas are dusting off the birkenstocks all across the UK and i have a TED talk to perfect so in full procrastination and most effective moment of my life i have built myself a new website. take a look around and get in touch.

http://nicolathebirthkeeper.com/

Advertisements

Babymooning – it ain’t for the weak!

“I’m really sorry Mars” is a phrase I hear a lot when I appear at the door of clients with newborns.  No, they haven’t just sworn at me, dropped my red wine, slammed the door on my finger.  They tend to be apologising because they are still in their nightwear.  I wish I knew why they felt it necessary.  It may well be because we’ve all been told, at some stage or other, ‘You’ve just had a baby’,  ‘It’s not as if you’re ill or something’,  ‘No need to let yourself go’ etc etc

It seems like there are so many classes and occasions to get to once the baby is born.  The reunions, the family gatherings, the coffee dates – and that’s justMonday morning.  Look, I don’t mind that women want to do those things.  I just feel sad that so many feel that they have to, even when they want to just rest up a while. [I fully understand that for some women this is what they want to do.  This isn’t about judgement, this is about my wish for new mums.  What works for one, may not work for another.]

“Nothing to apologise for”, I say as I walk through the door, “It’ll make it easier for you to pop back into bed.  Shall I put the kettle on?”

I love the cultures that put mum and baby to bed for 40 days.  Oh, can you imagine how heavenly it would be to get to the 6 week mark (typical growth spurt week for baby and height of tiredness for mum) and not to feel completely exhausted?

This is the time to learn your baby and have your baby learn you.  It doesn’t come again.  Not these early days where your baby changes so so much.  Your body has worked hard.  It grew a baby!!!!  You birthed a baby.  Babymooning isn’t weak.  It’s strong.  It takes something to buck the trend and do what we doulas love to do at birth.  Nothing!  Just being and letting it all unfold.  Me?  I’ll be in the kitchen sorting some food to nourish you and I’ll leave happy knowing that you’re all fed, watered and rested.

Want me to help you postnatally?  There’s nothing I love more than making lunch and supper with the baby [in the style of Jerry Maguire – show me the sling!] and supporting baby’s feeding.

this post was  written by the glorious Mars Lord – read more about her here – she really is THE most fabulous doula

this blog is part of the #postnatalrevolution in honour of sheila kitzinger passing on to the light.

wysewomen workshops hold a very popular motherwarming workshop at different locations all around the country – themotherwarming workshop looks at different ways to keep mum, baby and family healthy in the immediate postnatal period –  find local dates near you here

wysewomen are also involved in loving the mother – a week long journey for women to develop love for the mother.

having a postnatal doula can support you during your babymoon – find out more here and here

Postpartum and Healthy Boundaries

Some women are extremely lucky in having their own mom come for visits soon after the birth of the  baby and it’s awesome to have an extra set of hands around the house when you have this new bundle of joy in your arms. Except when it isn’t so awesome. Moms mean well. They usually do. But sometimes they forget why they are visiting and good intentions can turn into screaming matches and lots of tears over your baby’s cute little head.  Those of us who are so fortunate to have moms and mothers-in-laws coming to help during postpartum, even though they can sometimes drive us a little crazy, can benefit a great deal from the help and love of an older wise woman can offer. However, it is good to establish good boundaries so that yours and theirs high expectations mixed with your postpartum exhaustion and new mom insecurities do not turn into a disaster.
The more clarity you have about who you are, what you want, where you beliefs come from, the clearer and stronger your boundaries will be. So, we begin by asking ourselves some basic questions.  Do I have a clear idea of what I need after the baby arrives? Are these ideas mine, or are they influenced by what my culture, family and society at large have told me? Do I agree with this at a visceral level? How strong is my sense of self? How do I feel about asking for what I want and need?

I suggest an inventory of your influences, your feelings and your sense of self to discover what needs to be strengthened, changed, harnessed and cherished. After will give you a short list of suggestions you can discuss ahead of time with a loving mom or mother-in-law visiting you in the postpartum period.

STEP ONE: INFLUENCES

Think of your family and/or community’s way of doing things; is that in conflict with your own beliefs and desires? Some people believe you should not pick up your baby as soon as she cries, some believe that babies need to be fed on a schedule. Some cultures believe babies should be dressed, no matter the temperature with hats, gloves, socks and heavy blankets, even indoors.  In some cultures mom is not allowed to go out of the house for 30 days, and the list goes on. Ask yourself if the community around you, whether your own family or your peer group, encouraged you to change your attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to what they refer to as the norm?  Has your mother or mother-in-law already spoken to you about where the baby should sleep, shared her feeding experience? Remember that many older women have been unsupported by a system lacking in breastfeeding skills, and have either being told they had not enough milk, or that formula was better. Remember that trying to tell them that what they did was wrong will only create malaise.

BOTTOM LINE

Peer pressure is a phenomenon we have all experienced in our lives at one point or another. Peers can be your community, friends or family, and even your partner. To please them and be accepted by the group, we might have done or do something that is not in line with our desires. How successfully you handle peer pressure depends a great deal on how you feel about yourself and your place in the world. Do you feel you have a right to speak up and stand for what you want? Are you afraid that if your opinion differs too much from those around you, you will be excluded and isolated?

The most useful approach to have your desires respected is not going on a tirade about how you are right and they are wrong. Conflict never works and never, ever changes the other person’s mind about any issue.  One of the most successful approaches I have seen has been to ask for their support instead of telling them why they are wrong. Having a difficult, yet clarifying conversation ahead of time can go a long way to a peaceful and supported postpartum experience.  Tell, whomever is coming to help you, that there will be ways you care for your child they might not agree with, but that you’d really appreciate their support and compassion in allowing you to learn on your own about your baby.  Yes, you might make mistakes, explain, but they will be your mistakes and you are so excited to trying out your ideas and follow your gut feelings.  You also want to make sure they feel appreciated, so do tell them how valuable their presence will be, especially in helping out with food and house tending. If anyone in your family cannot hear you or support you, then make sure to tell them that for the first few weeks you prefer to be alone with your baby, to build up your milk supply and recuperate from the birth. Be loving, express your acknowledgment of how difficult this might be for an eager grandmother, but appeal to her memories of her first few weeks with her child. The clearer you are with what you need help with, and what you prefer not to hear, the better.  Sometimes we assume people can read our mind and know our preferences, however most people are not that psychic.

STEP TWO: FEELINGS

Think of your childhood and try to remember those times and places where your feelings were either ignored or abused.

Example: a client came in to see me after planning a VBAC and I asked her about her feelings. She said, “No matter what happened in my life my mom always told me how to feel, I can still hear her say to me, ‘There is no reason to cry, stop getting upset at something so silly, why aren’t you happy, you should be grateful.’ It seemed I had no right to have my own feelings. So I learned to look at her to see how I was feeling about anything and everything. During labor I was not even aware I had chosen a strong female doctor. I kept looking at her to see how I should feel and behave during my labor. She ended up making all the decisions for me. She said my labor was taking too long, my baby was probably too big and I needed a cesarean. I know that did not feel right to me. I had been in labor for only ten hours and I thought I was doing great. But I just believed her when she said I was probably too tired to even push this baby out and I probably just wanted him out of me. So I agreed and had a cesarean, and my baby was a 7.6lb healthy boy. She looked at him and pronounced him lazy because he wanted to sleep and not breastfeed in recovery. I can’t say I have a good memory of my son’s first breath.”

BOTTOM LINE

Sometimes, people don’t realize that they’re crossing your boundaries when it comes to telling you how to feel or not feel. Most moms don’t even realize what they are doing, in fact many of us are either doing our best or we believe we do what we do for our daughter’s own good. It is up to you to realize you might be stuck in a familiar pattern of people telling you how you feel vs. figuring it out for yourself.

To break away first, you must tune in to, embrace, and understand you own feelings. It seems simple, but if you have relied on someone else to tell you what you think and feel this will take some work. Something as simple as saying “ouch” when someone has said something that has hurt you is a start to expressing your feelings in a non aggressive way.  In postpartum your feelings will be all over the map, thanks to the hormonal readjustment you will feel blue more often, vulnerable, exhausted and at times scared and anxious.  Learning some specific tools before the baby comes that can help you express what you feel in a non-confrontational manner will go a long way in being able to ask for your needs to be met. Sometimes a simple “I am tired now, and feel like a cuddle with my new baby, can we talk about this later?” can shut a busy mouth.  I have written an article called   Baby Blues or Opening the Heart, about the feelings that surface during the postpartum period, it is important to understand this very delicate psychological phenomenon that touches all women once the baby has arrived.

STEP THREE: SELF

Think about how you feel about yourself. Many people think that they don’t deserve to set boundaries in the first place. Their low self-esteem makes them unable to have an opinion or make a decision. They often hide behind phrases like, “Anything you want is fine with me. If the doctor is comfortable this way then I guess we should just do that,” and “Don’t worry about me all I care about is a healthy baby.” A fun way to gauge where your self-esteem is at, is doing the following quiz truthfully. Answer the following questions with true or false:

  1. Other people are not better off or more fortunate than me
  2. I accept myself as I am and am happy with myself
  3. I enjoy socializing
  4. I deserve love and respect
  5. I feel valued and needed
  6. I don’t need others to tell me I have done a good job
  7. Being myself is important
  8. I make friends easily
  9. I can accept criticism without feeling put down
  10. I admit my mistakes openly
  11. I never hide my true feelings
  12. I always speak up for myself and put my views across
  13. I am a happy, carefree person
  14. I don’t worry what others think of my views
  15. I don’t need others’ approval to feel good
  16. I don’t feel guilty about doing or saying what I want
  17. Test score at the bottom

BOTTOM LINE

To build your self-esteem and your right to want what you deserve and desire, start small. Remember all your accomplishments and make a collage with mementos that remind you of what you have already accomplished in the past, and all the things you are proud of. Use photographs of a recital from when you were young, a trophy you won at a little league competition, a business card from a job you really loved, or a paper from school you are particularly fond of. Just don’t say you can’t remember anything. I know there is something, even the smallest thing is important. Make sure it is something YOU accomplished on your own.

Make a list of your most recent accomplishments; even the ones you think are insignificant. Each completed task, regardless of how small, is a building blocks towards a more confident you. Create an image of yourself as the confident and self-assured person you aspire to become. Do something that scares you, even if it is starting a conversation with strangers while in line at the groceries. You’ll learn to talk to the most difficult people this way. Do something you are good at. Set small goals. If your goal today is to do the laundry and take a walk and you accomplish it, put a mark on your list of accomplishments, you’ll feel a lot better about yourself. Beware not to try to overachieve and set yourself up for failure. START SMALL.

Help others feel good about themselves. When you help other people feel better about themselves and like themselves more, it will make you feel good about yourself. Write positive affirmations about yourself and repeat them. Recite them in front of a mirror. This is hard but very effective. Last but not least: stop comparing yourself to other people. Low-self esteem stems from the feeling of being inferior.

These are only three small steps to stronger boundaries and a stronger self-esteem. Learning to set boundaries is a vital part of learning to communicate in a direct and honest manner. It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has no boundaries, with someone who cannot communicate directly, and honestly; especially if that somebody is you. Learning how to set boundaries is a necessary step in learning to be a friend to yourselves. It is your responsibility to take care of yourselves – to protect yourselves when it is necessary. It is impossible to learn to love yourselves without owning your rights and responsibilities as co-creators of your life. We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us, but we can only do it if we have compassion for where we come from, consideration for our own feelings and self-esteem. After all we teach our children how to have healthy boundaries by example, so you are not just doing this to help yourself you are doing this for your baby.

Here is the list we promised at the beginning of the article. You can add to and share with anyone coming to help you after the baby is born:

  • You will need food, 3 meals and 2 snacks each day. Enlist as many friends and relatives for this.  People will ask if there is anything they can do…SAY YES. Consider setting up a page for your family on a great website called com where people can go and schedule themselves to bring you food and they can also see what you have been eating.  Sometimes asking for people to bring food might mean having 5 pounds of lasagna brought to you with great intentions.  Be specific about likes and dislikes, allergies etc.  People need directions and welcome them, especially if they know you have loved their meals.
  • Laundry, it is amazing how much laundry a little one can generate. Be sure to post a list of detergents you buy regularly and tape it to the washing machine.  We all have different preferences and a message written is a lot better than an explanation as to why you choose a more expensive but environmentally friendly soap.
  • If you have pets they need walking. Pets in particular are in need of extra attention once the little ones come, so enlist someone or a few people to come and walk and cuddle your pets.
  • Do you have plants that need attending? There are a lot of people who live in apartments who would love to hang out in your garden and feel the dirt under their fingers, you will make them happy and your weeds and veggies will be happy for it.
  • House cleaning, if you already have someone to help around the house see if you can afford to double her/his time for the first few weeks. If you have always cleaned yourself, than ask mom or someone else to come and help. A clean house makes a postpartum experience feel like a vacation in a hotel…with room service
  • Many grandmas love to hold the baby a lot. I have seen loving, good intentions grandmas come over hog the baby while the new mom ends up catering to them. DO NOT ALLOW THIS. Baby needs skin to skin so you can produce milk and you want to enjoy your baby. However, once a day why not ask mom to hold baby so you can go take a shower or even a short walk. Compromises always work for everyone involved.
  • If you can hire a postpartum doula, she can help you with more than house chores and food, she can reassure you of your own choices, offer breastfeeding support and a caring and compassionate hear.

Add to this list what is important to you.  If you do this before the baby comes you can really feel prepared, loved and pampered by the most important person in this equation YOU.

______________________________________________________________________________

TEST SCORE: Total number of TRUE answers you gave, EACH ONE POINT:
15-16 Points – You have a high level of self esteem!
12-14 Points – Not bad, but there is room for you to improve
8-11 Points – Low self esteem is holding you back
Below 8 Points – Your esteem is drastically low!

Giuditta Tornetta is a birth and postpartum doula, mother of two, author of the best-seller Painless Childbirth: An Empowering Journey Through Pregnancy and Birth, and Conversations With The Womb.  Together with Robin Lim and Nicola Goodall she facilitates a postpartum certification program in Bali each year called Loving the Mother.  While Giuditta is best known as a writer, workshop leader and a doula, she is also a passionate voice for women. She founded the Joy In Birthing Foundation  a non-profit organization of committed, community oriented professional doulas, dedicated to helping families through pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. The foundation serves women in the foster care system, homeless shelters and juvenile detention center.

this post was  written by the gorgeous Giuditta Tornetta – read more about her here

this blog is part of the #postnatalrevolution in honour of sheila kitzinger passing on to the light.

wysewomen workshops hold a very popular motherwarming workshop at different locations all around the country – themotherwarming workshop looks at different ways to keep mum, baby and family healthy in the immediate postnatal period –  find local dates near you here

wysewomen are also involved in loving the mother – a week long journey for women to develop love for the mother.

having a postnatal doula can support you during your babymoon – find out more here and here

#Postnatal

Luxurious lie ins without guilt, idly watching the sun creep down the neighbours root. Soft breaths in and out, mirrored by the gentle sighs of my newborn baby. Warm smiles of love from my husband as he brings me nourishing bowls of muesli porridge for breakfast. In bed. Every day for one month.

This was my baby moon and how I started every day.  I enjoyed the noises of the busy household from my bedroom sanctuary.  I laughed in tune with the shrieking of my elder son rough and tumbling his way through breakfast with his dad. I relaxed into the peaceful silence as they departed for nursery school. I got up leisurely in my own time and wandered outside to the garden.

I gave myself permission to do as little as possible for one month and I asked for help and support to make it possible.

My mum came for two or three days a week. She cooked, cleaned and attended to the little things that only my mum could do so well. Another mother, a woman, a sister, she understood and she was indispensible to me.

I felt happy and pampered.

In my husband’s culture looking after a new mother is the norm.   When you give birth you are meant to stay in your house for one week. Your mother, mother in law, or other designated female member in lieu if that is not possible, will come and live with you for two or three months and take care of many household tasks.  Generally you do not lift a finger for a month.  This level of support is taken almost for granted. I am not sure that the women would describe this as a luxury as I did.   His culture understands and honours mothers. I am lucky and blessed to have a husband who not only understands and values the role of mother but is willing to take on many of the tasks that would normally be accomplished by women in his culture.

Hence the daily breakfast in bed.

At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to achieve the level of support I had envisioned listening to his descriptions of the village life he grew up in. My mum at first thought that a two day one night initial visit would be enough. That we would want to be left alone to bond.  I cried. I explained I needed more help and support, not just my husband, amazing though he is. I needed another woman and so did he.

Although initially surprised my mum heard the deep emotion in my plea, cancelled her diary and stayed for a week. We went to stay at my parents for the second week.  Two delightful luxurious weeks which brought us all closer together as a family.   Two weeks of extra support that turned into two months or more as I asked for the continued help I needed and gave myself permission to accept it. I gave myself permission not to be the one to do everything, or initially anything at all.

Now, nearly two years on, I look again upon the photographs of me and my family during this sacred baby moon time. I recall those sweet timeless mornings in bed, resting with my baby. An  inner acknowledgment of my value as a woman and mother rises up and salutes me.  I smile at the new mother smiling at me my heart is full and I am glad.

blogmama

this post was  written by the gorgeous charlotte kanyi – read more about her here

this blog is part of the #postnatalrevolution in honour of sheila kitzinger passing on to the light.

wysewomen workshops hold a very popular motherwarming workshop at different locations all around the country – themotherwarming workshop looks at different ways to keep mum, baby and family healthy in the immediate postnatal period –  find local dates near you here

wysewomen are also involved in loving the mother – a week long journey for women to develop love for the mother.

having a postnatal doula can support you during your babymoon – find out more here and here

Give that woman a break! Why babymoons and support are ESSENTIAL to a new mother’s health

The post-partum period generally gets a bad rap in the press. New babies are seen as a bit of a nuisance – inconveniencing parents the world over with their refusal to sleep, their bawling and their disregard for your own timetable and neatly ordered life and ideas. Parents desperate for a return to normality invest in books telling them how to get their baby to behave, so they can go back to normal as soon as possible. But how healthy is this? Is life after a baby supposed to be normal?

This whole getting back to normal thing is something of an unhealthy obsession in our competitive and go-getting culture and there is great pressure for women to bounce back quickly and resume their former life at full speed. Even if that life was stressful, making her ill, or unsustainable. Women are expected to give birth then get back to normal pronto, slimming down as soon as they can, so they can pretend their bodies haven’t undergone this miracle, this transformation from maiden to woman, or mother to matriarch.

In 2015, our idols are not the curvy birthing goddesses we once treasured and aspired to be like in earlier centuries. In this mono-dimensional age, we worship and hold up the ideal of sexiness and womanliness as belonging only to young women pre-babies – the younger the better. Every billboard is an image of women either being slim and young, or if a mother, then being a slim, capable, strong, and multi-tasking one. It’s easy to see where the pressure comes from for women to bounce back quickly,and prove to the world that they are just as good as they ever were, often unaware of the extremely powerful new version of themselves they have become. They may feel raw and vulnerable and like they are anything but amazing, in much the way brand new butterfly, wings still wet,  has absolutely no idea how beautiful it really is. The pressure for women to appear capable, multitasking, and non-damaged is made worse by the fact that women can be even more critical and judgemental of each other than the menfolk. The heat magazine culture of bitching at women’s post birth bodies rather than venerating their rite of passage and imperfect state doesn’t help.

Real strength and womanliness is often mistaken in these modern times. Women as primal, powerful, scarred and raw birthing goddesses are not the poster girls you will see on any conventional boards, and are not celebrated as the heroines they are, by the masses. Women are shamed from being raw, messy, bloody, scarred and primal. but isn’t this the very essence of a powerful, beautiful woman? Birth cracks open our shell, revealing hidden depths and vulnerablities. The ordeal women go through to have a baby transforms every woman into a goddess, whether others witness and celebrate that or not. So I think a rest is deserved, don’t you? Literally, metaphorically and on every level – we should give women a break when they go through the process of having a baby.

But all this obsession with the outer body is very shallow. Having a baby changes women and their partners in much deeper ways, fundamentally reshaping the inner and outer landscape of themselves and their life. Not honouring this and getting back to some kind of normal is to somehow miss the point entirely of welcoming a new soul into the world. It is meant to transform you. It is meant to bring chaos and throw priorities and choices into question. It is no less amazing than a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. There are no shortcuts. It’s all part of the process.

Having a baby is meant to turn everything on its head – for a while anyway. This is the very beauty of babies! It is their gift to us. To help us shake off our old life and step into a new one. It’s part of the fun. And when we try and rush women back into some kind of ‘normal’ we deny them of something really beautiful and soul transforming. Relationships take time to form. Mother and baby relationships are no different. The new dance the family must dance is one for which new steps must be learnt. It’s not like any other dance they have danced before, and it can take time for the rhythm and movements to feel co-ordinated and graceful! Gazing deeply into one another’s eyes, drinking each other in, is what makes the sleepless nights not only bearable, but absolutely worth it. The hormones of love and bonding work best when women and their babies are well rested, supported and loved from the outside. Establishing breastfeeding whilst rested can be tricky – but unsupported and without proper rest and time it can become hell, leading women to abandon it altogether. Mothers and babies need time to get it right.

Even if birth was smooth and went well, life outside the womb can be a huge shock for mothers, fathers, babies, and in fact the entire family. Everyone concerned needs time to recover and regroup and to find a new rhythm. A mother will feel physically sore for some time, she may bleed, feel weak, and delicate for a while. She deserves to be waited on hand and foot for a while – if not now, then when? What time could be more sacred than this? New mothers will feel tired, emotional and raw even when birth has gone smoothly. Babies can be very hard work in those first few days and weeks, as they learn to suckle, breathe and sleep – it takes some babies longer than others and this is something to be honoured and allowed for. Spending those precious few days and even weeks sitting around as nsked as possible, skin-to- skin are a vital part of the bonding ritual which help mother and baby recover and delight in each other. Baby’s first impressions of the world can be formed by and trans-formed by a mothers touch in those first few weeks.

If her baby’s birth was traumatic, and experienced it as an ordeal, a mother and her baby will still have all the above needs, but even more so. Her partner may also be traumatised or in shock. Now is a time for mega amounts of love, time, healing and nurturing to help all to regain their strength, confidence and feeling of autonomy. A mother will need non judgemental listeners to hear her as she processes, rages, and grieves for her baby and herself. She may need weeks, months or even years to fully come to terms with the experience. But in those first few weeks she will most certainly need extra loving arms, extra listening ears, extra time and space to heal.

Mothers are only as strong as the web that supports them. We are not meant to do the very intense task of raising babies on our own. It does take a village. In these times of fractured families who live spread out lives, women are more vulnerable and in some ways, lonelier than ever before. Thankfully we live in an era where it is culturally more acceptable for fathers to help out and be more hands-on. But in the absence of a loving partner or husband on the scene and without a tribal or community sisterhood to support us, we can feel the task of mothering to be too great, too hard, too much. It’s normal, even with the best support around us, for us to have moments such as this anyway. But for those mothers who are home-alone very soon after a baby’s birth, pushed to their limits of sleep deprivation and patience, it is no wonder so many women suffer from PND or PTSD.

So how can we support new mothers and babies? We can start by giving them a proper babymoon period and respecting their need to have time to bond with their new babies and fall in love with them as nature intended. The glue that hold them together is innate but needs time and space for it to be discovered and enjoyed. We need to pamper and fuss over mothers as much as they will allow us, and indirectly if this is more appropriate. We need to tell them how beautiful they are. How important this massive job is. How amazing their bodies are for carrying and growing a baby and for going through such a big transformation for their babies. We need to love them and nurture them, even if it is from afar while they are tended to by their very nearest and dearest. We can drop yummy foods on the doorstep or send a basket of cakes or some other foods that will keep. Do kind, thoughtful, practical things for them. Make them laugh. Offer to take on their menial jobs for a while. Be there on the end of the phone if they need us. Bring them chocolate and treats. Support in invisible, quiet ways.

This should be the priority of every support team surrounding a woman, a team that might be conventional or not, formally named as such, or not. It might be made up of her husband, and/or any other partners, doulas, sisters, friends, a mother (or mother figure), or other children she may have. Anyone who is in a position to help, should help. It doesn’t matter so much who is doing the supporting, just that some kind of team does. The team should support the woman’s own strengths, believe in her as capable and strong, and never use the support as a bargaining chip. It should be given unconditionally so as to raise her back up on her feet when she is ready, not push her down.

Women who feel truly loved, cared for, listened to and nurtured get back on their own feet soon enough. And when they do, stronger, wiser, more beautiful than before, you can be sure as heck, they’ll do the same for you in a heartbeat. Mum’s don’t need ten baby blankets or five teddies for their new baby. What they mostly need is unobtrusive support.

What greater role could there be in life than supporting one another when we can, and enabling a new mother to learn to dance with her baby, as they both go forwards, changed, irrevocably, in a new world that waited for them…. and carried on spinning in the meanwhile!

this post was originally posted by the gorgeous paula here april 2015

this blog is part of the #postnatalrevolution in honour of sheila kitzinger passing on to the light.

wysewomen workshops hold a very popular motherwarming workshop at different locations all around the country – the motherwarming workshop looks at different ways to keep mum, baby and family healthy in the immediate postnatal period –  find local dates near you here

wysewomen are also involved in loving the mother – a week long journey for women to develop love for the mother.

having a postnatal doula can support you during your babymoon – find out more here and here

Why Just One Day?

This post is dedicated to all the amazing doulas I know who ‘mother the mother’, to every breastfeeding support worker I know and to every single mother I have ever supported – you are all incredible.

One day? One day of the year we get. Just one. One day to appreciate, to thank, to hug to our hearts and sadly, sometimes, to remember, our wonderful mothers.

And whilst it’s lovely to be celebrated in this way, especially when the children are little, receiving homemade cards and flowers picked from the garden, this day always makes me think of all the mothers around the world just getting on with a million thankless tasks.

One day? Just one? When we do what we do? I can’t even begin to find the words to describe the awe I have felt for mothers I’ve met since I became a doula.

Mothers nurture a growing child in their wombs, fiercely protecting that future human despite having been rejected by the child’s father, despite rape, poverty, despite extreme emotional and physical suffering.

Mothers give birth. Some hunker down and roar their babies out; lioness mamas ecstatic with earth-shattering power. Some dream their babies into the world – flowing, spiralling, floating in the warm, wet other world of birth transformation.

Others have their children ‘untimely ripped’ from their wombs by induction, c-section, instruments – sometimes necessarily, but all too often at the instigation of an ‘all powerful, all knowing’ paternalistic figure.

But they all keep their dignity, their strength, their abiding love. Frequently, around the world, mothers sacrifice their babies, or even their own lives on the altar of poverty and ignorance.

Some mothers feel that overflow of piercing, painful love the minute they feel their child’s hot, wet body at her breast. Others, many who have been separated from their babies, find the love blossoms slowly over days and weeks. Some revel in the warm,  liquid, primal, sensual experience of the babymoon but many suffer pain, social isolation, lack of skilled support, physical complications or the black hole of postnatal depression or post-traumatic stress.

Whatever our journey, all of us mothers fight for their children, even to the extent of killing themselves in the belief their children will be better off without them. Really? Overly dramatic? Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death but we don’t hear these stories. Society is rightly, too ashamed to air these herstories, too scared to examine what it reveals of a world that allows such tragedy.

Without exception, we all bear guilt. Motherhood, especially in the West, has become a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ competitive battlefield. In our anxiety to get it right, we turn to the marketplace – to the legions of ‘experts’ and childcare manual authors who grow fat on our insecurites and doubt.

30% of UK mothers now work full time at the same time as still doing the majority of the childcare and domestic tasks. Around the world, the economic contribution of women means the difference between full stomachs and starvation for the majority of families. Most female work is drudging, badly paid, back-breaking, illegal and often downright dangerous.

Mothers around the world ‘bring forth in suffering’, not through God’s Will but because mothers must be submerged, disempowered, forgotten. What is the alternative? What trouble would we cause if we were all strong enough to stand up to a world that disenfranchises our daughters, sends our sons off to war, drags our children into drugs, violence and poverty and celebrates the machismo of our husbands when they leave us.

What would happen if our bodies were celebrated for the effortless way we can bear children and feed them, instead of using our curves and breasts to sell products?

What if Mothers had a voice. What if we all took back what is ours by right – our birthright – to labour and give birth safely with skilled loving attendants, in the place of our choice; to be supported with patience and loving care through the transition to parenthood; to be supported with affordable childcare, equal pay, financial support to stay at home with the children (after all, isn’t this a JOB, even if it doesn’t register in the GDP of a country?). To live without fear of starvation, rape, slavery, or domestic abuse.

What if we had the time and energy to actually get a say in the way the world was run?

One Day? Just One? Bad show, I say. Let’s make every day Mothers’ Day

As an afterthought I’m adding some fascinating facts to the end of this post:

According to the WHO: Every day, approximately 1000 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Amnesty International’s report Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA, urges action to tackle a crisis that sees between two and three women die every day during pregnancy and childbirth in the USA….With a lifetime risk of maternal deaths that is greater than in 40 other countries, including virtually all industrialized nations, the USA has failed to reverse the two-decade upward trend in preventable maternal deaths, despite pledges to do so.

Unlike the US, Britain has an independent body that records all maternal and perinatal deaths so that clinicians can learn and be held accountable. The Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries is crucial but its continued existance seems uncertain.

On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. (womensaid.org.uk)

In the UK, PM David Cameron admitted pre-election that the NHS was short of 3000 midwives and promised to recruit that number. That promise has been forgotten. Midwives and mothers are worried maternity sevices are being parred down to dangerous levels. Meanwhile, in many developing countries, millions of pregnant women have no access to antenatal care or skilled intrapartum support at all.

If you want to find our more or join the movement to take back motherhood, visit www.oneworldbirth.com

this was originally posted at the birth hub here by the gorgeous maddie december 6th 2013

this blog is part of the #postnatalrevolution in honour of sheila kitzinger passing on to the light.

wysewomen workshops hold a very popular motherwarming workshop at different locations all around the country – the motherwarming workshop looks at different ways to keep mum, baby and family healthy in the immediate postnatal period –  find local dates near you here

having a postnatal doula can support you during your babymoon – find out more here and here

the babymooners

This article originally appeared in the Scottish Herald – saturday 21st february 2009 and was written by the very talented Vicky Allan

Should you rush back to work after childbirth? Vicky Allan talks to those who prefer to take this post-natal business lying down

WHEN the French justice minister, Rachida Dati, returned to work five days after a caesarean section, she triggered a savage debate.

Dati, hair perfectly coiffed, with just a hint of baby bulge about the midriff, was one in a long line of public figures who had paraded their maternal resilience for the cameras. There was Jennifer Lopez looking svelte six weeks after having twins. Then there was Nicole Kidman, showing “no sign”, as one paper put it, “of a baby bump just after 10 days”. Though we know this may be an airbrushing of reality, it remains a forceful ideal. In Britain, one year’s maternity leave from work is a legal right, yet the sense remains that a successful woman does not allow a baby to interrupt the continuity of her identity as a socially and economically active, sexual, independent agent. A strong element of damage control must be applied to any impact a baby might have on one’s life. No phrase embodies this more than the idea of “getting one’s life back” after childbirth.According to Tina Cassidy, author of Birth: A History, Dati is symptomatic of a trend, and her age, 43, is an indicator of this. “Women who wait so long to have their first baby have already established their careers as being central in their lives. And when you have been working at a job so hard for so long, it becomes your whole identity. I think women also feel insecure about losing that identity when they have a baby so they fight their instincts to push themselves out of the house.”

The impetus to get back in action quickly after childbirth is a relatively new one. Throughout history most cultures have practised the opposite: a period of “confinement” in which the new mother is looked after by family and community, often away from men, fed certain foods and nursed through the early weeks after giving birth. “These customs,” says Tina Cassidy, “were meant to facilitate bonding, establish good breastfeeding practices, ensure that the baby thrived, that the mother recovered and the newborn was kept removed from potentially dangerous diseases.”

Even now, women in much of the world still follow the practice. Here in Scotland, however, it is rarely entertained as a possibility, though a friend of mine was advised by her midwife to remain in bed for 15 days after giving birth to her second child, ringing a bell whenever she needed anything. “Allow yourself to be treated like a queen,” she was told. “It will be your last opportunity given you now have two children.”

Edinburgh childbirth educator Nicola Goodall went further following the births of three of her four children. Goodall, who converted to Islam at the age of 23, opted to follow the traditional Muslim 40-day confinement period. During that time, she tried not to leave the house and succumbed only twice: when she had to take her daughter to hospital and to buy a nursing bra. Other people took her children to school. Friends brought her soup and shopping. Her husband took over many household jobs.

“I would spend as much time as I could in bed for as long as possible. Then I would spend as much time as I could sitting around reading. It was like a honeymoon, the babymoon that Sheila Kitzinger the social anthropologist, writer and childbirth campaigner talks about. Relaxing, eating well and just spending time looking at the baby,” she explains.

This practice isn’t so far from what might have been the norm in Scottish culture a century ago. The oral history book, Scottish Midwives, records the experiences of midwives and “howdies”, the uncertified midwives or “handywomen” who were their precursors and often spent around four weeks in a mother’s home, helping out with chores.

“We had to try and keep the mothers in bed,” said Margaret Foggie, who conducted postnatal home visits in Glasgow in the 1930s. “We would tell the husband to remember the wife was not well, so run the messages and look after the weans’.” Annie Kerr generally stayed with mothers for around two weeks after the birth, and described having “sic a shock” when one woman got up to pick up her baby while she was baking in the kitchen. Another midwife from the Outer Hebrides recalled: “In the olden times the mother really stayed in bed – she didn’t come out at all in the first 10 days. The friends went before she got up, to see the mother and the baby and there is an old Gaelic word for it, bangaid’, which is like a banquet.”

The book includes testimonies from women working in the latter half of the 20th century, including, one, Ella Clelland, who observed the transition from confinement to shorter hospital stays and said: “Mothers nowadays don’t or won’t rest enough. They possibly think they don’t need to. But they get very tired and I think that’s why postnatal depression is more now.”

Was Clelland right? Reports of postnatal depression are certainly on the rise and some people, including Diane Nehme of the Association for Post-Natal Illness, believe that lack of rest may be a contributory factor. “There is no respite care, and women are often discharged in 48 hours, even after first deliveries. There is so much pressure to live up to unrealistic expectations to return to work after short maternity leave and no paternity leave, juggle childcare and raise the perfect baby.”

Japan, which practises a month of confinement, has one of the lowest levels of postnatal depression in the world. “The problem,” says Cassidy, “is that the support system to encourage mums to stay with their newborns has frayed.” The physical distance that strains family ties and the detachment from local communities means many first-time mothers don’t even consider a period of rest. No-one is telling them they should behave like a queen for a week and they wouldn’t know how to find the help to do it even if they wanted to.

Confinement wouldn’t work for everyone and, over the centuries, many women have felt repressed by it. But what matters is that women are aware of it as an option and can make an informed choice.

Of course, some women – particularly those who run their own businesses – cannot contemplate this short holiday from career obligations. A few weeks after the birth of her second child, Karen Macartney, who runs the website informedwomen.co.uk, turned up for a business appointment, but was physically ill with nerves to such an extent that she couldn’t enter the meeting room.

The broadcaster Gail Porter talked, during a recent interview, about doing voice-over jobs within a month of giving birth to her daughter, only to find herself leaking milk into her shirt and sobbing into the microphone.

On the whole, women who run their own businesses seem to be among the most successful at managing the transition to motherhood, perhaps because they have more control over managing their workloads around the needs of their children.

Lorna Pellet, who currently runs Graduates For Growth, recalls that her two pregnancies were creative times in which she expanded her businesses – her original venture was Edinburgh’s Café Florentin. “The best time for planning, for a woman,” she says, “is when she’s pregnant. You can have expansive thoughts because there is a finite timeline. For me the process of being pregnant and having a child was also about reshaping my lifestyle. I think you have to be prepared to go with the rhythm of the child, coping with the changes as opposed to trying to fit the child into your life. Having my first child felt completely natural. I did have childcare and we had a flat above one of the shops. It was very flexible. It’s about having a great infrastructure and this is where community is incredibly valuable, and something that it takes all parties to invest in.”

There is no obvious path back to the days of the howdies and that associated secret world of female knowledge – nor would we want it. Bringing fathers to the birthing bed has been one of the great revolutions of modern times. If we are to create a society in which men and women can operate with freedom and equality, then we need them to stay there. Indeed, we would like them to stick around for longer, ideally with equal paternity leave rights to those afforded to women. They need to hold the baby for longer.

Meanwhile, Goodall believes the idea of lying-in will have its time again. “Not long before I was born, you might have got into problems as a healthcare professional for encouraging a woman to breastfeed. Now the opposite is true. And I can’t help but think that it will come around that way with rest after childbirth.

“We know so much about maternal bonding today, and even breastfeeding is now seen in the context of this whole biological nurturing thing. So I think having a time of seclusion with your baby, a babymoon, will soon be seen as part of that.”

find the original article here 

wysewomen workshops hold a very popular motherwarming workshop at different locations all around the country – the motherwarming workshop looks at different ways to keep mum, baby and family healthy in the immediate postnatal period –  find local dates near you here

having a postnatal doula can support you during your babymoon – find out more here and here

nicola mahdiyyah goodall is a revert muslim who grew up with hip hop based in edinburgh, scotland and london, england. she works with women trying and mainly succeeding to build circles of knowledge and community primarily with birth.

she is also the director of wysewomen publishing and facilitates wysewomen workshops and red tent doula courses.

a letter to purvi patel

A Letter to Purvi Patel

 

Heard the one about the woman sent to prison for 20 years after having a miscarriage?  Charged with killing her unborn child as well as neglecting the same live child?  http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/04/purvi-patel-found-guilty-feticide-unborn-childs-death No, not funny at all, is it? And yet it is something that has just happened in America.  Purvi Patel has found guilty of two mutually contradictory crimes.

 

What can you do?  Well… you can sign the petition http://action.rhrealitycheck.org/page/s/condemning-indiana

 

You can donate some money to the Purvi Patel Family Support Fund https://rhrc.democracyengine.com/purvi-patel

 

You can send Purvi a letter of support IRCRC, PO Box 723, Lafayette, IN 47902

 

And you can join the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/justiceforpurvipatel?fref=ts Justice for Purvi Patel] and keep updated with what’s going on.

 

You see, I believe that we need to join our voices, not just for Purvi, but for all women, our mothers, sisters, daughters and nieces.  This is an insidious thing.  Making women nothing more than vessels.  Removing our autonomy, our freedom of action, our right to justice.

 

One of our sisters has a 41 year sentence and will serve 20 years in jail.  We need to join to together, bring this out into the light and right an injustice and we should let our sister know that we are here.

 

 

IRCRC, PO Box 723, Lafayette, IN 47902

 

Hi Purvi

 

You don’t know me.  You probably won’t remember my name, because hopefully you will receive many many letters of support.

 

I am sorry that the State of Indiana have decided to prosecute and send you to jail because of your miscarriage. I live on the other side of The Pond, and I wanted to reach out to you, to let you know that there are people across the world who are standing with you.  We will do what we can from where we are to shout loudly and  create a mighty ROAR of voices.

 

In this dark time in your life, please know that we are doing what we can to bring this injustice to the light.

 

Sending you love.

 

Mars Lord

London, UK

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/02/it-isnt-justice-for-purvi-patel-to-serve-20-years-in-prison-for-an-abortion

 

http://deepaiyer.me/2015/04/01/outraged-about-purvi-patel-case-things-to-do-now/

 

i’m mars lord, a mother of 5. a doula passionate about women, birth, breastfeeding and placentas, with a huge special interest in twin birth.
follow me on facebook here