Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peggy Vincent and Her Amazing Birth Stories

     Several months back, my sister-in-law, Gillie, recommended Peggy Vincent's book, Baby Catcher.  I immediately requested it from the library and could barely put it down. This was one of the most riveting, fascinating, informative, and memorable books I have ever read. (And I love to read and read a lot, so that should tell you something).
     In Peggy's memoir of her years as a home birth midwife, she related the most incredible stories in the most rich and expressive writing I have read in a long time. She highlights some hilarious stories from the nervous, meddlesome physician father of the birthing mama to a hair-raising birth on a little boat during a wild storm. There's the heart-rending story of the young stud father-to-be who, after coming on to Peggy numerous times,  broke down after the delivery of his baby when he realized how powerfully affected he was by his child's birth.  There were accounts of dramatic hospital transfers and the politics of unhappy people and unfortunate circumstances. How her interaction with the obstetrical community in the Bay area to lawyers and hospitals shaped her career was incredibly compelling and saddening.
     I was so affected by the book that I would like to read it again. Quite frankly, I don't have time. But I would love to hear your comments about this book. Even if you're not interested in home birth, treat yourself to this book for an enjoyable literary experience. I'd greatly value any input or discussion of your favorite stories from the book. It's available in your local library.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My new blog! First entry...

     So this is it! I can't believe I'm starting a new blog but I'm so excited to get the ball rolling after I chose a name. I love "childbirth cheerleader" because it's so positive and upbeat. Birth should be a blast; a fun, exciting and wonderful event that is not so dissimilar to a sporting event. Women work hard to birth babies! They expend tremendous amounts of energy, sweat, tears, and some really prepare long and hard - like athletes do - for the big birth day. So, cheerleader seems totally appropriate.

     I went to the DONA International (DONA) web site some weeks back to look at how to become a certified doula. I started with their required reading list and have been getting those books from the library. I loved Ina May's Guide to Childbirth book. The amazing stories of complicated births that were resolved safely with wise, experienced midwifery care was astounding to me. I also was so enlightened by the concept that birth is well, rather sexual. The whole orgasmic birth thing has some merit to it. The blood flow needed in the perineum to help it stretch to avoid tearing as the baby crowns and is delivered is effectively accomplished by some hot and heavy kissing from dear hubby. Ina May and her midwife colleagues recommend this. It's an endearing concept that the way a baby first got into the woman is also a very helpful way to get them out.  That is, affectionate touch and cuddling is relaxing and invigorating regarding blood flow to the right places. What a phenomenal way to help a couple bond, too. I wonder how many husbands would be comfortable with this idea in a hospital setting. The whole issue of privacy might make a couple, or a man perhaps, uneasy. (My husband would NEVER have done this in the hospital and he was not a home birth enthusiast in any way. So, our births were  rather "Victorian" shall I say.) It's an idea I have tucked away and will inquire and explore at a later date with some other birth professionals.
     Anyway, for now I need to contact the right person to look into volunteering at the Pasadena Health Department as a doula or breastfeeding mentor. Any help I can give to prenatal or postpartum women would thrill me. I'm going to work my way through my reading list and evaluate my schedule to see what I can offer and when. This process might take years as my husband and six kids come first on my list of priorities. But I'm eager to explore this area of need in my community - something so close to my heart: mamas birthin' their babies.