Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mama Bear

"Emulating an animal made it easier for me to access that power that I instinctively knew I needed during labor." - Ina May Gaskin from her book Ina May's Guide To Childbirth

For some reason, I'm having a hard time prying myself from the computer today. I'm working on NOT feeling guilty for it. I hear a voice in my head. Don't be scared; it's a real person. I keep hearing my friend, Logan, which just so happens to also be my what we like to coach. I was just about to retire from the computer today, take a shower, make some hot tea, and enjoy a book. But I want more computer time. Worked through the guilt by hearing Logan's voice saying something like...."A lot of times we do what we think we should do and then we never get to do what we want to do." So, my urge to blog seeps through. On to Mama Bear...

I've been thinking about this for awhile, and it really started to radiate in me today, so much so that I want to share it. Here's a few little clips about "loving the primate in you" from my favorite childbirth book, Ina May's Guide To Childbirth.

"Letting the primate in you do the work of labor is a short way of saying not to let your over-busy mind interfere with the ancient wisdom of your body. To give you an idea of what I mean, here are some things monkeys and apes don't do in labor that many women do - and that interfere with labor:

  • Monkeys don't think of technology as necessary to birth-giving.
  • Monkeys don't obsess about their bodies being inadequate.
  • Monkeys don't blame their condition on anyone else.
  • Monkeys don't do math about their dilation to speculate how long labor might take.
  • Monkeys in labor get into the position that feels best, not the one they're told to assume.
  • Monkeys aren't self-conscious about making noise, farting, or pooping during labor. All queens, duchesses, and movie stars poop-every day, if they're healthy.

How can you 'let your monkey do it' in a hospital? I believe that it helps to mentally prepare to be a little wild while you're there. Try to behave as much as possible as you would in your own bedroom. Be willing to be unconventional if that might help your labor along....
Given that all other primates are known to cope well with labor and birth, while civilized humans often aren't, it seems that we would be wise to emulate other female primates as much as possible....Many say it helps them to find the wild woman within and to tap into the ancient knowledge that is the potential of all women."

Ohhhh, Ina May. I love it. I love it.

There are quite a few of my family and friends who find me freakish to want to give birth naturally at a birthing center. And so I feel they tend to write off everything else as I say about birth as ludicrous. So be it. I turn my birth over to my body and my baby, and as it sees fit to unfold I hope to embrace it. But before you turn your head to what Ina May says in her book, there are a couple of stats I would like to share from Ina May and the midwives at the birthing center she helped to establish and has worked at for 30 years.

Home Births: 95.1%
Transports: 4.9%
Cesareans: 1.4% (Hospitals are close to 30 - 40%)
Inductions: 5.4% (done with Castor Oil and swept membranes)
Intact Perineum: 68.8%
1st degree: 19.1%
2nd degree: 11.5%
3rd degree: 0.3%
4th degree: 0.1%

Reputable, I would say. It's amazing how important the mind and body connection is when giving birth. And that's something these midwives are aware of that many doctors are not.

Back to our primates. It blows my mind how many people don't like to think of us as animals. There is a woman I know who even said to me, "We're not animals. We're humans." That blew my mind. We're mammals, hello. Our name is human. Just like a cow is a cow. But it's still an animal. We're the only animals that fear birth. Yes, I'm nervous about the unknown. But I feel like I trust my care providers (and with stats like that, how could you not???) and my innate power like every other animal. Thanks in part to the over intervening OB/GYNs (who do have their place in emergency and high risk situations - I am grateful for them for that capability and will willingly except their help IF needed) and television drama (kiss it goodbye - TLC/ The Baby Story) I feel like women feel that they have lost their power to give birth!!!

And I am proudly trying to attempt to dig deep and love that primate in me. There is something to it whether we like it or not. They can give birth - no problem, no fear. And we struggle. Don't get me wrong. It doesn't matter how we choose to give birth. We have to be comfortable with our choices. And I support and validate every woman and her desires to give birth to her children...naturally, with an epidural, an induction, a cesarean, vaginally. What I'm trying to encourage and empower women and men today here is to NOT lose their innate power and wisdom - no matter what. Listen to our bodies, and they'll speak to us.

I feel like people cross the threshold of the hospital and lose themselves. It's hard. I've been with women who have dealt with some horrible behavior from doctors and nurses. It's hard to not lose yourself. But I think it's amazing that we can know that we are primates and we want to protect our children and to do that - We Might Just Have To Picture Ourselves As A Monkey or An Ape.

I've been trying to envision what animal would most resonate with me in birth, so that I can tap into that animal when needed. I keep coming back to the Mama Bear. When I've been out West and came across bears, there's this level of respect you give her, especially when her cubs are near by. I have this idea of you don't mess with a Mama Bear. I can't imagine if she was giving birth. So, Mama Bear it is for me. I think I need to find a picture and take it with me to the birthing center, so I can be reminded of that Mama Bear in the throes of labor.

What animal most resonates with you? Not only for birth, but every day life, so you can take a stand for yourself and your family.


Talina said...

Gosh, I'll have to think about that. I like the bear.

Great post by the way. I loving reading about Ina May!

logan sandrock said...

Becky and I have often described the love we get from you and Ryan as "crazy monkey love", so that makes a lot of sense. And thanks for the shout-out ;-)