Friday, January 7, 2011

No More Cat Fights


There seems to be constant tearing down of women within the natural childbirth community. Oddly, this assault does not always come from the outside, in fact, quite the opposite, it often comes from within.

You know what I am talking about right? The cat fight. The name calling. The "my way is better than your way". The, "Well I would NEVER do that because I educated myself on the subject" conversation. In junior high it might have involved hair pulling or slapping. Today it involves women behind their computer screens ripping each other apart because they do things differently.

I recently saw a friend and fellow natural childbirth teacher literally torn apart by not just other women, but by other women who even teach the same exact method of natural childbirth that she teaches. Why? Because she did something that they didn't do. I also saw a woman who was kind enough to share her beautiful birth story attacked personally for some of her choices regarding that birth.

I know what you are thinking. Yes, I do. You are thinking that you don't do that. Well, not unless you are SURE you are right.

Right?

Lets face it. We all have a hot button issue. Circumcision. Vaccines. C-sections. Freebirth. Home birth. Co-sleeping. Attachment parenting. Organic foods. Natural birth. Babywearing. Cloth diapering. Breastfeeding. We all have something that we really care deeply about in this community. We care so deeply about it that we sometimes inadvertently offend people who disagree or do differently. Or maybe we go a step further, and verbally attack somebody because they do something differently than us.

You know what is really sad about this to me? The sad part is that we are losing the battle. Yes, I said it. We are losing. C-section rates are at all time highs. Only about one percent of women are birthing at home. Most hospitals have epidural rates of AT LEAST 80%. Very few women are still breastfeeding at six months post-partum. What we are doing is not working.

We can blame this all on the MAN. We can blame it all on THE SYSTEM. You know the one, the one with all the money and the doctors and the fancy studies and scalpels. The system with the free formula and packaged food. They want us to lose, that is for sure. But right now, we are not even a threat. We could blame it all on THEM- but we are forgetting about one of our own worst enemies- US.

We are destroying ourselves from within. We, women who support natural birth and a natural lifestyle and the best for our bodies and our babies and our basic human and female rights are so busy attacking one another for the things that we disagree on that we forget about the things that we actually agree on.

I saw this a few months ago with a Mercola boycott. Dr Mercola is a medical doctor. He is a rare one though in that he is anti-vaccine, and pro-natural. Yes- a medical doctor who preaches AGAINST vaccines! It exists! I saw the article that people were so upset about. They claimed that Dr Mercola was going to make money off of formula. He did mention in the bottom of the article that he was working on a formula free of some of the toxins found in your run of the mill formulas. He mentioned this after a full page of the BENEFITS of breastfeeding, resources to improve breastfeeding (including a link to the La Leche League website) and the evils of the formulas out there.

I honestly don't think that this man is just trying to promote formula. I think he is trying to promote breastfeeding but realizes that there is a need for a decent formula on the market. I live in a very rural area. I have seen a home birth mother who had so many hurdles to breastfeeding that she eventually had to switch to formula. What happened to her? The nasty formula that she had found for her baby was recalled for a bug infestation. There are no milk banks here. There are no options like that for every woman in this country. They simply do not exist everywhere.

Yet what did we see because this man dared to mention providing a decent formula? Attacks from all sides- but all from within the natural community. Did I mention that this is an actual MD who is opposed to vaccines? This guy is on the same team as us. But as soon as he slipped up and did something we disapproved of, the war was on.

On a more personal level, you can see this daily on forums like Facebook or on personal blogs where women are attacked for daring to do something that they shouldn't. And- if it isn't bad enough to step out of the party line, you are really in for it if you dare do it and NOT FEEL GUILTY.

Well I am tired of it. I am tired of women who spend literally hundreds of free hours promoting natural childbirth and empowering women to be in charge of their births being attacked from their fellow teachers. I am tired of home birth moms being criticized by other home birth moms because somebody who doesn't even KNOW them thinks they did things wrong or unsafe or irresponsibly. I am tired of women being ashamed that they bottle feed and having to explain themselves and apologize for it.

We can keep doing that. We can keep saying that it is not OK to attack somebody, unless they are doing X Y or Z ("because those are really special issues to me..."). We can be nasty beneath the guise of whatever it is that is important to us. But we will continue to lose this fight.

We are not each others enemy. The enemy is those institutions that seek to destroy the beauty of birth and motherhood in order to make money. We must attack them and the best way to do it is to support each other.

We are mothers. Mothers love their children. They really do. Even mothers who bottle feed love their children. Yes, even mothers who circumcise love their children. Even mothers who hate co-sleeping love their children. Women who have let their children cry it out, still LOVE THEIR CHILDREN. They might do things differently than you. They might even be WRONG. But I can guarantee you that YOU are wrong sometimes too. And I can promise that we will not convince anybody they are wrong by comparing some of their mothering choices to rape or abuse. They will not listen to us if we talk that way. We will be tuned out and called crazy. We will be considered fringe and even mean. We will lose. And we will further divide mothers.

We have lot of things that are different about us. But I think we have a lot of things in common too. We have children. We love them. We try to do what is best for them. It might look wrong to others. It might even BE wrong. But that is something else we have in common. We are all WRONG sometimes. We will all make mistakes with our children. Every single one of us.

Too many of us are lonely. Motherhood can be very lonely business. I think that might be why so many of us find solace, support and friendship in online forums and blogs. I will admit that that is true for me. I need that outlet and that female support. It is very draining and upsetting when instead of being supportive that outlet turns into a a place where I am afraid to admit my failings because I know that I will be attacked for them.

Here is hoping for a brighter future for women where we can find a common ground. Where we can love people into being better mothers and women instead of arguing with them. Here is hoping that we can come together and fight for each other rather than against.

(On a side note- all apologies if I ever bashed on you for doing something I disagree with. Yes I realize I am a total hypocrite by daring to write this. It won't be the first time I was full of crap. Or the last.)

49 comments:

Jenna said...

This was very tactfully and sensitively written - well done. I don't know if many other people would be able to express these thoughts with such clarity and fairness. I love your posts and look forward to reading many more :)

Melissa Rose said...

Yikes! And here I am waiting for all my crunchy friends to find out that I never 'unliked' Dr Mercola or Natural News. I still read what he writes. I still need to hear what he has to say. He might have done all the things that the militant lactivist say he did but at the end of the day the man has done so much good.
I'll be the first one to get pissed and tell someone to F* off for asking me to cover up or go to the bathroom to breastfeed. I repost all kinds of articles on my FB page about nursing in public, how I hate Hooter Hiders, how evil I think circumcision is, but at the end of the day some of my best friends have boys who are missing their foreskin and wear those stupid ass tents to breastfeed. I love them the same and I understand why they do what they do. I stop short of personal attacks on anyone. I don't think it's classy, I think it shows a lack of intelligence.
And I love this blog post. Right on!

Shianne said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome!! I am pregnant with my first (halfway there!!), and while I am all for natural birth, organic food, Dr. Mercola, etc., those are choices I have made for ME. And I'll share them if someone asks. No one likes having someone shove their ideas in your face, saying that they are right - so why do we do it to each other?! What is right for one isn't always right for another.
Empowerment for women comes from a woman getting all the information on all the options available to her, and realizing that the choices she makes are the ones that she feels are best for she and her family.
Kudos to you on this tactfully written entry!!

Becky and the Boys said...

Well said. I think a lot of the problem is simply the anonymity of the computer. People can say whatever they want online that many would never say face to face, because it's so anonymous. They don't personally know - and likely will never see - the people they attack. It is true that you don't see the "winners" attacking their own, whether it be a political party, a corporation, an athletic team or whatever. We have to remember that everyone (except for spammers!) online is someone with a real heart and mind, and treat them accordingly, just as we would (hopefully) behave and be polite in public.

Hellena Post said...

right on!! Have seen this a lot, and you express it eloquently and completely:)

Brenna said...

I like the premise of this post. Thanks for sharing it.
I think beyond the anonymity offered by "hiding behind a computer screen," some things get lost in the process. So much of communication is non-verbal, and so much of verbal communication is tone. All of that is lost in a typing scenario. It's so easy to misunderstand someone as a result. One person's honest, non-judgmental question or statement can seem like an offensive judgment to someone else. I know I've had that happen even with friends who I know from regular, daily life; the big difference being I eventually saw them (post internet misunderstanding) and clarified things in person, with body language and tone intact.

Mychel said...

The thing ppl need to realize is you can't possibly know the choice you would make in that person's shoes... you haven't lived their life and experienced what they have that shape who they are. So we can say "I would never do that", and I'm guilty, but very simply we don't know and we are not the ones that have to live with their decisions, good or bad. If I join a discussion, I try to say "I" would instead of "you" should and if I don't have anything good to say, if the thought "I would like to slap you for being so stupid" comes to mind, I don't get involved in the conversation. Who are we to judge others... this needed to be said.

Diana J. said...

Preach it! Right on!

Donna Ryan said...

I actually called (literally) one of the people that made statements about me yesterday and had a live conversation. Wow. It is amazing how people change their tune when it's live and not behind a computer screen, isn't it? I think she ended up feeling really bad, and frankly, she should. Thanks for the post. I know you were bothered by all the crap too. Thanks for being my friend. :) Love ya!

Mistylynn said...

Beautifully put! You are so right, and not just in this forum either...definitely all areas where women come together (RS). There was a great article on "Developing Good Judgement and Not Judging Others" by Gregory A. Schwitzer April 2010 G-conferance. I got so much out of it. Have a super day!

Moonstonemama said...

110% right on with this! What you put your focus on grows, so why spend all this time "fighting" against something, you are only giving it more power with all of this negative attention. No one is going to change their mind about anything if they feel they are being attacked anyway.

I'll never forget a saying I read online about a child with a disability "Your child is more like other children than he is different". This is true of all of us parents, no matter what our choices we are more alike than we are different!

Krista Eger said...

Your posts are always brilliant! I've been thinking the same thing for a long time.
Ok here is my big issue with this all. You can't take vaccination and circumcision back. I feel like no one has taken into consideration that a mom may have made decisions that she was uneducated about and then learned about it after the fact. That is what happened to me. I hate it when moms slam on other moms for circumcision and vaccinations. It is one thing to educate other people about it, but it's another to make a mom feel like crap because there is absolutely NOTHING she can do to take it back!!!!

Angela Dawson said...

I love this post, thank you so much for writing it.
It is my feeling that, as a mother, the best we can do is to be true to ourselves, follow our hearts and trust our instincts about how best to care for our particular child. We are, after all, the expert on our own children. What works for me and my situation, may not be right for you and yours.
You are not me.
So, whilst it is wonderful sharing resources on social media sites, we cannot force other mothers to make our choices, distasteful as they may be to us.

I do feel that there is a need for accurate information, so that mothers can make decisions based on wisdom, both intellectual and intuitive. However, the choice is ultimately theirs as to what course of action to take. Each mother's journey is her own.

As I age (and the more I clear my own emotional clutter), the more I accept other mothers' viewpoints. We have so much more in common than may be visible on the surface, and, as you say, all mothers love their children. Motherhood is an adventure, fraught with endless decisions to make, and the buck, ultimately stops with us mothers. It is challenging enough, and can be, as you say, terribly isolating.
Isn't it time we had solace and support for our sisters?
Looking forward to your next post,

Rutter Family said...

Awesome. I struggle with the judgements of others, especially those close to me. I make my choices based off of what I feel is right for me and my family...sometimes it isn't right for someone else. Thanks for the post ;0)

Enjoy Birth said...

Amen! I agree with all you said. I do think it is hard sometimes when we "know" certain things to not judge others when they don't choose like we did.

I actually found my journal from when my first was born 13 years ago and I am posting my entries. I am finding myself JUDGING myself for the choices I made!

It makes me realize that we are all growing and learning. I am a different mother now then I was then. I am sure I will be different in 13 more years too. :)

Jessica said...

You are great, thank you for posting this.

Mama Birth said...

Thanks YOU Jessica-

Valerie Schuster said...

Dear Mama Birth,

As a new Doula in So. Florida area I have seen and experienced this type of treatment first hand. You are so right on on every point you mentioned. Thank you for writing this. It needs to be said and heard again and again. Until women decide to empower themselves and get fully educated on all the options the climate of birth in this country will never change. I am a ICAN Chapter Leader and a VBAC mom from 21 yrs ago. I had to fight for my VBAC back then and things are worse today. People must rise up and take responsibility for the health of themselves and their families especially where it concerns pregnancy and childbirth. If we don't we will continue to have more incidents like what happened in Arizona this past weekend. A true tragedy that should not have happened if people valued life right from the moment of birth as a miracle and realize that we are all connected. Peace, Love and Joy to you.
Valerie

Stephanie said...

it seems prudent to learn the differences in language (i.e. you're making the wrong choice for your family vs. i'm making the right choice for my family). one is judgmental, one takes responsibility. there is a difference between heated debate for the sake of debate, and an exchange of information.

i respectfully disagree with the "he's on our side" sentiment. suggesting we're all on a "side" negates the entire point. in the true spirit of what you've written here, there are no sides.

i agree that *mother to mother*, we should be giving one another the benefit of the doubt, and releasing the need to be "right" (i personally don't extend this though, to any corporation or individual that benefits financially from a choice a mother makes).

a truly extraordinary milk sharing movement was born of dr. mercola's choice to market infant formula (and matches have been made, even in rural areas). this shows the true power and capability of a community of woman who respectfully encourage women to investigate all options and make informed decisions.

Mama Birth said...

I am glad that milk sharing has sprouted and grown as a response to the Mercola "thing"-
I still maintain that he is in so many was a supporter of natural health and breastfeeding and the all out attack on him because he stepped out of line was unmerited and counter productive.
I read his post- It was very pro breastfeeding.
I have personally milk shared and helped other mothers to do the same- it is a fantastic thing. But it can be hard to provide enough milk for another baby when nursing your own. It took three of us to give one baby enough milk for about half his feedings- a decent infant formula would have been helpful to make up the other 50%-
There are sides- there are those who exploit and intidimate women and profit off of them with no thought to health or wellness or emotional damage. I don't personally think that Mercola is one of these, though it is most certainly possible.
Thanks for reading-

oklahomamidwife said...

Thank you so much for this post!!

Marcella said...

Funny, I stopped following Mercola after that article, not because he marketed a formula but because the whole article before that kept insisting that there is no such thing as insufficient lactation, that any mother who uses that as an excuse to use formula just isn't trying hard enough, etc. That was my viewpoint until I gave birth, and guess what? A week after delivery, ebf every 2 hours, he still wasn't back up to birth weight. Our pediatrician suggested pumping after nursing and giving him whatever was leftover with a dropper, to make sure he was getting the hindmilk. To my disappointment, barely a dribble came out - even from the breast that hadn't just nursed. With tears in my eyes, I ran out and bought a can of organic formula, because I knew that my son had to eat something right away. The next day, I got an acupuncture treatment and started herbs to boost lactation, which made a huge difference, but it was never enough to ebf. I continued taking fenugreek, nursed and/or pumped every two hours, always offered the breast first and only gave formula if he was still hungry after I was tapped out, etc. It was exhausting and heartbreaking, and when I read that article, it felt like such a slap in the face. I was outraged that a man, who could never know firsthand what a nursing mother goes through, would insist that what I was experiencing doesn't exist and that I just wasn't trying hard enough.

Dr. Travis Robertson said...

Thanks again for your words. Your posts just keep getting better. Keep up the great work.

Združenje Vis Feminea Od Spočetja Do Korakov said...

Love it! Well written!
I do my best to do so, however I do get carried away sometimes and I make mistakes ;)
Nice to feel I'm not alone.
Love from across the ocean.

Michelle W. said...

"We all have a hot button issue. Circumcision. Vaccines. C-sections. Freebirth. Home birth. Co-sleeping. Attachment parenting. Organic foods. Natural birth. Babywearing. Cloth diapering. Breastfeeding. We all have something that we really care deeply about..."

This list includes homeschooling too. (And methods of homeschooling.) A lot of "natural" mommas are homeschooling, using every imaginable method, and that can be a hot button for some as well. Thanks for writing this article! I have reposted on my FB page, since I have friends from EVERY single side of every one of these varying hot buttons. We all need both the reminder to "be nice" in how we voice our opinions, but to also "not take it personally" when someone chooses to do something different from what we choose.

Birth Smart said...

amazing post. i loved when you used the words, "BE WRONG". those words are such taboo in our culture. we all have the right to make mistakes and whether or not we learn from them depends partially on how we are supported by those around us. i'm with you on trying to love others into becoming better, rather than fight them

Talia said...

Thank you!

Momofthesouth said...

Wonderful post!!!! Thank you!

*******
We are not each others enemy. The enemy is those institutions that seek to destroy the beauty of birth and motherhood in order to make money. We must attack them and the best way to do it is to support each other.

We are mothers. Mothers love their children. They really do. Even mothers who bottle feed love their children. Yes, even mothers who circumcise love their children. Even mothers who hate co-sleeping love their children. Women who have let their children cry it out, still LOVE THEIR CHILDREN. They might do things differently than you. They might even be WRONG. But I can guarantee you that YOU are wrong sometimes too. And I can promise that we will not convince anybody they are wrong by comparing some of their mothering choices to rape or abuse. They will not listen to us if we talk that way. We will be tuned out and called crazy. We will be considered fringe and even mean. We will lose. And we will further divide mothers.

We have lot of things that are different about us. But I think we have a lot of things in common too. We have children. We love them. We try to do what is best for them. It might look wrong to others. It might even BE wrong. But that is something else we have in common. We are all WRONG sometimes. We will all make mistakes with our children. Every single one of us.

*********


I posted the same thing a few days ago recently on another support page regarding circumcising our sons. "we are NOT evil, we do not hate our children, we are not monsters, We did not 'intentionally' 'harm' our children or put them through pain, we THOUGHT we were doing the BEST for him. We were duped, we were lied to, we were misled, misinformed, misguided and ignorant and our sons paid the price for that. If we knew then what we know now we would have made a different choice. Most of us live with the regret once we became informed/enlightened. Now we are all on the same side, we all want genital integrity. But instead of pointing fingers at the parents lets point them at the system/society as a whole, not at the individual parents as the monsters. Yes many will make the wrong choice even after being given all the information and evidence to make the "right" choice and will still choose or be forced/bullied otherwise, it's sad yes but calling them nasty names and belittling them doesn't bring them to your side. Again, I circumcised my son, I was wrong, I made a mistake, I am not a monster and I DO believe that circumcision was/is wrong..."

Again thank you!

Eleri Hamilton said...

Just keep repeating: "There is no one Right And True way to give birth." Even biologically normal birth, as a standard, can look a dozen and one different ways.

Laila - SignificantlySimple.com said...

Bravo! Thank you! I am so tired of the "Mommy Wars" and your post took the words right out of my mouth. We all just need to step back and support each other on this journey, no matter what our differences are.

~Laila :o)

Anonymous said...

My favorite saying is birth isn't a one size fits all thing. I have a very high pain tolerance, stamina and I'm stubborn as a mule, natural birth is right up my ally (and if not, I'd make it!) Not everyone is the same, and not everyone wants to be the same...that's ok! As I work on becoming a doula, I've come to terms with my choices are not going to be everyone's choices and aren't even going to be the best choice for every family. I just present the information and let them make their choices, providing unconditional support.

Mrs. Obie said...

This is a great post. Fantastic. I'm part of a certain baby community (babycenter.com) and it is difficult to watch in mass amounts, even from the non-natural side. Every.Little.Thing you do as a parent is looked at under a microscope and torn apart. Sometimes it gets pretty heated, and I've found myself attacking women for their choices (whatever they may be) and afterwards I feel horrible about it. I don't like it when someone attacks MY choices with MY kids, so why should I attack them? I've toned down on the harassment and the "I'm right, you're wrong" stuff because I know that some women just do things differently and even formula fed, circumsized, vaccinated babies are still alive, and while breastfed, uncircumsized, non-vaxed babies may be better off, it doesn't mean that doing everything the opposite doesn't provide happy, healthy babies.

Again, great post! You totally hit the nail on the head.

a father of three said...

Ladies, from a mans perspective: seeing a woman give birth is the most incredible awe-inspiring miracle that has ever existed. I am thankful for my wife and the decisions she has made. I am indebted to her for the sacrifices she made to have a kids, although some of the sacrifices she was excited to make. One thing I have very much appreciated is her dedication to the health of our children and her decision to breastfeed. Although mastitus cut breastfeeding short, she ALWAYS was sensitive to her surroundings. Other people ARE uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public. I am not advocating for women to stop, but just to be sensible, IF possible, to those around.
Second, the natural hormone changes that occur in women before, during, and after birth are intense. (I speak from NO experience personally as I am a man, however have listened intensively to my wife's response). One thing women hopefully can admit is that, for some, these hormone changes can lead to a protective defense of 'don't mess with my kids and the decisions that I make'. It behooves both parties (mother and those 'pointing fingers') to be sensitive to the incredible changes that are occuring.

Lastly, great article. And thank you to all the great mothers working so hard to create the next generation of children!

karin said...

Bravo! Standing ovation here! Regretfully I let the Mommy wars & how other women viewed my birth went so far as to effect my bonding with my youngest son. My homebirth turned transfer when my B/P shot up. He was still med-free, birthed standing up, daddy-caught, midwife assisted, immediate skin-to-skin, everything that I wanted at a homebirth, yet hospital born. I felt like a failure, even got "poor you" comments on his birth. It took me SEVEN months of going through the motions to bond with him and realize it was an excellent natural birth and he's a sweet baby. He is 3 but from that I was & still am determined not to let anyone's opinion how I birth, parent, make medical decisions, discipline, feed, or teach my children from getting in the way of LOVING my children.

My youngest daughter was born via C/S last August after a marathon 45hr labor sans any pain meds. She was fine throughout the labor, in fact kicking during the contractions, but I.was.done. We tried everything at home, transferred for more alleopathic means, but never for pain meds (the hospital doesn't even OFFER epidurals) I consented, fully aware, to the C/S. There are 2 official reasons, my reasoning was that if I kept going I knew I would resent my baby, & perhaps have a horrid time bonding. Do I regret it? Nope. Did I bond with her? You betcha! I am enraptured and love her to bits. Can a C/S be a healing birth experience? Yes. So much so my relationship with my son has become more loving & patient.

I've left the Mommy wars hotspots, but with a resolve that I will be more supportive to IRL mothers, because parenting/mothering/fathering/ living is hard enough without getting verbally beaten down.

What am I doing to change it in my own quiet way? I'm going to be a LLL Leader in an area with zero breastfeeding support and non existant breastfeeding rates past 3 months. Eventually doula-ing, but more focused on lovingly supporting and helping mothers breastfeed for longer, and encouraging them to help others.

Danielle said...

WOW, excellent post! Thank you so much for writing these words and sharing them :)

Deborah said...

(Part 1--yes, its that long:))

I appreciate your thoughts on this. Sometimes the discourse online gets so nasty. We do need to practice what we preach--advocacy & independent-thinking. Sometimes natural birth advocates forget that we are capable of being just as coercive or disrespectful as the "others" that are being vilified.

And to that point, I'd love to chime in on Stephanie's response. Using the term "sides" ("he's on our side") does tend to go against the very point it seems you are making. Truly, a focus on "sides" actually encourages division. And I think it can end up putting people into systematic boxes which I believe is what you are trying to discourage. Indeed, just because a person subscribes to some tenants of the natural birth world, doesn't mean she will or should subscribe to all tenants (vaccines, circs, and as the example you mentioned, breast or bottle feeding & many other issues.) I'd like to take the challenge step further. Here's the other struggle I have when we reference "sides:" I am just thinking about moms I've worked with that have picked & chosen what tenants they agreed with and those they did not. I understand your comment about sides was probably referring to health care providers & companies, (& I agree *some* members of which are not always looking out for families' best interests. My concern is that even if referencing companies & providers, I am just not sure it demonstrates the overall message of your post. What if it IS a mom who agrees w/ those companies or providers (the "other side") on issues like vaccines, circumcision or what have you? Does that make her "not on our side?" See what I mean? "Sides" regardless whether it is used in reference to a provider or company has implications for families who might also agree with those sides. This can lead to lot of assumptions, put predefined labels on people, families included, which are the ones I am concerned about being affected.
(continued)

Deborah said...

Sorry here I am again:) Just want to clarify--My comments on "sides" were directed *to* Mama Birth, and were meant to reiterate Stephanie's concern. Thanks:)

Deborah said...

(part 2) A focus on sides between companies/providers versus families may seem like a worthy battle to fight, but I feel it undermines the goal. I think it can potentially come back to hurt families in the end. Truly, I see the best path to excellent maternity care and provision of excellent, safe products is not by delineating sides, it is to collaborate. Collaboration doesn't mean "agreeing" with everyone, or checking your opinions at the door. It means utilizing good communication skills, not putting up walls, not making assumptions and being kind and professional (whether someone "deserves" it or not). I am just concerned that that drawing lines in the sand between "the man" (providers or companies) and families will not keep the discourse open, it will perpetuate the division. As a person who has a foot firmly in both “sides,” I see this happening daily and it saddens me because families are suffering the consequences. Let's as women and advocates be the "bigger women” and make the commitment to be the first to be professional, kind, effective communicators (with families AND companies and providers) and help bridge the gap (even if others--providers or companies aren't doing the same thing or we don’t think they “deserve “ it, let’s just do it for the sake of the families we desire to support). Let's just take that initiative. That is what an advocate does!

Again, I really do appreciate you writing on this topic, a much needed reminder for all of us.

Mama Birth said...

Deborah-
I did get the comment yesterday-in my in box- I don't know why it didn't show up here.

I guess I am just not a big enough person to totally agree with you, though I get it in theory.

I don't see the point in cooperating with groups like ACOG. I don't think they have anybodys best interests at heart, except for their own and their gain- money.

Case in point, their recent change on VBAC policy- did they do it because they cared about women? No- Because they were gently convinced or educated that they were wrong? No- They changed their stance because the NIH pretty much forced them too.

An entity like that gets no sympathy from me. I reserve the right to consider them evil. I do think this is a war and that there are sides- I just think that women are all on the same side- weather they schedule c-sections for convenience or home birth or anywhere in between. They are still women and mothers.

I don't think either that the individuals within those groups are bad either- or that care providers are either. I believe that even the most knife happy OB probably got into medicine to do good and help. The system and the training and the education do things-

But I continue to to feel disdain for those groups or entities that I think seek to profit off of the pain that is birth in this country. There is no excuse for it. It is not human. It is a machine and I have no sympathy for it.

I seek to create change through women and empowering them. Women can change this system- because the system is driven by money. All we have to do, is take our money elsewhere.

Thanks for your thoughts-I get you- but I am not there.

Deborah said...

(Oh good, sorry I sent those twice then. I had gotten an error page when I submitted them so I didn't know if it actually went through)

Thanks so much for replying so quickly Birth Mama! I'm sorry we aren't able to relate to one another on this issue. I certainly don’t expect you to be exactly where I am. I realize I have a perspective that may be unique in the natural birth world (to my lonely disappointment ;), nonetheless I think it is an important perspective and until we can bridge the gaps between women and these organizations, we will only have poor care, poor outcomes and division perpetuated. The reference to evil I feel only deepens the division. I absolutely appreciate passion, but what if we used our energy on simply teaching women about birth and options, rather than on splitting our precious time also forcing on them our personal views on how evil some groups are and how we need to hate them and be at war with them? What if we let them make up their own minds on that while we teach them what they came to us to hear—how to give birth? Families get frustrated when their teachers focus so much on their personal soap-boxes rather than on the issues that matter to THEM as families (I know, I was one of these parents). What if we let them decide what is important to them personally.

I truly do relate to your frustration with organizations that do not always have families’ best interest at heart. I'd offer that the frequent “out-of-touchness” between an organization like the ACOG and women is not initiated, but certainly perpetuated when we as birth teachers are encouraging families to focus on “them” as evil, with intent to harm us. It actually widens the gap and takes energy away from serving the families themselves. It makes *us* in the natural birth world look like haters, and irrational and reactors, rather than the people we really are. I think we might both agree that's not a positive thing. I cringe when I hear these things coming from people who are also in a position of teaching vulnerable families. Terming things evil only causes organizations to be more deeply resistant to the desires of women. These organizations aren’t getting the message, so those kinds of efforts at focusing on wars are apparently not working. Meanwhile, they are hurting because those who are policy makers are getting less and less willing to work with what they see as the angry rants of the natural birth world. Why can't we be bigger than that and do what they will not do for the sake of families? I appreciate you clarifying that you do not see the individual members of the groups as evil, because that was a message I was getting and I felt that was a wide generalization (after all, some members of those groups are also moms themselves). ACOG and others are powerful policy makers whether we like it or not, so just “boycotting” isn’t getting us the results we think it will—I think it is making it worse. I am not trying to defend or have sympathy for organizations or companies either--many have their deep issues, many are callous. I am trying to encourage us put our energy where it is needed--*into* families, rather than spreading ourselves thin also teaching *against* "X" organization. We only have so much energy and so much time, using it wisely and positively on families will bring about the best benefits. I believe you when you say this is your goal, I do. But when we simultaneously have a focus on “wars” and “evil” we actually hurt our efforts to empower women–it focuses on the negative and that hasn’t been working in our favor to facilitate the change we desire, so I move we reassess our tactics...

(cont...sorry! I am so wordy!)

Deborah said...

(Okay, I am a ditz, I got that same error page again just now, so I hope the first comment went through, golly:)


(Cont, part 2:))
...I'd love to share with you (though I realize this opens me up to potentially being written off as biased, not by you, but perhaps by others) I am very much split in both worlds, so I feel I have a unique perspective to appreciate points that each “side” makes and I also see how hateful each *can* be. I feel compelled to fulfill a role that very few are willing to fill--bridging the gaps between providers, companies, birth teachers, doulas and families. Some write me off as not being truly committed to either “side” or being watered-down or being “too lenient” on companies or organizations, and even seen as a traitor (ouch). Oh well. It is still a role that is needed. I am happy to continue trudging through, though it is discouraging at times, because I get lots of criticism from both sides. I am willing to take the criticism for the sake of the families I am committed to. I believe I am living out my promise to be a family advocate –an intercessor. If I am not willing to help bridge the gap between organizations and families, I am not advocating. An advocate is a go-between who communicates with both parties on behalf of the vulnerable party, not simply a protestor on one side, writing the other side off. I am willing to do this and am not asking others to do so in the same way, but to please not hurt those efforts of the “go-betweens.”

Thanks again for responding and for your original post. I wish you and I could sit down over a latte in my kitchen and talk this out. I think we would find we agree on so much more than it seems in these short comments. And indeed that is the huge downside of online discussions--both parties miss a lot because we can't know one another personally and it can lead us to misunderstandings because we are without the benefit of a relating as women with similar goals.

Together in advocacy,
Deborah

Mama Birth said...

Ha! I would have to pass on the latte and go for an herb tea!

I totally understand where you are coming from. I will say that I use totally different language when teaching a class. I simply try to give info, practical ways to achieve natural birth, and pros and cons of the various choices that parents have. What they choose is up to them.

I understand that organizations are made up of individuals- but the organization is a totally different beast.

Remember "To kill an Mockingbird" and the scene with the mob? That is why I don't attack individuals.

But- there are things I am angry about and there are things that need to change. This blog is my tiny voice. Not many people even read it, but I will not censor myself if I think that something really needs to be said. It exists so that I can have a voice at all.

Thanks-

Deborah said...

Oh fabulous! I will put a kettle on for that cup of tea:)

I so greatly support activism in the birth world and also greatly support childbirth/family education (both of which are close to my heart, too). I am also not in favor of censorship (in either direction). Families do need voices and we are all doing our small part in our corners of the world:)

I am always impressed with those who know when to fill each role and when to keep them separated. It sounds like you are doing a great job of this already, keep it up. Families need you!

Rachel said...

Thank you for this post- it is so true! Very well put.

Ashley said...

I cannot say "Word!" enough. I have a couple really hot button issues, though my are typically reactionary -- and 9 times out of 10, I just close the browser without commenting. Which isn't to say that I always do, but I try.

My big concern is that when advocacy becomes so full of vitriol online, because I can just imagine the people who haven't yet had children reading it and saying, "Those mothers are crazy; I'm never f-ing do that."

The Internet unfathomably large, and I think it's so easy to forget that we've got to set an example not only for other parents, but for those who later may become parents.

brewskyru said...

That's so sad about people scrutinizing Dr. Mercola. I absolutely love him! We need more doctors like him. He cares about people; he's not just about making money. I know people who aren't into natural things like to attack him, but this is ridiculous!

Tina said...

Fantastic post.

I've only been reading your blog for a couple of weeks but I find myself agreeing with almost everything you post :)

Mrs. H said...

What a great post!! When I went through doula training with Penny Simkin, she said, "I am here to support the laboring woman in whatever form of birth she wants, whether I don't believe in the interventions or not." I thought, WHAT? No, there is NO way but natural! Of course, I was being such a biased hypocrite. I learned, over the course of training, that more important than MY opinions or MY ideas is the concept that every woman should be free to make birth choices that appeal to her. WOW! You wouldn't think something so simple should need to be an epiphany, but it was, and thank God for it! I have grown quite a bit since than, fortunately, and now I can enthusiastically say that I support all forms of birth, all choices, hooter-hiders or no hooter-hiders, and just keep my thoughts to myself. I can raise my kids how I please, and, being granted this freedom, you may raise your kids how you please! Thanks for posting this incredibly important article!

Leon Peterson said...

Deborah- I did get the comment yesterday-in my in box- I don't know why it didn't show up here. I guess I am just not a big enough person to totally agree with you, though I get it in theory. I don't see the point in cooperating with groups like ACOG. I don't think they have anybodys best interests at heart, except for their own and their gain- money. Case in point, their recent change on VBAC policy- did they do it because they cared about women? No- Because they were gently convinced or educated that they were wrong? No- They changed their stance because the NIH pretty much forced them too. An entity like that gets no sympathy from me. I reserve the right to consider them evil. I do think this is a war and that there are sides- I just think that women are all on the same side- weather they schedule c-sections for convenience or home birth or anywhere in between. They are still women and mothers. I don't think either that the individuals within those groups are bad either- or that care providers are either. I believe that even the most knife happy OB probably got into medicine to do good and help. The system and the training and the education do things- But I continue to to feel disdain for those groups or entities that I think seek to profit off of the pain that is birth in this country. There is no excuse for it. It is not human. It is a machine and I have no sympathy for it. I seek to create change through women and empowering them. Women can change this system- because the system is driven by money. All we have to do, is take our money elsewhere. Thanks for your thoughts-I get you- but I am not there.

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