Monday, February 3, 2014

What is "Expecting Kindness" about?

"Expecting Kindness" is…

  • A philosophy of intentional manifestation for birth.
  • A manageable workbook for birth partners to work through together.
  • A starting point, to help you learn and understand your own wishes for the birth of your baby. 
  • A tool for those attending birth to help them understand what is happening throughout the stages of labor and to teach appropriate support; words, witness, touch, etc.
  • A supportive guide through the challenge of normal birth.
  • Questions to ask when interviewing a potential care giver (OB, Family Practice Doctor, or Midwife (in and out of hospital).
  • Detailed information about common/routine practice and procedures to help you advocate for yourself and your baby, allowing you to give true informed consent when necessary.
  • A template for writing a balanced birth plan with reasonable expectations while still empowering you to trust your body, intuition, expert knowledge of yourself and your baby, quietly command respect, dignity, and holistic care.
  • A common sense approach to doing your best for the health and well being of yourself and your baby, and then acknowledging that there are circumstances that are out of your control, that controlling everything is not reasonable or possible. Finding contentment in knowing that when you have asked every question and tried every position, coping skill, breathing technique, massage, tub, shower, tens, etc., that there is beauty and poetry and feminine maternal power in choosing intervention wisely when it is, in fact, the safest choice or an inevitable step towards holding your healthy baby in your arms…

I realize that there a a MILLION resources out there for expecting families, the piece that I aimed to contribute is to remove the stigma of natural vs. intervention, and get to the point.  The point being safety.  The reality is that as few interventions as possible is GENERALLY going to be safer for you and your baby.  We can't control everything, and there is no sense in judging one another after the fact.  We have to move away from demeaning a woman because she had/needed an epidural, or scoffing at a woman who desires a natural experience with words like "wait til you're in labor".  If we are empowering one another to have the safest possible birth, we are informed about the risks of drugs and procedures, and we are prepared to try to have a Low-No intervention birth as much as possible, not making decisions out of fear, but with information and intent, we are free to easily respect one another.
I had natural home births, the physical birthing process worked somehow for me as it tends to for most women.  I didn't "deserve" for it to work. Other women have been healthier than me, read more, planned more, etc. and things have not gone how they desired. She didn't "deserve" that either. I have no misconception that I am different, tougher, stronger, whatever, than women who chose or required some intervention.  I have not, nor will I ever be able to, experience her labor or circumstances and therefore I respect her choices. I wish her nothing but a loving memory of making the best, safest choices for her baby with the information that she had available to her under the circumstances, at the time.  I wish her contentment.
For those who enter into the world of childbirth preparation with a mind set on getting the epidural in the parking lot, all I ask is that you consider a few things.  Could it be true that you may handle labor contractions better that you believe and that with some support you may be able to delay pain relief until closer to the birth, when the intensity is the greatest, and minimize the effects of these drugs on your baby?  Is it possible that our culture, with a very high incidence of inductions has given "contractions" in general a very bad reputation, and the natural contractions may be gentler than you realize for much of labor?  Is it possible that with a circle of support, warm water, patience, that you might be much stronger that you have been given the opportunity to realize?  You can always change your mind and have medication, you can always ask for the epidural, but even when it is used, less exposure is better and when used in more active labor, you may not require other interventions like pitocin (used to force contractions) when the epidural often weakens the strength/interval of the contractions. This can prolong labor and increase risks of cesarean section.
I want women to be confident , to know that they considered the effect of  any and all procedures, on herself and her baby thoroughly, and then made the wisest choice.  Many women out there are not being offered any opportunity to make fully informed choices though because that requires comprehensive childbirth education, which is not offered in most hospitals, no matter what the brochure says.  I talk to women ALL THE TIME who have regrets looking back at their birth experience.  You can't imagine how many stories birth workers hear.  Anytime someone asks me what I do, and I say "I'm a Doula", there is usually at least one birth story, with follow up questions.  It commonly turns into a circle of women and somewhat of a support group. Most regrets fall into the category of feeling railroaded into what later appears to be unnecessary intervention.  The whole "big baby, small pelvis, to later find that baby was 7 lbs" sort of questionable, 20/20 hindsight detail that doesn't sit right looking back.  Looking back, we can't really know if it was a human mistake on the part of the practitioner, but there are always things (relatively simple things) that could have been done…even in the OR…to improve Mom's and Baby's experience of birth and allowed her to look back on her experience with no regrets, no "what if's", no "I wonder if I had tried…" No questioning whether or not her provider had coerced or managed her into a corner.  I  want her to know that she asked every question, stood her ground when it was appropriate, made choices to intervene when appropriate, tried everything to prevent surgery, and to create positive feelings and associations with her birth.
The emotional side to giving birth, vaginal or surgical, is still a very powerful part of the process that we always have some control over. Because women are being herded through what our for-profit hospitals have deemed as routine delivery, in order for our birth stories to become more empowering and less disempowering, we have to take grass roots action.  It takes the medical field over a decade to make sweeping change in policy and practice because they have to begin with an experience, followed by an idea, turn it into a study, followed by getting the attention of the governing bodies, followed by more studies, then a willingness to change, followed by re-writing the textbook and teaching pre-med students.  We don't have to wait. We can change it right now, by educating ourselves about normal birth, actively trying to limit unnecessary procedure, understanding the prudent use of routine interventions by asking questions, taking an active role in the decision making (when safe), and then use emotional support/comforting atmosphere/kindness to create a warm and loving welcome, no matter what physical manifestation of birth is presented.  It is still your child's birth.

To put it in a nutshell, I want "Expecting Kindness" to become a mindset for new parents.  To enter into parenting with an fundamental intent to manifest relationships with care providers, and with family and friends in which you give and receive respect, integrity, authenticity, support, acceptance, time, and kindness.  You will need a village, that is true, and when you practice what you seek, it will find you.

There are positive reviews from: Parents who have used it in my classroom, parents who have used it to review for subsequent births when attending classes isn't always practical, Doula's training to attend births, Doula's providing it for clients to help them plan and prepare for birth, Midwives who want their patients to be informed and confident, other "birthy folk" who want to teach the curriculum, and of course, my friends and family…not biased at all. ;)

You can browse the curriculum a bit on Amazon, and I hope you find some value in its pages.  Take what resonates with you and leave the rest behind.

Expecting Kindness on also available at


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