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Posts Tagged ‘Birth Matters’

Would You Face Prison for the Right to Give Birth at Home?

"Two men looked out from prison bars, one...

Image by antonychammond via Flickr

I first heard of Dr. Ágnes Geréb when I recently attended a conference with American midwifery advocate Ina May Gaskin in Toronto.

She referenced her friend, Dr. Geréb, who was in custody and awaiting sentence for criminal charges. Her crime?

Attending home births.

Dr. Ágnes Geréb is a Hungarian obstetrician and midwife. She is the founder of the Napvilág birthing centre and is internationally recognized as a childbirth expert. She has attended over 3,000 home births in the past 20 years, with an infant mortality rate of less than 1 in 1,000 (which is lower than many hospitals).

Dr. Geréb was voted one of Hungary’s Women of the Decade in a women’s weekly. She was one of the first doctors in Hungary to advocate for fathers being allowed in the delivery room in the 1970′s.

Dr. Geréb and other birth advocates have been trying to get home birth regulated and legalized by the Hungarian government for the past 22 years. (As it stood up until very recently, women were legally permitted to give birth at home, but medical professionals were not legally permitted to assist them there).

On October 5, 2010, Dr. Geréb was arrested by 4 armed policemen shortly after calling an ambulance for a woman who had spontaneously gone into labor during a routine prenatal checkup. Her charge at the time was “suspicion of reckless endangerment committed during the line of duty.”

The police also interrogated the other women present at the birth center, as well as the mother who had just given birth to a baby in respiratory distress (the baby was revived at the hospital).

Dr. Geréb was placed in prison on a 23 hour lock down. She was subjected to strip searches, allowed to see her family only once a month, and permitted one 10-minute phone call per week. She was taken to court in handcuffs and leg shackles, so tight that they cut into her leg. Read the rest of this entry »

The March of Kindness is Over – We No Longer Have to be Nice!

OK, that title is my little nod to April Fool’s day…we can continue to be nice in April even though the March of Kindness is officially over. :)

I am truly thankful to Dionna over at Code Name: Mama for initiating this whole thing…she’s helped bring quite a community together!

For me the month has been in some ways up and down, but mainly it’s been great, and I know doing and seeing all these acts of kindness have contributed so much to what we’re trying to do as a family – it’s not always easy making changes, and a little kindness goes a long way in the midst of it all!

I’ve loved reading about the RAOK’s (Random Acts of Kindness) from others – especially the ones from children. I am looking forward to the Bean being old enough to make it part of her day on a regular basis!

And I’ve had a lot of fun committing RAOK’s myself ;)…especially the ones for hubby (he’s probably been the focus of a grand majority of mine) – I think it’s actually done a lot to improve our relationship over the past month; it’s certainly changed my attitude a lot!

I’ve also enjoyed being the recipient of what seems like a ton of AOK’s!

  • A friendly stranger helped get me into the Ina May Gaskin conference in Toronto when I felt there was no way I was going to be able to go.
  • I’ve had a ton of response to this blog…wonderful comments and all kinds of people joining in on Facebook – it’s really been awesome!
  • Alicia over at McCrenshaw was instrumental in helping me get my blog button HTML up on the sidebar (though I’m not sure she realized how much she helped me lol)…I know, I’m weird, but it was very exciting to me to accomplish that! :)
  • And Becoming Crunchy even got 2 awards this month – the Stylish Blogger Award from Jessica at The Cloth Diapering Mama, and The Cherry on Top Award from Alicia at McCrenshaw – woohoo!

I’ve also been inspired by Zoie over at TouchstoneZ to begin writing a letter to my Baby Bean every month, and joined together with The Modern Aboriginal Mama and becca stiches and bitches in my No Poo Experiment. All kinds of fun! :)

I know there are more AOK’s and friends that I didn’t list as well…there’s just too many to cram into one post!

But for me, this March of Kindness is actually ending on a more serious note. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Fear in Pregnancy (and Birthing) Inevitable?

Lilith's Birth

happy mama :)

I promised more from my experience with hearing Ina May Gaskin speak recently in downtown Toronto, so here it is…

I learned something that was kind of revolutionary for me this past weekend – and that is that pregnancy and birth are not inevitably something to fear.

You may have already come to that conclusion, but it was sure news to me!

When I was pregnant with my daughter I was very drawn to the idea of home birth, but didn’t even consider it as an option for my first child. My thought process was:

  • I don’t have any actual idea of what birth is like.
  • I want to be at the hospital just in case something goes wrong.
  • If everything goes well the first time, I’ll probably go with home births for any upcoming pregnancies.

The most overwhelming feeling for me was the fear – what if something terrible happens?

I had high levels of anxiety throughout most of my pregnancy. They were feelings I generally kept to myself, but they were always there gnawing at my mind. What if I miscarry again? What if she stops moving? What if I’m not eating healthy enough? What if she is stillborn? What if I have to have a c-section? What if I don’t get any milk?

On and on and on…and that’s only a small sample!

I know it sounds super morbid, but my mind was frequently consumed with thoughts like this. And I have to wonder, where did it all come from? Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Women…the Power of Community

Cover of "Spiritual Midwifery"

Spiritual Midwifery

In regards to the lack of blogging this past weekend, I must explain that I became a little Ina May obsessed. :)

I spent all day Saturday listening to Ina May Gaskin speak at Victoria College on the U of T campus – an amazing experience, to say the least! I also spent the entirety of Earth Hour telling hubby what I learned that day (poor hubby!)…he was a good listener though.

I found my way to a few Babble blog posts that were written by or interviews of Ina May, and followed through hundreds of comments of debate that she actually participated in – quite interesting. I finished Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta, and got about halfway through Spiritual Midwifery, and the whole time I kept wondering…

Where was this woman and where were these books when I was pregnant??

Of course, they were around…I just didn’t know where to look for them. I read plenty of pregnancy books, but I didn’t really know much about the natural parenting movement until fairly recently. I didn’t really get the power of reading and hearing positive birth stories, and of surrounding oneself with a community of supportive women (whether that be in person or online – I believe they are both very valid).

I’m not even sure exactly how I got into it all…I think it was coming across some information about cloth diapering – the idea of it both (initially) repulsed and intrigued me. I started doing more research, and that was my entry way into the crunchy, natural, peaceful parenting world.

I resonated with it instantly, as I did with Ina May Gaskin as soon as I came across her as well. The minute I heard she was coming to Toronto, I knew I had to be there. I knew that seeing and meeting this woman even once in real life would be something I would want to tell my grandchildren about (as well as being incredibly inspiring for me).

And I honestly don’t believe this is simply because I’m a mother or because I’m attracted to things like natural birth and natural parenting…I really, truly believe that Ina May Gaskin is one of our modern day heroines – she is a champion for women (and children) whether they ever get pregnant and have babies or not.

And I felt that inspiration and power of being a woman and being supported by other women throughout this past weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

Birth Matters – and Ina May Gaskin Rocks!

Ina May Gaskin

Ina May Gaskin

Yesterday afternoon I braved driving to downtown Torontosomething I really hate doing! – but it was so worth it, because I had the opportunity to hear Ina May Gaskin, midwife extraordinaire and really a hero to women all over, speak at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore (you can actually watch a video of it here).

She shared some of her amazing wisdom, read from her new book, Birth Matters, A Midwife’s Manifesta, answered questions, and then did a book signing.

First let me say – she is so cool!

I loved her clothes, and she was hilariously funny…I am truly grateful to have had this chance to see and hear her in person!

Here’s the thing…I feel that there are a few people in this world who have incredible wisdom, and that it would be amazing to just sit at their feet and learn. For me (and many others, I know), Ina May is one of those people, so when I heard about her coming to Toronto I was on it right away.

I was actually at the book store super early to make sure I didn’t miss it, which gave me the opportunity to start reading Birth Matters. And speaking of cool, Ani DiFranco wrote the forward! In it she said, “When I read Gaskin’s words, I get the sense of a sage trying to show us a way to creating new frameworks. Pointing us not to new answers but back down an ancient path to new questions.”

That is exactly how I feel too, Ani! :)

Both the book and her talk have a great emphasis on the fact that women are made to fear birth. She quotes a Dr. Hugh L. Hodge as saying: “…if females can be induced to believe that their sufferings will be diminished, or shortened, and their lived and those of their offspring, be safer in the hands of the profession; there will be no further difficulty in establishing the universal practice of obstetrics…

Well isn’t that just lovely.

And of course, Ms. Gaskin has a wonderful way of teaching that we actually don’t have to fear birth (and for someone who has attended as many births as she has, I’m pretty sure she knows what she’s talking about!).

In fact, one of the reasons she became interested in natural birth was due to the brutal forceps delivery of her own first child (at a time when forceps delivery was at a rate of 65% in the US!). As she discussed this in the bookstore, she said in her matter of fact voice, “[I decided on] home birth – that would be safer than going to a doctor who’s crazy!”

One of the other main points she touched on was feminism and the power of women who give birth – a power that is not defined in terms of male power. From her talk:

We women have to not denigrate other women’s choices – we need to honor them. That’s the kind of feminism I want to see. We shouldn’t be making other people’s choices for them – and there’s a lot of different stories out there“. Another favorite quote: Let’s not be dissin’ each other!

Well said, Ina May! Read the rest of this entry »

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