This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.
My husband and I are researchers. Before we we decided we were ready to become parents, we researched. We read books and websites and spent hours (years) digging through medical journals. We wanted to be prepared. We learned that birth is best left alone, the truth about things such as circumcision and vaccinations, about breastfeeding and about parenting. Intellectually, we were prepared long before that fateful night when we said, “Let’s start trying for a baby” – the night our first son was conceived. In the end, we had to give up any semblance of control and just trust.
We eschewed ultrasounds, which while very popular in our mainstream society, are actually contraindicated unless there is a medical need. They haven’t been proven safe and there is actually research which indicates that they are unsafe. Depsite the fact that the Amercian Academy of Pediatrics says that ultrasounds should not be used routinely because of this, many doctors and midwives still offer routine ultrasounds, and even worse doppler use (which uses a constant stream of ultrasonic waves rather than the intermittent waves used by ultrasound). The inconclusive information gathered during these routine procedures doesn’t improve birth outcomes. In fact, the information is wrongly used to negatively impact birth outcomes, with increasing numbers of unnecessary interventions, inductions, and caesarean sections.
We turned our back on hospital birth, where women are generally told how to position themselves for the ease of the attendant rather than optimal birthing position for mother and baby. Due dates are used as expiration dates, and babies who need more time to gestate are treated as sour milk. Babies are monitored through invasive means, causing stress to the babies and mothers and increasing negative outcomes, resulting in even more interventions. Women are told when and how to push (or not push), are drugged and cut, and are lied to in order to make them more compliant. At no point in the situation are women allowed the calm and quiet they need in order to listen to what their bodies and babies need. There is no trust in birth or life – only in the faulty technology and medical gods.
We turned our back on any assisted birth. We were well researched. We knew what to look for in case there was ever a serious problem which required help. In that event, we would be headed to the hospital. Instead, we chose not to have any interference in the birthing process. I centered myself, listening to my body and listening to my baby for the most optimal outcome. Women have been giving birth for millenia, trusting in what they know.
When our beautiful son was born, his eyes gazing around in wonder, we trusted in our instincts. We held him, kissing his little head, inhaling his unique scent, and keeping him close to our hearts. I nursed him when he was hungry. He slept when he was tired. We kept him close by at all times. He learned when he was ready to learn something. As he grew, our trust was returned by him and we knew to trust him, too.
By inequivocably giving up parental rights during pregnancy and birth, parents have given up much more than just the optimal birth for their family. They have given away their ability to trust. It’s no wonder that new parents so often cave to the pressures of doctors and family against what their instincts and babies are telling them. They have already been beaten down and now believe that they can’t possibly trust what they and their babies know to be true.
Instead of feeding on demand when babies give signs of hunger, new parents are told to space feedings and often to not even try breastfeeding. They allow their precious babies to be separated from them. When every instinct in a parent’s body screams to them to hold their baby and keep him/her close, the parents turn their backs on this new, trusting infant based on the advice of others. The children are never allowed to know themselves fully and to grow whole. After all, they can’t be trusted.
It wasn’t that long ago when women birthed their babies by listening to their bodies or nursed their babies at their breasts, keeping them close throughout the day and the night. In fact, this is still the norm in most of the world, where children are treated as precious resources rather than objects to be trained into something they aren’t in the name of technology and money…in the name of progress.
Enjoyed reading this. Good work.
Great blog. I will be returning.
I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing.
Lovely post and beautiful site. Found you through the API Carnival.
This is a beautifully written, articulate article. How sad that API felt the need to link to it with the disclaimer, “Attachment Parenting International does not advocate unassisted birth of any sort.” They could have easily said “API encourages each woman/couple to do their own research and choose a method of birth that feels right for THEM.” This would have been much more respectful to you and the visitors to their site. In any case, congratulations and thanks so much for sharing your lovely story.