expecting: thinking

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Birth is amazing, powerful, and for most woman, painful.  If you are interested in an un-medicated childbirth, you have to prepare.  Most women I know who planned un-medicated births (and others) thought of their “high pain threshold” as a reason, and all were stunned by the kind of pain labor actually is (myself included!).  

Reading books about birth and un-medicated births, like the Ina May Gaskin books (Ina May is the famous midwife who started The Farm in Tennessee as a place for women to be together and birth with a midwife present) will help you understand the celebration and work that labor was named for.  

The pain is like no other— so you’ve got to do that “one contraction at a time thing” because you don’t know when it’s going to end! 

And the no drugs/drugs thing is a bit hard— because supposedly, women asked for drugs before there were drugs— everyone at some point asks for drugs— the issue is that now many are available, so it changes how you deal with the pain.

I would take a Bradley class rather than Lamaze, if you can—Bradley integrates nutrition and a birth partner, along with many physical positions and options for birth.  Bradley also prepares you to talk with nurses and doctors in the hospital so you make choices that are right for you and your baby.

Birthing Books, online films, DVDS

For books about birth, see specific titles in my askyourfriendkira expecting store. Some authors who help explain birth and empower you and your body are Ina May Gaskin, Henci Goer, Dick Grantly Read.

YouTube has become a great place to watch clips of births—hospital births, home births, epidurals (which I have to say, was harder to watch than anything, for me!).  Just seeing a birth helps us have a frame of reference—though of course your first birth is the necessary component to complete that frame.
The Business of Being Born is a film I think everyone should see, no matter where they are choosing to have their baby.

I grew up with stories of Lamaze and breathing from my mother who barely made it to the hospital after thinking that the first stage and a half of labor was a stomachache. No such experience for me—my water broke (when I was sleeping) and I knew an hour later I was in labor, though it went on for another 28 hours before I had my baby.

My husband and I chose to take a Bradley class—this is a partner-coached method that educates couples about physical positions for birth, emotional relaxation methods, and more.    There are usually 8-12 classes (our instructor broke the class into 8) and you will find that making the time for class to be an important transition to your changing family.  If you and your partner have the time, dinner before or after class can be a fun date. 

Post-Partum Doulas—do you need one?  (Yes, if you can afford it!) Finding and hiring one during your pregnancy.
post-partum doulas'; (ask for the DONA, Doulas of North America Certification) mission is to help and support you with your newborn baby.  A doula can help with breastfeeding, washing, holding, using a sling, sleeping.  A post-partum doula can help arrange the areas in the house where you take care of your baby.  While post-partum doulas can also cook or straighten the house, their hourly rate is high and you would be better off hiring someone to clean separately.

Preparing to Take Care of Your Body After Birth

  • Make sure you have
  • soft maxi pads (the organic ones are nice—this is one time that a thick pad is actually soothing)
  • Epsom salts
  • arnica gel
  • homeopathic arnica tablets

Your will have menstrual period-like bleeding for a few weeks after birth.  Taking a sitz bath for the first week or two—is soothing and the Epsom salts are cleansing.  If you are giving birth in a hospital they will give you the “bath” to take home.  Otherwise ask your midwife.

You might use arnica gel on your vaginal area and/or take arnica tablets to help your body recover from the amazing trauma of birth.

You never know what positions will work for your body and the baby—it’s good to have people who can encourage you to move around, change position.  At home or in a birthing center (freestanding or in a hospital) you have many options and are more free to move around a lot.  In a regular Labor & Delivery room in a hospital you can be creative too—lying on your side, holding the different grip bars.

My story: When I was in labor with my second child, when I was pushing and crying out, my midwife said that sometimes pushes were more productive when you don’t let out with the voice, and it was soon after that my daughter was born—and it was true for me, I suddenly felt all that power inside that I had been letting out vocally.

When the baby is born, be skin to skin immediately if you can, and look into your baby’s eyes—he or she is imprinting.  Usually the nurse will give you a few minutes before putting the mandated ointment into the baby’s eyes—the first 30 minutes or so after birth your baby can focus perfectly on your face, and the ointment clouds their vision.

After you give birth to the baby, you also have to give birth to the placenta, in which the baby was living, This can be right away or a few minutes after.

Taking a breastfeeding class can be very helpful.  There are a few things to get “right” when you nurse—positioning your baby, making sure the “latch” is correct (almost the entire areola needs to be in her mouth, not just the nipple).

Breastfeeding classes will talk about helpful positions, being skin to skin to bond with (and encourage sometimes) your baby.  It’s a good place to meet other pregnant women—maybe you’ll find someone you really like who you can build a friendship with.  It most certainly will be a place to get references for lactation consultants and other breastfeeding support so if you need it after your baby is born, you have it on hand already.

I don’t have pets but have read about them for friends who do.  You can help prepare a pet for a new baby.  As a pet owner you should consult with your veteranarian, and if your pet has shown aggression to smaller animals or strangers, make sure you mention this, as it can foreshadow behavior with children.   These links may help.
Dogs and Babies
Dogs and Storks
Cats and Babies
ASPCA Cats and Babies
Doggie Couch

If you had a boy you will be faced with the question of whether or not to circumcise his penis.  While research shows that circumcised boys are less prone to infections, I have a hard time believing in the practice.  Circumcision removes 1/3 of the nerve endings of the penis.

This is a portion of the letter I drafted when we were making the decision about circumcision.  To be fair, we had two girls, so it was an academic exercise in the end. 

The addition of clothing caused a slight increase in temperature in the penis combined with the obvious ancient absence of running water (or a desire for increased bathing), facilitated the growth of undesirable bacteria.  As bathing habits have increased tremendously, this is not a modern issue.

As a culture and society, we re-think many practices that were quite common at some point in time.  Many of the people responsible for the widespread circumcising in this country supported it as prevention of masturbation. 

I believe in God, but I also believe in the intelligence of our ancestors.  In order to ensure the  continuation of Jewish culture, thousands of years ago learned men understood the need for a law that one would not argue with, therefore the convenant was born.

What is a “normal” Jewish woman?  As a woman who is not yet a mother, I would like to think my future son might think me enlightened and brave, not to expose him to something many consider barbaric. 

Does being a “normal” Jewish woman mean I am going to stop thinking?  Does being a “normal” Jewish woman mean I would be not accept a kind, caring partner because of a difference in his genitalia?  Does being a “normal” Jewish woman mean I will abstain from intellectual discourse, and not come to my own understanding of Judaism?

If I decide to circumcise a son, I want that decision to be rooted in medical understanding and faith. 

Not okay for me to do something to a child because “everybody does” or “everybody always has”.

They have not, in fact.

The original procedure has been changed.  The amount cut off today was dictated by Rabbis during the middle ages.  It is not okay for me to allow someone to detach (rip) the foreskin from the head of the penis (for it is not detached at birth—that happens later, in adolescence) and slice it off.

We are talking about an 8 day old baby.  It is reprehensible that people allow this to happen.  Since no one would consider harming a baby in any other way, think about the brainwashing that has befallen each generation that allowed this to happen year after year.  People cannot even watch without feeling ill.  When would anyone ever allow something to be done to someone else (who could not prevent the action) if it made him or her feel ill?

We treat people in the world with such kindness and care.  We must treat our offspring the same way. 

I am not looking to condemn the past, but to honor the future.  For some it is difficult to say no to circumcision, because in a way, it is saying something is wrong with our men who exist, circumcised.  For the integrity and feelings of all concerned, that is not a matter to address.

Prostrate cancer—cut off the penis?  No.  Find a blood test—a non-invasive procedure that provides early detection.  It is difficult for men to have any problem with their penis, ever.


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