Saturday, August 22, 2009

EmPoWeReD Birth

Today's post centers around the newly formed organization EmPoWeReD Birth. Please visit their Facebook fan page for more information.

I know I haven't had children yet and so am considered ignorant to the ins and outs of the process, but I do think it's important to make sure women are educated about their options and thereby don't get coerced into unnecessary interventions during a hospital labor and delivery.

My story with this organization goes back to when I had a reflexology appointment with a lovely classmate of mine from high school named Kaitlynn. We spent time catching up on our lives and she told me about her children and how she had two all-natural homebirths. I was astonished, floored, and immediately she became my new hero. Prior to speaking with her, I knew of nothing other than the lithotomy (on the back) position type of birth in a hospital, as well as a bit about waterbirth just because another acquaintance of mine sent photos of her (very new) newborn being held inside the birthing tub. Regardless, I asked Kaitlynn a few questions and she mentioned how she had a midwife, a doula, and a birthing tub and stool. Still wide-eyed at everything but the prospect of a doula (which I've known for a while I wanted to consider using when the time came), I, as usual, felt compelled to learn more.

I spent three solid days learning about, essentially, the lack of access to an in-hospital, midwife-attended birth in the Lehigh Valley. I also learned that there are no birth centers in the area, and that in most cases, you can seek the services of a midwife through a regular OB office and he or she can provide your prenatal care and help you develop your birth plan, BUT, he or she also takes on-calls just like the docs within the practice and so might not be there to deliver your baby. Water birth, as well, is not a readily available option in a hospital unless you see a prenatal provider outside of the Lehigh Valley, of which the one I found inconveniently doesn't take my insurance. Finally, the only midwife in the area who attends homebirths is in such high demand that she isn't accepting first-time moms as new clients.

So why, you may ask, do I even care so much as long as mom-to-be ends up with a healthy baby? After questioning Kaitlynn even further in the days that followed my reflexology appointment, she recommended the documentary The Business of Being Born. I downloaded it on iTunes and watched it, had my husband sit through the most poignant parts, and discussed its contents in depth. I told him about my research and the lack of access to all of these options, and while we have an idea of the type of birth we want when the time comes, we're still not sure how we're going to make that happen.

As a result, I think the advocacy work of EmPoWeReD Birth is vital toward enabling birthing options in the Lehigh Valley. I hope you, too, will consider becoming a fan of their page on Facebook and inquiring about how you may help.


  1. Great, informative post!

    I want to comment on your statement that perhaps you are "ignorant" of birthing issues since you don't have children yet.

    You definitely represent a large demographic that birth activists would like to reach--the women who are not yet mothers. We want to reach you BEFORE you are pregnant, because once you get pregnant, it sometimes becomes difficult to step out of the typical American birth process.

    I know that for myself, I did not have a "birth philosophy" prior to pregnancy, and even when I realized partway through my pregnancy that my developing philosophy differed greatly from my care providers, I did not leave that provider. It is only through sheer luck that I ended up having a positive birth experience...but "luck" is not good enough for many women, unfortunately.

    So please, if you have any ideas on how we can reach women who aren't even thinking about getting pregnant yet, let us know! We currently do have one board member who is, like you, also not a parent yet.

    Jenn Riedy
    EmPoWeReD Birth President and Board Member

  2. Jenn,

    Thank you for commenting on my blog! I agree that reaching the TTC crowd and even the thinking-about-TTC crowd is important to preventing care from continuing in the current manner of "it's just the way it's always been done".

    The thing that pops into my mind right now is how my own "baby fever" evolved even before the situation described above. While planning my wedding and honeymoon, I couldn't help but click on the cute baby-planning links located on the wedding-planning sites. One thing led to another simply out of curiosity, but that curiosity wouldn't have even been sparked had those links not been there. Additionally, so many of my friends are pregnant/new moms and I've been to so many showers in the past year that baby stores and online registries often included flyers or links of the same nature.

    Of course, the next question is what type of budget such implementations would require...yikes...but those are my initial thoughts for now, at least.

  3. Hmmm...good thoughts! I wonder how much it would cost to get a table at some of the "wedding shows" at Stabler and such...



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