Warning! Long blog post ahead!
This is a post I've wanted to write for a while but have been hesitant to do so.
Let me just say this:
The decisions every pregnant woman makes about her pregnancy, birth, and baby is her own. The relationship between each woman and her growing baby is unique and different from the next. No one should ever be made to feel like a "bad" mother simply because her choices are different than someone else's. That's all part of the journey and adventure of motherhood.
We get to make these important choices.
We learn as we go, we do our best, and we try to be understanding of and patient with others.
This post is just to share what Chas and I feel personally feel good about in regards to little cryings.
If you do things differently, that's totally fine.
If you're weirded out by some of this, that's totally fine too.
This is only what we've come to really love in our preparation for being parents.
After we first found out we were expecting, it became very important to me that, together, Chas and I did as much research, study, and preparation as we could for being parents.
I've spent the last seven years of my life devoted to trying to be the best therapist I can possibly be. I've worked long hours, spent 10's of thousands of dollars on advanced education, studied my brains out, written a thesis, and have been wholly devoted to the clinical care of others. In short, I've stretched myself not only intellectually but personally as well in my journey to be good at my job.
So if I've done all that, why wouldn't I put in the same amount of work and preparation for the most important job ever?
So Chas and I set out to work.
And here's what we found.
1. The Business of Being Born
I was only a few weeks pregnant when we casually decided to watch this movie on Netflix one night.
We knew nothing about it but thought we might as well give it a go.
This movie blew our minds. Knocked our socks right off.
Before this movie, I thought midwives, natural birthing, and especially home births were for the chaco-wearing, granola crunching, hippy dippies.
After this movie, Chas and I were seriously considering birthing centers and, if we had our own house, would probably have looked closely into the option of doing a home birth. (Crazy, I know.)
As it turns out, we are giving birth in a hospital but with a midwife (who we love).
I just loved how much this movie opened our eyes to a whole new way of viewing birth. It made me excited to explore all the possibilities for my birth that I had never before considered. It gave us new knowledge about birth and, with that, came a new feeling of power and ownership for our future birth experience.
I'd also venture to say that this movie was the springboard for Chas and I wanting to learn more about methods of birthing and parenting that challenge the "normal" way of doing things in this country.
2. -- 4. The Aware Baby, Tears and Tantrums, and Helping Young Children Flourish
I will be forever grateful to my sweet cousin's wife (a licensed clinical social worker) for recommending these books.
First, let me say that I know, based on the cover art design of these books, they look ancient and hokey. I know. It's hard but just try to move past the out-dated covers. It's so worth it.
Out of all the parenting books I've read, this series has the only books that ring completely true with everything I know as a therapist and professor of stress management.
In fact, I remember reading the author's explanation of the physiological reaction that happens in our body when we feel stress and realizing that some of her description was word-for-word the same as the way I explain those concepts in my classes. I think that's when the love affair with The Aware Baby officially started.
The basis of all three of these books is quite different from anything else I've read but, at the same time, feels exactly right on.
Essentially, "Aware Parenting" revolves around the idea that children's entire range of emotions should be accepted and lovingly listened to without judgement. Babies and children should be allowed to freely express their sadness, anger, or frustration through crying and/or raging.
After all their immediate needs are met, crying can serve as an important means of releasing stress.
Have you ever had a really good cry? Have you ever had someone sit with you, listen to you, or hold you while you let out pent up stress/anger/sadness through crying without trying to solve the problem or stop you from crying? Have you ever experienced how loved, validated, and calm you feel after having a good cry with a trusted loved one?
That's one of the main principles that "Aware Parents" offer their babies and/or children.
And, speaking as a therapist, being able to learn how to fully accept, experience, and release difficult emotions in a safe, effective way is such a huge, huge life skill with far-reaching effects.
All three books are great. I'd suggest starting with The Aware Baby and going from there.
For a more brief overview of this style of parenting, check out the website here.
Browse through the articles here as well.
5. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
I'm someone who appreciates consistency and schedules. Both of which, I believe, are important for children as well.
I like this book because it gives a really detailed outline of what to expect sleep-wise for your baby at very specific intervals/stages of life.
I don't agree with everything in this book but I definitely plan on referencing it many times as little cryings grows and her sleeping needs change.
6. Birthing From Within
This book is an art therapist's dream.
Again, while I don't agree with everything this book advocates, I do really appreciate the way this book explains how to use art as a way to explore your own personal feelings and fears about your pregnancy and birth.
One night, Chas and I busted out some paper and oil pastels and, together, created some "birth art" drawings as described in the book. It was a really unique and wonderful way of discovering our thoughts and emotions surrounding little cryings. When we were finished with our drawings, we took time to explain to each other what everything in the drawing symbolized and the meaning it held for us.
It was a really special experience to have together.
We've tacked the drawings to the refrigerator and I love that I now have that powerful imagery in my mind in preparation for birth.
This is probably the book that's most familiar to others.
While I want to have a natural birth, and am preparing to do so, I also realize that since this is my first experience, I have no idea what to expect. But that's ok. I'm still doing all I can to confront the fear of natural birthing, move past it, and fill my mind with positive thoughts and real physical techniques to cope with the pain.
Having said that, I also want to be as open as I can to whatever happens during my labor and delivery. If, for whatever reason, I decide to get an epidural, I want to feel that that is totally acceptable as well.
I will say that Hypnobirthing is the only birthing book that has made me genuinely excited to have the experience of giving birth. I love that.
One last thing.
This one may put you over the edge.
I'm going to keep my placenta and have it encapsulated so I can take it in pill form.
I know it sounds crazy but here's the thing:
I think it's going to be awesome and the benefits of ingesting your placenta are more than convincing for us.
I've talked to women who have done this and, again, done some research on it.
The testimonials I've heard first-hand are more than convincing. They are amazing.
Benefits of doing this for the first few weeks after birth include:
replenishes your iron
gives you more energy
helps with postpartum depression
lessens postnatal bleeding
increases milk production
balances your hormones
Ummm, yes please?
This is a great website to learn more about placenta encapsulating and this short video clip does an excellent job of explaining more about the scientifically-proven benefits.
If you can think of it as just taking a pill, and nothing more, then it doesn't seem nearly as bizarre.
When I first told my mom about it, her response was, "Woah! Where can I get me some of those gross-y pills?!"
Couldn't have said it better myself.
So there you have it.
I hope, if nothing else, some of this has peaked your curiosity or made you motivated to do your own study and research and find what feels most right for you.
Happy pregnancy, birthing, and parenting!