Updated: Oct 22, 2021
The seeds of life inside my womb were present at my birth; a gift from mother's mother, on back to Mother Earth.
Patricia Robin Woodruff
Taking care of our bodies is the most important thing that we can do within our lifetime. Some believe that putting ourselves first in such a way is selfish, but in actuality it is the most selfless act that we have to offer. Let me explain to you why...
How we treat ourselves will directly impact our kin on a biological level. Yes, you heard me. The way we take care of our mind and body can effect our kin on a biological level that will be passed on for generations to come. As humans, we are composed of a magical concoction of genetic material; 50 percent donated from each of our biological parents. The genes that we are 'donated' from our parents are what make up every single structure in our bodies that are responsible for keeping us alive. This means that as parents, it is our responsibility to treat our bodies as temples! The vitality of our genetic material is the most important gift that we can offer our children.
I came to this realization a few years back while already pregnant with my husband and I's first child. After finding out that I was pregnant, I naturally felt the need to educate myself on how to have a healthy pregnancy. I very quickly learned that there is SO much that you can do to support your body BEFORE you get pregnant. My first reaction was "WTF? Why is this news to me? Why did I not know this???". I had been 'trained' on how to make a baby many moons before making one, so that part I didn't feel the need to do additional research on. Why is it common knowledge on how our bodies can make babies, yet it is totally foreign to most people on how to help our bodies create healthy babies? In 2004, the Journal of Nutrition published an article titled "Maternal Nutrition and Fetal Development", where the authors discuss the direct correlation between a mothers diet and neonatal health. They compiled enough research to show that "alterations in fetal nutrition and endocrine status may result in developmental adaptations that permanently change the structure, physiology, and metabolism of the offspring, thereby predisposing individuals to metabolic, endocrine, and cardiovascular diseases in adult life" (Guoyao Wu, 2004). Here I was, learning about the true significance of nutrition while pregnant, with a Wendy's frosty spoon dangling out of my mouth.
While in the process of learning this information, the weeks were flying by. Before I knew it, I was 20 weeks pregnant and had what my obstetrician labeled "pregnancy hypertension". I had never in my life had high blood pressure. I am what some may call the 'athletic' type. I prioritize exercise and physical activity highly, and my diet at that time was clean (ish...), so why was this happening? According to my obstetrician, sometimes in pregnancy high blood pressure 'just happens'. That was not an answer that I was able to live with, so I continued my research!
Low and behold, there are indeed factors that can cause such a thing! And, shockingly enough they can be prevented with proper nutrition and supplementation. While I wasn't eating a diet full of stereotypically unhealthy foods (fast food, soda etc.), I wasn't eating a diet that suited the needs of a pregnant woman (MUCH different than the needs of a non-pregnant woman). You bet I was eating ALL the carbs, and vegetables? Um..no.
After my personal discoveries, I was able to "turn the ship back on course" if you will. I cleaned up my diet, and prioritized proper supplementation as step one. This alone was enough to stop my increasing blood pressure in its tracks. Step 2 was finding a provider that aligned with my new found discoveries. That is when I learned that in-hospital birth wasn't the only way that women can have babies. I learned that there was such a thing as a midwife! I had never heard of such a thing, at least not that I could recall. It took some courage to start the conversation with my husband about my wishes to switch to an out-of-hospital birth center to have our baby.
Our first baby. Born in a birth center (which was house, in a residential neighborhood). Away from doctors. In a bath tub. Saying it out loud sounded crazy! Like, what? I want to leave the security blanket of a level-4 trauma care hospital with a NICU and all the pain management drugs to go deliver my first baby, unmedicated in the back of some ladies house in a bath tub? Cue the banjos folks, this experience was getting 'down-home'. Let me just take this back a few eras to the simpler times.
Even though I thought that was what people might think of us by making this decision, I felt confident enough to make the switch. I knew it was the right decision for the kind of pregnancy that I was having (low-risk). Looking back now, I still hadn't fully realized just how impactful that decision would end up being. The birth of our son was the most beautiful experience that I have lived through to-date. My midwife knew and I knew that I already had all the resources I would need to bring this baby into the world. We knew that we had done all the prep we could do to support this labor and delivery. I knew I didn't need fancy drugs, consistent fetal monitoring, or to be strapped to a table. I needed to be in tune with my body and let it do the work. I had all the knowledge necessary to birth this baby, and my midwife had all the experience needed to help my body should I start to work against its natural progression. At 12:53 pm, he made his peaceful entrance into this world. In that moment, I was more connected to Mother Nature than I had ever known was possible. I felt feelings that I didn't know existed. I now knew what it meant to be a woman.
Now, I want to clarify...I am not saying that this is the way that all people should birth their babies. Birth complications are VERY real and can lead to fetal and/or maternal death when not handled properly. Hospitals exist for a reason and save peoples lives every day.
What I am saying is that being pregnant is not an illness that by default needs a cure. Pregnancy and birth are a natural and instinctual process and low-risk pregnancies benefit from being treated as such. What pregnant people NEED is the proper education on how to support their body though a process that it already knows how to perform. In our culture's current model of maternity care, this type of knowledge is not given to the extent that is necessary in order to avoid preventable birth complications. The purpose of my blog will be to provide you, the reader, with the scientific evidence that supports these convictions.
The knowledge I possess to this date was collected for personal use. The knowledge that I continue to receive is through my studies as a student midwife at the MEAC accredited Midwifery School of Utah.
Welcome to birth of Mountain View Holistic Doula Services and Childbearing Education. I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you through this communal space. The moment that even one person finds this community useful, I will define this endeavor a success.
Guoyao Wu, Fuller W. Bazer, Timothy A. Cudd, Cynthia J. Meininger, Thomas E. Spencer, Maternal Nutrition and Fetal Development, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 134, Issue 9, September 2004, Pages 2169–2172, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/134.9.2169