MHB: What inspires you to write this book?
NP: I always believed in natural birth, but I realized that saying I wanted to birth naturally and actually doing it were very different matters. When I was preparing for my first birth experience, I found a terrific free standing birth center, the Connecticut Childbirth & Women’s Center in Danbury, Connecticut, and received all my care from the compassionate, professional Certified Nurse Midwives who work there. I ate healthy, organic food, drank lots of water, exercised, listened to positive birth visualization CDs…but it was not enough.
When I finally went into labor I was so preoccupied with counting minutes between contractions that I lost track of the really important work to be done: staying positive, staying open and working with my contractions. After 20 hours of painful contractions and little rest, I was exhausted. When I was admitted to the birth center my midwife quickly realized my baby’s heart rate was erratic and I was “risked-out” of a birth center birth. Even though my midwife was very confident that the issue was no more than the umbilical cord wrapped around my daughter’s neck, I still had to be transferred to the hospital across the street. I was very much affected by the hospital environment, quickly went from being an empowered, birthing woman to being a “patient”, and my resolution to birth without drugs no longer seemed as important. While my midwife believed in me, I did not. I was tired, I was in pain, and I wanted relief. I asked for an epidural and a rather textbook procession of interventions followed it. If I had not had my midwife by my side, I would have caved to the pressure to accept a c-section, something the OB on call was pushing for.
After hours of slow, medically induced dilation, a parade of medical students inspecting me like some strange example of modern, medical art, and the loving and continuous support of my husband and midwife, I was able to push my baby girl out vaginally. While it was far from the natural birth I had desired, it certainly was an inspiring event. From that experience, I was convinced that midwifery care was incredible and needed to be promoted, natural birthing was worth the challenge, and I could do better.
When I became pregnant again I talked out my fears with my midwives, read everything by Ina May Gaskin, drank raspberry leaf tea like it was nobody’s business, and focused on creating a strong connection with my baby. I would speak to him daily and I would visualize the progress of our labor together and our peaceful, natural birth. I overcame my fears that I would not be able to handle the labor naturally by reaffirming my initial belief that birth was normal and I was built to do it by arming myself with evidence and learning about the process of labor. The result of my preparations was a manageable labor, a quick water delivery, and a mind-blowing epiphany that everything I originally believed about birth was true. The confidence the experience bestowed upon me has trickled down into all areas of my life. My natural birth made me feel like I could take on any challenge my heart desired; I wish this feeling for all women!
After this birth, my heart overflowed with gratitude for the guidance and support I received from my midwifery team and I was brimming with a sincere need to do something to give back to them. Spontaneous Joyful Natural Birth is my way of saying thank you to those midwives who supported me. With this collection of beautiful, positive birth stories, I also hope to encourage countless women who desire to birth naturally to feel inspired to take on that challenge.
MHB: As a parent, what kind of rhythm allows you to accomplish what you need for both your work and family life?
NP: As a parent of two and wife of a husband who needs to travel frequently for his job, I have to admit that I find myself slipping in and out of balance and rhythm often. One great blessing in my life that helps me incredibly is having a job at a wonderful, local, independent day school where I can teach English and my own two children can attend as well. There is nothing better than being able to take my children to work with me each day and know they are in a safe and happy place nearby. Watching my children play on the playground from my own classroom window is a true joy. This unusual arrangement helps to quell some of my mama guilt of being a working mom.
MHB: What do you do to keep harmony in your life?
NP: When I start to feel the wheels coming off the wagon, I try to find balance and harmony by spending more time at home. Home has always been my place to recharge. Rushing around from school to the grocery store, to ski lessons, this way and that, can get crazy. I try to keep the kids close to home on the weekends, in jammies, cuddling, reading, and watching good old family favorites. Slowing down the pace, spending time outdoors, and gathering eggs from our chickens…just enjoying being together and generally focusing on the simple pleasures, is how I keep harmony in my life.
MHB: Are you working on any exciting new projects right now?
NP: Right now I am working on setting up birth story workshops around the country. I believe personal story telling is very powerful. The more women share their positive birth experiences, the more possible natural birthing becomes for others. We believe what we hear, we believe what we see. A major goal of mine is to help get positive natural birthing into the mainstream media. When was the last time you watched a movie that had a calm midwife, peacefully attending a woman who births her baby without screams of terror, but a smile? One way or another, I am determined to help get peaceful, fear-free birth images to the masses. I may just have to dust off my screenwriting skills and write that script myself!
MHB: Who are your perfect readers?
NP: Expectant women and their partners are my audience. Spontaneous Joyful Natural Birth will help mamas-to-be see that birthing naturally is worth striving for. The book is also a terrific resource for midwifes, OBs, doulas, and other childbirth educators looking for positive, practical, encouraging materials to share with their clients.
MHB: Where can the families I work with and my readers find more information about you?
Stay tuned for news on my in-the-works Spontaneous Joyful Natural Birth website…I will be posting new, inspiring natural birth stories monthly and getting my blog on…as soon as I get this house tidied up, help make the Valentine’s cards, read the student essays, and…
MHB: My dear readers, I have read this book as I can’t get enough of empowering and wonderful birth stories. It is an awesome reminder of who we are as women: strong, confident, AWEsome, and patient, willing, and full of trust. In between the cover are pages of resilience, peace of mind and courage, found by mothers giving in to the letting go of their experience of birth, surrounded by the love and support of midwives, OB’s and partners. It is a true gift…and one I get to share.
Miss Natasha has given me a book to give away to one lucky reader. To get in the running, leave a comment below that answers this question:
What are you doing to achieve a Spontaneous Joyful Natural Birth?
Comments will close and a winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator Monday, February 18th, 2013.