Are Women Free to Make Noise in Labor on Maternity Wards?

 

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One of my blog posts from last year was published in The Huffington Post today. It’s one of my favorites, about women feeling free to use their voices in labor and birth.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/camille-williams/are-womens-birth-sounds-s_b_9678662.html

© Camille Williams and Wake Up, Mama! 2016

Stories About Circumcision: A Tale of Two Brothers

This is the second post in the series on circumcision. The first explores circumcision in general and tells the story of my first experience with it as a nursing student, and how I counsel expectant parents now as a midwife. To read it, click here.

Julie (name changed for privacy) is a 40-year-old mother of two boys, ages 11 and 7. Her older son was circumcised, and her younger son was not. She agreed to talk with me about her experience and how she and her husband made both decisions.   Continue reading

Stories About Circumcision: One Midwife’s Perspective

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Circumcision can be a touchy subject. Parents are in the unenviable position of having to make this important and permanent decision for their sons with a lot of conflicting information. Those who choose to fully investigate the issue find an overwhelming spectrum of opinions amidst the facts, and most will encounter heated debate in the media, their social circles, or even within their own families. They hear from staunch defenders on medical, cultural, or religious grounds. They hear from others who consider the procedure unnecessary but relatively benign.  They hear from those who see it as a human rights violation, ethically no different from female circumcision common to other cultures.

As you may have guessed, I am among those who hopes cultural change will make circumcision a distant memory. In the future, I suspect we will all be scratching our heads in disbelief that this is what we used to do to almost all our baby boys.   Continue reading

Are Women’s Birth Sounds Silenced in the Hospital?

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Attention birthing women: This will be the hardest work of your life. It will test you on every level. Childbirth education is very helpful, yet there’s no way to know how you will feel physically and emotionally until you’re in it. There are many schools of thought on how to cope, what to call the forces of labor (contractions or surges?), and how to label the feeling (pain or sensation?). I like to keep it simple: it’s really hard, and yeah, it hurts. And, you are stronger than you know, and you can do it. Whether or not you plan to use pain medication or epidural anesthesia, know that you have what it takes within you to get through however many contractions you choose to feel fully.   Do your preparation, trust in the birth process, and believe in yourself.

But once you get to the hospital, whatever you do, for God’s sake, maintain some decorum and do it quietly! And if you can’t do that on your own, we’ve got something for you that will fix that problem quite nicely.  Then, we can ALL be comfortable.

Is that the unspoken message women receive from hospital staff during labor?   Continue reading

Maternal-Child Health Studies from the Department of “Duh,” and Musings on the Disempowered State of Midwifery

Two articles drove me crazy this week.   Let me say at the outset: the title of this post is not a jab at the researchers. I am grateful for their tireless work, in awe of their professional accomplishments, and happy that they are proving what should be self-evident. What I am lamenting is the fact that these things are not obvious to all.

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There’s the delivery report. Then there is the Birth Story.

The other day, I sat down to document a birth in the medical record. I was still all abuzz inside from witnessing the two kick-ass women I had the privilege of attending that night.   It suddenly struck me, the flatness of what I was about to write compared to what actually happened.  I get that we have to document in a certain way, and that’s OK.   But wouldn’t it be amazing to say what we really see, for each and every birth?  Continue reading