Today’s essay for BWI training was about my personal experiences relating to childbirth and breastfeeding related workshops, conferences, meetings. It was kind of a reminiscent piece for me, as much of this I have not thought about in quite some time, and not in the way that was asked of me.
Amy Jarjusey – BWI Birth Related Events
My very first attendance in a childbirth class was when we were pregnant with our first child and I had chosen Bradley Method classes at a hospital nearby our home. The entire course ran for twelve weeks. In its entirety, the information was really quite useful. Neither of us knew much of what we were going to experience on this journey into parenthood, and on that note, Bradley did fill us in quite a bit on each and every step of labor. I felt quite prepared with the book knowledge of the changes I would experience during my pregnancy, labor and delivery. My husband, I feel, walked away with the knowledge of not only what I would be going through, but also some things he might be able to do assist me through the pain and discomfort that I may experience.
Walking away from the classes, I did feel quite prepared because the details were vivid, and for me, I needed to know exactly what was going on with my body to be able to bare and endure the process of labor. In hindsight, and really one of the main reasons I have chosen BirthWorks for my certification process is that, Bradley was a lot of book knowledge. Had I not had the gumption to relate that book knowledge to my sheer ability to give birth, I am not sure I could have spoken so highly of Bradley after the fact. Much of what I needed to see/hear/learn was about the process of birth because I had already felt my ability was there. Bradley did offer that knowledge, but it was not something I could not have figured out without the twelve week course.
Likewise, I have to say that for myself, in labor, I really never wanted to be touched all that much. So my husband learned all of these “techniques” to assist and nurture me through labor and I could not bare hands on me through contractions, or much at all. I do feel that Bradley did not give him much else to go on, and really did not look at the potential of someone not wanting a hand laid on them. However, that too, is my unique experience (and one I would not have predicted having not gone through it) and to others this could be extremely helpful. I do feel, in hindsight, that it was my mere personality and gumption that made Bradley work for us during our first birth. There were at least half in our class that did not result in natural births, and that could be Bradley related, or simply just a matter of circumstances.
I was a strong participant in my local La Leche League, but did not join till my first born was nearly a year old. I was not really seeking out breastfeeding support at the time, but looking for community. I felt quite isolated being the only mother on the playground nursing, or being at family gatherings and getting some really crazy questions related to breastfeeding. I often had the feeling that I should hide from others while nursing, but at the very same time felt quite proud that we were nursing and that felt quite right in my heart. So, nothing was really going to change the fact that I was nursing my son as long as he’d want to, but I was feeling a bit isolated and wanting to find other nursing moms to connect with. La Leche did just that for me. I made relationships that I still have today. A good friend is now one of the co-leaders of that very same group, and I cherish these women immensely. I always felt safe in LLL. The information was quite useful, and I felt honored that I too, could contribute back to moms just starting out. I could offer that support that I did not feel I had when my son was first born, and that builds an amazing camaraderie of women supporting women.
It was from that group that I met one of my closest friends, and we ended up starting a local chapter of Attachment Parenting International. It was based in our town, but we had members coming from several towns to participate. We ran monthly meetings for quite some time, and park days offered continued support to AP families for several years to follow. Our monthly meetings were designed to assist parents with “hot” topics in the AP communities. Many parents who came to us were dealing with extended families not supporting their parenting choices. We ran a workshop (with outside presenters) on effective communication and discipline techniques, and overall tried to be open-ears to our AP community members. API offers such a safe and assuring support to parents who choose to parent outside of that ‘norm’. Ironically so… to call peaceful and respectful parenting “outside of the norm.”
It is through my parental journey that I have found my community has naturally gravitated towards nursing, AP-style, co-sleeping, natural, peaceful, homeschooling, natural childbirth, doula, midwives, and more kind of mamas. And… I feel quite at home!