When I found out that this week’s brown bag was on Birthing Stories, I was super excited. Is that weird?
For this brown bag, several women on campus (Brenda Ice, Professor Jenna Reinbold and Professor Priscilla Van Wynsberghe) and Debbie Alt, a doula, happily shared their pregnancy and birthing stories. Each of their stories were unique, whether between their different childbirths or between the women themselves. While telling their stories, the audience would laugh at funny moments or cringe during certain graphic moments. At the end, some of my female friends were terrified. But this brown bag was not about scaring the audience, it was about sharing knowledge of a normal experience. This brown bag was also about encouraging people to talk about these things and ask questions, to be aware of the things that can occur during pregnancy or labor, and to do their research (when the time is right!), because first time parents are often under prepared.
It was very interesting to hear how for one of the panelist, one of her labors took about 20 minutes. While another woman’s labor took over 24 hours. One Professor shared how her first labor experience was very difficult and painful, but her second birth was easier (but still painful). Another Professor shared her reasons for wanting a natural childbirth; she wanted to pass on her microbes to her child, since humans have millions of microbes in and on them, and microbes contribute to your overall health. By the end of this brown bag, I was amazed and awed by the stories these women told and I am grateful that they shared them with us. Although some of these stories scared some of my peers, I am excited to experience this myself (in about 10 years!).
Debbie Alt, who was Professor Reinbold’s doula during her second pregnancy, also provided us with some knowledge about pregnancy and labor. A doula is a non-medical person who provides physical assistance and emotional support to women before, during and/or after childbirth. They also help advocate for mothers during labor and often work with midwives. During the brown bag, the panelist talked about the medicalization of childbirth, in regards to the increase in caesarian sections (one in three pregnant women in the U.S. get caesarian sections). Debbie provided examples of alternative settings used during childbirth, whether it is in a hospital or a home birth with or without a pool, with doctors or with midwives.
You may have heard this once or twice before, but women and women’s bodies are amazing! Can you imagine what our mother went through? I encourage you all to talk with your mothers, if possible, and ask them about their experience while being pregnant with you and what is their birthing story? As the panelist all agreed, labor is an experience a women never forgets, whether good or bad. Talk to your moms, and don’t forget to thank them! I know I am grateful for my mom.
-Valerie Garcia ’15