INA MAY’S GUIDE TO CHILDBIRTH, Ina May Gaskin
This is a must read for every pregnant woman. There isn’t much I can say other than that. It was the first book I read when I found out I was pregnant. I did a search of the books about birth at my local library and this was one of two or three that came up. A “Guide to Childbirth” seemed like a a good place to start my preparation for childbirth.
I have had a few friends read this and tell me that it is so empowering and that they felt more than ready to have their baby after reading it through. Those reviews are a testament to both the content of this book and Ina May herself. She is not called the nation’s leading midwife for nothing. I’ve seen her interviewed a few times and her confidence about a woman’s ability to birth her baby naturally can put almost anyone at ease. That confidence, that is based on knowledge and experience, comes through in the pages of this book. You believe her when you read that childbirth does not have to be approached with fear. You believe her when you read that your body knows what it needs to do to manage pain and progress during labor. And, if you are me, you will read about her “Sphincter Law” and believe that it is the key to a successful natural, vaginal birth. Then you will proceed to practice it in the bathroom when faced with the seemingly inevitable constipation that hits pregnant women.
In case you are pregnant and don’t read this book, I am going to give you a short summary of Sphincter Law because I think it is imperative that you know it before labor.
- Sphincter: a circular band of voluntary or involuntary muscle that encircles an orifice of the body (anus, vagina, cervix) or one of its hollow organs.
- Sphincters do not obey orders, like PUSH!
- Sphincters function best in an atmosphere of familiarity and privacy (ever try to poop in front of people? or on vacation?).
- Sphincters may suddenly close when their owner is startled or frightened. This is part of our natural flight or fight response.
- Laughter helps open the sphincters (ever laugh so hard you peed your pants?).
- Slow, deep breathing aids the opening of the sphincters
- Immersion in water helps because it is difficult to hold you muscles still and rigid while in water.
- A relaxed mouth means a more elastic cervix. Ina May has observed that “women whose mouths and throats are open and relaxed during labor and birth rarely need stitches after childbirth. On the other hand, women who grimace and clench their jaws while pushing have a greater tendency to tear, because their perineal tissues are more rigid.” (My first two births were these exact scenarios. With Madeline it was forced pushing, holding my breath with a clenched jaw. Got myself a 4th degree laceration. With Houston, I was in the water, mouth hanging open, hardly pushing, and didn’t tear at all).
- Here’s where you can practice. Next time you’re in the bathroom and things aren’t working as fast or as easily as you would like, open your mouth and let your jaw hang open. To help things along even more, make sounds “associated with pleasurable lovemaking.” I don’t mean re-enacting the night you conceived the baby, but low moans will work.
This is my favorite practical, preparatory book for pregnancy women. I tell everyone to read it and it is always first on the list when friends ask for recommendations. If you’re pregnant, buy it. If you know someone who is pregnant, buy it for them.
Last night Jay and I were in bed and I flipped the channel on the tv to the show Extreme Couponing. I had just commented that TLC feeds its own programming because these people were going to be on Hoarders in a few years when Jay noticed #ExtremeCouponing at the top of the screen and asked me what that pound sign meant. I used my vast internet knowledge to explain that it is called a “hashtag” and it is used to track what is trending on Twitter. Basically, what is everyone tweeting about. He picked up his phone and clicked on his Twitter app (yes, he has a Twitter account but did not know about hashtags) to see what was currently trending. He started a video and told me it was from number one on the list: #stopkony. For the next 30 minutes or so we were glued to his iphone screen.
I admit, I had seen someone post a link to the video on Facebook earlier that evening but didn’t watch. I have to be pretty interested to watch any videos, and I don’t think I’ve ever watched one that lasted for more than five minutes.
I had heard of Joseph Kony. Jay was this close to deploying to Africa to aid in the fight against this evil warlord. I understand the risk to our Soldiers when we send them into fights like this, but sometimes it must be done. Not because we have an economic interest or a security interest, but because it is right and because we can help in ways other countries cannot.
I am asking you to watch this video (in case you aren’t one of the millions of people around the world who already have). Take the next 30 minutes, and instead of scrolling through Pinterest, or reading Barstool Sports, or stalking your friends on Facebook, or shopping, watch this video. You will be moved and you will want to do something.
I have a lot of hair. On my head. A lot of pretty long, curly hair. I’m also pregnant, which means I’m not losing all of the hair I would normally lose. For those of you who don’t know, your hair doesn’t fall out at the same rate when you are pregnant. It falls out in huge clumps sometime after the baby is born to make up for lost time. This is a great side effect of pregnancy if you happen to normally have thinner hair. I don’t have thin hair. Never have. So, it just keeps getting fuller and fluffier.
I also don’t wash it everyday, so once I pull it up on a day I have washed it, it stays that way until the next shower (which could be days away).
In addition to being full, it is also getting long and ends up in a ponytail or bun pretty quickly. I am starting to get sick of it, as I usually do when I let it get long. Then I normally cut a lot of it off just to do something different. I love it for a week or two, but then it starts to grow back and I hate it and vow to let it get long and keep it that way. And the cycle continues. This time I vowed not to cut it too short while pregnant because a short haircut does not mix well with all of the extra volume. But I’m starting to get dangerously close to cutting it off. The problem with my hair is that it is usually okay short and long, but there are a lot of awkward in-between lengths that I hate.
I’ve been thinking about getting a dramatically short cut, a la Felicity sophomore year. I’m hesitant because I’m not sure that weight gain and swelling in my face will go well with such a short style. I also know that it will grow back quickly and then I need to either maintain the short cut (like getting it trimmed really often) or put up with a painful grow out. I’m also hesitant because I know that Keri Russell never cut her hair that short again, which indicates to me that she didn’t love it.
I think she looks great. Keep in mind I look nothing like her, but our hair is similar enough.
So like any big decision, I’d love to have input from readers and Facebook friends. Has anyone with really long, curly hair (or any kind of long hair) ever cut off a huge amount like that? Did you love it or hate it?