My Favorite Physicians

Some people who are immersed in the fear-based paradigm of our collective cultural beliefs about birth see gentle birthing advocates as 'anti' establishment. They are very threatened with what they see as 'alternative' views. But there are some allopathic practitioners, both physicians and nurses, who are out there advocating for all the things that make babies and mothers healthier, happier and safer. They often face a great deal of pressure from their peers when their views are outside of 'tribal' agreement: i.e. they support options like homebirth, advocate for breastfeeding, are vocal about their beliefs about ecstatic birth, are anti-circumcision .
These doctors and nurses deserve a pat on the back.
Dr. Marsden Wagner tops my list. He's been advocating for midwifery for years. He can be seen in Gentle Birth Choices and The Business of Being Born. He is the author of several wonderful, fact-filled books, the latest Born in the U.S.A.: How a broken maternity system must be fixed to put women and children first.
Dr. Michel Odent is also in TBoBB and has worked ceaselessly for gentle birth. He has likewise authored several books.
Dr. Weil, from the Program in Integrative Medicine in AZ.
Dr. Jack Newman, breastfeeding advocate with a great collection of articles on his website. His site is especially helpful for women who wish to re-lactate or who plan to nurse an adoptive child, but he has a TON of information any mother who wishes to have factual information on just about every breastfeeding situation you can think of.
Dr. Lorne Campbell teaches medical students in GA. He is a gentle and compassionate doctor who receives babies that mothers birth. He knows the wonders of HypnoBirthing(R) and speaks about it often.
Dr. Margaret Gustafson, OB/GYN practices in MI and is so supportive of informed choices.
Dr. Kari Leikert, my daughter's pediatrician throughout her childhood. We didn't always agree (for instance on vaccination), but she was always respectful in saying, "I don't agree with you on this, but I respect your decision." Because of that, I admire her greatly.
Dr. Sarah Buckley, who wrote Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering.
Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, who has conducted research on safer birthing options.
Dr. Christiane Northrup who is all about women's empowerment and gentle birth.
Drs. Sears, Americas Family of Pediatricians. (I love that!)
Dr. Mercola, always questioning the status quo.
Drs. Coquelet & Punger, walking the talk.
Dr. Paul Fleiss, anti-circumcision educator
Finally, the doctor I was seeing in Greenville, MI in 1992 who refused to give me antibiotics just because I insisted I needed them. I don't remember his name, but he took the time to explain to me why I was wrong and why there was danger in over-using antibiotics...years before anyone else recognized the problem.
Some nurses who are fighting the good fight:
Barbara Harper, RN
Faith Gibson, CNM. The College of Midwives website that she maintains is one of the most massive collections of fact-based maternity care information available.
Doris Haire, CNM
There are so many! I'll add more as run across them, but if you know of someone who belongs on this hall of fame, medical professionals who are insisting on a higher standard of care for women and babies based on evidence, please send me names and links to their works, sites or blogs.
These are people on the inside who see where the system needs improvement. They obviously aren't anti-hospital or anti-medicine, as is often the (erroneous) assertion regarding those of us non-medical professionals who advocate for change in maternity care.

Book Review

She Births: A Modern Woman’s Guidebook for An Ancient Rite of Passage, by Marcie Macari
Infinity Publishing, 2006
ISBN 0-7414-3390-7

Before reviewing this book, I have to say that I had dozens of little notes about all of the things I wanted to say about this book before I got to the last chapter and found a quote from MY book. I swear, I didn’t know I was quoted and everything I am about to say about it I was going to say before I discovered I was. I do not know the author or the publisher. I just had to make that clear in the spirit of full-disclosure.

That out of the way, I will start right off by saying that the title of this book describes the content perfectly! Each chapter addresses some spiritual aspect of the process of birth, followed by a meditation, and then journal exercises that allow the reader to explore feelings and insights further. While the Feminine Divine is acknowledged, all interpretations of Spirit are honored as ‘Creative Source’ in the meditations.

The messages are clear. Babies come out. Women are strong. There is a purpose to the way women are designed to give birth, and it is more than just a physical design that works. Thus ‘Birth’-with a capital ‘B’ throughout-is not just a verb; it is a force with transformative possibility.

This empowered Birth is also seen as a gift to our babies. As the author explains, it allows our babies to be born “…onto this planet with dignity and a gentle transition…” that is “…a priceless gift to our yet unborn.” (Ch. 1, pp. 15) This chapter ends with guided journaling asking us to carefully consider the baby’s experience.

Chapter 5, ‘At the Feet of the Wise’ contains birth stories, which the author sees, and I agree, as vitally important in the way women currently perceive the mystery that is Birth. At first I was unsure about how I felt about the first and last selections. The first, because I thought if I were pregnant and reading this story I’d be scared out of my wits! ‘Unbearable’ and ‘agonizing’ are just a few of the descriptive terms. The final story is of a mother’s natural birth, and loss, of preemie triplets that made my heart ache. However, as I thought about it, I realized that while hard to read, the shadow side of birth is important. While I think women hear enough of horror stories about how difficult birth can be, sadly for too many women, it is. When birth is challenging, however, instead of suffering we can choose to use that as an opportunity for growth, and the author provides exercises for doing so.

What I loved about this book is that while these births took me aback at first, there is also the acknowledgment that while birth CAN be painful it doesn’t always have to be. Whether it is by a different interpretation of the sensation, or by controlling variables that can make birth painful, painless birth is also depicted. As a matter of fact, the second story is a wonderful HypnoBirthing!

Macari stresses personal responsibility, clearing the way for baby by forgiving and letting go of anger, and honoring of the sacredness of this process. In our culture, birth has come to be just a physical process for so many people; a way of getting baby from point A to point B. She Births helps the reader to understand that there are so many gifts available to women through birth that are lost when they choose to reduce this powerful rite of passage to such simple terms.