Sunday, March 18, 2012

fierce mumas

My post on The Face of Birth received a range of comments - some embracing the film and my discussion, other dismissing it and accusing me of judgement. 

I've thought long and hard about those comments and how I should receive them.

Us mothers, we are fierce. When it comes to birth and our experiences we fight for what we believe. Indeed, the mere mention of 'birth' stirs the fire within us. And thank goodness it does. It signifies our journey into motherhood - if we didn't have so much passion and energy how on earth would we raise our children?

I will never stop discussing birth on my blog because it is something I am deeply passionate about. My own birth experiences have inspired me, teaching over 400 pregnant women over the past few years has encouraged a compassion within me that I never knew before.

I write as a mother, a pre-natal yoga teacher and a journalist. My discussions are never objective, but they are informed. I hope to inspire, I never ever intend to judge.

Photo: by Tim


  1. "My discussions are never objective, but they are informed. I hope to inspire, I never ever intend to judge."

    you are gorgeous!
    never stop discussing...

  2. I have always found your discussions inspiring, 'Never' found them judgemental.
    You write beautifully and from the heart.

  3. I find your writing on birth 'challenging'. I say challenging because it does challenge me to think, and think about things from a different perspective. I can respect your view(s) on birth in your last post despite being a person who will, when the time comes, give birth in hospital. I write that as a part of a family whose mothers have all had difficult births requiring intervention.

  4. Please do continue! Ahead of my own recent attempt at vbac I read and reread your post on Poet's birth several times as inspiration, especially when I too was struck with an awful cold the week I was due. Your story both uplifted and comforted me, and I'm happy to say I went on to have a wonderful, empowering, positive, amazing completely natural birth!

  5. BRAVO for you. You're truly understanding. I read you post but didn't comment... too much in my mind, my heart and my "baggage" after three very different births to express in one comment... but I can only imagine the comments you did receive and this response is uber graceful. Good for you.

  6. i guess everyone is entitled to their opinion...including you! some people re-act out of fear...which usually translates into anger. And it's o.k. to be fearful and angry. it's just how we express it that counts. we all have lots to learn.
    i really enjoy reading your blogs jodi. and the informative links you share. much love. xx

  7. It all comes down to choice really. The right to choose how and where we birth our babes. I have experienced both hospital and home births and know where I would prefer to labour. But I am so grateful for the wonderful medical care which is there if we need it. It is a subject that will always arouse our passions, and I think you handled it beautifully.

  8. If it was not for your passion, views, knowledge and pure encouragement on birthing - i do not believe i would of had the liberating positive experiences that i had. It is refreshing and a positive thing to have you as that beautiful birthing advocate and as long as i have known you, you have projected this knowledge and passion in the most respectful and non-judgemental manner.
    Keep doing what you do, as you do. As you have the power to charge and inspire the fierce mammas in a way that is rare and hard to find in the world today. x

  9. I think people misinterpret the title of the film....The Face of Birth...not the Face of Homebirth....It is about support and choice. Support for all births. It took me a long time to feel supportive of women who had elective cesear births, but through educating myself and seeing the important change that comes about when women support women, I knew that my feelings about others births were irrelevant. Hopefully women can start moving to a place where they no longer feel the need to defend themselves or their choices, and just embrace the bringing forth of life. :)

  10. Just quietly, I think mothers are mainly fierce and combative when it comes to birth because people *are* so judgemental. Don't be afraid to believe wholeheartedly in your opinions, J. x

  11. Hi Jodi, I read your original post and didn't find it judgemental - even though I had a cesearan birth with my son. I think the main point you were trying to make is that women need to be as informed and educated as they can be - and then make the choices that they want to make. I understand totally that your own personal choice would be for a natural birth - but I dont get that you judge others who make different choices. For myself, my sons birth was the best day of my life and I felt not only totally empowered but also spiritually connected - I meditated and centred myself and connected with him through the entire process, he was a very aware baby who fed easily and indeed nearly 4 years later, we talk about his birth and he loves to 'get in mamas tummy' and pretend he is a baby again. The only advice I would offer for women who either choose or need to have a cesearean is that they can still be empowered, feel connected and see it as a spiritual process - and I really believe this. My only other concern is that some women go against all medical advice in pursuit of a natural birth as if they are going to get more kudos that way - I really dont understand this attitude. Ultimately the health of the baby and the mother is the most important thing. Its sad that we need to judge each other so much in something so personal, precious and tender. Thanks for sharing your insights - always consciously and kindly presented xx

  12. We ARE fierce - because we are all passionate. One thing I have come to understand is that we know and love -what we know and love...if that makes any sense. I guess what I am trying to say is, we all want our experience to be valid, beautiful, accepted and heard. Your opinions are valid and be proud of what you believe. Continue sharing without fear because it is something you believe in. I must admit, I held fear with both my births. But both were still amazing. My midwives were wonderful and I do love that I knew them made a difference to me. I sometimes feel 'judged' because I had an epidural but I realise I should just be proud that I have two beautiful, healthy boys. Having an epidural was not taking the easy way out, in fact, I am beginning to feel quite the opposite. Whilst they bought me much needed rest after 14 hour labours, they slowed my labours down and made the after birth recovery a much longer one. Labour is what it is... 'labour'. Us women are martyrs, we like to be strong, brave and unstoppable and I think in a way we argue over who has endured the biggest feat when it comes to birth. It is not a competition! I say well done to ANY woman who has bought a baby into this world. The birth is only one part of the whole journey from conception, caring for the babe for 9 months whilst it grows and develops, and then parenting this child for the rest of your days!!! It does make me upset that women would choose a c-section or when I hear about obstetricians who seem to perform more c-sections than necessary (to fit in with their golfing schedule no doubt)...but at the same time, they have certainly saved many lives! I'll admit it - I judge women who have elective caesars for their first baby. I can't help but wonder why!?? I try NOT to judge. But in my head I am thinking - "how do you know until you've tried? Give your body and this baby a CHANCE".
    Ahh I am ranting.
    I would love to see Poet's birth. I understand how personal it must be. You do inspire me to have a more fearless birth next time 'round. I love watching Georgia birth Theo because it gives me hope and a goal.
    Your opinion matters - as does every woman's which is exactly what this film is all about. So keep on keeping on Jodi.

  13. You know where I sit on this one.

    I've experienced a private hospital birth under the care of an obstetrician (and narrowly avoided a completely unnecesarean) and a homebirth with a midwife. I know what I'll be doing if there is a next time.

    This is YOUR space Jodi and your words are always gentle and beautifully considered. You need make no apology.

    rachel xo

  14. I understand how painful it can be to feel judged. From the woman doing the pre-operative booking, to friends and family or other mothers at playgroup. I have felt judgement from people when they found out I had/ was having an 'elective cesarean' for Emerson's birth. A decision made for all manner of reasons that I don't always wish to explain. It's easy to feel defensive. When the midwife came for the home visit she looked in our red book and asked me the reason I 'chose' to have an 'elective'. When I explained she said "You really had no choice then did you, it can hardly be called elective." And that is what I choose to be reminded of when anyone is judgmental about my choice.

    It's late and what I want to say is, I've never felt you to be judgmental Jodi.

  15. I realize you're not trying to be judgy but I think we need to acknowledge that that judgement is everywhere. Mothers are constantly judging others for how they chose to birth, if they breastfed or not, if they cloth diaper or not, if they stay at home or not. I think we all need to take a step back and just let other people live their lives. If it doesn't affect you or hurt you, why should you butt in? It's not your place to do so.

  16. Hey Jodi

    Another great read. I don't plan on having children for at least a couple of years, but it's good to know that I can educate myself on the issues that you have raised. I also don't see you as judgmental, I think passionate is a better word.

    It would be great to see Poet's birthing video, mainly to see what all this peaceful birthing is about. Can completely understand why you're hesitant though! x

  17. I didn't find your post judgmental at all! I think you write beautifully and passionately about what you believe in. This is your blog, after all!

  18. Jodi, I read your post yesterday, feeling it to be thoughtful and gentle. I'm sad that others found it otherwise. Please just keep doing what you're doing in this space, your words (and pictures) are so lovely and peaceful.

  19. Hi Jodi, I came across your blog when I was googling 'Face Of Birth' the other day :-) Fancy that, after all the time I have spent in your yoga classes! It was so nice to see yourself and other familiar faces at the screening last wednesday but as someone mentioned in the Q&A after the film, it is always the same crowd that attend these types of events... I am inspired by your passion both in class and out. I have never once felt you a judgemental person. If nothing else, you are empowering. I always love in class when you say that we birth our babies, no midwife, no doctor, just us.

    Having had a cesarean one and a half years ago, I have made the decision to have a VBAC. A documentary like Face Of Birth makes me excited to approach this experience. I do not for one moment feel disappointed about my last birth experience, it was beautiful for all its own reasons. However, I feel blessed that I have an opportunity to do what I feel my body was made to do. I am very lucky that I have an amazing support network that have and continue to encourage my choice (yourself included Jodi). That is ultimately what I got out of the documentary - a woman should have the right to choose how they birth.

    Keep expressing your passion Jodi, I know it comes from the most loving place x

  20. I didn't find the post judgmental, don't worry. I think some women weren't saying you were judgmental, but that they felt judged in general for their way of birthing. For instance, I read a comment once where a woman told her friend she was more womanly for having chosen a natural birth than her friend because she had interventions. I think that is a horrible thing to say to anyone, let alone a friend. And there are so many comments saying intervention is only fine if it is for the baby's safety. I think natural birth is wonderful, I wish I could have done it, but I didn't. I think women who have had interventions (myself included) carry that around in our heads and feel somewhat ashamed and sensitive when the topic arises.

    Another thing I think of with women who have very difficult births is the incidence of Post Natal Depression. I have heard there is a heightened risk of PND if you have had a difficult birth, and so if you are at risk, I believe making birth easier (okay while it is for the mother not the baby) will ultimately be in everyone's best interest.

  21. Eloquently put. I didn't find your first post judgemental. I was nodding along for most of it, feeling excited that this issue was being raised and discussed. My mum was in awe of how we prepared for Saskia's birth, saying that there was a real lack of information when she had my sister and I, and things such as pre-natal yoga certainly weren't as mainstream as they are today. Whilst we still have some way to go (that point about confinement is heart wrenching), we should continue to keep up the discussion and push for increasing awareness of the birthing journey (in it's varied forms).

  22. oh Jodi, i love the way you write, you create such a beautiful space with your words, your beliefs, your passions, values and images. it is truly your blog and what you believe in and how you approach the world shines through,coated with warmth and love and that is something to be treasured (and it so obviously is).
    judgement is a hard thing, it often makes me feel helpless as sometimes just communicating my beliefs, even when i understand that others also have their beliefs (and am so happy with that), results in people taking offense and it is out of my hands and that hurts and makes me feel sad. i don't enjoy having people feel judged from what i say just because views aren't shared and i imagine you would feel the same. Jodi, your posts are so full of love, i am so sorry that people felt judged by you.

  23. I wonder if we feel judged by other women for our decisions because we judge ourselves so harshly, which coloursour feelings about what others say; for example if i feel somewhere inside me that i failed the woman test because my birth included surgical intervention, then possibly i'll think that someone who is excited about their peaceful, vaginal birth (or whatever) is judging me the same way (and vice versa).
    However if i accept and own my and my baby's experience and am at peace with it, i'm not judging myself and won't be all defensive thinking others are judging me too. And honestly, who gives a shit how i gave birth? It's MY birth. We all want the "best" birth we can have which is going to be different for everyone! And hooray for us mammas because we're all doing our best, and hooray for all the info out there so we can make good choices for us, and hooray for this ongoing discussion! We need it! Good on you Jodi x

  24. I don't think you came across as judgemental and have to agree with Nicole above with her point about why perhaps some people maybe thought you did. It's ironic really me posting here and following your blog - I have yet to become pregnant, never mind give birth and I've been advised because of a serious medical history I'll be 'told' (!) I'm having a caesarian section (or birth should I say). I love coming here because I find myself in tune with your life philosophy and I love how you live and mother. That my life experience has been different, very different however. That the births I hope to have in the future may also be different doesn't really change how I feel - that natural birth and living should be promoted. We have lost our connection to mother nature on so many levels in society. It is ridiculous not for natural living and birth to be encouraged. It's good to be informed surely and there's no doubting that giving birth naturally is the best in a best -case- scenario- type situation but for us all to remember we are not all in that situation. There's no point in seeing or hearing judgement, especially here. We are all doing our best really however we choose to live and birth. Here's to enlightening choices, living and births! x

  25. bravo! An absolutely important discussion point! SO important to keep people talking about these things...

  26. I'm just coming out of a two week work fog and am planning on going over and reading all of this. In the meantime, I just wanted to say that I think you're an incredible inspiration as a mother as a woman. Kellie xx

  27. yes. never stop discussing these important issues. there is not enough discussion and women and babies are suffering because of it. "not objective, but informed." yes, yes, and yes.

  28. Sometimes I find it hard to write completely from the heart simply as I don't wish to be judged. I try hard, and every so often I will post something that is that little bit deeper, and wonder what others will think (mostly the people I know in person).
    This is me, and it is something I am working through.
    It makes me feel so privileged to read about your life, your thoughts and your passions, which appear to come out so freely. I love your opinions on birth, and for me I feel inspired.

    I am heading towards what is possibly going to be a VBAC birth in July sometime, and I too have read Poets birth story numerous times simply as I feel it is so positive, and calm. I have my fingers crossed we can venture down this path.
    But if not, if a c/s ends up being the safest option for either me or my baby I will be okay with that.
    Thank you for being you. If we were in Sydney, I know doubt would be attending your prenatal classes, I can only imagine the beauty of them.
    Rhi xx