People approaching birth can often feel overwhelmed. So it's important for expectant parents to be informed — to know their bodies, their babies, and their many options for a deeply satisfying, honoring, and respectful birth experience.
Ultimately, I'm convinced that it's best to try to think outside the box — and know that in birth, as in life, there really is no box. Here are some healthy and hip options for an enjoyable birthing experience in the East Bay:
• Attend a "Meet the Doulas" night at BirthWays (1600 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, BirthWays.org) for a chance to connect with some of the best birthing partners around. For an added bonus, find a doula who also knows about ecstatic and orgasmic birth. (It's not a myth, I promise! The Facebook page Orgasmic Birth: The Best Kept Secret, has more than 20,000 likes. And why wouldn't anyone want to reach for that brass ring?)
• To further stimulate the relaxing release of oxytocin and the calming effects of the parasympathetic nervous system, set up your optimal birthing environment. And why not keep yourself feeling safe and secure, as you soak in the soothing, warm water of a birth pool? (Hydrotherapy is also sometimes called "the doula's epidural.")
• Take a dance class for optimal fetal positioning at Then Comes Baby, (3657 Grand Ave. Oakland, Then-Comes-Baby.com).
• Check out some of the East Bay's most reputable and reliable birthing centers: Pacifica Family Maternity Center (3101 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, PacificaMaternity.com) and Bay Area Midwifery Community Wellness and Birth Center, (BayAreaMidwifery.org).
• Consider a homebirth (like our great grandmothers used to do), and take a step toward having a green, low-carbon footprint, tech-lite birth.
• Don't miss the annual Birthkeeper Summit, April 30–May 3, at Berkeley City College (BirthkeeperSummit.com) to learn more about safe and sane birth practices. There will be presentations on the synergistic effects of homebirth healthcare, birth justice, and environmental activism.
For those who intend to have a hospital-based birth:
• Consider selecting a certified nurse midwife.
• Be sure to ask about the birthing protocols at the hospital you're considering. Find out how many hours an expectant mother will be "allowed" to labor before her medical chart is noted with a "failure to progress," and then prepped for a C-section.
That may sound a bit excessive, but the C-section birth rate in some Bay Area hospitals is nearly 40 percent, which is very high considering that our bodies have not changed much in the last several decades. Could all these "unnecessarians" be due to the fact that the revenue for surgical birth is twice that of a vaginal birth?
In short: Be not obedient. Be not apologetic. Be informed so you can make healthy and humane birth choices.
This is the first edition of our new weekly parenting column, Kid You Not. Meghan Lewis, who has a doctorate in perinatal psychology, is a queer solo parent by choice, the founder of Integrative Perinatal Psychotherapy, and the founding member of LGBTQ Perinatal Wellness Associates of the Bay Area. If you have a question for Lewis or for one of our other parenting columnists, please email Express editor Robert Gammon at Robert.Gammon@EastBayExpress.com. Lewis' columns will appear in Kid You Not once a month.