Bridging a Gap: Keeping My Passion While Promoting Change and Healing

I am the type of person that loves to communicate. About two months ago I put a disclaimer on the blog and on some birth stories. It was just publicly noticed last night though and it has brought a fury of debate. I feel confident in my choice to do so.

I am a very passionate, opinionated woman. No doubt about that. I feel that most of the time, birth is safe. I feel that the less intervention, the better. I jumped into the ‘birth world’ a few years ago when I realized so many women did not even know they had choices in how they give birth. That needed to change!

Shortly after I started Birth Without Fear in 2010, I conceived my 5th child. If you have ever been pregnant, then you may know that everything is taken more personal. I was extremely stubborn in my views on birth, because every blog post, every question, all the answers could have been about me as a birthing woman. The swollen ankles and SPD didn’t help either.

I was attacked for that. It was awful. I kept on going though, because I knew that my Blog and Facebook page have helped countless women in making educated and informed choices. Many women have become doulas and even started midwifery training, because of being part of the BWF Community.

Then I gave birth. BAM! No longer a hormonal, sensitive woman. I was suddenly more detached. While I still have my opinions and passion, I am not as sensitive and unreasonable. I started to realize this huge gap in the birthing world.

The natural birther vs the medicated birther. It’s nasty.

The home or natural birther has had to fight for any ounce of respect to birth her baby how she feels is best. She is told left and right that she is stupid, a fool, and putting her baby in danger.

The hospital or medicated birther has now found herself needing to defend her choices to have pain relief or interventions in labor, because surely she could have avoided it and birthed the ‘right way’.

Then there are mothers who have suffered the worst of all…losing a child. When they try to reach out for support or are scared for other mothers because of their own experiences, they were shut out. Of course no mother wants to have to think about losing a child, but the mother is still here and her story and child are very real.

This has caused a divide. It has caused frustration, anger, fights and more. Media, blogs and social networking doesn’t help.

What I found once I became a sane woman again, is this HUGE gap. I realized I was being attacked by the medicated birthers and loss moms, not because they hate me, but because they hated that I was part of the group of women who did not want to hear them. They attack because they are angry and hurt and I understood. Even through the worst of it, I understood.

When I support our moms who have had interventions or cesarean births or when I add a disclaimer to protect myself and maybe an uneducated mother, I get attacked by the other side.

It’s OK, I can take it. The skin has been thickened!

Only recently have I made new relationships and been inspired to make a change, to bridge this gap. Someone has to do it!!! Not many have been willing to forgive, love, and accept all while not compromising their own principles about life, topics, birth, etc.

I am willing.

I know there are those on all sides who will still not like this or what I stand for, but I know there are MANY more women who do. Change can hurt. But when the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same…it’s time to embrace change.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t support the same things I have always supported, it means that I am willing to listen, to understand and be open to how others feel.

I am inspired by Ghandi as a woman, mother, a writer, and a birthing woman.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

Being a leader requires action, not just preaching, even if it means coming under fire.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

This is just the beginning of a wonderful and wild journey. I just ask for patience and understanding. I know it will all come around and work out just right.

~January (Mrs. BWF)


  • Heather

    Thank you for your leadership in this, Mrs. BWF! I know that there are things on which we will probably never agree, but we can dialogue and work together on the things where we share common ground!

  • diane

    Im right there with you!! Though my preference is for more natural options as the norm, I absolutely respect other women’s rights to choose to birth as they wish – that was the desire of so many others of us who wanted to be able to birth more naturally and less medically. As a mom of 4, my births have run the spectrum – 1st had to use a mightyvac due to very low heart tones and as a last resort before a c-section, and he came out not breathing and needed to be resucitated (not because of the mightyvac), I was so thankful to be in a hospital at that time, 2nd gave birth in the tub with a midwife in a VERY supportive to midwives hospital, 3rd delivered at a free standing birth center, and 4th an induction, requested an epidural after 12 hrs of hard labor, and ended up w/ an emergency c-section because of a placental abruption (which I now believe began the week before based on symptoms I had) and again so thankful to have already been at the hospital vs. at home when it happened. My hubby says that I’ve been able to experience almost every swing of the pendulum, except for homebirth, that i’ll be able to use to relate and help other moms as I pursue Doula certification. Ultimately, each birth is a unique situation, and each woman needs to be supported to the fullest in whatever end of the spectrum she falls.
    Thanks again for your willingness to be open, and embrace all in their journey to motherhood.

  • Colleen

    I loved reading your article! I had my son at a hospital and they had to use forceps to pull him out. I’m pregnant w/ #2 & not going to go through that again! After reading online I found the reason why forceps were used. As for me I was reclining in a bed with pressure on my tail bone so my pelvis wasn’t opening up all the way. Our bodies are made for birth so I couldn’t understand if his head was too big then how did the forceps fit in there? I should’ve gotten a c section. Your post really made me wanna stick to my guns more about having a home birth. Thank you so much!! 🙂

    Don’t let people discourage you. They just don’t know and once it finally dawns on them they’ll understand.

  • seili

    Very well written. And in applying consideration to others while still being true to yourself as you grow in new thoughts and in old thoughts and not forcing yourself feel one way or the other…very balanced! (At least how I would define it. 🙂

  • Liz F

    I still can’t comprehend why people feel the need to bash others when they don’t know all the details……. You keep doing what you’ve been doing; those of us who are REAL BWF supporters will be here to cheer you on 🙂

  • Sarah

    I really applaude you for taking a look at all sides of an issue and trying to be accepting and encouraging to all women.

    I am new to this site and I was naive about all the controversy out there (not naive about all the choices, just that there was so much vitriol and hatefulness thrown at opposing sides).

    In my mind, we as women, ALL WOMEN, need to show each other kindness, compassion, understanding, empathy, and love. Not bash each other because our means to an end (a happy, healthy baby) don’t always line up.

    Education is a wonderful thing. Knowledge about our rights as pregnant women is a wonderful thing. Making an informed decision that WE are happy with is a wonderful thing. Belittling a mother because her decisions don’t jibe with ours is NOT.

    We all deserve to feel supported in our decisions. No one should have the right to take away the perfect feeling of joy and contentment one feels when they first meet their little one just because we don’t agree with how they got here.

    Thank you for trying to include all, while educating and still staying true to your own beliefs.

  • Catherine S

    Staying balanced and compassionate is the most difficult thing to do while still advocating for women to have options and access to true, evidence based care. I find the whole “if women were just more educated then xyz would happen in birth” frustrating and belittling, even if it is true on some level. I find the extreme spectrums of the “births world” to be off putting and the two side both refuse to acknowledge the lack of evidence on “their” sides.

    I really do hope that there can be more balanced and reasonable discussions on topics that are constructive. Making balanced and evidence based information readily available is the ONLY way to help women make thoughtful and deeply person decision about their care during pregnancy and birth.

  • Kate Street

    I love and resonate with this post so much. I’ve had 3 beautiful unassisted homebirths and I admit, I’m a reformed “birth judger.” After doing all the research I did for my first birth, it was very difficult for me to look at other choices with an open mind and open heart. It wasn’t truly until the end of my 3rd pregnancy when I was suffering severe migraines, when I had to come to realization I may have to give birth in a hospital and perhaps have a c-section due to pure exhaustion and complications. I explored that route and fully opened to it, and with that also opened myself up to the routes other women take. It was very liberating. Thankfully, at the end I was able to birth the way I’m comfortable (at home and by myself) but I really don’t think that would have happened until I’d let go of my control/beliefs/etc. I’m all for supporting women in birthing the way they feel most comfortable and they way they feel safest. I’m especially all for it, if they KNOW and are informed of their choices. What I’d still like to see however is reform in the medical system for how THEY treat birth. I still hear too many traumatic birth stories that are no fault of the mama’s own…and it makes me so angry. Birth is safe and natural, but the medical establishment (for the most part) still doesn’t treat it that way. l like to think that this is just now starting to change though….

  • Rachel

    Wow…well said. As a mother who has birthed medicated at a hospital, birthed naturally at home, and lost a baby at 22 weeks…I can stand up for all sides. Sure…I know what I would do differently. And I am doing it. We live and we learn. But we shouldn’t tear others apart for having a different perspective or outlook or opinion or feeling. And not too often has someone gotten to experience the whole gambit of craziness and wonderfulness that comes with being a mother, be it birth (drugged or not) and loss. Way to go for standing up for yourself and your voice. You have a right to be heard, just like the rest of us. And hopefully, the next time someone reads a blog or article that they may not share the same feelings for…they will realize that the person who wrote it has their own view, and perhaps we try to be more understanding of that fact.

  • Summer

    You are not alone. There are many, in both camps, who are very supportive of *all* women. Unfortunately, these voices seem to get drowned out by the more extreme (again, on both sides). We just have to keep plucking away, speaking our truths. Admitting that perhaps we didn’t always see both sides of an issue or stuck to dogma instead of research/evidence can be on the most difficult things to do as human beings.
    Keep on, sister! 🙂

  • Kaitlin Rose

    I agree with you January, and have seen some of the things you’ve described as well – with birth Facebook pages and within my own Facebook page a while back.

    I will say I’ve seen less and less bashing since I adopted The Golden Rule at my FB page. It looks like what you’re saying is something very similar.

    Women judging other women will NEVER help anyone. If we can treat each other with the respect and kindness that we wish to be treated, the world will be all the better for it.

    I so wholeheartedly agree – be the change you want to see in the world. Which means, educate, inform, and above all, have empathy!

  • Lyndsey

    Beautifully written! I have often felt caught in the middle after having a natural birth in a hospital, but you have helped me to realize that we should embrace all of our experiences – thank you for all you do. <3

  • Michelle

    I SO agree! Thank you for being the woman to bridge the gap. It is SO needed. Both sides need to be more compassionate and understanding of the others. No matter what, both sides are growing a child and bringing it into the world. Support each other!

  • Hannah

    Beautiful. Well said. BWF inspired me to look into homebirth for my second baby after a rather traumatic hospital birth with my first, and in February of this year my daughter was born – an AMAZING, life-changing, healing, wonderful home birth at the Farm. I am very passionate and vocal about how wonderful my birth was because I want every woman on earth to be able to experience the same thing, and I hate how that is offensive to some people, because it’s in love and because I fully support every woman’s right to have the kind of birth she wants and feels safest with. I just wish every woman would look into all her options and learn about the pros and cons of each instead of automatically signing up for whatever kind of birth society/the media/etc thinks that she should (like I did with my first). Anyway… random tangent. Beautiful blog post. Thank you for sharing.

  • Kari

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your website.. I have one son whom I had in a hospital with induction and epidural and I don’t know when I will have another but I know now that it will at a birth center and natural. I also know that I shouldn’t blame myself for being nervous or upset about my delivery as I was very uneducated and not well supported. Your page has taught me so much and I am very grateful you have/had the guts and heart to build it and share it with us!

  • amy

    I respectfully disagree. I DO think there is a right way to birth. Ways that are most healthful and safe for mother’s and baby and most gentle too. Even the world health organization has recommendations about c/s rates, induction ,episiotomy, and the like. I think those things ARE important. do i thhink everyone should have a home birth? No. Do I hate ANY mom for her choices, no. Still friends witth c/s moms, hospital moms, and all others. But I will continue to advocate for healthier moms, babies, pregnacies and births

  • jenn Hodge

    Hear, hear.

    I have commented on your FB page but will paste here too!

    Fabulous blog post – I have spent my life with a splinter in my backside by sitting on the fence and although I always respect peoples choices and decisions in birth I have reached a place now where I see that by always being ‘balanced’ in the things I say nothing will ever change. I too have very strong beliefs and they can be summed up with ‘It is NOT JUST about having a healthy Mum and Baby’ – Not only is the word ‘healthy’ used pretty much to mean ‘Alive’ but we are learning now that disruptions in the Oxytocin flow by lack of skin to skin, surgical birth and disturbed breastfeeding IS having a negative physical and emotional impact on the babies and the children and adults they become… I know people get hurt and upset but as yous ay – it is better that than sitting on our hands and letting things get worse. Well done for being brave x

  • Gemma Stone

    I love your post, thank you so much for sharing your experience & wisdom. I thought you might like this….

    We find ourselves in a time where the culture of childbirth is at a crossroads.

    It’s time to choose which path we will take.

    And so…

    We choose the path that empowers, supports, and advocates for childbirth to be grounded in love.

    We are loyal to the path that allows women to be empowered by birth and not traumatized by it.

    And so we know…

    The time has come to dissolve the ideology that has brought us to the point where women live in fear of the birthing process and under the tyranny of scathing judgment about how they bring their children into the world. This oppression of judgment has kept us from seeing the truth about ourselves. We are in this together.

    It doesn’t matter where a woman chooses to give birth: in a hospital, a warm water tub, or a sacred hut in the Himalayas—it is time for us to embrace a woman’s choice to birth where she wants to birth.

    It is time for us to support women in taking control of their birthing experiences—not the rigid, inflexible control that springs from fear, but the wise, empowered control that’s rooted in love. With that control, giving birth becomes an act of joy, of self-discovery, and of profound self-expression.

    And so we declare…

    Birth, more than any other experience, has the potential to transform the world. It is time that we support women in experiencing birth as a peaceful, positive, and powerful event.

    Birth has the potential to be the most powerful driving force on the planet. The healing of birth will surely change the world.

    We must reframe the way we conceptualize birth. We must share this wisdom with the world.

    Birth is something to be embraced—not controlled.

    Birth is something to be welcomed—not dreaded.

    Birth is something to be loved—not feared.

    And so we call…

    To those who know that our world is deeply influenced by the way we bring our children into the world.

    To those who are ready for audacious steps towards changing the culture of birth.

    To those who are ready to dedicate themselves to all the women of birth who feel like they’ve lost their way to the hurt, the fear, the judgment, the shame, the blame, the trauma.

    To those who know we are stronger together.

    And so we unite…

    Although we cannot control the choices of those around us, we have faith that the pursuit of Birthing From Love is a noble, meaningful, and powerful one.

    And for the support of this declaration, we pledge to each other our time, passion, energy, and wisdom.

    For the love of birth.

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