I love my gynae too!

Gardenia

You are free to choose, but you are not free of the consequences of those choices.

One of the things I hear most often in my practice is this: “I really want a natural birth, and I know my gynae mostly does C-sections/won’t let me labour without an epidural/says my pelvis is too small BUT I really love my gynae and I can’t imagine giving birth without him.” And yes, it is almost always a “him”. If I wasn’t a mother myself, perhaps I would be absolutely bewildered at the way that these strong, beautiful, intelligent women are so ready to give their power away but you see, I get it. I really do.

I love my gynae too. An older, incredibly experienced Scotsman, he has seen me through both of my high risk pregnancies, and he delivered my daughter. He literally saved my daughter’s life when I went into preterm labour with her at 20 weeks, and he continued to offer me compassionate care throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, which was spent on bedrest. Although he just missed my son’s birth, he stopped by at the hospital on his way home from holiday to check on us. This was typical of his style of care. He has never rushed me, he has patiently answered all of my questions, and I remain deeply fond of this wonderful man.

Throughout the centuries, medical men and women have been revered and celebrated in their communities. A good doctor, witchdoctor, wise woman or midwife holds the power to heal, to ease pain, to make childbirth easier and to save lives. I think it is entirely natural that we look up to these people. And the psychology of the relationship between a pregnant woman and her male gynae is even more complicated. There is the male/female power dynamic, and also the fact that a gynae sees a woman at her most physically and emotionally vulnerable. So yes, there are very good reasons why women feel bound to a particular gynae for the duration of their reproductive lives. I respect and understand that.

But I see the other side of the story too. I counsel women who feel deeply betrayed by their doctors. Having trusted them completely and, I would say, blindly they are traumatized and saddened when they are drugged, cut, shouted at to push etc etc. When I hear many of these stories (but not all), I can hear the red flags. The doctor who refused to look at a birth plan because “I know what I’m doing, trust me.” The doctor who openly said from the first appointment that his patients are ordered an epidural long before they go into labour. The signs are there, but the woman has given away her power, and regrets it too late.

So, what do you do if you love your gynae, but are not sure if he/she is the right support person for this birth?

  • Firstly, decide what kind of birth you want. In my HypnoBirthing classes, we spend a great deal of time talking about the choices that you have, and we also write a birth plan to share with your medical team.
  • Once you have visualized your birth, look at your provider honestly and rationally and assess whether they are able to offer you what you want. Want a waterbirth, but your gynae doesn’t do waterbirths? Well, that’s a no brainer. Want a natural birth, and all your friends have had C-sections with your gynae? That requires some further investigation and some honest questioning of your doctor. Don’t leave all of this to the last minute. Until your baby is born, it is not too late to change doctors – but it certainly becomes harder, the more advanced you are in your pregnancy.

Take it from me, no matter how much you love your gynae, you need to love yourself and your baby more. You need to take back your power, even though that’s hard, and you need to make the choices surrounding your baby’s birth mindfully so that you can live with the consequences in peace.

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Family dinner: one pan chicken

One pot chicken

When it comes to weekday dinners, I like them simple, healthy and easy to clean up after. Anything I can make in just one pan or pot makes me very happy, and this super easy chicken and veggie dish fits the bill. Are you trying to conceive, pregnant, nursing or just a very busy mama? Then you know how important it is to eat a good serving of protein at every meal. Every cell in the human body requires protein; protein helps your body to repair cells and create new ones and it is especially important during pregnancy. Chicken is a great source of protein, and we try to have it at least once a week.

Ingredients (to serve four):

Four free range and antibiotic free chicken breasts cut into large pieces

Four large sweet potatoes peeled and chopped

A cup of fresh green beans

A clove or two of garlic

Place all the ingredients in a oven safe pan, drizzle generously with olive oil, and season with pink salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 200C for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender, and the sweet potatoes are soft.

You can serve this with a salad, but I just stuck some cherry tomatoes in a bowl this time around, and we had fresh peaches for pudding for some extra nutrients and antioxidants. A really delicious and easy meal for the most basic cook (that would be me). You’re welcome!

{If you’re looking for a HypnoBirthing course in the Durban area, I have a new course starting on the 13 October! I also have space for birth and postpartum doula clients from November. Please contact me if you’d like some more information.}

Just one thing

Vegetables

This healthy, minimalist lifestyle – it’s really, really hard, isn’t it? The world is so toxic and so cluttered, so cruel and so materialistic, that sometimes it seems just impossible to live any sort of counter-cultural life on a day to day basis. Sometimes, I just want to give up.

Last week, I had one of my “to hell with it” days. There was literally nothing (gluten free) I could eat in the house – I had had a busy week, and didn’t have time to get to the shops before my daughter’s extra-mural started. Even the fruit was finished. But I could feel myself starting to get irritable and shaky so I chose the lesser of two evils; the most divine peanut butter and jam sandwich I think I have ever had. It must be at least a year since I’ve had bread and it just tasted so good. As I bit into it, I knew it was activating my dodgy immune system, I could hear my doctor’s warnings in my ears; but just for a moment, I didn’t give a damn.

I have come to believe that there are no “perfect” choices in life; or at least very few. Those organic apples at R60 for 4? I could buy them – but they are so incredibly expensive for a family that eats at least eight apples a day that I would have to work double the hours I do just to pay for them. And that goes against one of those things I hold most dear: time with my children. And so I make the best choice I possibly can under the circumstances.

Looking back on the years since we started a family, and really started to move towards a healthier, simpler lifestyle, I also see how far we have come. There’s a long way to go but:

  • Both of us work fewer hours so that we can enjoy our young family. We work hard when we’re at work but promotions and pay raises (with the longer hours and increased pressure that they bring) have become far less important than time with our babies.
  • We (almost) never have any kinds of sweets, e-numbers or processed food in our house. Dark chocolate and home baked goods excepted of course!
  • The only take-away meal we enjoy is sushi. Deep pan pizzas and KFC are a thing of the past.
  • We have started an organic veggie garden. It’s small, and by no means meets all our fresh produce needs, but it’s a start.
  • 90% of the household cleaners and personal care products we use are organic and non-toxic.

There’s more to do of course. I need to cut down on my social media use for sure; our kids could eat more vegetables; perhaps we could give more to charity – oh! I could write a long list.

The Instagram accounts and blogs make it all look so easy. Perhaps it is for some. But start small, start now. Just do one thing and see where it takes you.