I seem to be extremely drawn to two things in my most recent few years of life: birth work and hanging ’round men who are not necessarily sustainable fits for me.
At first glance, these two passions may seem utterly unrelated. However, I would like to take a moment to share with you a little-known way in which I am committed to improving our childbirth culture: educating men I’m involved with about the importance of natural home birth and then sending them out into the world (and away from me) just a little bit wiser and more awesome. I’m out there, flailing about in the world of male-female relationships, for YOU, birthing women!
Let me give you some examples. Not long ago, I heard from the ex-boyfriend who inspired the 3 Ways Birth Is Like Moving post from a year and a half ago. After not hearing from him for several months, he messaged me the other day to let me know he’d spotted an absurd reference to an anti-home-birth blog and that he had tried to start an online debate about it. How many men do YOU know who would bat an eye at an anti-home-birth internet post, never mind have the desire debate the issue because the know that science supports home birth safety? Well, my birth-y friends, more and more as time goes on thanks to yours truly!
A second example is of a lovely fellow who I was spending time with who took a first aid course where they spent a few minutes talking about childbirth. They were taught that step one was to “get the woman on her back”. This guy noted “Oh, no, I know for SURE that is not how it’s supposed to go!” Alas if you ever find yourself birthing somewhere with only first-aiders around for support (you know, like on a plane or something), please, don’t worry about thanking me if no one is bothering you during your birth by attempting to insist you lay down on your back.
Yet another example is of a time when I was running late to meet a guy because a doula client had thought her membranes had released and I needed to speak with her on the phone. When I finally arrived to meet him, he asked for an explanation for what I’d described as a false-alarm. I explained that sometimes women, caught up in waiting for their birthing time to begin, will forget they had sex the night before and confuse semen for leaking amniotic fluid (this actually happens more frequently than one might expect). He was shocked, exclaiming something along the lines of “Oh my god, that can happen?!” Now, one day, when the future mother of his children wakes him up in the morning suspecting that her waters have released, he will know not to get too excited until they consider that it may or may not just be semen. Again, future mothers out there, you are SO welcome. (*Here’s a decent article on how to tell if your waters have released)
From time to time I’ll have a coffee or some such thing with a fella, and inevitably at some point we will talk about things like the difference between doulas and midwives and between registered midwives and traditional / independent birth attendants. They find out what doulas do, and moving forward I don’t think any of them would ever be one of those guys who doesn’t want their partner to hire one for the birth of their child.
The guys that come into (and out of) my life know that women’s rights and her autonomy over childbirth decisions are important, that unnecessary routine interventions like induction can really suck, that cesarean birth is serious surgery that comes with many risks, and that informed choice rights in maternal medicine are extremely important. They know that women are strong and that birth is cool.
So, if you know any single men (preferably interesting, reasonably attractive single men… I’m not completely selfless) who you think may one day be called upon to support their wives or girlfriends in the birth process, or who might at some point be chatting about childbirth with their male colleagues at work (this happens, my doula-fathers tell me so!), send them my way and I’ll give them a good dose of quality childbirth education. If nothing else, their future wives will thank me.
If you are actually legitimately trying to set me up with someone though, you may want to warn them about the kinds of conversation topics they will be subjected to (my friends make fun of my for how often I can find a way to work the word “cervix” into a conversation). It would be only fair to the poor guy.
Meanwhile, if you are reading my blog post because you are interested in my doula services, and not because you care about my personal life, check out the rest of my website for more info. I’m raising my fees in the fall, so get in touch with me soon if you want to book me at my current rate!
Jessica Austin: saving the birth world, one tormenting male-relationship at a time.