I have been interestedly listening and reading the news lately on the topic of The Great Disruption, an idea by Paul Gilding that we have reached the limits on both the economic situation and the environment at the same time, requiring a cataclysmic shift in our thinking. Consumption cannot keep growing at the rate it has been, the Earth has reached its environmental threshold too, and drastic action needs to be taken to set us back on the right course.
For people already trying to live a more green and frugal lifestyle, I think it is nice to see consumerism issues like this getting this mainstream press. First there was an article in the New York Times by Thomas Friedman that made their most read and emailed lists. Then On Point had Paul Gilding on for a great show that covered everything from global warming, to how future generations will live and work, to whether or not people are really happier when they accumulate more material wealth.
There have also been a few others, including those that talked about how even the ultra rich are finally starting to take notice of their spending behaviours and make small adjustments which have an impact on both the economy and the environment.
Trying to remain optimistic about the potential for change is hard. In America, consumerism seems to be the name of the game. People are always upgrading to the bigger, better, faster, newer model whether they need it or not, and until recently were ignoring both the financial and environmental consequences.
I think Gilding’s right in that unless people perceive this as a crisis, they are not likely to take action. My fear is that just like with the rise and fall of gas prices, changes are going to temporary. While we are feeling the economic crunch, people will cut back. Then they’ll go back to spending money on worthless crap they don’t need, won’t use, and can’t afford.
As my pregnacy got further along, we knew we needed to learn more about the birthing process. Research suggested the Bradley Method seemed to be the way to go. Espousing natural childbirth and including a large spousal involvement piece, there are multiple keys to the success of this approach.
Emphasis on nutrition makes sure mom is providing essential nutrients to baby and is in fit condition for the delivery, an endurance event. Specific exercises prepare the body for the birth. Coping strategies, such as physical positions and relaxation techniques to try, can make labor go more smoothly. Detailed information about the birthing process, potential interventions and complications prepares you for all outcomes. Including the spouses puts everyone on an even footing and equips the dads to assist during labor and the postpartum period.
We were happy to find a local class timed almost perfectly to coincide with my third trimester. We lucked out with our instructor, a person almost certainly designed to lead others through this type of experience. Going through the class together allowed us to set aside time each week to focus solely on the baby’s impending arrival. The information we learned in the classes was invaluable. Once labor started, we knew exactly what was going on and where we were in the process almost every step of the way. There was no fear in my labor. Hospital staff commented that we seemed remarkably relaxed for first-time parents.
It’s also created an ongoing social opportunity. We keep in touch with the other couples from the class, and most recently had a party to celebrate our children turning two.
When I found out I was pregnant, I originally booked an appointment with my family practitioner, but quickly changed my mind and instead decided to go with the midwife group at the local hospital. I liked the idea of working with people who specialized in pregnancy and birth, and didn’t consider it just another small facet of the overall knowledge base they are expected to maintain. They also hold the philosophy that birth is a natural event and not a medical emergency, a different approach from your average doctor.
The Certified Nurse Midwife group at our local hospital is made up of several women that see appointments and handle deliveries. (There are many kinds of midwives. CNMs attain graduate degrees, are licensed as RNs, and receive advanced study in obstetrics and gynaecology.) Patients see each of the midwives, so you are comfortable with whoever is on call at the time of your delivery. The midwives spent a lot of time with us at our appointments, well more than the average OB. Our first appointment (for both spouse and I) lasted an hour! They provided an 800 number we could call with questions or concerns, day or night. They took a natural, holistic approach to the pregnancy and provided information on things like nutrition, exercise, and medicines.
When it comes to the actual birth, they have a little leeway with hospital regulations, and are likely the best option for those wanting a birth with minimal interventions. When I was in labor, the let us do what we wanted to do, but also supported us with suggestions on positions and tips to make pushing more effective. They helped me have a natural birth, drug free birth with no interventions and no tearing!
I should note that while we chose to go the midwife/hospital route, others may desire a homebirth. This really wasn’t a consideration for me as a first time mom going in with little knowledge of my options. However, if I were to do it all again, I’d consider it. There’s something to be said for giving birth in the comfort of your own home, secure in your surroundings.
In summary, I felt I was in really good hands with the midwives and would highly suggest them to anyone. In other countries midwives attend nearly all births, and I’m always surprised when people around here aren’t even aware of the option.
Now that our son is getting a bit older, I’ve been thinking a lot about the parenting decisions we’ve made to date. Many of the issues that we agonized over pre-baby, or in the early days after his arrival, are now old hat or no longer relevant.Â Still others have laid the foundation for the fantastic experiences that we have with our son every day.
In the coming weeks, I’m going to post about some of the major decisions we’ve made, how and why we came to those decisions. By documenting my thought process I’m hoping to help inform others and also capture what I’m thinking at this stage in my life. It may seem a bit premature to be judging our experiences after a mere two years of parenthood, but I want to get this stuff down while it is still fresh in my mind. I’ve already largely forgotten much of my pregnancy and some of the early days!
It may also be a bit pretentious of me to think others will care what I think. However I believe that people take many factors into consideration when forming their opinions, including the convictions of those they know or that are their peers. Hopefully my observations will add to the collective knowledge built as they research, as well as give any family members reading a peek into the rationale behind my parenting actions.
Finally, I realize these may not always be the same choices others make (often times they seem not to be the norm), but I am confident that we have made the best decisions possible for our family. I am neither looking to argue nor dictate others do what we do.