My newest book release, Because YOU Are Superwoman, was a labor of love.
After nine months of research, collaboration, story compiling, cover design, editing, formatting, etc. launch day is finally here.
The book has over twenty positive birth stories, paired with six evidence-based steps for a Minimal Intervention (M.I.) Birth, to provide you with the confidence and skills you need to go after the birth experience that you desire. An empowering experience that likely strays far from everything you’ve been conditioned to believe about birth.
You can check it out on Amazon Now.
Or Start Reading Chapter One Below…
Chapter One: Claiming Your Superpower
My husband likes to refer to me as “Superwoman.”
Of course, no spouse constantly feels this way about their other half. I am highly aware that I have plenty of shortcom‐ ings. But when the subject of birth comes up, he likes to remind me how amazing it was to witness his wife being so incredibly strong and capable as we welcomed our daughters into the world.
It was two intervention-free hospital births in the last two years that earned me that designation. But painting myself as a strong, brave heroine isn’t the full picture. I am also the preschool wimp who got one ear pierced and then jumped into the store’s window display to hide because I was so filled with fear just anticipating the pain of the second poke. I actually refused to get the other ear pierced until the fourth grade.
Don’t worry, my mom did take out the lone earring to spare me from looking like a tiny pirate. No one wants their little girl to have to explain that she is a big wimp every time someone notices her pirate ear. Thanks, Mom.
So obviously, anticipating the pain of childbirth for over thirty years had me terrified. I assumed that when the day came my water would break somewhere wildly embarrassing. Then, with water dripping between my legs, I’d rush right to the hospital in a panic, screaming for the epidural the moment they sat me in a wheel chair. Then I’d lay on my back with my legs spread eagle, cursing my husband’s name for DOING THIS TO ME! The doctor would rush in just in time to catch my camera-ready newborn baby, and the nightmare would be over!
Honestly, that was one of the only common birth examples I had ever been exposed to. On the very rare occasion that someone brought up a story involving a woman going au natural or desiring minimal medical interventions, it was surrounded by snide comments, alluding to the notion that the woman and her birth were a bit…crazy, granola, hippy, old-fashioned, uneducated, unplanned or reckless in the face of modern medicine.
My own sister-in-law had two home births after a tough hospital birth, so you would think I would have some other reference point. But she also now lives on a mountain in rural Argentina, so she is obviously a unique breed. It was difficult for me to relate to her and her “natural ways” when I finally found myself in need of childbirth advice. In fact, since we were really nothing alike, I assumed birthing without intervention wasn’t for me.
Me (Probably a Lot Like You)
I’ve spent years learning from higher instruction, earning degrees in business and education. I’ve worked in profes‐ sional environments for a decade and a half. I have a fairly progressive husband who willingly jumps in to help maintain the details of managing our household. Our finances are in order (meaning, I at least track my spending enough to know that I have burned through way too much of my daughter’s college education money at coffee shops as I pen this book). I’ve created a modest, yet comfortable, Pinterest-worthy home for my sensible family of four and our rescue companion, an elderly red dog that looks more like a dingo.
Alright, enough with the gold stars. We’re all bored.
But all that said, it is not unfathomable that I resist my intervention-free births being categorized as crazy, granola, hippy, old-fashioned, uneducated, unplanned, or reckless.
And I’m not the only one.
The New Examples of Birth
In this book you’ll read over twenty stories of amazing women who had positive birth experiences, all requiring very minimal intervention from modern medicine. These women have conquered their own self-doubt. They have stared down the deepest parts of childbirth, and now, you get to be a fly on the wall as you transport yourself into their stories and see how they found their own strength to kick childbirth squarely between the eyes.
The women in this book, myself included, are strong, educated, modern mamas who wanted more options to achieve a positive and healthy birth experience for them and their babies. Just like you, we had questions. We wanted to understand the “why” of our care. We wanted the evidence, and then we wanted to feel supported to make decisions with our family’s interests in mind. We did not want to make our birth decisions out of fear. When we looked at how modern medicine had overstepped its boundaries, we insisted on something better.
Just because birth interventions are so common that they are now considered normal, we knew that didn’t actually mean they were necessary or beneficial for us. They were not accepted as our standard for care.
Alternatively, we all knew how fortunate we were to have modern medicine as our back-up in case we were truly part of the small minority that should require intervention.
Some Alarming Intervention Data
According to the National Listening to Mothers Survey (2013), which interviewed over two thousand women who had birthed in the prior year, interventions in labor were closely linked to increased, unplanned cesareans. Specifically, the study noted women who received an induction or epidural were more likely to have an unplanned c-section. The most common forms of induction they referenced were the use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin), breaking a woman’s waters, inserting a finger into the cervix and “sweeping” or “stripping” the membranes, or a prostaglandin gel, pouch, or tablet placed near the cervix. Often times, women receive an induction concoction that includes two or more of these methods.
The idea that one intervention increases the likelihood of others, is often referred to as the “cascade of intervention.” Once interventions are introduced, the unplanned cesarean rate increases. Among first-time mothers who had term births and experienced labor, those who had both labor induction and an epidural were six times more likely to have a c-section (31%) than those who had neither intervention (5%). Get out your highlighter and make sure that last sentence is glowing.
Additionally, there are plenty of other routine birth practices that have become par for the course but show little benefit to a laboring woman: restricting food intake, using bladder catheters, restricted movement while attached to intravenous fluids, time constraints, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, and lying flat on our backs to push.
Reserving Interventions for Plan B
Please understand, I am not here to tell you that medical interventions are the devil. I am not on some witch hunt, crusading for women to deny all assistance during birth. I would like to assume these interventions were created with good intentions in mind. The problem lies in the fact that most interventions have become synonymous with childbirth in this country. And many have become widely used out of convenience, instead of necessity. Interventions have become the Plan A; the starting point for birth. As women, we have stopped asking “Why?” and started accepting that this is just what birth looks like in this country.
Unfortunately, this passive acceptance has come at a cost.
Medical practitioners perform cesareans at approximately 32% of U.S. births. That is almost one in three births that end with major surgery. Ultimately, cesareans have become the most commonly performed surgery in this country. It feels like that should be a red flag, birth in this country is in a bit of a crisis.
In fact, our cesarean rate is more than double what the World Health Organization recommends to reach the most favorable outcomes in decreasing the maternal and infant mortality rate. Staci Berrey, a doula for almost a decade, and owner of Labor of Love Birth Services in Orange County, CA, explained, “Medical intervention is not the enemy; it is the overuse of it for reasons that show little benefit to the laboring mother that we should take issue with.”
Interventions save mothers and their babies every day, but we should question whose best interest is being put first when an intervention is the starting point for birth in modern medi‐ cine. If we prepare a woman’s mind and body, make her feel safe and supported, and then get out of her way, the body is amazing and actually knows how to birth with very little assistance or intervention. If we were able to save costs on unnecessary interventions upfront, that would leave more money available for a woman’s follow-up care after delivery. One way to do this could be reducing the cesarean rate, since c-sections are fifty percent more costly to providers than vaginal births.
It should be noted that the United States has the highest maternal death rate among developed nations. Over sixty percent of maternal deaths are preventable with regular monitoring of the mother. After giving birth twice, I fully believe that waiting four to six weeks for a woman’s first postpartum check-up is far too long, especially since in the same time frame it is common to have three or more appoint‐ ments centered around your newborn.
A Mental Shift
When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I spent the first thirty-two weeks under the care of a traditional OB- GYN, who I actually really liked. But once I started to learn that my birth choices were greater than…
- A tree-hugging, drug-free, painful birth or medical interventions as soon as I reached the hospital?
- A home birth with no aide or a hospital birth where someone else made choices for me based on dated practices?
- How soon did I want to be induced or would I rather just schedule a c-section?
- An epidural or pure hell?
I started picturing the possibility of a minimal intervention, positive birth experience, based on the principles and prac‐ tices of believing in what my body was made to do (while not being embarrassed to admit I was totally open to evidence-based medical interventions that became necessary).
With this mental shift, I knew I needed to switch to be under the care of a woman who was experienced in advocating for using only those interventions that were in a woman’s, and her baby’s, best interest. Someone who routinely saw the miracle that our bodies are capable of with very little aide. Someone who truly believed that most medical interventions did not need to be common practice and would best be saved for Plan B, after first supporting me with less invasive techniques.
I knew that for me to fully trust someone during a time when I could feel scared and vulnerable, it would be critical to have someone in charge of the show who knew what was “normal” during a birth where medical intervention was an option, but a road taken only after a number of other more natural methods were exhausted.
The Birth Dialogue
If we want to change birth in this country, we need to change the dialogue surrounding it. Birth doesn’t have to be trauma‐ tizing. Each woman sharing her story in this book truly believes that. We want to empower you with confidence in your mind and body. We want to give you the courage to seek a positive birth experience beyond the horror stories that society has routinely exposed us to. This means educating yourself with new perspectives of birth and seeking out care providers who specifically align with your goals. Our child‐ birth beliefs have such a profound impact on the care choices we make, on the way we labor, on our outcomes, and ulti‐ mately how we feel about our experience.
My Great Aunt Pat shared her positive, intervention-free, hospital birth story with me long before I was pregnant. She didn’t tell me it was orgasmic. She didn’t say it was easy. She didn’t say it was painless. But she did say it was totally, one hundred percent worth it. In fact, she chose to birth the same way two more times. At the end of her story, she turned to me with delight in her voice and said, “You could totally do it, too!”
Her words spoke power into me. She believed in me before I had even considered believing in myself. Because the confi‐ dence was coming from a strong woman who had fully expe‐ rienced birth and spoke positively about it, I trusted it.
But I was still nervous. How could she believe I could do something so unfathomable? Births like that are for superheroes. They are rare unicorns. They are for totally- committed natural mamas. They are for people so much stronger than me. But words are powerful, and the notion stuck with me.
A few years later, I found myself pregnant, and I recalled her confidence in me. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, but little by little, I started to put aside what I thought I knew about birth. By reading the mind-blowing stories of women who didn’t curse birth, but instead believed in their bodies and took charge of their care, I started letting go of the notion that childbirth was just some tragic event that women had to endure. Instead, I started getting excited about the life transforming power women can experience through childbirth.
By harnessing the confidence and techniques I learned from other remarkable women who had succeeded in the type of birth experience I wanted, I was able to create my own posi‐ tive examples of birth as I welcomed my daughters into the world. The same six techniques I used (laid out in detail in chapter three) can be replicated by anyone who wants their own minimal intervention birth. The journey began when someone opened my mind to the possibility of a positive birth experience and then instilled confidence in me with their positive words. From there, the responsibility fell on me to be an active participant in my care choices.
I want to pay it forward. I want to provide that same confidence to you. I believe in you. I believe in your body. I believe it is okay for you to stand up and ask questions. I believe you deserve a positive birth experience. You are an incredible, educated, strong, modern woman with a body that is capable of giving birth. Each of the women in this book believe in you. You are not too weak, too old, too broken, or too scared to just roll over and let birth happen to you. You have superwoman inside you.
It’s time you believe it.
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With Love – J.K. Coy
One More thing…
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