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Thinking About The Power of the Written Word

I had been asked to participate on a panel for the Rhode Island Birth Network‘s Second Annual Fall Forum (which took place today) to discuss empowered decision making around birth. Erin Goodman invited me on the panel to share my birth experiences: a c-section in the hospital followed by an empowering and completely natural home birth six years later (at the age of 43).

Other panelists included a nurse, two doulas, a medical doctor, another mom and a hypnobirthing instructor. Listening to the panelists I felt moved by each person’s passion, perspective and knowledge about one of the most miraculous and awe-inspiring of human experiences.

When Deb Erickson-Owens spoke about the lack of hard data around common medical birth practices (only 1 in 5 interventions is actually evidenced based–most of it’s used because it’s familiar to medical staff–it’s not because research shows it’s better to do it that way!), I thought, “More people need this information!”

Dr. John McGonigle spoke about how awesome an experience birth is–and that such an awesome experience can naturally produce a certain amount of fear, and even terror. He explained that current medical training sets doctors and medical staff up to be ready to leap into action–much like an army is ready to leap into action during a war. But that readiness is fear based, and not necessarily what’s needed in a birth situation. Sometimes patience, waiting, being still, trusting is what’s required. He advised expectant parents to look for a birth team who were able to remain calm and centered during birth–and not steeped in fear, in the crisis mode that is common to many medical staff today. Surely there’s a place for rushing into action, but there must be balance.

Dr. McGonigle’s metaphors seemed right on target, and the poetic way he spoke of pregnancy and birth brought the awe, beauty and naturalness of childbirth back into a discussion that has too often become medicalized, as if it were an illness.

Leah DeCesare spoke about the different phases a mother, baby, couple and family go through in the year following a birth.  She brought home the importance of understanding these phases and getting support to work through them.

As each person spoke, I couldn’t help but wish that they would all write articles, books even, on their particular take on the subject. The rich views in the room, and the powerful perspectives, all seemed to be messages we desperately need right now in our culture.

And as I thought about how I wished they’d each write (alot) about the subject, it brought back to me the power of the written word, which has brought forth and seeded new religions, new types of government, new ways of doing just about anything, enlightened ways of being, ways to be happy and healthy…and perhaps it could transform how we birth in this country (which has the worst mother/baby outcomes of any developed country–and worse than many undeveloped countries, as well).

Not everyone with a powerful idea or viewpoint writes about it. But those who do tend to reach so many more people with their ideas. So, what are you passionate about? Are you willing to put pen to paper and pass it on to others in a powerful way?

Check out the Rhode Island Birth Network’s New Blog

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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