Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why Natural Birth Advocates Are Passionate

photo courtesy of stockxchng
A lot of people misconstrue natural child birth advocates as judgmental (and frankly, everyone is judgmental to some degree--it's a natural defense mechanism) when in fact, the passion they're displaying is intended to be protective and comes from a place of caring.

Let's imagine you know of a few different hair and nail salons. One is super popular, even though it's more expensive and the satisfaction rating is lower than the other three in the area. But they give out 'free' cappuccinos, lattes, mochas or tea with every visit. I put free in quotes because the cost is actually recouped in the more expensive service.

Now, you know a few people come out with awesome hair, exactly what they wanted, but most people end up being talked into a haircut they didn't want or just having their hair messed up completely. They went in hoping to go blonde and ended up red or wanted their natural nails painted and styled, but the manicurist does such a bad job that they have to have acrylics to cover up the damage.

 photo courtesy of Beaudenoir at stockxchng

Women keep going back, though, because the place is great for covering their asses when they screw up. Women actually leave believing that the place saved them from what they actually wanted (and would have looked far better on them). Not to mention the free drink! It's almost perfect.

In the other salons, women go in and while a few have to go to the popular salon to get a mistake fixed up, the vast majority come out happy and with the hair and nails that they wanted--or even better than they expected.

Would you recommend the popular salon? Wouldn't you try to stop your friends and family from going there, knowing what a terrible experience so many other people report having?

photo courtesy of stockxchng
Unless you're a contrary person and/or refusing to follow the analogy, you probably just said, "Of course not!"

Now, I chose hair salon because I always have freaking awful experiences at the ones I can afford and most people will use one at some point in their life. But any business where that sort of thing went on, we would find unacceptable and try to warn the people we care about to stay away from. It would be really frustrating watching friend after friend go in anyway and end up with the same experience. Can you imagine all the times you had to bite your tongue because their hair looked mediocre or worse, but they were trying to only see the positive in it?

Well, if you add in the number of women and babies who are injured or who die who shouldn't, that is where the intense passion comes from. It's not just about the NCB advocate's own experiences (which are subject to far more ridicule and judgment than any other mother's birth choices), it's about protecting every woman's experience. It's about protecting the people we love and the loved ones of others as well.

That isn't to say that there aren't beautiful births that have necessary interventions, pain medication or happen surgically! The NCB is never speaking against necessary deviations, but those which could be avoided. Very often, we started out at the popular salon ourselves and that's why we recommend the others. Out of love.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stop Emotional Labeling of Food

photo courtesy of aschaeffer at stockxchng
So, food and I have issues. For one, I do not like to be seen eating, because I feel that everyone equates being fat with eating. As a teenager, this translated into skipping months eating more than a meal a day (sometimes not that much) for fear of being judged for eating. I don't have a problem eating in a group as long as everyone else is eating, because it's like I'm camouflaged.

This stems to a lot of emotional language linked to food as I grew up. My mom 'rewarded' us with 'treats' and when I was eating when she wanted me to be doing something else, she would yell at me for "stuffing/feeding my face."

As a result, I have a lot of guilt when I eat. I feel like food is something you have to 'earn' and eating is a waste of time and money. My feelings only apply to me, however. I know all of the above is utter garbage, but it's so ingrained into me from years of emotional food language that I can't separate it in regards to myself.

All of this was brought up from reading one of the latest Guinness World Records: The World's Heaviest Woman. I'm far, far from there (and doubt she's the actual record holder, but she is the one willing to step forward... figuratively), but her story made me so sad that I finally had to write all of this down.

I try very hard to avoid emotional language and connections to food with my children. Fighting is not allowed while we are eating. Guilt is not allowed while someone is eating. Behaviors are not rewarded with food and food is not taken away as punishment (the old 'sent to bed without dinner'). Food is used as what it is: a necessary energy/nutrient supply. Yes, it should taste good, too.

I think it's very important to avoid comforting and rewarding with food. Just as important is to avoid shaming with food and associating food with guilt and shame. Both anorexia and emotional eating stem from these associations. (Of course, body image issues also contribute, but so much of that is societal, and this is something parents can control)

I think a lot of this is also hard for those whose love language is Acts of Service, especially those of us who got our cup filled by those special moments with grandma or whoever gave us 'special treats.' Those are also dangerous for the future adult, as they are emotionally associated with a positive memory and thus, can be used for comfort later. Ways to avoid this? Certainly don't spoil special moments with grandma! But, also make sure that grandma/grandpa/auntie isn't the only one giving the favorite food if it's something that would be especially unhealthy to indulge in in times of emotional distress. Find a middle ground, of course, even if that means suggesting grandma stick to fruits or letting kids have cookies at home--without emotional baggage attached.

My weight problems actually have little to do with food and more to do with me not being active enough, but they were actually begun with an attack of genetics mixed with my body's withdrawal from Ritalin, which I was on for ADHD as a child and stopped cold turkey when I was 12, resulting in me doubling my weight in the next year (not knowing about the side effects of stopping so suddenly or having had an appetite in years--I was severely underweight). The next attack on my body was being on depo provera (on which, I gained 75lbs) for two years.

And, of course, a note that comforting a baby/toddler/preschooler with nursing is not even close to the same as using food.