Woman, write your own story!

Listen to the podcast “Hypnobirthing”

These days, we hear so much about empowerment. We hear women proclaim the importance empowerment; they emphasize their need to become empowered; they help other women to become empowered. But honestly, I’ve never heard a woman say, “I know that my birth experience could empower me more than any other event in my life. How can I maximize that opportunity for empowerment?”

The media repeatedly tells us that labor and delivery is a painful, panicky process. With that in mind, women have already entered the fear-tension-pain cycle, and seek relief. Most turn to drugs (often those given as epidural analgesia) to minimize or eliminate what they assume will be unbearable pain. I remember the first time I asked an expectant couple why they had decided to use epidural anesthesia as soon as labor began. They  quickly responded, “Why would you have pain if you could completely avoid it?” I stood there, dumbfounded, trying to figure out what to say. I’ve never come up with a response.

I always want to blurt out, “So that you could be fully present in the moment! So that you could feel the power of pushing a baby out into the world! So that you could savor the moment of feeling for a few moments as though you were a goddess, suspended between heaven and earth!” Having assisted hundreds if not thousands of laboring women, I completely acknowledge that there’s a time and a place for medication; I’ve seen some really rough labor/births. But I try to help women consider all options, because I know that some of them are missing that truly empowering opportunity.

With so much emphasis on how hospital practices—including medicated labors—can impact breastfeeding, I asked my guest, Robin Frees, to talk about hypobirthing in this episode. She talks about how “feel-good” hormones help you to have a good labor and a good experience breastfeeding, whereas stress hormones set you up for something very different. She talks about the value of writing your own birth story and practicing self-hypnosis. She talks about using imagery, visualization, and positive affirmations, and the power of our subconscious. She tells us that we can create our own birth experiences. How empowering is that?

As Deborah Day observed: “Rewriting the negative beliefs you have learned is the essence of becoming the director of your life.”
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Parents’ Best Gifts for Their Children

The Best Gifts Listen to the podcast “Parents’ Best Gifts for Their Children”
I have never met her. Yet over the past 17 years, we have talked (via email) many, many times. Some letters have been exchanged over the miles, snail mail providing an assist to our communication as letters I wrote were postmarked in my country and delivered in hers (and vice versa). I have seen pictures of her, but I have never seen her. Once, she chatted with me by phone. Tonight, she came to me by Skype. Always, during those 17 years, this woman has come to me through her book.

Books are funny things; they aren’t people and yet they introduce us to people. They introduce us to their characters—real or fictional. They introduce us to the character’s family and friends, and sometimes to our own friends. Often, they cause us to see parts of ourselves that were previously unseen. And, of course, books introduce us to their author.

I often like to describe how I met my guest for a particular episode, and I can tell you that I met award-winning author Marsha Skrypuch through her second book, The Best Gifts, shortly after it was first published in 1998.

Read Marsha’s book, and you’ll begin to know Marsha. Having written 19 books for children and young adults, Marsha is committed to sharing a view of the world as children see it, rather than as we adults do. This alone tells us so much about how important it is to her that children feel respected. Marsha’s message that breastfeeding is the ultimate gift of love and presence tells you so much about her values. The way she concludes the book helps you to understand that Marsha has a long-term view of the world and its families and communities. (No spoiler alert here. I encourage you to go read it yourself!)

During my “Born to be Breastfed” episode with Marsha, many things she said rang a proverbial bell with me: · She immediately thanked me for pronouncing her name correctly. Yeah, well, when you have a last name like “Biancuzzo,” you know that’s an important point! · Marsha mentioned her desire for parents to enjoy the book and not dread reading it again—as parents ultimately must read favorite books time and again. I was reminded of an earlier guest on the show, musician Laurie Berkner, who said she always tried to create kid music that adults would like! <br /><br />

The fact that her original cover for the book (featuring a naked, nursing breast) drew such a negative reaction from American booksellers reminded me of Rachelle Lestishen’s blog at iMothering.com describing the “Cyberbullies” who took down a Facebook post of a woman who was breastfeeding. Yikes. Rachelle’s issue, 17 years after Marsha’s book was published, is the same story, different day. Sigh…

I’m glad to have gotten to know Marsha as the result of her book, and I’m glad to be able to introduce her to you through this show. After listening, be sure to visit her web site to learn more about The Best Gifts and her many other fantastic books.

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