Professional Presentations

Do you run a professional or church group that would benefit from a guest speaker?  Today I am excited to announce 7 classes/presentations that I would LOVE to present to your group!  By combining LDS doctrine with scientific data, my presentations are sure to inform, engage and excite your group.  With over a decade of teaching experience and public speaking engagements, you can trust that you will be educated and entertained.  Currently, all of my presentations are available in the Treasure Valley and the Wasatch Front/Salt Lake Valley.  Contact me here for more details or to get something scheduled.

Below you will find my options.  Want something different?  Just let me know!  I’m happy to cater my presentation to your group’s needs.


Complimentary Presentations

Appropriate for Activity Days, Young Women/Young Men, Youth Firesides, Relief Society Meetings, etc.

Each presentation is approximately 1 hour- 45 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions/discussion.

  1. Redeeming Childbirth: Understanding God’s design for childbirth and how it fits into the plan of salvation. Also discusses how women are changed and magnified through the process of giving birth.
  1. Historical Birth: From pioneers to millennials, understanding how birth has changed for better and worse.
  1. Heavenly Mother: Where did She go and how can I find Her?

Stipend Presentations ($50-$100 depending on distance traveled.)

Appropriate for expectant couples, doula groups, childbirth educators, parent support groups etc.

Each presentation is approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions/discussion.

  1. What is an empowered birth and how can I have one? Evidence based decision- making will also be discussed.
  2. A doula’s role to educate and still provide unconditional support. Finding the line between judgement and trained support.
  3. Make or break: How those you invite to your birth will influence it for good or bad.

Tuition Class (outside of Boise)

3 hour Music Birth Class, $75/couple.  Minimum of 2 couples.

As a one-night comprehensive class, Music Birth is perfect for busy parents-to-be, a great refresher course for experienced parents and an empowering class for all parents who want to have a safe and comfortable birth. This class teaches moms how to become deeply relaxed, support people how to effectively encourage and comfort the birthing woman, and is the only class that teaches how to effectively use music during birth.

Class tuition includes 3 hours of professional instruction, one signed copy of my book The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby, Music Birth Class Manual, Playlist sample CD and Imagery practice CD.

Presentations by Marie Bigelow, MT, AdvCD(DONA)

Poor Advice I Followed and Now Regret

New moms are bombarded with unsolicited advice.  It can feel overwhelming, condescending, annoying, and make you really doubt yourself!  Having no younger siblings, I didn’t know anything about babies when I became a mom!  Like many women, I learned as I went.  And 12 years later I’d like to share some of the worst advice I was given.  Advice that I followed and now wish I hadn’t.  And just for fun, I’ll throw in some unsolicited advice of my own now that I’ve had 4 kids and have surely become an expert by now.  🙂

1: Share your baby.  I remember shortly before giving birth to my first child, my dad encouraged me to share my baby with the family.  He pointed out that I would have soooo much time with her, and I should be willing to share her.  Having never been given poor advice from my dad, I followed this advice and happily passed my baby around as much as I could.  I now see that I should have held her close more and not have been so eager to make others happy with her presence.  (  can also see that he was possibly planting a seed so he would get more time with her….  It’s sweet and I love my dad, and I loved watching him be a grandpa to her, but I do feel like I missed out on her parts of her babyhood.)

My advice:  Sure my time with her was ample, but only for a handful of months.  I initially felt like she would be a baby for much longer than she really was, and before I knew it, she was crawling and wanted little to do with me.  My arms still ache to hold her as a baby.  So my advice is to mainly share your baby when it benefits you, not when it benefits others.  If someone would like to hold your baby so you can rest, shower, or eat- then that is wonderful.  If someone wants to hold your baby while he/she is content and snuggly in your arms, think twice about how fleeting babyhood is.  It’s ok to be selfish when it comes to your own baby.

2: Don’t sleep with your baby: Co-sleeping is a hot topic, and it was even more polarized 12 years ago than it is now.  There were no voices of reason when it came to co-sleeping back then.  There was one message, and that was you should never sleep with your baby.  If you do one of two things will happen: 1: they will become totally co-dependent on you forever for everything, or 2: you will roll onto your baby and they will die.

It’s always in my nature to do the “right” thing, so I fought my baby for months, insisting she sleep alone in her crib.  I wasted hours upon hours of sleep, on my feet, shh-ing her back to sleep, only to have her wake up the second I placed her back in her crib.  By about 4:00 or 5:00 am each morning I would give up and co-sleep until 9 or 10.  Then each morning I felt like a miserable failure and vowed to never co- sleep again.  Only to end up reliving the same torturous night again and again.

Everyone told me it was dangerous to co-sleep.  11 years later I’d like to argue that the real danger is a mother who is pushed to the brink of delirium due to lack of sleep!  No one told me that my rest was important.  The only message given to me was that the only important thing was teaching my baby to sleep alone.  And all that meant was that neither of us slept.  For about an entire year.  And it was dreadful.  And I almost lost my mind.

My advice:  Let your baby tell you how they want to sleep:  Due to extreme fatigue and baby number #2 arriving less than 16 months after baby #1, co-   sleeping happened constantly because I pretty much fell asleep every time I nursed.  I would nurse for 5 hours straight at night and not even realize it.  But then baby #3 came along and he was totally content to sleep alone.  So we hardly ever co-slept.  I enjoyed the freedom of watching TV at night with my husband, going out with friends after he was down for the night, and even started attending more births as a doula.  But then baby #4 came and he wanted to sleep in my arms.  So I cut back on doula work and slept with him most nights because by then I had learned that nothing is more important than sleep.  If your baby sleeps well without you, then don’t feel guilty for having them sleep alone.  Enjoy it.  If your baby wants to sleep with you, then tuck them into bed with you.  Enjoy it.  Don’t do drugs.  Don’t go to bed intoxicated.  Chances are you won’t only not kill your baby, but you just might get some sleep, too.  (Get more sleep tips here!)

3: Stop nursing when you get pregnant.  At my first child’s 9 month well baby visit I mentioned to our pediatrician that I was pregnant and we would be adding a new baby to his practice.  He asked me if I was still nursing and I told him I was.  He looked me in the eye and said “No, you’re done nursing.”  So what did I do?  I went home and weaned my baby, of course.  Again, wanting to do the “right” thing, I obeyed the advice I was given, assuming it was doctrine, because it came from a doctor after all.

My advice: Decide for yourself.  I think my big takeaway with this experience is that I wasn’t the one who chose when to stop breastfeeding.  I hate that I blindly obeyed a doctor, especially now when I know many women who have continued breastfeeding after becoming pregnant.  My big regret is not being an active participant in the decision making, not the decision itself.  My milk supply was dwindling by that point, and weaning would have probably happened on it’s own in the next month or so.  But that decision was mine to make.  No my pediatrician’s.

In my experience, regret tends to come more often when we do something because someone else told us to do it, instead of us deciding for ourselves that it is the best thing to do.  Over the years I have also been given an abundance of good advice that I have incorporated into my mothering, and I feel good about it because I thought it over and felt that it rang true to myself and my beliefs.  Bottom line is, you are the mom and you are in charge!  You get to decide what works for your family, because no one else is as in-tune to your family’s needs than you are.  So don’t doubt yourself.  You’ve got this!

If you want more information on how to make decisions, check out my book The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby.  Learn how women all over the country are using scientific data, LDS doctrine, and personal revelation to make birthing decisions that are right for them and prevent personal regrets.

Written by Marie Bigelow, MT, AdvCD(DONA)

Labor Playlists: 7 Helpful Tips

Are you wondering what your labor playlist should include?  Most women want to incorporate music into their births, but are often confused about what type of music to listen to.  Luckily for you, I have a degree in Music Therapy and am going to give you some advice on compiling your perfect, labor playlist!

  1. Music that is beautiful. For your labor music to be most effective, you need to love listening to it.  Set aside time to truly listen and find music that you enjoy and look forward to hearing at your birth.  It needs to be a lovely distraction that will be easy for you to want to focus on.  Enjoyable music is subjective, and will vary from person to person.
  1. Music that relaxes you: My clients often want to listen to music that pumps them up, but this is usually the opposite of what you want during labor.  Relaxation is key to a successful birth.  Not only does being relaxed make contractions less painful, relaxation also helps labor progress in a timely manner.  So pick music that is simple and helps your heart rate slow down, your breathing become rhythmic, and helps you feel at peace.  Find pieces that are simple and free flowing, and with just one or two instruments.  Something that reminds you of a peaceful stream.  My favorite: Kelly Yost, Piano Reflections.
  1. Music that energizes you. This may sound like a contradiction to number two, but hear me out.  Labor can be long, and often occurs during the night when we are tired.  If you find yourself exhausted during your labor, then you need to find music that helps you wake up and become reenergized.  It still needs to be relaxing, but can have a stronger beat and more instrumentation.  The music should be rhythmic and entertaining enough that listening to it invigorates you and helps you stay motivated.  My favorite: Chris Botti, Italia.
  1. Music that inspires you. Though lyrics can become bothersome as labor progresses, music with a positive message can help keep your mind optimistic and your heart happy.  Music with religious significance or positive messages can do wonders for your mental health during labor!  My favorite: “I Surrender All” and Sia, “Unstoppable”.
  1. Music that makes oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone of love, and also the hormone of labor!  So turn on some tunes that turn you on!  Too weird?  Turn on some lullabies.  Music that makes you think about your baby will help your brain make more oxytocin, helping your labor progress.  It also reminds you that your discomfort has a purpose. My Favorite: John Legend, All of Me
  1. Music that matches how you feel. As labor gets more intense, make sure your music does, too.  Music is most supportive when it matches how you feel.  Transition feels a lot different than early labor, and the music you listen to should reflect that.  Think full orchestra, movie soundtrack.  Trade in your free-flowing relaxation playlist for music that has a lot more tension and release in it, with a lot more instruments.  My favorite: Out of Africa soundtrack
  1. Music that makes you feel like you. Sometimes labor can be long and frustrating.  Have some tunes on hand that always lift your spirit and make you happy.  Don’t listen to them for too long because they probably won’t be appropriate for all of labor.  But it’s ok to take an emotional time-out and listen to something fun and upbeat to help you get your game face back on.

Adding the right music to your labor can make your birth less painful and more relaxing.  Practice relaxing and breathing slowly as you listen to your music.  This will help your body automatically relax when it hears your labor music on the big day.

Want more information?  Music Birth classes are offered monthly in Boise, ID.  I also offer a self-study course, Music and Miracles, which includes one copy of my book The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby, Music Birth class manual, Playlist CD, Imagery CD, and a 30 minute phone call with me (Marie Bigelow, doula, music therapist, author, childbirth educator).

Written by Marie Bigelow, MT, AdvCD(DONA)

Author of The Sacred Gift of Childbirth and owner of Sacred Gifts Birthing-

Music Birth Childbirth Education and Doula Services

4 Things that are Hard to Understand about Birth

As I wrote my book, I dreamt of giving women the birthing information they desire and deserve.  Information that empowers them to make the best choices for themselves and for their babies.  I dreamt of changing the world, one birth at a time!  But once people actually started reading it, I experienced a pretty big case of nerves!  As reviews started coming in, my nerves were eased with the glowing remarks of many readers and reviewers.  But there were a small handful of readers who did not like what they read.  I was prepared for that.  I knew it was unrealistic to expect everyone to sing my book’s praises.

As I contemplated the few negative reviews I received, I began to see similarities in all of them. Misinterpreting the message, not understanding the data, and attaching righteousness to scientific outcomes were common themes.

So today’s post is geared towards addressing these common concerns and hopefully adding some clarity to a very difficult and new concept regarding childbirth.  I worked tirelessly to find the perfect way to explain everything in my book, and overall, readers are understanding and appreciating it.  But I haven’t found the perfect way to explain it to everyone so I want to take the opportunity right now to try to fix that with my list of four things that are difficult to understand regarding birth.


1: There is a physiological aspect of childbirth. 

There is a physiological component to most, if not all, physical aspects and actions of our bodies.  This is not a hypothesis and is not up for debate as it has been scientifically proven time and time again.  The primary difference between my writing and other scientific writing is I am saying that God purposely created the physiological aspect of birth.  Other researchers believe that evolution created this physiology in order to promote survival.  You may believe whichever theory you choose, but they both have the same science behind them, and the same ultimate goal of a healthy birth with a thriving mother and a thriving infant.

When birth occurs naturally, there is a physiological chain reaction that promotes bonding, increases breastfeeding success, and strengthens the woman physically and emotionally.  While many of my critics have tried to discredit it, the physiologic component of childbirth is well-documented and as such is one of the strongest arguments in my book. Believing in the power of physiology does not discredit the power of the atonement or free agency, but gives a broader understanding of the mind-body connection, and helps us make choices that can lead to greater health.

The physiology of birth is another testament of God’s love for His daughters because it shows His love in every tiny detail of childbirth.  No, not everyone will experience birth the way God intended, but that doesn’t make the information less important or less true.  We wouldn’t dream of discontinuing teaching about the Word of Wisdom just because followers of the commandment will not have perfect health.  Healthy physiology is not guaranteed during birth, but is a goal women can reach for when planning for a safe and healthy birth.

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2: Mortality prevents physical and physiological perfection.

My book teaches that the design of childbirth is perfect, but our bodies are not.  We are able to apply this thinking to most aspects of our health, but for many it is difficult to apply to childbirth.  Surely God designed every aspect of our mortal bodies.  Every synapse and response is purposeful and perfect in theory.  Mortality takes a perfect design and allows it to be imperfect.  But the imperfections of mortality do not mean that God doesn’t have a plan for the human body and its many functions.

Physical injury, physical illness and mental illness, are all (to a certain extent) an expected part of mortality, as none of us are immune to them.  Since childbirth encompasses the physical and physiological aspects of a woman’s body, we can safely assume that mortality often interferes with the birthing process. God allows mortality to interfere with birth, just as He allows it to interfere with every other physical and physiological aspect of our bodies.  While God is capable of removing our earthly pain and illness, He often doesn’t, as experiencing these trials is part of His plan for us to experience mortality and opposition in all things.  God is also bound by natural laws, and mortality is a condition that we all agreed to – knowing we would be tested and tried.

Along with mortality, we can’t ignore how our personal choices have an effect on our overall health and on our births.  Just as proper rest, nutrition and exercise increase our chances of a long and healthy life, proper preparation and decision-making skills increase our chances of a healthy birth.


3: Our choices during birth often interfere with the physical and physiological aspects of birth, but that has nothing to do with righteousness.

Utilizing our free agency isn’t always a matter of right and wrong, and personal worthiness is not relevant to birthing outcomes. This is a difficult concept for the Christian who has always viewed choices as good or bad. There is no righteous or sinful options during birth, just safer options with no religious tandem.

People really struggle with this one because usually choices that lead to poor outcomes are also labeled as sins, and that makes it easier for us to know what God wants us to choose.  This is not the case in birth.  Receiving an epidural or needing a cesarean are not sins (a point I make several times in my book), but they can lead to poor outcomes.  Since we are always attaching labels of sin and righteousness to our choices, this makes childbirth choices difficult to process and understand.  If getting an epidural isn’t a sin, then why can it increase my chances of having postpartum depression?

Plainly because it interferes with physiology.

Physiological interference disrupts the birthing and bonding process for many women.  This information is crucial for women to understand, as Latter Day saints are encouraged (not commanded) to make decisions that support good health. Of course there are the big commandments like avoiding drugs and alcohol, but things like getting enough sleep and low sugar intake are healthy goals to strive for, but won’t keep you out of the temple.  Our food and sleep choices often lead to poor health.  Poor health, however, has never been deemed a sin.  But poor health does make life harder and prevents many of us from using our mortal bodies to their full potential.

The physical and physiological potential of birth is miraculous and life-changing.  When understood this way, we can’t help but see God’s influence and our own personal influence on the experience.  A natural birth without complications is not a badge of righteousness just as a difficult birth with many interventions is not a scarlet letter.  They are both the combination of mortality and personal choices. The purpose of my book is to give black and white information categorized into risks and benefits and empower women as they make choices for themselves and their babies.  There is absolutely no talk of worthy or righteous choices.

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4: Science doesn’t have to be politically correct.

Just like our LDS culture wants to assign sin or righteousness to everything, our modern-American culture wants to assign equality to everything.  Our politically correct world wants to give women the right to make any choice they want during childbirth, and present all choices as equally safe and rewarding.  While I agree that women should be given the right to make birthing choices for themselves, we should not ignore how those choices can affect a birth and the long-term physical and emotional health of the mother and child. 

As we strive for equality, we still must be able to admit that every choice will not lead to the same outcome.  Thankfully, data doesn’t have to be politically correct.  We can choose to honestly look at the data and admit that many of the choices we are given during childbirth interfere with the normal processes and functions of birth.  It may not be politically correct or popular to admit this, but the truth often isn’t.
For those who have misunderstood my work, I hope this has helped clear things up. For others, I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the incredible design of birth. Understanding the divine design of childbirth gives us more reasons to feel God’s love. This understanding also empowers women to make safe choices based in data and doctrine.  Choices that improve outcomes, build testimonies, and strengthen families.

An Honest Approach to Natural Childbirth

It’s no secret that I love natural childbirth.  Not only do I love it, but research overwhelmingly shows that natural birth is the safest way for low-risk women to deliver.  That being said, I absolutely hate the natural vs. medical birth fight.  Why fight for a side when we should be fighting for safe birth?  For most women, natural birth is what is safest, but not always.  And just because something is safe, doesn’t mean it is easy!

I can’t fully support either side of the childbirth debate because both sides downplay certain aspects of birth, and both sides exaggerate.  The medical world downplays the risks associated with interventions, focusing solely on their benefits, giving women the false assumption that everything they offer is safe and prudent for every situation.  The natural world focuses on the physiological benefits and safety of giving birth, but downplays how physically difficult and painful natural childbirth can be for many women.  My writing typically focuses on giving women the omitted information regarding medical interventions, but today I’d like to focus on three areas that need improvement from the natural birth camp.

  1. Making natural birth out to be easier than it really is. Can natural birth be painless, even easy?  Yes, to some; but the overwhelming majority of women find labor to be painful.  Our epidural rate is all the proof we need to see that that general consensus is labor is painful.  It seems like natural birthers (educators in particular) are insistent on telling women that birth is not painful, as a way to almost manipulate them into wanting a natural birth.  But how does this serve the woman who will eventually go into labor and find out for herself that natural birth is not easy or painless?

Some women will have a 3 hour labor with a baby that was optimally positioned, but others will have a labor with a posterior baby that causes intense back pain that not only makes labor longer, but more painful, too.  Natural birth can be hard.  Incredibly hard!  And telling women otherwise is insulting and dishonest.  If a woman is strong enough to give birth she is strong enough to handle the truth.

Whether you call it a pressure wave, a surge, or a moment of intensity, it’s still a contraction.  You can change the name, but you can’t change what it is or what it does.  Yes, we can give women helpful tools to lower their perception of pain, but we can also give them realistic expectations of how difficult labor is to many women.  I like to tell my clients to expect labor to be difficult, but to also expect themselves to be strong enough to handle it.  This lets them know that perceiving their birth as painful is not them failing at birth, but merely experiencing birth.  It also lets them know that their body and pain threshold will rise to the occasion, and they will be able to cope.


If a woman is strong enough to give birth, she is strong enough to handle the truth regarding birth.


  1. Making their clients hostile towards medical professionals. Something happens when women learn the real risks associated with interventions.  They get mad, and they get afraid that a medical professional will take advantage of them.  However, taking these strong feelings of distrust and defensiveness into the birthing room can bring a lot of unneeded contention into a birth.

It is not only acceptable, but preferable for birth educators to teach their clients that although birthing interventions are grossly overused, that most medical professionals are merely just doing their job- providing the medical care they were trained and hired to provide.

It’s an interesting predicament for both parties.  The nurse is trained to give medical care, and the couple has chosen to birth in a medical setting, yet does not want anything the nurse is accustomed to providing.  Instead the nurse is met with contempt.  I see this frequently, and it serves no one and only makes what should be a peaceful environment one of tension and mistrust.

A truly educated and empowered couple can go into their birth without defensiveness because they trust themselves to discern what is happening during their birth and they have found a care provider they trust.  When they want to decline a procedure or option, they can do so without contention.  If they enter their birth feeling like they need to arm themselves against everyone who will walk into the room, they have chosen the wrong location to give birth in.  (Unless they live in an area where hospital birth is the only option.)

  1. Not preparing women for when they truly need interventions. I loved giving birth to all four of my children naturally. It made me feel strong and competent.  But when I wouldn’t stop bleeding after giving birth to my fourth child, I begged for Pitocin, feeling nothing could be more excrutiating than the uterine “massage” my midwife was giving me; and knowing my options were uterine massage, Pitocin, or hemorrhage.  Yet, I have seen women reject Pitocin after birth because they have been so engrained to decline interventions that they can’t even see that they need one!

We need to teach our clients that our goal isn’t to avoid intervention at all costs.  The appropriate use of interventions is our goal.  Our goal is not to routinely use interventions or routinely deny them.  Our goal is to understand them fully, and use them when they are needed and avoid them when they are not.

I remember supporting a woman over the course of several days who was planning a birth at a birthing center.  After days of intense contractions, very little sleep, and no progress with her labor, the midwife and my client jointly decided it was time to transfer to the hospital.  Yet when we arrived, my client was hostile towards the nurse (see example 2) and refused Pitocin for almost 6 hours. (ex. 3) She truly thought her job was to avoid medical interventions, even though she clearly needed Pitocin as her labor was not progressing and her body was showing signs of exhaustion. After “giving in” and accepting medical support she told me she felt like a failure, and didn’t understand why all of her friends could have an easy birth but she couldn’t. (ex. 1)

Sadly, I knew I had not prepared her for this moment.  I had prepared her for her beautiful, out of hospital birth.  Giving her little information on the possibility of having to transfer, assuming she would understand that transferring meant she needed an intervention the birthing center could not provide.

Childbirth education needs to be inclusive and extensive. In today’s world of options we can’t just focus on the safety of natural birth or the risks of interventions.  True childbirth education isn’t one-sided, but educates on the full spectrum of possibilities and options.  And that means not making your side of the debate seem infallible.

We need to educate honestly so women do not enter their births with unrealistic expectations, feelings of mistrust and hostility, or inability to determine if they need medical support.



Written by Marie Bigelow, MT, AdvCD(DONA).  Author of The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby.   Marie lives in Boise, ID with her husband and four children.  She attends births as a doula and teaches childbirth education classes.

The True Meaning of “Pro-Choice”

Wow, Turns Out I Am “Pro-Choice”!

Today I am outraged.  The kind of rage that builds up slowly over time, until one day you literally feel like your head will explode if you don’t get all your thoughts out of it.  Today I came across this story: Another of the thousands of stories of good women, trying to do what is best for their family, and being treated like criminals.  This particular woman wanted to try to have a vaginal birth after having previous cesareans.  She was not hell-bent on a vaginal birth, just wanted the opportunity to have the chance to try.  Well, the land of the free took that choice away from her, and also threatened to take away all of her children should she attempt a vaginal birth.  This woman was unfairly pushed into a corner, forced to give birth in a way she did not choose, and threatened.  And I can’t tolerate it.

In a country where we are free to choose if our unborn children live or die, why are we not given any governing over how we bring them into the world?!  And why are the safest methods of delivery the ones under attack?  (Well, I have a few guesses, but that’s a whole other blog post.  But my guesses certainly don’t involve anyone having the woman or child’s best interest at heart.)  What does it say about a country when we are fighting more for the right to abort than we are for the right to give birth?  What does that say about how little we value life, children, and women?

It says a lot.  And none of it’s good.

In the USA we sure are pro-choice.  You can choose to not only kill your baby before it’s born, but there’s a plethora of other heinous choices you can make, all of which you won’t be judged for, because hey, it’s your choice!  You are free to treat your spouse horribly.  You can cheat on them, judge them, control them, put them down, and ruin their life in all sorts of safely chosen ways. You can choose to let your kids eat junk food,  watch inappropriate movies all day, or play violent video games, and not have to worry about anyone threatening to take them away.  You really can choose to just be a down-right, rotten person, or parent.  Here in the land of pro-choice, it is just as acceptable to choose being a crappy person as it is to choose to be a good one.

Well, guess what I choose….

I choose Womanhood.  Family.  Safe Childbirth.  Natural Parenting.  (PS: Isn’t my family adorable?)

Chances are, none of these things are as protected as a woman’s right to choose none of them.  And to me, that’s a pile of garbage.  A failure of an entire country.  And certainly, a huge disappointment and heartache to God.

Well, if women in this country can choose to abort their babies, other women can choose to give birth to as many children as they want.  Even if that means they go on welfare, or do something really controversial like breastfeed.  If we protect one end of the spectrum, we have to protect the other.

If women can choose elective cesareans, then any woman should be able to choose a vaginal birth.  Especially since it is extremely well documented that cesarean birth is the most dangerous method of delivery.  (Oh right, we don’t actually care about health outcomes.)

It is also clearly documented that the US has a horrifically high cesarean rate with some of the WORST birth outcomes in the industrialized world.  Research also shows that VBACS are SAFER than repeat cesareans, yet women have to sign a waiver at a hospital to have a VBAC, and there is no waiver explaining that a repeat cesarean is much more dangerous than a VBAC.  I guess hospitals are also pro-choice, as in they get to choose if they share valuable information with you or not.

And since when is a vaginal birth a choice?  I’m pretty sure that’s how it was designed to work…  It really boggles my mind that woman have to fight for the right to choose to use their private parts for their intended purposes.

So along those lines, if women can choose to flaunt their breasts and sport cleavage anywhere and everywhere, then women can also choose to breastfeed anywhere and everywhere.  A culture that claims to be too conservative to handle breastfeeding should also be disgusted by the over-sexualization of women’s breasts that we are constantly bombarded with.

And if some women can choose to sexualize their breasts, then other women can choose to normalize their’s, and nourish and comfort with their breasts, without fear of judgement and cruelty. Same argument for parents who choose to feed their children nothing but junk food.  I’ve never heard of a woman being kicked out of a park for feeding her kids cheetos, but I’ve sure heard of it for breastfeeding.  RIDICULOUS!

There are two sides to every coin, and we have completely forgotten the other side of “pro-choice”.  Giving one person a choice means that everyone should be given choices.

As women, mothers, and daughters of God, we ALL have the right to CHOOSE.  And if one women is fighting for the right to a healthy and normal birth, we all should be fighting; or someday, our daughters may have NO choice when it comes to giving birth.

Choice with birth also implies that women are capable of making the best choice for themselves, and their babies.  And women definitely are capable of this. The medicalization of birth has made women feel like they don’t know how to make the safest choice, and many rely solely on others making their birth decisions for them.  Sadly, American birth outcomes clearly show that these decisions aren’t leading to good outcomes.  With proper education and a prayerful heart, I believe that all women can be inspired to make choices that will ensure safe delivery for their children, whether that be a completely natural birth or one filled with medical interventions.

If “pro-choice” is offered to birthing women, and women are given agency over their birthing experiences, they will be happy no matter what type of birth they have.  They won’t feel backed into a corner.  They won’t be manipulated, threatened, or intimidated.  At the very LEAST, birthing women should be given as much  respect as the women who chooses not to give birth at all.

If you want to learn more about your choices as a birthing woman, order my book today and empower your birth!

Culture vs. Doctrine, in Mormonism and Childbirth.

Culture and doctrine… two things that often get intermingled, especially in the LDS religion.  Our doctrine alone makes us peculiar. Add in our obsession with cream of chicken soup recipes, Disney movies, and voting for Republicans, and we can seem downright nutty.  But just because all of us have our kids in piano lessons doesn’t mean that playing the piano is part of our doctrine.  It’s just our culture.  And unlike doctrine, culture is totally optional.

Culture plays an important part in societies all around the globe, and it should.  Culture gives us meaning and a sense of belonging.  Along with our doctrine, culture shapes our day to day lives and adds to our personal identities.  It’s important to us, even though it isn’t essential to our beliefs.  It doesn’t make us better Mormons, but somehow makes us more Mormon-y!

The birthing world has a culture too.  And just like in Mormonism, birthing culture is often confused with birthing doctrine, and many birthing women and childbirth care providers are making cultural decisions instead of decisions that are based in truth.  After 12 years of working as a doula and childbirth educator, it is clear that the majority of the women I spoke with viewed birth culture as birth doctrine.

Our birth culture tells us that women can’t give birth without pain medication, that one-third of them can’t give birth vaginally, and that breastfeeding is rarely successful.  However, science (our birth doctrine) tells us that at least 90% of women can give birth vaginally, and that childbirth creates a physiological response in women to help them cope with the discomforts of giving birth.  Studies actually show that the field of obstetrics is the medical paradigm that is least based in scientific fact, and in fact, runs more on culture and preference than it does on “doctrine”.

Unlike Mormon culture, our birthing culture unfortunately increases risk and poorly affects outcomes.  America’s birth culture has actually increased our morbidity and mortality rates- a fact that almost everyone is unaware of.  To improve birth for American women, we must be willing to revise our culture and return to our doctrine.

To improve birth for American women, we must be willing to revise our culture and return to our doctrine.

We love and live our religion because of the doctrine, not because of the culture.  Others look at our doctrine and wonder how we can be happy with so many restrictions; but we look at our doctrine and see its wisdom, and understand that keeping so many “rules” actually keeps us safe and happy.  The same could be true for birthing doctrine.  Once understood and practiced, birthing doctrine could improve outcomes for women and babies in every state and demographic.

Cultural decisions should be made after thorough study into the doctrine, whether you’re in Sunday school or in the delivery room.  After reading my book, you will understand the scientific doctrine of childbirth, and know which aspects of birth culture you agree with and which aspects you choose to avoid.

Participating in culture is a personal decision that represents choice, not worthiness.  But it’s important for everyone to understand that just like Mormon culture, birthing culture is optional as well.  We are not only allowed to practice our own culture, but capable of choosing the culture that best fits in with our beliefs system.  Beliefs that can only be formed by learning the doctrine.

Educating, not Shaming

Knowledge is power, and I love knowledge.  I also love power, but not in the traditional sense.  I don’t want to have power over other people.  I want to have power over myself, and the power to make the best decisions for myself and my family.  I want to understand my options, and I want to know what the likely consequences are for my choices.  I’ve always been this way.  I’m so afraid of making a wrong choice!  I’ve always been a long-term thinker… considering how every major choice will effect me as time moves forward.  (Except for my daily choice to drink diet coke… But hey, we all have flaws, right?!)

It’s no surprise that my love of knowledge led me to become an educator and author.  What is surprising is the push-back I often get from others in my desire to educate.  For some reason, our culture looks at educating women as shaming them.  As if to say “don’t tell her the truth about that, because when she makes a bad choice she’ll feel bad about herself.  Or she’ll feel like you are judging her.”  And yes, our society LOVES to judge women and their birthing and breastfeeding choices, so I do see where this comes from.  But isn’t it insulting to purposefully with-hold information from someone, assuming they aren’t intelligent enough to take that information and make the choice that is best for them?

Isn't it insulting to purposefully withhold information from someone, assuming they aren't intelligent enough to take that information and make the choice that is best for them-

I think women are more than capable of making the best decision for themselves when they are presented with factual, unbiased information, and this is what I strive to put in my writings.  So when you read my book, you will be getting the most up-to-date, scientific information on childbirth available.  It is honest.  It does point out things I was discouraged from sharing.  Things like the safety of natural childbirth, the benefits of breastfeeding, and what contributes to postpartum depression.  Things that women often feel judged about.  But things that women are grossly under-educated about and poorly supported in.  And I think with the right amount of information and support, and a faith in their maternal instincts, all women can and will make informed choices that are not only safe, but personally satisfying to them, as well.

I think one of the highest compliments you can pay someone is respecting their intelligence and decision-making abilities.  I know that my readers won’t feel shamed by reading my book.  They will feel respected and empowered.  Instead of being judged or being told what to do, they will be learning about all the benefits and risks surrounding childbirth, and then given tools on how to weigh those benefits and risks and make informed choices.  This type of education removes shame and replaces it with empowerment.  This is what families truly deserve.


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