I first discovered Birth Without Fear (BWF) when I started my fertility journey a year and a half ago. I knew that I wanted to become a mother, that I wanted to have a family with my wife, but I was so scared of pregnancy and especially scared of labor. I turned to the birth stories shared by BWF from women across the globe. It didn’t take long to start feeling like I could do this, too. That I was woman enough to handle pregnancy and to safely bring my child into this world.
Of course, as many of you know, that’s not what happened. My water broke at 17 weeks, and I lost my twins. The confidence I had previously gained left me when the picture-perfect pregnancy I had carried into my 2nd trimester also left me. It took me a while to return to the BWF site, where images and stories of all these amazing women and their births reminded me of what I could not do what my body had failed to do.
But then I found BWF’s Loss Page. And just as the community there had done for me before, I once again gained the courage to continue on and try again, to not let my loss define me, and to not allow my pain to overpower my will.
And all this, simply through one woman’s blog.
What January Harshe, the mother behind BWF, has created is nothing short of amazing beauty. By sharing the birth stories of women from everywhere, she’s helped empower mothers in a way so few blogs can. And now she’s taking it all to a new level.
The first ever Birth Without Fear Conference kicks off this weekend, Oct. 12-13. The event aims to “enrich your mind, nurture your body, and infuse your soul.” It includes an array of speakers covering such topics as VBAC, motherhood, rebozo, belly binding, postpartum depression, and others. Women will receive massage, belly casting, and/or henna. There is also a Mothers Harmony Circle that focuses on releasing, cleansing and healing the bodies, minds and souls of those in attendance. I’ve experienced what can happen simply by reading BWF on my computer; I can’t even begin to fathom the power and energy of being present at this conference.
I had the pleasure of connecting with January, the founder of BWF who also happens to be a kick-ass lady who’s had two cesarean sections, a hospital VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans), and two unassisted homebirths (UBA2C’s), and Svea Boyda-Vikander, a contributor at BWF who is currently conducting research into perinatal depression, loss, and cross-cultural infant care practices. These ladies, and all the women behind BWF, rock.
Here’s some of how my conversation with them went:
Me: How was the idea for BWF Conference born? Did it seem a natural offshoot to the response of the blog? Or has it been a long-time dream?
Svea: The BWF Conference was a dream for a long time. Just by virtue of the accessibility that internet provides, Birth Without Fear has been a community composed of people from all over the USA and the world. The desire to get together and laugh, talk, share wisdom, and, you know, meet one another, has been there for a long time. The goals of the conference are the same as those for BWF generally: to inspire women to make their own educated choices about their own pregnancies and births.
Me: Which speaker is BWF most excited to have at the conference?
Svea: Which speaker… hrmmm… JANUARY HARSHE. LOL. But otherwise, the Mothers Harmony Circle. Because it’s something that’s so needed: we need to heal, to feel safe, and to celebrate the sacrifices and challenges that mothering can bring.
Me: What surprises you most about the culture of birth in this country?
Svea: This applies more on a nation-wide scale than an individual one – I’m surprised by how reticent we are to engage in birth options that will actually save money. C-sections are expensive. Formula feeding is expensive. NICU stays necessitated by unnecessary interventions during labor are expensive. We spend more money on obstetric care than any other country in the world, yet our outcomes do not reflect that. So I guess it’s surprising that when there are good, low-tech birth care practices that have been used for eons, we choose the high-tech ones that are less effective at everything, except draining our bank account.
Me: What’s the one piece of must-know advice BWF would give 1st-time moms?
January: The only advice at this point that I ever feel good giving to a new mom is to always listen to her own intuition. To shut out the world and do what she feels is best for her and her baby even if everybody else is telling her it’s wrong. In regards to pregnancy and birth I would tell mom to look into all the options she does have. And then to fire and hire care providers and support accordingly.
The Birth Without Fear Conference is Oct. 12-13, 2013 in Texas. More information about the conference can be found HERE. If you’re new to BWF, be sure to check out their BLOG and join over 155,00 others by giving ’em a LIKE on Facebook!
Photo provided for use with permission by Birth Without Fear
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