#TheFutureisFemale

THE BRILLIANT BREAKDOWN- week of March 28th

Jamie Oliver is "Mansplaining" the Benefits of Breastmilk

The celebrity chef has decided to take on a new revolution: promoting the need for more mothers to breastfeed in Britain- and people are POed. Namely, Adele who is screaming that this campaign is shaming moms who can’t breastfeed and to stop telling women what the fuck to do. Others think a man shouldn’t have a say in the matter. But some are backing the dude up, expressing that because he has kids, he has been involved in the breastfeeding process and that one doesn’t need to have direct experience with something in order to campaign for it. Britain has some of the worst breastfeeding rates in the world, with only one in two hundred children being breastfed until 12 months of age. Jamie's response to the backlash confirmed he is not starting a campaign and that he would get a 'kicking at home' (from his currently-pregnant wife) if his intention was to offend women or mums - sounds about right! 

LEARN MORE HERE

 
                                                                         art by Marion Fayolle

                                                                         art by Marion Fayolle

 

When rape victims have to co-parent with their rapist

'This is not a family, this is a felony' was the argument of one of the lawyers defending a rape victim who was ordered to go to family court to hatch out a co-parenting plan with her rapist. Sounds crazy but it happens often and 14 states don't have any laws that protect rape survivors from having to share custody with their attackers. But it used to be 15. Iowa is now off that list as a new bill was passed which would allow for a rapist to lose parental rights to their victim’s children. This comes after the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, which was signed by President Obama last year and incentivizes states to create or reform their laws to, "Allow the mother of any child that was conceived through rape to seek court-ordered termination of the parental rights of her rapist with regard to that child, which the court shall grant upon clear and convincing evidence of rape." Similar laws are in effect in 24 states, including New York. However it gets tricky, because often times there is no 'clear and convincing evidence' of rape, especially since a large percentage of rapes occur with someone who was familiar to the victim. No conviction is required to terminate parental rights in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin. Hopefully the 14 remaining states will follow Iowa's lead soon. #rapeisrape and parenthood is a privilege.  

LEARN MORE HERE

 
                                                                          art by Frances Waite

                                                                          art by Frances Waite

 

Patience may be all it takes to start lowering c-section rates in the U.S

Shocker. A recent study shows that when women were given just one more hour to push, C-section rates went down by roughly half! The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists gives first-time moms about three hours to push, if they’ve had an epidural, two if they haven’t, and beyond that, they’re thought to be experiencing a "prolonged second stage of labor." 

These time limits in place came from expert opinion from the 1800s (we kid you not) and since then, there’s only been retrospective data used to validate these guidelines. The researchers also found no evidence that giving women more time put them, or their babies, at greater risk.

While the study was small, overall, 43.2% of the women (all on epidurals) who were given the typical three hours to push ended up having a C-section, as opposed to 19.5% who were given four hours instead of three. 

The study honors that c-sections saves lives; The aim is not to challenge that fact, but rather help ensure that the current guidelines most doctors rely on are based in clear, strong evidence.

LEARN MORE HERE

                                                                                                 art by Virak

                                                                                                 art by Virak


+ some #brilliantbits

Must See

The art of catching breech babies has been lost at large, but these images catch a badass midwife doin' just that and they are AWESOME.

Geek out

Can you wiggle your ears? Footprints of evolution on our bodies!

Remember him?

It is indeed a beautiful day in the neighborhood- especially since it's apparently breastfeeding-friendly. Who knew that Mr. Rogers’ had an episode that featured women breastfeeding?!

In honor of world Doula Week…

Check out this photo series that honors the work of doulas!

 

#THISISHOWIWASBORN with Tanya Wills

 
 

For those of you local to the NYC birth community you definitely know who Tanya Wills is, and for those who aren’t, well, you Wills now (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves). She is a real force with just about the entire alphabet after her name: MSN, LM, CNM, WHNP-BC, IBCLC. She’s an educator and Doula turned Certified Nurse Midwife turned Homebirth Midwife and Lactation Consultant. And is known to all as someone who gets shit done (and aces whatever she does). And while Tanya is more so in the 'conception phase' of birthing whatever comes next for her, it was very invigorating to meet with a woman who refuses to be small and who believes, that just as birth is BIG, so will be whatever comes next for her.

So, here’s Tanya on finding her voice and how we can support birthing women to do the same.

HOW WERE YOU BORN?

TW- I actually don’t know a lot about how I was born. I asked my mother about her births when I became pregnant. She said 'Oh! Just listen to your doctor and you will be fine.' I was born three weeks early I’m told. My mother claims that she had no drugs when she had all of us but she did say that they put a mask on her face and she doesn’t know what that was. I’m like, 'Thanks Mom! Did they numb you? Did they do something?' She’s like, 'Nothing, nothing... except for the mask!'

WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF ASKING ABOUT YOUR BIRTH LIKE?

TW- I think my mom had her kids and never thought about her births ever again. It was because of the process of having my son that I became interested in childbirth, a topic I knew nothing about, and couldn’t help wondering, 'How this is happening!?' And I think the answers are too big for us.

BB- That was part of the impetus to start Brilliant Bodies and this interview series - to start reaching people before they are pregnant, to start connecting people to birth before it happens to them so that they can deeply trust their bodies and their selves and become active participants.

What are your thoughts on reaching women sooner?

TW- I’m asked this all the time and I think the answer is that we have to get them as girls and address how they view themselves and their bodies and what their bodies can do, probably will do. Something like 88% of women are going to have babies. This is not alternative stuff. It doesn't get more mainstream than this! What is happening during births now is a kind of oppression, oppression because we don't know any better. There is no good reason why no one in the system can't help women breastfeed. There is no good reason that people are separated after having their babies... why partners can’t stay in the hospital overnight without paying $900. There is no good reason why women can’t hold their babies after having a c-section. I assure you, I’ve been in that room. There is NO good reason - she’s awake during the surgery, don’t tell me there is a good reason she can’t hold her baby! Women are not cupcakes - tell them the truth!

This is a blanketed statement, and there are definitely hospitals with better practices, but generally speaking, what is happening now is that hospitals are controlling births - even if there's no IV, there’s some unnecessary intervention that happens because they feel they have to do something. How many times have I heard students tell me they couldn't push effectively? One student told me once she felt like she was a dancer and her doctor the choreographer and she couldn't figure out the moves.

how can we empower these women?

TW- The thing is, babies are SO GOOD at being born, and we are SO GOOD at birthing them. So what happens when we start honoring the experience of what she is doing which is so ordinary and so extraordinary at the same time? This life force is SO POWERFUL. What happens when we just allow ourselves to work with it if we need to and otherwise just stay out of the way? What happens when we stop measuring outcomes by if everyone came out alive? 

Women tell me all the time 'I was changed [from my birth experience].' I personally didn't have a home birth because I was looking to have a spiritual, transformative, beautiful, peaceful experience… but I was changed. I sat with my baby and was like 'Whoaaa! That was so much bigger than I thought it would be.' There is this wall that you get to, this self-doubt. I believed with every pore of my being that this was impossible.

So what happens when we say, 'She will find her way' in our own minds? 

BB- She will find her way!

NOW TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE CURRENTLY BIRTHING?

TW- For me right now in terms of what’s next, I feel I am standing at a cliff. What’s next for me is not something I envisioned before and that is so big, SO HUGE.  I have my hand in a lot of things which is great. I thought that when I graduated from midwifery school that I would be there but now I know there’s no there. I graduated and I thought that things would get smaller and fall away and become sane. And that is not what has happened. And I don’t feel willing to get smaller right now. There is a part of me, as a mother, a wife and a friend where I feel pressure to get smaller as far as my work goes. But every other sense that I have is to get bigger and that is scary because I don’t know what that is. I am very interested in having the largest amount of influence that I possibly can. That’s what I feel I am here for - to help people. My work as an activist is the way that I live now.  

I don’t know if I am going to be able to lower the overall c-section rate but where do I lower it? On the front lines - with my own hands. And I can help lower the rate by encouraging people to have their babies with folks that have low c-section rates, and help those practices be so busy that the change is totally consumer driven. I feel part of what I am called to do is to ignite the consumer to ask for what is right. It’s going to be some bigger influence to get people to hear this issue, I’m just not sure what the portal will be just yet.

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’VE FOUND YOUR VOICE. WHAT HAS THE LABOR OF GETTING TO THIS POINT BEEN LIKE?

TW- I’ve been told that I take up too much space. I feel OK about that now, but in my first year as a doula I didn’t. I felt I wasn’t playing the role as this person that has more experience than me thinks I should. And that was challenging for me. The good news is that I had some terrific mentors that told me, 'They are afraid of that...This is about you and if you’re taking up space you must have something to say.' Stepping into that is BIG.

WHAT'S NEXT?

TW- Where are we right now? Ina May is retired, we have her book - half of her book is totally dated and doesn’t speak to what’s happening in the hospital. And the other half of her book is about people having their babies on The Farm, which I personally did not identify with as a pregnant New Yorker whose favorite food is Doritos.

                  Sign on Tanya's door at her home in NY

                  Sign on Tanya's door at her home in NY

                                                       #MidwifeBrain

                                                       #MidwifeBrain

So where are we? I am interested in knowing who is speaking to pregnant families right now - it’s kind of no one!

BB- Other than friends and family sharing scary stories right when you’re about to hit your due date, of course.

TW- Right. So what is the change that needs to be made and how can it be made boldly? And I don’t think it’s going to be made in the political organizations. It’s going to have to be a personality who moves this forward and it is going to have to be with consumers asking for what they want, and specifically with consumers asking for what they want for things that there is no reason we don’t have. Somebody approachable has to talk to them and be available for them. Someone who’s feet are on the ground. I feel a lot of the birth visionaries that are out there have excellent messages that have carried us all and have paved the way, but I think that we’re ready for somebody regular. We’re ready to talk about birth and labor as it is. I don’t think it needs to be a special place in Tennese or an orgasm. It can be something regular. And what is wrong with that? 

BB- Boom. So exciting!

ANY #BRILLIANTBITS YOU WANT TO SHARE?

TW- Your body is going to birth the baby, it's your mind that will not go along for the ride, it's your mind what will try to screw you every time. 

                                                                                                                   Tanya with her daughter Violet

                                                                                                                   Tanya with her daughter Violet


To learn more about Tanya and keep up to date with everything that she's birthing (or if you want her to catch your baby) head over to:

MANHATTAN BIRTH + MARCY TARDIO HOME BIRTH + INSTAGRAM + FACEBOOK

Plus checkout her new class CHILDBIRTH FOR EARLY BIRDS that's coming up on March 17th!

THE BRILLIANT BREAKDOWN: week of february 29

HONORING DANA RAPHAEL - GRANDMOTHER OF ALL DOULAS! 

What an amazing life this woman lived and how fortunate we all are for her breastfeeding and doula care advocacy. Ever wondered where the term 'doula' even came from? It was her! She coined it in 1969, meaning 'mother to the mother' as biological grandmothers were "walking out of the nursery to take on painting and golf" - leaving new moms without the traditional family support to help them figure out how to nurse and take care of their brand-new-baby! She was a big proponent of breastfeeding but also a pioneer of ending the ‘mommy wars’, stating that her goal was for mothers to be happy and have support regardless of how they chose to feed their baby. We’ve come a long way and yet there is still so much to do to improve maternal and postpartum care, we’re honored to follow the lead of amazing women like Dr. Raphael and her mentor -the badass anthropologist Margaret Mead-who was one of the first scientists to question formula manufacturers.  RIP Dr. Dana Raphael, we’re grateful for your legacy!

READ MORE HEre

 
 

MEDITATION is LITERALLY CHANGING OUr BRAIN!

We knew we were on to something with our Sound Meditations for Pregnancy and Fertility. There’s just something about getting a break from our monkey minds that feels GOOD. But now there’s a study that proves our brain is literally changing when we meditate. According to the results, after meditating for only 3 days there is more activity in the portions of the brain that process stress and induce focus and relaxation. The best part? After 4 months the benefits were still there, even for those who had not been meditating regularly! Sign me up! There’s still much research to be done, but in the meantime we’re off to MEDITATE (and so should you)!

READ MORE HERE

 
                                                                Image by Huntress of Roots

                                                                Image by Huntress of Roots

 

a growing force: the SINGLE AMERICAN WOMEn

While Facebook may make you feel like all of your friends (and not friends) are getting hitched, you aren't alone (or you are, but so is everyone else!) Turns out, more than 50% of American women are single and more than 23% of the American electorate is made up of unmarried women. All the single ladies are a driving force behind advocacy for pay equity, paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, universal pre-K and more accessible reproductive rights, among other MAINSTREAM issues that have been hiding in the dark for wayyyyy too long without real policy changes that would benefit us ALL. The reasons behind this growing force are diverse but we're all up for badass independent women that are 'no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry.' BOOM!  Also who needs to get married with friends like this? #TheFutureisFemale

READ MORE HERE

 

 
                                                                   Image by Frances Cannon

                                                                   Image by Frances Cannon

 

breaking the silence

1 in 3 American women will have an abortion before turning 45. On March 2nd the Supreme Court will hear arguments for -a potentially landmark- abortion case in Texas, challenging a law that requires abortion doctors to be affiliated with nearby hospitals and also limits abortion to ambulatory surgical centers, which opponents say reduces access to abortions and limits its safety. Not an easy subject for sure, but we're glad to see a lot of women breaking the silence about their abortion experiences and sharing their stories. It takes a village and ending the taboo around abortion will allow us to support each other through the thick and thin. 

READ MORE HERE

 
                                                                                                                                                                                    Image by India Evans

                                                                                                                                                                                    Image by India Evans

 

+ SOME MORE #BRILLIANTBITS...

Our heart breaks for all the women and families that have to go through pregnancy miscarriage or loss. We're glad to see that new evidence confirms there is no physiological need to wait before trying to get pregnant again (as long as families are emotionally ready).

READ MORE HERE

We're psyched to see that teens are talking about babies and birth! Here's a good reminder of why there's no need to bathe your baby after they are born - #VernixIsTheNewGold

READ MORE HERE

And while we are thrilled Leo finally got an Oscar and used the opportunity to remind us we should not take our planet for granted, our eyes were on this badass chick who left her costume at home and instead opted for comfort. #keepin'itreal

READ MORE HERE

#THISISHOWIWASBORN with Madame KIRAN GANDHI

A few years ago Nat was at a TED Talk and was thoroughly impressed by Kiran Gandhi who is a total badass at just makin’ it work (Instead of choosing between Harvard biz school and touring with M.I.A she did both) and who recently bled freely during a marathon to bring attention to the issue of period stigma around the world (Reminder: you wouldn't be here without em!) During our interview with our other favorite period pioneers, Nat was reminded of Kiran’s talk and in particular her theory of Atomic Living (we think it can be applied to labor quite beautifully- take a listen!). So, between her can-do approach to just about everything, and the new music project, Madame Gandhi, she is currently birthing, we thought this major creator would be the perfect person to sit down with and learn more about how she was born.

                                                                                                    #thefutureisfemale

                                                                                                   #thefutureisfemale

so tell us, How were you born?

KG- My mom told me that she and my dad were both staying in a Harvard dorm (they were both in Business school- my dad at Harvard and my mom at Boston University) when her water broke.

BB: Ha - born at Harvard, born again at Harvard. It was meant to be!

KG- She said it was easy, that it’s amazing how the body just completely opens up and then closes. They would shift taking care of me. My dad would go to class in the morning and my mom would go to class at night.

What was the experience of asking about your birth like?

KG- My mom is very matter of fact. If it were me telling the story it would be all emotional, I’d remember small significant details, but it’s just not her style. She was more like “We got to the hospital. Birth was awesome. You popped right out. We had class the next day.” Very much my mom. 

BB: It's funny- it sounds like your approach to life mirrors your mom's attitude and the circumstances around how she birthed you- that wanting it all attitude and really special ability to just therefore make it work- going to biz school and touring, being in biz school and having a baby.

KG: Yeah. That's cool. I never thought of it that way. It would have basically been this year that my mom would have given birth to me and I could never imagine giving birth now. They were going to graduate in May and I was born in Feb. of that year. 

DId your birth story taught you anything about yourself or your relationships today?

KG- Yes, my mom is always able to find the positive of any situation, and I have definitely learned how to do that, no matter how difficult it can be at times! 

When thinking about birth what are the first things that come to mind? 

KG- Excitement. Love. Nourishing someone. I like the idea of it a lot. I think it would make me feel righteous, elevated, like I have purpose, that I want to be protective. It definitely excites me. I think it's because my mom was so strong about it. Her saying “Oh yea of course - it's beautiful” makes me feel excited instead of afraid.

Tell us about what you are currently birthing.

I’m birthing my music. I’m moving to LA. It feels very good and I am very excited. My producer is out there and she and I work together really well. 

BB: That's Madame Gandhi?

KG: Yea! I call it Madame Gandhi because the notion of a 'madame' is someone who is female, and who is respected for her female qualities; not because she’s trying to become masculine, or hard, or change herself to fit in, but really just being a female leader. 

So this is the notion of a 'madame', the idea that you are leading based on your feminine qualities and they should be as valued, loved, and welcomed as we love, value, and welcome male qualities.

Check this out. It’s a meet the band type thing. It’s cool. It’s a clip from when we played this pro-choice party in DC.

What is the connection between the pro-choice movement and your music?

KG: Being able to make and perform music that speaks about gender equality and liberation. I want Madame Gandhi to stand as a project that celebrates women, that celebrates women’s voices, that makes other women feel confident to do whatever they want to do. I feel like everything that is related to women is often so strange and taboo and awkward and I'm so over it. There aren’t that many artists that want to champion women's causes. I don't know why. Maybe because they are trying to work on their own career and many times their careers fall in the hands of men because they are the ones running the industry and so it's difficult to actively forward any gender equality cause.

What’s the labor been like?

Bewildering. It's a great parallel to giving birth. Everyone acts like its so easy and when you actually do it you realize there's a million unknowns - why didn’t they tell us this?!

Theres a lot of finding your own path. There’s no set answer. There are a couple things you can do that are set like "Use this program" or "Upload to Soundcloud", "Post to Facebook." And maybe that’s a parallel to "Going to the hospital", "Finding your Dr." etc. But the actual making of the music, the creative birthing process, is difficult. You have to catch yourself at moments when you are ready to be raw and vulnerable and that’s hard.

My process has been that, when I’m walking around the street and I'm just thinking or singing or whatever, I record it quickly because I know that if I am the studio, that authentic song/melody/lyric wont happen as easily.  This allows me to have a sound bank of ideas to build off of when I'm in the studio. Had I not recorded it in it purest form- when it was created from my brain and body, it would be gone. To just come up with something in the studio for the sake of it- it never works. It just sounds shitty.  

What gave you the final push to just focus on your music- and to start using your voice?

 
kiran-ghandi-3-435.jpg
 

It was after I ran the marathon and felt lucky to have been given a megaphone to speak. It felt like a gift to be able to have an audience who valued and resonated with my views on gender equality and liberation- so I took this gift and have been running with it ever since. I have written articles, songs and speeches this year that I never thought I'd have the chance to do in a life time.

Any #brilliantbits you want to share?

The heart is a beating drum!

 

 

To learn more about Kiran and keep up to date with what she's up to follow @madamegandhi , read her blog and listen to her music. Also...

MEET MADAME GANDHI

LEARN ABOUT ATOMIC LIVING