BirthLink Interview: Jennifer Barron Fishman, Sweet Pea’s Yoga Studio, Chicago
1. What do you think are the top challenges facing the birthing community?
The main challenge I see facing the birthing community is fear. Fear of trusting your birthing instincts, fear of complications, fear of pain, fear of losing control, fear of surrendering to the life and death event of birth. Fear can be instilled in many women by their caregivers and birthing institutions, as well as family and friends equally. These fears I believe can be minimized when the mother has a strong opinion of how she wishes to experience this journey, and is well supported in this.
2. How should we go about addressing these challenges?
I feel that we can address these challenges by fully supporting and educating parents to be. No one can tell someone else what to feel, but as care givers and educators, we can share experiences and open doors to awareness that may not have been open before. We can also teach techniques which actively reduce the symptom of fear and all the side effects it brings with it.
3. How should the larger community be informed and/or educated about birth choices?
I can see that the community is being educated, as well as bombarded by media and pop culture. It is easy to find information, but is it quality information with a spiritual center? This is the challenge for me as an educator and as a pregnant woman. We must filter through what can be too much information given to us by sponsors and special interests and find the heart of it’s meaning.
4. What can be done to promote safer, more empowering births in the hospital setting?
One thing that would support safer and more empowering births in hospitals is to completely change our insurance practices. This is may be far from being possible and it is unfortunate. It is awful that our caregivers are operating under the thumb of insurers and that families find themselves choosing care givers and hospitals because of coverage rather than philosophical similarities. It’s also a huge factor in care. Is it worth the “risk” to allow birth to progress in its own organic fashion, or is there less chance of a malpractice suit if the event is “managed”? Until we change the insurance rules and regulations we will have to struggle with this problem which is at the core of healthcare. In the meantime, the presence of more doulas and midwives in hospital births is encouraging. The inclusion of tools for comfort management would be welcome. We need more birth tubs, birth balls, hot and cold pacs, freedom from constant monitoring and IV’s etc.
5. What would be the single best change that could occur in the general public’s idea and experience of birth?
The single best thing that could happen would be universal health care, and free standing birth centers in Illinois. There are so many different opinions and beliefs surrounding birth, it’s hard to say what one thing would influence the general public’s ideas about childbirth. However, providing equal opportunity for all women to have access to healthcare, classes and services like doula care and breastfeeding support would help. There’s a huge section of the population which would be better served in a free standing birth center, or alternative birth center, rather than a hospital, but don’t feel ready to commit to a home birth.
6. What advantages do you think the alternative birthing community has as we face the challenges mentioned above?
I think that the alternative birthing community has already faced many of these challenges by being active, by working with communities and creating community discourse. It’s also shed some light on little known birth options and helped make them not so alternative, like doula care, practicing yoga and meditation for birth, water birth, hypnotherapy, etc. These are all part of a more mainstream vocabulary and it’s thanks to the alternative birth community
As the director of Sweet Pea’s Yoga Studio, Jennifer has built a successful business based on her many years as a massage therapist and yoga instructor. She has also developed and teaches Baby & Me yoga classes, and childbirth education classes. For more information check their web site at sweetpeasstudio.com or 773-248-Yoga (9642). e mainstream vocabulary and it’s thanks to the alternative birth community.