Having a baby is an important decision. As a certified childbirth educator, Molly has been a useful resource for many couples who are trying to conceive. Eva's World invited her to share her story and her advice on childbirth with you. Take a look at her interview and visit her website - Brigid's Grove (http://brigidsgrove.com).

Hi Molly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your website Talk Birth?

I have been certified as a childbirth educator since 2006. In 2007, I began my website simply as a local resource for my clients. I began to notice that people from all over the world were reading my birth education posts and I realized that blogging meant I had the opportunity and privilege to offer birth education, information, support, and sharing to people in a much larger area than just my own local community. I also have a special interest in birth art and its role in helping women prepare for childbirth. My husband and I co-create birth art and goddess sculptures at Brigid's Grove (http://brigidsgrove.com).

Can you first share your own TTC stories with us?

I had taken birth control pills for several years before deciding to conceive my first baby. I went to a doctor for a "pre-conception" health visit and decided to TTC. My husband and I had been married for five years. It took about five months to get pregnant, I think because my body had to adjust hormonally after having been on birth control pills. When our first baby was nearing two, we decided we'd like to try again. That baby was easily conceived the next month! (And, when the time came to be born, was born after a two hour labor!) After having two sons, we decided we'd like the try the advice we'd read about conceiving a girl. We were very clear though that we wanted to have a third *child*, not just a girl. It was important to me to come solidly into that place before trying for another baby. After five months of trying with no results, we decided that timing our efforts for "girl" conception was inhibiting my ability to actually get pregnant, so we abandoned calculated timing and were pregnant the next month. That pregnancy ended unexpectedly in the second trimester with the miscarriage-birth of our third son and was followed only two months later by a miscarriage at 6 weeks. It was scary to try again and to risk loss again, but I faced that fear and after another two months, got pregnant with the baby that would turn out to be our rainbow baby girl. My final pregnancy in 2014 was unplanned (first unplanned experience ever!) and our newest baby boy will be one year old at the end of the month.

When did you start doing childbirth empowerment? Why do you think you need to do that? What do you try to achieve?

I have a master's degree in clinical social work and have always been passionate about working with women. My focus on childbirth was a natural extension of a passion that I already had for the power and strength of women. After the empowering birth of our first son in 2003, I realized I felt a deep calling to support women and their families as they prepare to give birth in confidence and joy. I started training as a childbirth educator when that baby was one and became fully certified in 2006. I followed my original certification with three additional certifications in childbirth education, as well as training as a postpartum doula, labor doula, prenatal yoga teacher, prenatal fitness educator, and birth art facilitator. I want to bring a sense of confidence, power, strength, and joy to women and their partners as they move through pregnancy and birth. I believe that pregnancy and birth are significant rites of passage and that how we treat these events matters on a deep level. I am convinced that peace on earth begins with birth and that beginning parenthood with a sense of strength, confidence, and exhilaration after an empowered birth, produces healthier families and a stronger society. I am a systems thinker and I believe that body ecology reflects world ecology and vice versa---if we want a healthy world for children to grow up in, we MUST care about pregnant women and how they are treated, supported, and give birth. So, in short, what I try to achieve is a transformed world!

Deciding to have children needs thorough discussion, in regards to finance, education and overall family plan. What do you think are the most important factors that a couple needs to consider? What do you see are the items that are frequently ignored?

I think that attention and cultivation your own relationship matters a great deal and I encourage people to invest multiple years in the relationship before deciding to bring children into it. It is important to take a look at ideas, attitudes, and opinions about childbirth, breastfeeding, child development, sleeping arrangements, discipline, and more *before* actually getting pregnant! Ideas and attitudes evolve and change with time, but a basic compatibility and agreement on some core areas is really important and helps prevent stress and disconnection later on. The aspect that is most frequently overlooked is preparing adequately for the realities of life as a parent. It is natural to focus on the experience of pregnancy and to daydream about the baby, but it is also really important to prepare for a healthy, nurtured postpartum time as well as for how you will care for yourself as the baby grows into a child. Mothers in particular may overlook their own self-care needs and buy into the idea that a mother must always be self-sacrificing. How we treat ourselves also matters and can't be overlooked!

We’ve interviewed many women encountering difficulties when they are trying to conceive. Being strong-willed to face frustration and depression is important. Can you provide some tips for them?

I encourage them to take good care of themselves. To honor their feelings, experiences, hopes, and dreams. It is difficult to hold space for the unknown sometimes and to be patient. It is okay to acknowledge frustration and disappointment. We can "hold" it all! I encourage conscious conception and having personal ceremonies for oneself---either to welcome the baby or simply to honor and celebrate and express love for your own body (such as through having a sacred bath ceremony). Journaling is important. Having a fear release ceremony in which you burn and release fears can be helpful. Creating a personal empowerment altar to kind of "call in" the baby may be helpful as well. Time is important and giving yourself grace, patience, and love. When we're used to actively creating our own lives, having to wait and be patient with the unknown and the "mystery" involved with childbearing can be frustrating, but it is also good practice childbirth and for life as a parent!

On a practical level, it is really important to get to know your own body and its rhythms and cycles. I encounter many women who are pretty unfamiliar with how their bodies work and may have mistaken impressions of how the fertility cycle works. The assumption that ovulation occurs on day 14 for every woman can definitely hamper conception efforts for women whose bodies don't fit the "mold" of the average cycle.

October is the month of pregnancy and infant loss awareness. Can you share some tips to handle the emotion loss after a miscarriage and encourage some of our readers?

Let the pain hurt and take as much time as you need. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no "hierarchy" of loss. And, your "grief card" never has to expire. Miscarriage is a *birth event* and deserves the time and space to be acknowledged and held as such. Journaling can be helpful. Telling your miscarriage story (out loud or in writing) can be very powerful. Having a ceremony for yourself. Making art about the loss experience. Something that really helped me was when people asked what they could do for me, I asked them to send me a bead or a charm for me to string onto a special necklace (much like many women do for a birth necklace at a mother blessing ceremony before their babies are born). I put all of the beads people had sent together into a beautiful string that symbolizes so much. It made me feel loved and cared about and like the life of my baby mattered. That necklace hangs on my wall by the birth certificate we got for the baby from Angel Whispers. (http://www.angelwhispers.ca/angelwhispers/our-programs)

About Molly:

molly the certified childbirth educator
Molly has been “gathering the women” to circle, sing, celebrate, and share since 2008. She plans and facilitates women’s circles, seasonal retreats and rituals, mother-daughter circles, family ceremonies, and red tent circles in rural Missouri. She is an ordained priestess who holds MSW and M.Div degrees and she is currently writing her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. Molly’s roots are in birth work and in domestic violence activism and she has been a certified childbirth educator since 2006. She has worked with groups of women since 1996 and teaches college courses in group dynamics and human services. Molly is the author of Womanrunes: a guide to their use and interpretation, Earthprayer, Birthprayer, Lifeprayer, Womanprayer, and The Red Tent Resource Kit, as well as three social service oriented booklets and a miscarriage memoir. She has maintained her Talk Birth blog since 2007. Molly and and her husband Mark co-create original birth art jewelry, figurines, and goddess pendants at Brigid’s Grove.

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