Interview: The remarkable Woman and her passion behind Birth Guide Chicago - an interactive platform that helps moms have a satisfying birth.
I first met Anne when she approached me and asked if some of my clients would like to contribute their birth stories to her new website - Birth Guide Chicago.
I was extremely excited to see Anne creating this interactive platform where moms to be not only figure out what type of birth they want BUT can find a provider in their area who will help them achieve it.
I remember when I was pregnant with my first son I was completely clueless about pregnancy birth and providers. As time went on I did more research and I started thinking about the things that I do and don’t want. I went in at 24 weeks or so for a prenatal planning appointment but instead it quickly turned into the OB reading a list of routine interventions that we will do, like breaking my water and internal fetal monitoring.
I decided to do more research and then switched to a Midwifery group. Because I chose the right provider for me I was able to have a good birth experience despite my labor being super long. I also opted for pain relief interventions that I didn’t plan on but really appreciated at the time.
Birth Guide Chicago is so important because it provides Women with evidenced based information and helps them choose the right provider, thus giving them the opportunity to have a safe, respectful and empowering birth.
I’m so honored to know Anne, and to be invited to be a part of this much needed, interactive guide. I’m excited to share my recent interview with her about the passion and inspiration behind this life changing project. Cont reading below.
What services do you offer?
Right now, Birth Guide Chicago offers several tools to help mothers figure out what birth setting is right for them -- whether at home, in a midwife-led birth center, with a midwife in the hospital, or with a doctor in the hospital.
You can take a questionnaire to help you explore your own approach to birth.
And then you can listen to narrated slide show of mothers who have given birth in each of those settings to get a feel for what the subjective experience might be like (most of them feature Maggie's gorgeous birth photography!).
And then finally there is a summary of the pros and cons, risks and benefits of each of those four settings - very practical , objective and fact-based. Those feature a pretty comprehensive survey of the medical research on safety , which I think is extremely important and sometimes quite surprising!
Coming soon, in early 2019, we will be launching a database of Chicago-area providers who care for pregnant women, including hospitals, birth centers, home birth providers, and ultimately doctors, midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, lactations consultants and complementary care and services like exercise, alternative therapies and so on.
Women who live in Chicago are fortunate to have a huge range of providers and services nearby. So we will have listings for all the myriad of types of providers in the Chicago-area who care for pregnant women, including in-depth information that can really help you find the providers who are right for you.
What inspired you to start your business? What problem were you solving?
I have seen too many mothers disappointed by their birth experiences because their provider wasn't a good fit for them. I think every mother has an instinctive, temperamental approach to birthing - just as she does (or will) to mothering. Some of us are romantics, some of us are no-nonsense.
For some of us technology is comforting, for others it's scary. My idea was to create a website that would help mothers first figure out what their own approach is -- what matters to them, what will make them feel safe, what will help them relax and feel in control.
And then help them find providers whose approach and values are a good match. If you have a provider who is truly aligned with you, you won't need to second-guess them, you'll be able to trust and rely on them no matter how your pregnancy and labor play out.
And that trust in itself will help you to birth effectively.
Why did you decide to include birth stories and interviews on your guide? Why was that aspect important to you?
The BirthStories are meant to help prospective mothers imagine themselves in different birth settings by seeing through the eyes of other mothers.
When you look at birth photos and listen to another mother tell her birth story, you start to imagine yourself in that setting. It helps you build a picture.
And you'll also be thinking, "Am I like this person? Do I care about the things she cares about?" Maybe she says, "I just knew I wanted to give birth in water." And you'll think, "yeah! I never thought about it before, but that sounds exactly right to me."
Or you say, "Birth in water? Hunh??" Maybe another mother says, "I was feeling pressured to have a natural childbirth because that's what's expected in my circle of friends. But then I realized, that isn't me, that isn't important to me." And you'll think, "yeah! I don't have to be peer pressured about my birth."
I also think the photography is incredibly powerful. The faces, the spaces, the moods - those intangibles communicate so much that can't be put into words.
And I think you learn a lot about yourself by noticing what in these stories bothers you and what moves you.
If you could give one piece of advice on motherhood to new moms, what would it be?
Truly believe that there is no one right way to be a good mother.
Listen to other people's experiences, read, watch other parents in action - and then sort through all that to figure out what feels right to you. There are so many, many ways to be a good mother, and they can look very different.
I was never organized. I would look at families where the kids picked up after themselves, had a chore chart with stickers, brought home the permission slips and put them in folders by the kitchen door -- and I would be agog with admiration. But I know those mothers would watch something I did and think, "how does she do that?" And it would be something I just took for granted and wasn't even especially proud of.
So my advice is, don't try to live up to anyone else's idea of what good mothering looks like. Figure out what that means to you, and then practice every day. By the time you're a grandmother, like me, you'll have made a million mistakes, but you'll also have had a million small triumphs. And that is good enough.
Head over to Birth Guide Chicago to see more and SHARE with your friends who are expecting in Chicago and the suburbs.