Fertility Tracking and Female Empowerment

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I recently started tracking my fertility signs, after finally reading the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility

I say “finally” because I heard about this book years before I actually picked it up.

Now I see what all the fuss is about.

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Tracking my fertility signs just makes sense now that my cycle has returned after Shiloh’s non-medicated homebirth. My goal was to avoid drugs and interventions during delivery. Now my goal is to avoid synthetic hormones, drugs, and interventions between children as well.

Whether your goal is pregnancy or natural birth control, tracking will help you better understand you body. What woman doesn’t benefit from being more in touch with her body and her hormones? Tracking has already helped me make sense of the hormonal changes my body goes through every month, giving rhythm to what would otherwise feel like chaos.

Tracking my fertility signs and making the healthier, greener switch to the Diva Cup and a cloth pad is exciting. It sounds absurd, but I have never enjoyed my cycle so much. I love that I started paying attention to my body. Even the mood swings, bloating, and anxiety aren’t awful when I can predict them.

Because my postpartum depression (which still pops up every now and then) is related to my hormones, tracking should help me pinpoint the triggers over the course of time and hopefully eliminate the bad days for good.

I almost think of Taking Charge of Your Fertility as a natural follow-up to Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. (Or a prequel for those using it to get pregnant.)

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The sentiment behind both books is similar – women taking back their health from the male-dominated American health system.

Both books are riddled with true stories of women who sought to find answers after their conventional doctors and OBs couldn’t help them or gave them bad advice.

Both books are full of wisdom and empowerment for women everywhere.

Our bodies aren’t broken or inferior because we’re female.

Natural cycles, pregnancy, and childbirth aren’t problems needing to be “fixed.” They are simply part of being a woman. In scenarios free of complications, these things require little to no medical interventions.

Our bodies know what to do. No pills, implants, injections, spinal blocks, or intrusive tests necessary.

Discovering the ancient art of midwifery was absolutely eye-opening for me. My midwives were informed, educated, empathetic, and compassionate individuals. It differed greatly from my experiences with doctors, who were often distracted and quick to write prescriptions.

Midwives provide women with understanding and trust in their bodies. They empower women by putting them in charge of their birth, feeling contractions, guiding the process, and laboring unhindered – in a comfortable space. Nothing is rushed. Things happen in their own time. It’s participatory. It’s hands-on.  It’s a bit more difficult to schedule and control. It’s less convenient for the practitioner, but a lot more rewarding and empowering for the mother.

While it might be easier to go to an OB, I believe a good midwife is worth searching out.

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Likewise, fertility tracking is slightly more involved than popping a pill (though not much more difficult once you understand it.) But it can be liberating for the woman. It involves both partners in a relationship. It doesn’t just fall on the woman’s shoulders to go to the doctor and get a prescription or a procedure.

Best of all, there are no negative side effects to tracking. Hormonal imbalances, nausea, even cancer are all linked to conventional birth control. That’s not to mention all the atrocities of this horrible implant that caused an autoimmune disorder in my friend, temporarily paralyzing her until she had it removed.

Women deserve better.

When I went to my first OB visit I was told that the pill was my best option for birth control. End of discussion.

Really? I thought. Even back then, I knew there had to be better options out there.

Even though I was quietly hoping for a natural alternative, I did as they suggested and went on the pill for a year and a half.

My doctor was a voice of authority. I didn’t question it.

The same OB was baffled why I couldn’t get pregnant when I went off the pill.

I got a prescription for progesterone.

The conventional system gives authority to the doctors and pharmacists, not the women themselves.

Doctors prescribe hormones to avoid pregnancy.

Then they prescribe hormones to get pregnant.

I wasn’t taking anything when I finally got pregnant with my first son

Fertility tracking gives authority back to the woman.

Fertility tracking, as I see it, is to women’s cycles as midwifery is to pregnancy and birth.

Freeing. Respectful. Non-intrusive. Natural. Empowering.

Is it for everyone? Maybe not. I know we all have different needs and unique bodies and situations. But I think we all deserve to understand, appreciate, and be in touch with our bodies.

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The midwives in my area do well-women checks in addition to prenatal and postnatal care. I’m overjoyed at the prospect of never stepping foot in an OB office again!

Of course not all OBs are created equal. I had my share of negative experiences, but I know there’s great ones out there. I want to encourage you – if you aren’t interested or able to go to a midwife to at least find a doctor who respects and listens you.

You shouldn’t feel belittled by your doctor.

You shouldn’t feel like a child when you speak to your doctor.

You shouldn’t feel rushed or like your concerns are invalid.

I learned from my pregnancy with Shiloh that it’s never too late to change your mind.

Doctors compete for your business, so if you aren’t completely happy and comfortable with yours, make the switch.

I hope that one day all women will feel strong, feel understood, and feel appreciated in their unique role as women.

That we wouldn’t need to “suppress” our femininity (including our emotions, hormones, and menstrual cycles) in order to fit into society.

That we could express ourselves and speak our minds without being labeled “intimidating” and “scary feminists.”

That we could nurture and love on our children full-time without being looked on as insignificant and unintelligent. Or work our careers without being labeled uninvolved and distant. (I’ve done both.)

Best wishes on your individual journeys to empowerment, ladies.

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  1. I started tracking my fertility signs when I wanted to get pregnant but had always had an irregular cycle. I learned a lot about my body this way, including some things doctors had never been able to answer for me. Though my OB also diagnosed my blood-clotting disorder, and I’m so grateful for that information. I had a good experience with natural childbirth with a midwife in a hospital. I think rather than taking extreme sides such as anti-medication or OB-only or whatever else, it helps to look into different options and learn from the various perspectives.

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