Monday, April 15, 2013

NO FEAR of BREECH - The New Mother Cover Story

 The New Mother book cover is based on the image of a woman approximately 32 weeks pregnant—me. When working on design ideas for the cover, the production team asked me to send a photo of myself pregnant, and that ended up being the inspiration for the cover.

But that’s not where the inspiration stopped.  In other words, it’s not a literal image.

New Mother Cover Design
We don’t see an umbilical cord; there’s no placenta in sight; and the baby, rather than in the ideal position for birth, is “cradled” in the mother’s arm and looking straight at the reader—smiling!

If the baby had been presented exactly as she was positioned at the time, she would have been head-down, nestled in the pelvic girdle, and the reader would have a lovely view of her back and bum, or maybe her curled legs and feet. That could be important for a medical journal, but the artist had an intention with her cover design.  She wanted the baby to interact with the reader—to say: I’m a participant, aware and involved.

I loved the idea and the image, and the idea that the baby was “breech” never crossed my mind.  After a reader contacted me saying
that she thought the baby should be pictured in the ideal position to help women visualize properly, I stopped to consider why I hadn’t worried about the breech issue.

When I began my personal journey of childbirth education—about two years before I tried to conceive—the very first thing I read was Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery.  The first movie I watched was The Business of Being Born.  The first doctor with whom I spoke was a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor.

From then on, my primary sources of information were midwives, doulas and TCM practitioners.  If you look to those sources, you’ll find that a breech presentation is not considered something a mother can do nothing to prevent, and it’s not considered an immutable death knell for hopes of a natural childbirth. Because of my path of learning, I’d never developed a fear of breech presentation, so it wasn’t on my mind when looking at the cover.

If breech had been on my mind, what I would have thought of was the vision from a video I’d seen of a home water birth with twins, one a footling breech. A picture of a 1” foot emerging from a vagina leaves an indelible impression—and offers great inspiration for moms-to-be!

However, since one reader took the time to write to me with her concern, I thought there might be others who had the same question or concern. (About that reader: she and I have become friends since she first wrote. She is a dear person and was understandably sensitive to the subject, having just had a friend undergo major surgery—a C-Section—because her baby was breech.)

It was my conversation with that reader that inspired me to question why I hadn’t developed those justified fears that women have of breech (there’s an industry working non-stop to encourage that fear), to do further research, and to interview two top fertility specialists and write an article: Gentle Ways to PREVENT & TURN a Breech Baby.  If you are interested in the subject—click on that link to read more.  It contains not only the interview, but also recommendations for further study of delivering breech babies.

Now that you know the story—here’s a little more about the cover. 

The original design (shown above) is much more intricate and rich with beautiful symbolism.  However, since our view of books these days is more likely a 1” thumbnail on our phone than an 8”x10” hardback on a shelf, the artist created a streamlined, iconic version of the painting that could be easily recognized online.

The flowers in the painting are native to California. You can see that the mother and baby are “one” with the nature that surrounds and envelops them.  They are sitting in water with koi fish—a symbol of courage, perseverance, and longevity. The mother wears a Texas flag on her arm (growing up in Texas leaves its mark) and it merges into a Chinese flag (studying Asian martial and healing arts since 1989 leaves its mark!).

Finally, the mother holds her smiling, happy unborn baby “cradled” in her arm—or is that a one year old in her arm and she’s pregnant with #2? 

Together the elements say, “All life is in sentient bloom!”

Almost everything about motherhood is a joyous risk, including writing your story and choosing a cover image.  I hope you find the beauty in the message of the NEW MOTHER: Using a Doula, Midwife, Postpartum Doula, Maid, Cook or Nanny to Support Healing, Bonding and Growth cover, and I hope the book inspires mothers to question, research, and to create the childbirth and postpartum experience they desire.

As individuals and society as a whole—may be reclaim the magic in motherhood!

There are instances when breech babies cannot be turned, cannot be delivered vaginally, and we are grateful for the ability to delivery babies safely when this occurs. However, since the C-section rate for breech births is now 90%+ in the U.S., many believe this is far in excess of what is necessary, that it increases risk of complications for mothers and babies, and that it's time to focus again on gentle ways to turn breech and for childbirth workers to rediscover the art of vaginal breech delivery.  This, as with all my writing, is not an attempt to "change minds," but to offer inspiration.

ALLIE CHEE After earning a BA in literature and a 2nd degree black belt in Korean martial arts, 20 years traveling in 50 countries, working in numerous entrepreneurial ventures, and serving as co-publisher of a leading financial industry magazine, Allie Chee lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and daughter and is a student at Stanford.

Her articles have appeared in: 
•  The Well Being Journal
•  The Holistic Networker
•  The Birthing Site
•  Natural Mother Magazine 
•  MidwiferyToday

Her published titles are: New Mother, Free Love, and Go, Jane!

Website:  Facebook: 
NEW MOTHER on Amazon

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