Birth in Nashville: ICAN’s Lindsey Seger

Nashville Bradley Childbirth Classes Lindsey Seger ICAN

Lindsey Seger, Hendersonville, Tenn.
ICAN of Nashville chapter leader
Bradley Method Childbirth Educator

Lindsey Seger, leader of Nashville’s International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) chapter, is deeply sympathetic to the anxiety many a woman has felt about childbirth. “The intimidation she feels from both the typical obstetrical model and the fervent natural birthers—my heart goes out to her!” says Lindsey, 33.

That empathy stems from Lindsey’s own story, which spans both experiences. Her first birth was a scheduled Cesarean; her second was a drug-free, all-natural VBAC—vaginal birth after Cesarean. And as meaningful as that natural, vaginal birth was for the Hendersonville, Tenn., mom of two boys, it’s just one aspect of her passion for serving women as a childbirth educator. Lindsey’s most fervent mission is informing women about informed consent: what they need to know, what they can request, and what they can refuse as a birthing woman.

“I am far more worried,” Lindsey says, “about a system that doesn’t respect women enough to allow them to make their own choices—hospitals with VBAC bans, interventions based on protocol instead of need—than I am about the individual stats of epidurals and Cesareans.”

Here in Lindsey’s own words is why and how, since 2009, she’s dedicated her professional life to changing women’s perceptions of birth.

How did becoming a mother change your career path?
It changed it entirely! If you’d told me 8 years ago that I would be doing anything involving healthy pregnancy and natural birth, I would have thought you were certifiable!

What drew you to birth work?
My own transformation. The journey I made from my willingly scheduled cesarean to my all-natural VBAC gave me deep empathy for childbearing women. I can absolutely identify with the a woman’s anxiety about childbirth and the intimidation she feels from both the typical obstetrical model and the fervent natural birthers, and my heart goes out to her.

What concerns you most about birth today?Nashville childbirth info
You’d think that as a natural childbirth instructor and ICAN leader that it would be the prevalence of epidurals and cesareans, but you’d be wrong. Those things ARE concerning, but they’re just a symptom. They stem from a lack of informed consent and informed refusal. They are what results when women are not presented with the basic pros and cons of each choice or even with a choice at all. I am far more worried about a system that doesn’t respect women enough to allow them to make than own choices—hospitals with VBAC bans,  interventions based on protocol instead of need—than I am about the individual stats. “

As From the Hips pregnancy and childbirth guide co-author Ceridwen Morris says, “A positive childbirth experience is not about whether or not you get the epidural. It’s about whether you were treated with kindness and respect at a time of incredible vulnerability. It’s about being informed and empowered to make the choices that are right for you.”

Why is it important that women and their families embrace birth as a rite of passage?
It is a rare opportunity for women—and men, too—to find their voice and their values and to own their choices. Other moments in life lend themselves to this kind of transformation, but not many, and that makes birth a particularly valuable and fleeting opening for growth and awareness. Not just about the woman’s strength and bodily integrity, but about wider issues of power and control and safety and surrender.

What is your vision for birth and motherhood in Nashville?
I couldn’t be more tired of the “mommy wars.” I’d love to see a cultural shift around childbearing to emphasize empathy over judgment, more consideration and less disparagement, more nuance, less generalization, more TRUST in the individual who has the most at stake. Ananda Lowe, co-author of The Doula Guide to Birth: Secrets Every Pregnant Woman Should Know, says “Every mother’s birth experience is valid and an act of courage.” Even someone with a wide range of birth and parenting experiences and knowledge doesn’t have a supernatural insight into what decisions another person should be making. We need to foster a profound respect for a woman’s ability to make decisions that may not be our decisions.

Attendance in childbirth education classes is rarely seen as mandatory, and a good number of couples-to-be skip it. As a childbirth educator, you no doubt advise against that! For those couples who may be on the fence about whether to attend a class, what difference does childbirth education make in new parents’ experience?
While I believe there is no right or wrong way to birth a child, there is absolutely a difference between a birth that leaves a mom feeling competent and powerful and one that takes away her autonomy and leaves her filled with doubt. Nancy Wainer-Cohen, co-author of Silent Knife: Cesarean Prevention and Vaginal Birth after Cesarean, says “Each baby has only one opportunity to be born, there are no second chances; so whenever possible, the experience ought to be safe, wonderful, natural, empowering and amazing.” A couple that takes ownership of their decisions, preparing to have the safest birth for their particular situation—whether that’s home or hospital, vaginal or surgical—is on much better footing to face parenting from a position of confidence.

What encouraging words do you have for moms-to-be and new mamas?
Motherhood is an art, not a science. There is no one right way to birth or mother your children. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. You have to do what works for YOU and for YOUR family, and discovering what that is can be frightening and exhilarating and absolutely worthwhile.

You’re a big fan of birth quotes for inspiration. What are some of your favorites?

  • “Before I had children I always wondered whether their births would be, for me, like the ultimate in gym class failures. And I discovered instead that I’d finally found my sport.”—Joyce Maynard, mother, author, and storyteller
  • “We must give each woman the opportunity and the information not just about the pros and cons of natural childbirth, but the social and personal implications as well as the inherent beliefs about such choices. We must give women the opportunity to challenge their fears, work with them and birth through them. Not only will this change each woman, it will change the political and medical climate in which they make these choices.”—Connee L. Pike-Urlacher, MS, midwife
  • “The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”—novelist Jill Churchill

Connect with Lindsey:

 

The International Cesarean Network, Inc. (ICAN) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesearean recovery, and promoting vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). For information about local ICAN chapters and events, check the ICAN website.

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