by Stephanie Liljedahl
He tentatively raised his hand and said “I read on the internet… Well, they have these articles that I saw online. About. Well. Things you can do with the placenta. And… (he takes a deep breath) Well. Does it work?”
So much courage this man had. We were in a hospital conference room, a very mainstream hospital conference room, and there were over 30 other students there attending a basic Childbirth Preparation Class.
And I smiled. I realized in the last 2 years I’ve gotten so used to talking about placentas, and while I know there is still some shock value in it (which I am keenly aware of and, on occasion, have blatantly used to my own benefit), I have for the most part forgotten that to many, this is really out there. I love using humor to help my childbirth students learn new things, sometimes about the placenta, but the earnest sincerity of this man made me pause.
One of things I have always appreciated APPA for was the willingness to take what feels like a “hippy” thing that “other” people do, and legitimize it in a very straightforward way. Our courses don’t even smell like patchouli!
Because for many parents, it’s beyond just the potential benefits, or the initial EW factor. It is truly trying to make a decision if they are going to come to terms with the idea of utilizing a human organ for consumption. It’s beyond Kim Kardashian and the youtubes where songs about making cheese out of breastmilk live. I also forget sometimes that *I* am the type of person who doesn’t mind trying new things, I find more risk in staying with the known and worry more that I might miss out on something. Trying a placenta (or encapsulating them) is not surprising for those who know me. But for the population that I’m working with, I can easily overlook forget that my personality mindset is often a minority.
It is about trying to make a decision about how to help a Mama through the postpartum time.
So when I was thinking about this blog post, initially I wanted to go down the humor route and do a take of “Twas the night before Christmas” but make it all about placentas (I still might. December is a long month). When I thought about my student and his courage to ask in class, with a faltering voice (public speaking is not for everyone), about the placenta I knew that was the right topic.
My language and ease of conversation around encapsulation is casual and warm, which I wouldn’t want to change, however it’s been awhile since I sat down with someone who had never heard of encapsulation and truly tried to engage with them in a way to get some feedback on their perceptions.
It’s been awhile since a I took an honest assessment about my sometimes desire to get into the really fancy words – almost like saying “Look at all *I* know! I can toss in ‘prostaglandins’ and we’re not even talking about semen!”
And it’s been while since I wasn’t trying to market myself within that same conversation.
Ultimately I know that the best balance for me is to keep many of these parts (the humor, the nerd-words, and the marketing) but to also layer in the remembrance that these are folks trying to make some good decisions. And that while I am surrounded by birth people all the time, those people are not usually my students or clients. My students and clients are people who will have their baby, and go back to a regular life that doesn’t revolve constantly around birth.
I’m grateful for my student with the curiosity, it gave me a brief reminder of who I am actually serving. And how I want to convey my knowledge, business, and help them make a decision. Maybe after reading this, you might also go talk to someone and get some feedback about how you sound. Do you sound Passionate? That’s sometimes a nice way of saying “wack-a-loon”. (This came first to my mind because I’m the most guilty of it) Do you sound Fancy Words Knowledgeable? Which sometimes reassures parents, and sometimes makes them feel like they are not very smart. Do you sound Sales-y? Talking about what you do is fantastic, unless it isn’t. Go have fun with it. Find some words that sound awesome coming out of your mouth that reflects how you would like to be perceived.
(and now, I may also go write a post about “Holiday Placentas and Pate for Everyone!” or come up with new phrases like “May the Placenta Be With You” Kidding! I kid. Maybe)