Cierra is a mom to a little boy. A veterinarian by trade, she is also a certified Bradley instructor and passionate supporter of empowering moms through pregnancy and birth.
Empowered Mommies (EM): Cierra, you have such an interesting background, working full-time as a veterinarian and most recently diving into three mom endeavors: Leading the Charlotte Babywearers Club on meetup.com, creating localbirthstories.com and also becoming a certified instructor in Bradley Method labor/delivery. Can you tell us a little bit more about each of these and what motivated you to embark on these projects?
Cierra Tabony (CT): Each of the projects was born out of passions that I discovered after my first son was born. The Bradley (R) Method Classes were a wonderful start for our family - prior to taking class, I had no idea how critically important nutrition was for the health of my unborn child, or how exercises would help prepare me for the marathon that labor can be. I cherished every ounce of knowledge that my husband and I gained and felt well-prepared to make the many decisions that you have to make throughout the birth process. Importantly, I wasn't scared of the unknown. The classes not only provided my son and I with an incredible opportunity for a drug-free bonding period that is the basis for our ongoing relationship, but it was a wonderful bonding experience for my husband (coach), too. I decided soon after the birth that I wanted to share the power of knowledge with other expectant parents and start making a difference one family at a time.
Babywearing was something that I had heard about from a friend in another country, but learning about different styles and correct wearing techniques was so hands-on, that I began searching for local moms that I could learn from. When I didn't find anyone, I started a group called 'Charlotte Babywearers' on www.meetup.com and am thrilled to offer a forum for moms to learn, share, and socialize. The benefits of babywearing have been incredible - from promoting bonding, trust, and independence, to less crying in the early months. Plus, it is simply convenient. The exercise for me after giving birth didn't hurt, either!
Localbirthstories.com has started out as a monthly birth circle for my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. After experiencing the life changing day of my son's birth, I wanted to talk about it with other moms, and create a safe monthly space where other moms could open-up and share their experiences, positive or negative, as well. My goal is to offer emotional support to women before and after birth and to eventually grow groups across the country that are hosted by local advocates.
EM: Some of our readers may not be familiar with the Bradley Method. How does it differ from the popular Lamaze technique?
CT: The Bradley Method boasts the highest number of unmedicated births of ANY childbirth method, with more than 87% of couples achieving that goal. I think that there are several keys to our success, but among them are practiced relaxation, the close involvement and participation of the husband/partner as coach, the fact that instructors are independent educators that teach out of their home and can more easily teach evidence-based practices instead of protocols of one institution or another.
EM: You had a very positive birthing experience with your first child, being able to utilize Bradley to have a minimal intervention birth. What is your advice for moms who may be expecting for the first time who are afraid of the pain associated with child birth?
CT: We all have fears of the unknown, and until a woman has experienced labor, I think this is one of the greatest unknowns that exists. My fear was completely erased by the in-depth childbirth education that I received, so I would stress that new moms (and their partners) seek knowledge in the form of classes that meet regularly with an independent childbirth instructor and other expectant couples. A weekend crash course just doesn't give you the time to absorb or practice the myriad of scenarios and topics that are important to a laboring woman.
EM: Do you have some suggested reading or resources that may help expectant moms get in the right mindset for birth?
CT: I like Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley MD, as well as the two Bradley Method (R) recommended resources... Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert Bradley MD, and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon.
Husband-Coached Childbirth is more of an introduction to the concept and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way is a more detailed plan for practice in relaxation and coaching for couples in their final trimester.
EM: How has motherhood changed you? What has been a positive and what has been most challenging for you?
CT: I can't think of a way that motherhood hasn't changed me! It changes your perspective on life and gives you the capacity to love more deeply than you knew you could.
Most of the challenges I experienced were in adapting to my new schedule in the early weeks and months of parenthood - getting used to being up at night, not completing my to-do list, and having errands take much longer than they used to. Now that the small lifestyle changes aren't shocking my system any longer, I'm just having fun every day of every week, and looking forward to more chaos in the form of more kids in the future!
EM: If you had to look forward a few years, how do you hope your projects will have helped and empowered moms everywhere?
CT: I simply hope to have had a positive impact on moms, babies, and families. I would especially love it if other empowered moms would start birth circles in their communities - we would be happy to list the details on www.localbirthstories.com.
EM: Thank you Cierra for sharing your story with us. You're a great example of an Empowered Mommy making a difference.
CT: Thanks for having me Ivanna! I'm very happy to be featured on your wonderful website.