Sunday, November 22, 2009

An interview with Heather Cushman-Dowdee

Fierce Mamas is so excited to have our first celebrity guest interview with one of our inspirations, Heather Cushman-Dowdee. Heather is known and loved by many as the creator of Hathor The Cow Goddess. Her latest project is a book entitled Simply Give Birth

Tell us about your book- Who needs to read it? What are you hoping
it will do for the birth community?

I specifically wanted the book to be for any newly pregnant mother, not just those that have made the paradigm shift to homebirth. The birth stories are mostly unassisted, but I chose them for their tone. These are stories that are told from the mothers point of view and aren't interrupted by outer voices (except for the occasional husband). They are accessible for anyone who wants to know what it's like to give birth.

How have your births informed your current life? How did you
transform between births?

Fo me each birth built on the last and I became more and more self-sufficient. The first was a hospital birth, the second was a midwife attended homebirth, the third was an unassisted birth (my husband was a constant assist though) and my fourth was unassisted (except for a bit of back massage from my guy ;o)
My transformation took stages, I'd hear about a 'new' way to birth, I'd wonder if I could do it, research like crazy, convince everyone around me that I was indeed crazy, and then I'd simply give birth.

How do you think the events at birth can impact a couples' sex relationship?

This is a difficult one for me to answer, because I have no idea what goes on in men's heads. But, I do have a working theory that fear during birth can impact sex, far more than anything visual. The fear and powerlessness that men feel during birth can have a real negative impact but a homebirth takes a lot of that out of the equation. It's difficult though to parse out the changes that occur in the sexual relationship that are due to breastfeeding, exhaustion, depression and all the other new mama things.

The important thing to remember is that sex does happen again and with a baby in the house and all the hiding and secretive stuff it actually gets fun again too.

Describe how you feel about the current birth environment in North
America. What would you change?

Just like all other environments in North America, I think the birth environment suffers from being 'for profit'. Insurance companies, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, all are on the take. If there wasn't so much money to be made then perhaps everyone could take a deep breath, clear their brain and see what is truly best for mothers and babies.

What is the one thing you want women to know about birth?

That it's a physiological process and can happen whether you actively do anything or not. Also, that if you want to push a baby out of your wazoo the way your great grandmother did and her great grandmother and hers, then you shouldn't go to the hospital, because they don't sell that there anymore.

How can professionals working with new parents improve the situation?

Ah, now that's a question! I think we need to start getting to people before they're pregnant. 9 months isn't a lot of time for a paradigm shift.

What could we be doing differently?

talking straight and using humor to sell the ideas of homebirth and breastfeeding.

What do you think is needed for empowered birth?

For me it was Eddie Veder's Into the Wild soundtrack.

What is the largest
detractor from it?

Outside voices, people telling the mother what to do, thinking that she's an invalid and needs to be talked down to or belittled. happens all the time.

How would you describe a fierce mama?

Someone who tells the truth and doesn't worry about causing others guilt. Everyone knows that guilt is an internal emotion and can't be caused by others. Also, someone who is mad as hell and not willing to take it anymore. (see my hathor comics 2002- 2009 ;o)

Heather Cushman-Dowdee, long-time creator of the comic, Hathor the Cowgoddess, is now creating all new comics over at Come by and see what's happening, last I heard Mama is...breastfeeding her new baby!
AND, you can still see all of the Hathor comics at, too.


  1. Also, that if you want to push a baby out of your wazoo the way your great grandmother did and her great grandmother and hers, then you shouldn't go to the hospital, because they don't sell that there anymore.

    Love this! Thanks,

  2. Thanks! I love reading Heather's comics and enjoyed the interview.

    And just a reminder that there are more countries in North American that the USA ;) Health care is the business in the US, but is not the same in Canada, surprisingly enough we have much better mom and baby outcomes, lower C-section rates and some other rather interesting stats!

  3. Fierce Mamas is Canadian based (Alberta). While we do have better overall maternal & child health outcomes, our c-section (& all intervention) rates are actually as high as the US average.
    Unfortunately, birth is still very much a business even within a public system...