Wise words for women without children

“Birthing is in every cell of you. You do not have to have a baby to experience the essence of you.” Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of the fabulous Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, said that on public TV last week. I was in a hotel room in Washington state, using the TV for background noise as I got dressed. Suddenly my ears perked up. What did she say? Hey. Northrup also stressed that the world needs its childless “aunties” for the all things they do.

Northrup, who is in her 50s, often talks about rebirthing and the opportunity women have after menopause to create themselves anew. For childless women, we find some peace because our body has ended the debate on whether or not we should have children. The issue is settled. Certainly it’s that way for me. Oh, I still wish I had kids and grandkids. I still ache for the loss, but it’s easier to accept because there’s nothing I can do about it. I must live the life I have.

In some ways, not having children can be a blessing. Yesterday I came across a fabulous post called “Women’s Energy Bodies–Phases and Life Cycles.” In it, blogger “mommymystic” describes the phases of a woman’s life from a yoga point of view. She includes motherhood but also discusses the role of the mature childfree woman. ” . . . In many religous traditions, a woman’s spiritual worth seems to be equated with motherhood. Those who put this forth seem to be forgetting that most of the better known mystics in all religious traditions, male or female, have not had families . . . ”

Read the whole post and be inspired.

What is Our Cancer Risk?

I have been doing research lately on the risk of certain cancers for childless women. I have now read dozens of times that childlessness increases the risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers. Apparently pregnancy offers some protection by giving us a break from nonstop estrogen onslaughts every month, and there are other hormonal protections that develop. There’s a trick to this. In order to reap the benefits, you have to give birth before 30 or 35, depending on which expert you ask, and you have to carry the pregnancy to term. Abortions and miscarriages do not help; in fact, they may increase the risk.

What I’m finding frustrating is that so far I can’t find out how much risk we’re talking about. In the U.S. the standard is that 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer. But if we haven’t had children, what is the ratio? 1 in 7, 1 in 6, worse? Or is the risk so small there’s no point in worrying about it? That’s what I’m trying to find out.

It does appear that having a family history of cancer is much more likely to be a problem, and of course if you’ve had suspicious mammograms or biopsies before, the odds get really scary.

As far as I know, I don’t have any cancer, but I’m waiting for my pap smear results and having my mammogram in August, so I can’t say for sure that I’m cancer-free. I’m surrounded by friends with cancer right now. Nobody can be smug about this stuff.

I’m still working on this project and when/if I get the numbers, I will share them here. Meanwhile, if you’d like to know more about female cancers, here are some sites to check out: National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and the World Oncology Network.

If you have information on this subject or know someone good to interview, please let me know.

Stay healthy, okay?