I believe women are extraordinarily powerful. Women who choose to birth their babies at home are women who realise this truth, and come into their full life-giving potency with incredible vigour and trust in their capabilities. These are not women who choose to ‘go with the flow’ or pass on the reins of their birth to their care providers.
These are women in the drivers seat of their births.
These are women who worked bloody hard, emotionally, spiritually and physically to have the most natural, primal and epic birth they could.
I want to break the mould of commonly held beliefs about home birth mummas. They are not living on the fringes of society, off-grid in the depths of the bush or hours from civilised society, nor are they uneducated and uncaring about risks of homebirth to them and their baby. Oh no! They walk among us. She’s next to you at your local cafe ordering a strong flat white (regular milk), and a babyccino for her 3 year old. She’s next to you in the David Jones parents room, battling a pooey nappy with one hand and a phone call from her boss with the other. She could be your company’s CEO, having home birthed her three children 35 years ago.
I think every woman and man who plans on having a baby at some point could learn a lot from the mummas who chose to birth at home. It’s not a choice for everyone, and I believe every person should have the choice to birth in a way that feels right for them. But tonnes of wisdom can be gained from hearing some positively epic stories from those mummas who did it in their own space, away from prying eyes of strangers, away from bright lights and time limits, unnecessary interventions and stress.
Zoe shared the story of her two home births to me recently and here are some juicy, saucy, insightful bits you need to hear:
She worked freaking hard well before her first baby came Earthside
The hardest work that Zoe did was before her baby was born. She spent the majority of her 20’s a very sick woman with all manner of addictions, from sex to drugs and alcohol. She battled damn hard to come to a place of wellness in order to conceive and have a baby. She had to dig deeper than most of us ever would, with the conscious decision to heal and to recover emotionally from her demons.
And that wasn’t the end of her hard work! She researched, baby! She learnt all she could about birth, from how to keep it safe and healthy to how to find comfort and pleasure in labour. She did meticulous planning and preparation so that on the day of the big event all she had to do was be in the moment, with her thinking brain switched off and primal/instinctive brain switched on. She knew she had it in her. She took an independent childbirth class so her hubby could feel informed and empowered, she practiced visualisation, meditation, and she read everything she could from ‘Birthing from Within’ to Ina May Gaskin.
Prepare, prepare prepare. Research all you can on normal, physiological birth. Take an independent childbirth class. Watch empowering and positive birth videos (try YouTube if you don’t want to purchase any).
Holding on to fears or poor self-worth will not bode well during labour for anyone. It is supremely important to heal from all past traumas and hurts in order to birth your baby in comfort and harmony on a cellular and emotional level. Find the help you need to make this happen and your transition to parenthood will be one where you have strong, hardcore self-belief, and you’ll be in your power as a woman and as a new mother just as Zoe was.
She created a sacred space to labour and birth in
I mean, check out these pictures. Aren’t they seriously beautiful, serene and enchanting? You can feel the peace, calm and love emanating from them. Zoe carefully crafted her birth space weeks ahead of time, setting the stage for a fulfilling and Zen environment to labour and greet her baby. She wanted a peaceful beginning for both her babes and what a profoundly tranquil space she created for that magic to happen. She had it all, affirmations pinned to the wall, dim lights, candles, music, images of her first home birth for her second. It was a sacred and love-filled room, a temple to worship and honour this ancient and magical dance between her and her babies.
Create your environment at home and once you get to hospital so it feels like a place of peace and calm and where you feel private and unobserved. This will help keep stress and fear out of your zone and keep that oxytocin flowing and surging optimally.
Having her son present at her second home birth was key!
Zoe found having her 3 year old boy at the birth of her baby girl was instrumental in having a mind-blowingly joyous birth. ‘He was key!’ Her little boy came in and out of the birth pool and brought unbridled love, faith and happiness to the space. He fondled her nipples and showered her with kisses, and just as things were heating up, she kept him out of the water because his sweet and highly intuitive senses started feeling her surges as well.
Do not underestimate the profoundly positive effect having your other children with you during subsequent births can have on your energy and birthing abilities. Not one atom of their being doubts you, or is worried for you. They have complete and utter trust in the process and will see you in your ultimate power and strength. Every atom of their being loves you and supports you unconditionally. It is the perfect recipe for a euphoric and enjoyable birth!
She orgasmed as her baby was crowning.
During Zoe’s first pregnancy she watched the documentary ‘Orgasmic Birth’ and witnessed a woman enjoying herself during her labour. In our society, which has conditioned us to see birth as a painful and horrendous ordeal we must suffer through, this was a revelation and she was determined to create this beauty and enjoyment for herself. As Zoe laboured in bed with her husband, she describes being in a trance, she said it was a pain like no other ‘but couldn’t call it pain’, it was more like a ‘rush of power’. She was in another universe, observing each contraction, remaining mobile and enjoying the whole experience. Her little baby’s head was emerging just as the midwife arrived, and just as she experienced a full body orgasm.
Pleasure in childbirth is totally possible! It can be one of the most sensual moments of your life, but it requires all the elements that Zoe created- privacy, a serene, calm and stress-free environment, boundless love, supportive people holding space, positive vibes and trust. No one can orgasm whilst being observed by strangers under bright lights and having your movements restricted , and no one can have a truly pleasurable, momentous birth experience that way either!
The births were not without ‘complication’
For Zoes first birth it took 5 hours for her placenta to be born. This would never be ‘permitted’ in a hospital setting. Policies are that the placenta should be born almost immediately even for an uncomplicated, physiological birth, and often a synthetic oxytocin injection is administered (even when there’s no actual need and all that is required is skin-to-skin with baby and breastfeeding initiation). Also, her little boy was born en caul, meaning still in his bag of waters. This is a rare and an incredible sight to see. Born into the birth pool, Zoe was the first to hold him and bring him to the surface. He wasn’t breathing as well as they’d like so she jumped out of the bath and her little man was put on oxygen for a short while. Following that, all was fine!
With her second birth, a week prior to labour onset Zoe had a premonition (which she told no one about) that her baby had the umbilical cord around her neck twice. As her baby girl emerged into the water, Zoe intuitively reached down, felt the cord around her neck, unhooked it twice and brought her precious little being to her skin, and with a good back rub the sweet sound of her first cry was heard. All the while the midwife looked on in amazement, seeing what was happening and ready to jump into the water, but was left in awe of the amazing capability of a mother in tune and totally connected to her birth and her baby.
Birthing at home is safe for low risk pregnancies (which is the vast majority). Independent midwives who attend home births are trained to deal with medical emergencies and have all the equipment needed for resuscitation. They are highly skilled to observe when a transfer to hospital might be needed (well ahead of time), and they know when to just sit back and watch the magic happen. Midwife-led care (as opposed to obstetric care) is shown time and again to have the best outcomes for mum and baby.
Negativity can fuck up your birth space
For Zoe’s second birth she had a second midwife who attended at the pointy end of the process and instantly created a negative vibe, making Zoe feel observed (her other midwife had been sitting in the corner knitting quietly, just watching Zoe do her thing) and smashing the peace that was. She demanded Zoe get out of the bath so she could perform a vaginal exam which Zoe knew she did not need, so in her full strength and power and with a total awareness of this bad energy Zoe kicked the midwife out of the room and instructed her not to return. Peace, and serenity returned.
Who you surround yourself with in your labour is ridiculously important. Negativity will destroy your perfectly thought out birth space. Fear can easily creep in, leading to tension in your body, a flush of stress hormones, an increase in pain perception, and POW!- you are no longer coping. Your labour slows or stops, and if you’re in a hospital setting, it’s highly likely the intervention highway is one you’re about to get on with no way off. Augmentation, epidural, increased risk of caesarean is often how it goes. Hire a doula to hold your space and keep out unwanted observers or negative energy or have yourself a very informed and empowered partner.
Zoe did an incredible job birthing her two babes at home. She’s a highly educated woman, her husband has two university degrees, an MBA and an MBT, they live in an upper middle class area of Sydney. They knew every minute detail of the for’s and against’s when it came to planning a home birth. They had to deal with friends and strangers projecting all their fears onto them in their lead up to the first birth (funnily no one challenged them in the lead up to the second). But they did it, and they ROCKED it.
Zoe’s take aways for you are this;
1) Pash! Pash your partner, especially during the pushing stage, it does crazy, wild things for your birthing hormones!
2) In fact, don’t even push! Let your body take over, it knows exactly what to do.
3) Keep fear out of your birth space. Period.
What did you learn from Zoe’s home births? Is there anything that you’ll take on and apply to your home or hospital birth?