With being 6 weeks away from giving birth to my second child, childbirth is definitely on my mind. I am constantly reminded that I have a little person growing inside me, by the bumping and thumping and somersaulting going on, and the little hands and feet, elbows and knees and bum, often protruding from my ever-growing belly.
Erin has developed a fascination with baby beanie now that she can actually see there is something moving in there. I wonder what she thinks really? It is rather alien even to me, second time around, and sometimes quite incomprehensible that there can be a real little person in there – someone who is half me and half Steven, but a complete individual at the same time. Pregnancy is such an amazing time. I do love it. I can feel my attention turning inward more and more everyday as the special day looms closer, and I can feel a connection with this little being who is alive and kicking, and cannot wait to meet her!
My “plan” for this birth, (although I know plans do not always work out, I have no reason to believe that this won’t), is to give birth in a birthing pool at our new home that our wonderful friends Andrew & Julie will be sharing with us as from next week, on the same farm where Erin was conceived. In a beautiful little private section of the lounge, where there are Buddhist shrines, a fireplace and a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquility.
The birthing pool is inflatable, big enough for Steven to get in with me (very important!) and looks like this. It has a little step to sit on, and handles to pull yourself forward during contractions, etc. Advantages of water in labour are many…interesting video here .
So, given all this, it goes without saying that I want a drug free birth and I want to be as active as possible during my birth, as I want gravity and nature to assist in the delivery of our new baby girl as much as possible. I enjoyed being in the water so much when in labour with Erin, and can’t imagine going without it. It was warm, comforting and felt safe.
So hold thumbs for us…
To answer a question many ask me: Why would I choose to have a natural birth if I could have drugs or a caesarean section and not feel a thing?
I cannot always find the right words to explain it, without making other people feel like I’m criticizing their choices (or often their doctors choices – whether legitimate or not, is another question altogether…), but my reasons are many and go something like this:
- Pregnancy and Childbirth are not illnesses, they are completely natural and (in the majority of cases) if not tampered with and if we can let go of the horror stories we hear which just feed the fear, which causes negative thoughts and stress during birth, which I believe in many cases is what causes things to go wrong in the first place, I believe that the majority of us can and should give birth naturally. (I say this because everyone I know who has been completely relaxed about giving birth, fully trusting their bodies and believing in birth being a perfectly natural process has given birth naturally, without intervention.) The infant and mother mortality rate is lower in natural home births, than in births that have been messed with.
- Natural births are statistically safer than births with interventions…I care for the safety of my child!
- Childbirth is a rite of passage. It is an event that marks your progress into motherhood. It is instinctive. It is beautiful. It is empowering. It is an other-wordly experience. It is transformative. I feel sad for those who have been convinced that birth is a medical procedure, as I really feel that they have missed out on something incredibly special and important in their life as a woman. There is a saying that goes: “Epidurals rip women off of an opportunity to experience themselves as competent adults” ~Margaret Egeland
- Epidurals, C-sections, Pain drugs all affect you and your brand new unborn baby. I just would not choose to drug my unborn child. (Obviously there are rare occasions where it is unavoidable) We go through pregnancy avoiding certain foods and alcohol and then at the most crucial moment for them (and us), we drug them(and ourselves). This goes against nature and is surely not kind. Women who have these interventions are more likely to struggle to establish breastfeeding, are more prone to post natal depression and often have trouble bonding with their babies. Not surprising when at the most important time, the minutes after birth, both are drugged, and the oxytocin (the incredible love & bonding hormone) is not released. These drugs stay in babies system for up to 5 days. I’ve seen video footage of the difference between a natural birth and one where drugs were involved, where the babies are placed on mum’s tummy. The drugged ones just lie there, the undrugged ones crawl up and find the breast within minutes. As nature intended. In how many other ways do these drugs affect our newborns who cannot tell us how they’re feeling? What are the long term affects of these drugs? Could they be related to the rise in Autism and other problems? Does this not make this important part of our journey into motherhood more difficult than it already is? A C-section is major surgery…here in the UK you cannot drive for 6 weeks. Do you really want to be recovering from major surgery while trying to bond with your new baby? We need to fight for our right to give birth naturally…very occasionally it is necessary to intervene, but not nearly as much as it happens… (it is interesting to note that if monkeys are given a c-section, they reject their babies…no oxytocin means bonding is much harder…)
- I want to feel everything. I do not want to be numb. I want to be there, present, in the moment. I want to feel the floods of oxytocin, of ecstasy and of pain.
- When I think of what baby is going through…from a safe, warm sack of water where she’s been curled up for 9 months, hearing my heart beating, being nourished by my body, hearing muffled sounds to a cold and airy,(and sadly- often clinical) spacious world with gravity, loud noises, bright lights, to breathing on her own, eating on her own…I want to travel with her. I also want to feel something. I want to feel everything. I want to laugh and cry. I want her to be caught by me or passed straight onto my body for skin to skin contact with her new, soft, warm, slippery body. I want to be there for her 100%, help to reduce the shock of her transition to being a little earthling. I do not want her to be swept off and weighed, fingers and toes counted. I do not feel this is necessary, certainly not immediately. I want the best for her, naturally, I’m her mother.
By the sounds of it the birthing situation in South Africa is similar to that in America…over medicalised and a money making racket (In the US a hospital birth costs an average of $13000 and a homebirth with midwife costs $4000 and is safer!). Doctors make us believe that we cannot birth naturally, that we should not trust our own bodies and that we should trust them only (possibly not intentionally). They install a kind of fear that if we don’t listen to them we will have problems. I would love all my friends (South African and American especially) to watch Ricki Lake’s film called “The Business of Being Born”. Trailer here http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/trailer.php
It is indeed safer (statistically) to have a normal vaginal birth. The safest place for this is at your home or birthing unit with a midwife, because then you are not being pressured into having Pitocin (to hurry things up) and then an Epidural (because now the contractions are too strong too suddenly) and then more Pitocin (because the Epidural weakens the contractions) and then you can’t feel the contractions but the baby can and goes into distress and you end up having an emergency c-section…. This all puts so much stress on your body and your brand new baby. Do your research before having a baby and know what you want.
Of course there is a time and place for c-section and other drugs, and thank God for them because they have saved lives. But the extent to which they are used nowadays is completely unnecessary and often just for the convenience of the doctor (which is why most c-sections are at 4pm or 10pm – before supper and before bed time), and often cause way more complications for mom and baby afterwards.
I believe being active in your labour plays a huge part in a succesful birth too. When you are lying on your back, you cannot use your tummy muscles properly, your pubic area is possibly at it’s smallest and you are not working with gravity. When squatting or kneeling or standing, you are working with gravity. Baby’s head is going in the right direction. You automatically move your hips, helping baby to do the twists and turns it needs to do in order to come out between your pelvic bones. As nature intended.
Squatting or kneeling are also the best positions to reduce the risk of tearing or episiotomy’s. Think about it, squat and have a feel…everything is open wide…so different to when you are stranded on your back like a helpless turtle, with doctors holding your legs up and shouting orders at you.
The long and short of it all is that our bodies instinctively KNOW how to birth. All we have to do is listen. And enjoy the awesomeness of pushing out your own child and knowing that this is the kindest thing you can do for both of you.
Preparing your mind and body for this special day is so important. Do some gentle yoga, read about active birth, don’t listen to horror stories, believe in yourself and use gentle herbs, homeopathy, perineum massage oil, stretch mark oil,Floradix and relaxation techniques. Wonderful kit of goodies here!
Trust yourself. Trust your body. Have an amazing birth, bring your child into this world calmly and safely and be empowered!