My pregnancy and birth journey started 6yrs before I successfully fell pregnant. Through my obsession with healthy living and nutrition and a Millinery (bridal headpiece) business that allowed many hours of documentary watching in the background, I stumbled upon a birth documentary called 'The Face of Birth'.
Have you heard of it? You should, it's the original Birth Time movie and it completely blew the socks off my slippered feet! "The Face of Birth is an inspiring look at how wonderful birth can be when your right to choose how, where and with whom you give birth is respected and protected." Noni Hazlehurst was featured, she shared the most beautiful black and white birth images I had ever seen - all of her births were homebirths. My narrow views of birth were immediately challenged the most I saw this documentary and I was hooked with the concepts they shared:
women's internal and innate power to birth without the need for intervention
homebirths - the safety of the private space a home can provide which facilitate the natural 'openings and of unfolding' of birth
how important 'freedom of choice' plays in the where and how of birth
This powerful movie planted a beautiful seed in my mind, one I tightly held onto for 6years, through infertility struggles, IVF harvesting, body aches and pains, drugging and pregnancy losses, until the day we (finally) fell pregnant and catapulted into the fortune position of make our own birthing decisions.
Sadly though, the Homebirth I has pictured for all of those years fell out of my grasp when I failed to find a Homebirth midwife - you see thanks to those government wankers and their strict rules and governing of the Homebirth industry meant that Private Midwives were in limited supply, those who were able to practice in the system were (and are still today) booked out for months in advance, stretched to capacity and often incredibly hard to book in with.
Maybe you have experienced this for yourself?
I thought about going Private, but my mum used to work for an Obstetrician and the stories she shared about the arrogant A-types she worked with, the lack of empathy they had, their overcommitment to their downtime hobbies, the drugs, the interventions and their belief that women's bodies were faulty didn't excite me. I just had this idea that they had a deep seated belief that I was not capable of birthing my baby without intervention, which meant I would almost certainly end up with some sort of outcome that would lead to disappointment ...........or I would be highly strung and on edge knowing I would have to battle every push and request they would make (which is not something you want to do when you need to be in your primal zone).
*nb* I know this isn't ever OB but this was the belief I held at the time I was pregnant.
As my pregnancy progressed I started to notice that my anxiety levels were steadily rising, particularly before any appointment where I knew I would be met by any of the many grumpy, lost the love of the job (clinical) midwives at the hospital. I would spend hours researching, understanding my options, and quite literally preparing to go into battle with them. The more I questioned, the more they pushed until I felt bullied on anything I pushed back on or where I was advocating for myself and my baby. At one particular appointment I had three midwives come in (one after the other) to pressure me on something, each one threatening and implying I was doing a disservice to my child (I think it was the decline of the scan, but now as I write this I actually can't remember the details, I just remember the feelings and energy in the room), each would paint a picture of emergency procedures, one OB obnoxiously suggested she would breaking of my baby's bones to get them out because she thought my baby was large and "that I would probably need an emergency Caesarean."
(On a side note, this is what makes me so mad - comments like the one that OB made - because they plant the seed of doubt in the birthing person's mind! You can't un-hear those words, and when you are in your "crisis of confidence" (as Rhea Dempsey calls transition) those words will sit on your shoulder, the evil gremlin of doubt, telling you can't. This is where language, its power and the careful selection of plays such a powerful role in birth - care providers MSUT be aware of this!)
These stressful appointments went on till 29 weeks when I asked if I could bring a birthing pool to the birth suite (this hospital was so old that the bath they had was a tiny, triangle spa bath, and I, a giant, gangly woman, was not going to fit). They told me it was an OH&S issue and they couldn't allow it. This broke my heart, I called my Doula, Brooke from Be Birth, in a panic and telling her "we just won't go to the hospital when I need. let's just stay at home." She bluntly said "over my dead body you will" (haha makes me laugh just remembering how she said it), "but", she went on, "I'll find you a Midwife you can." And that she did!
Enter my incredible midwives, Janine O'Brien from iBirth - Intimate Birth & Beginnings and Karen Beasley. Their knowledge of physiological birth is second to none!
The night my son was born my two midwives and doula held space for me & my husband as we birthed our beautiful and very large boy. I had read so much about homebirth, about the quiet, serene space it ensures, how it allows the transition of Maiden to Mother to occur “uninterrupted”, so I embarked on my homebirth journey, to be that women, held in that space.....well I honestly can’t find the right words to express the wonder of that night. It was so beautiful! Janine, Karen & Brooke were freaking phenomenal!!! Like rock-star amazing!! How I have so much respect for what they do!!
Helping a woman birth her baby in the safety of her home...well, it’s pure Artisanal skills!!
Private Midwives use all of their senses to support women in a home birth setting - I mean finely tuned senses!! They are uninhibited and not reliant on devices and monitoring equipment which means they are aware of the subtle cues of birth, they read the rhythm, the body, the cries and moans. To “be with woman” is their skill - to be there to monitor with a medical eye and to support with a woman’s knowing heart. More importantly, they know when to guide and encourage the mother through transition or ‘crisis of confidence.'
I wish every woman could experience what I experienced that night.
"Being pregnant and giving birth is like crossing a narrow bridge. People can accompany you to the bridge, they can even greet you on the other side, but you walk that bridge alone” - African Proverb
There is a wonderful card in our Positive Birth Affirmation Card Deck, an African proverb I love that says "Being pregnant and giving birth is like crossing a narrow bridge. People can accompany you to the bridge, they can even greet you on the other side, but you walk that bridge alone,” No one can prepare you for birth! You can read the books, do the classes, eat the right foods, exercise, be fit, you can be mentally ready, know the stages of birth, you prepare your mind with meditation, affirmations and you can book the best birth workers to be there for you but the blunt fact is you won't know how your birth will unfold until you are in it! You and you alone are the only person who can birth your baby. You have to find the strength to dive deep within, to find your powerful, brave self because she will carry you across the threshold. And you can do it! How do I know this? Because I found her, I did it and women for millennia have been finding their brave selves and birthing their babies!