Natural. Quick. Easy. Non-violent. Non-invasive. Empowering. Painless. These words are rarely used to describe the birthing process today. Instead, we often hear about labor and delivery as extremely painful, invasive, stressful and tiring for both mother and baby. My husband and I wanted nothing of this typical birth experience and we set forth to accomplish our dream birth. We believe the major factor in our son’s successful birth was the way we envisioned and prepared for it. We decided to approach birthing as an athlete would prepare for a marathon. Our preparation was physical, mental and in many ways spiritual.
OUR DREAM BIRTH
My husband and I wanted the most natural and healthy birth for our baby possible. We wanted a non-violent birth for our son; a birth that would be quiet, soothing, peaceful for him without bright lights, loud voices, slapping of baby’s bottom, cold metal plates touching baby as it is weighed and examined, separation from mother and other traumatic procedures such as a circumcision. We wanted the easiest childbirth experience for me: one without drugs, epidurals, episiotomy, a C-section and other typical hospital procedures that are really unnecessary: feeling rushed… and funnily enough, being without food during labor and delivery. (Aren’t athletes allowed food during a marathon?) Lastly, we wanted a birth that empowered us – not others of ‘authority’. This meant mother was to be fully aware during the birthing process and father was to be there every step of the way to support and encourage. We knew our dream birth would be best followed through in the comforts of our own home.
OUR PHYSICAL PREPARATION
Overall Health: I was in great shape physically before we conceived. I was at my optimal weight and health. This is important because homebirth midwives and birthing centers will prefer tending to pregnant women who are in good health. Healthy mothers usually have the best chances for natural births.
Diet and Nutrition: As an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Chef, eating right was an easy thing. Please look under Ayurvedic Nutrition Recommendations. Additionally, food soluble prenatal pills, like Rainbow 6 a day, are wonderful to insure you have all the essential vitamins you need for a healthy pregnancy. Food soluble pills do not cause constipation and/or stomach troubles. They also are more readily absorbed into the system than the other types of pills out there.
Pre-Conception Exercise: Regular exercise helped me reach my optimum health and weight before conceiving and helped me get back into shape after delivery. Sit-ups were important in strengthening the muscles needed to ‘push’ baby out. I practiced this before getting pregnant, so I was able to continue (as long as I was comfortable) during pregnancy.
Exercise During Pregnancy: I continued with my regular routine so long as I felt comfortable. Daily yoga really helped keep my body from all the aches and pains. The cat’s pose really helped with backaches. Shiva Rea’s prenatal yoga video is excellent. Other important exercises: Kegels and squats. Kegels help for control. Squats help stretch the sacrum and body massages help soothed mother-to-be!
Stretch Marks: I lathered on cocoa butter all over my tummy, thighs and hips. I did not get stretch marks.
Chiropractic Work: 1 week before our due date, the chiropractor aligned my back. This helps prevent more aches and pains. First time mothers who receive chiropractic care average 24% shorter birth, 39% for those who have given birth before.
Perineal Massage: Starting week 32, I massaged my perineal area daily. This helps stretch the area and prevents tearing.
Beta- Strep Wash: Ask your midwife if it is mandatory to give your baby eye drops when it is born. What type of eye drops? If you can get out of it, prevent beta-strep by splashing (not douching, washing or rinsing, but splashing) a solution of chlorox and water (a capful of chlorox to 2 quarts water) down there (really the area where poop can be transferred to babies eyes) when you shower starting at week 35.Sleep: Do this now when you can!!! I wish I had slept more!
OUR MENTAL PREPARATION
A Midwife: After researching and interviews with a few, we found Tavish, the midwife we felt most comfortable with. For my husband, this meant most importantly one with the most experience and the most success rate, and for me, this meant one I could talk to and trust with my body and my baby.
Hypnobirthing: We chose to take hypnobirthing classes because in our quest for our dream birth, I asked Shari Daniels, the head midwife at the Miami Maternity Center and the star of House of Babies on the Discovery Channel, what set apart the easiest, quickest and most successful births from the rest. Without a moment’s pause, “hypnobirthing” was her reply. With a practice spanning over 33 years and having overseen over 11,000 births, my husband and I were very quick to heed her advice. In just three one-hour hypnobirthing lessons, I learned to train my mind to give my body mental anesthesia and to instill in myself the belief that there is no pain in labor and delivery. In doing so, I allowed myself to be a part of my son’s birth while being fully aware in every moment. At the first lesson, I learned how to ease any pain and how to place myself under self-hypnosis. At the second lesson, I learned how to give myself mental anesthesia and how to place myself under self-hypnosis with my eyes wide open. And, at the third lesson, I learned how to practice and apply self-hypnosis during labor and delivery. By the last trimester of my pregnancy, I was practicing 10 minutes of self-hypnosis everyday to prepare my mind and body for childbirth. As a first time mother, the fear of childbirth pain was significant and it was difficult to imagine self-hypnosis, which to me is akin to meditation and so easy to practice, would be so effective. And yet, it was.
A day before my due date, my son arrived. I gave birth at home in my bath tub. His birth took only 4 hours. It was natural, quick, easy, non-violent, non-invasive, empowering and unbelievably painless. Our son came out still asleep and when he awoke quietly, he was calm, alert and whole. Today, our son impresses friends, family and strangers alike for his alertness, sweet disposition and peacefulness. We attribute his ways to his welcoming into this world.We would like to thank our old neighbour, Holli, for opening our minds up to alternatives to birth and parenting choices!!!
Resources on the Web:
Birthing the Future - Suzanne Arms, a well-known midwife
Conscious Woman - discusses topics from birthing to parenting to hysterectomy
DIY Deliveries: More Women Go It Alone
Homebirth After Cesarean - take a look at this wonderful video
Hospital versus Homebirth
House of Babies - lots of good FAQs about childbirth, Shari Daniel's website
ICAN - International Cesarean Awareness Network
Is Homebirth For You?
Painless Birth Program - this is the hypnobirthing course I took
Pregnancy, Birth and Babies - includes positive stories
Safety of Homebirth
Busines of Being Born - Ricki Lake's movie
Gentle Birth Choices
One Journey to Homebirth - an inspiring home video of one mother who did it!
Suzanne Arms Videos - Giving Birth: Challenges and Choices was recommended to us by our midwife.
Covenant Birth Center
Tavish Brinton - senior midwife in SC tel # 803.894.3829
In Case of Emergency:
We made sure we knew the fastest route to the nearest hospital. We made sure the nearest hospital had mother-to-be on their computer, i.e. insurance information. Just in case of emergency, we felt it would be an absolute waste of time to wait to be 'processed' if we had to go to hospital.
A little tidbit:
Because my husband and I wanted to be alone for 24 hours with baby after he was born, we made sure we printed a list of things to do for our parents while we enjoyed our new threesome: who to call and tell when baby arrived, what to cook for mother, laundry, take photos... etc.