Having our baby at home in 1980 has remained one of the most profound moments of my life. Giving birth was empowering, I was thoroughly in love and all was undisturbed. Our baby was greeted with gentleness, quiet, soft light, and loving sweetness. I recognized how important our welcome here to earth is. So many people talk about home birth only in the context of the mother. I often think it’s the babies who need to be born at home. This time is really embedded in our first impressions of the world.
My idea of a holistic birth honors the work that a mother does to fully participate in the rite of passage that leads into mothering. Birth should unfold. I have been with many women, for many hours, through labor. What you see is that birth is not a linear journey. It meanders, rests, and charges forward, and perhaps rests again. Why do we have such a need to manage this? When you remember that the baby and the mother are doing this dance together, it simply becomes beautiful to watch. Having said that, I feel as a midwife, my role is to be supportive and useful to you. I believe having a relationship with each other is the beginning of good support. Added to that is the idea that normalizing your experience, instead of trying to rescue you from it, is more helpful to mothers. Freedom of movement, respectful quiet, touch, kindness, humor, and simply being present are part of that support. Labor can be monitored in a non-intrusive way to ensure that both mother and baby are managing well or to note if concerns are arising.
If I were a baby being born, I would ask that I have something to say about how I am figuring out this passageway. The rhythmic massage that encourages me, the need to make various turns, the opportunity to shape myself to finagle my way out, are all part of my birthright. This journey that a baby takes needs to be respected. Hurrying them, using routine medications, constant ultrasound use in labor – does anyone wonder how the baby feels about these? My primary memory of becoming a mother was holding my firstborn in my arms immediately after pushing her out. Her wetness, smell, soft skin and sweet movements are tangible to me. While I can’t recount to you my primary memory of being born, I do believe our first moments on earth live within each of us and has some deep effect on who we are. May it be welcoming.
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