This would be, so far, the most important blog I have ever written. As mentioned on my previous one: Writing “entails a considerable amount of opening up to the world of the unknown, full of risks and opportunities, but this is what the journey is all about”… and by that, I meant sharing. Sharing our experience, thoughts, and journey to friends, family, and strangers alike. And this, this is specially dedicated to “Oma” (Ingrid) and “Papa” (Dougie Fresh) who is currently home, away from where we are. As promised, this will be one way for us to keep each other updated and have a better understanding as to what our choices are being first time (soon-to-be) parents. Both have been very enthusiastic – supportive to us, through little ways I can truly feel how amazing they are as a parent and as an individual. I will never forget how you got so excited when we announced. We too, wish you were here.
Before Craig and I met, we were already going through major life-changing decisions regarding our diet, attitude, and lifestyle. We were continuously unlearning old philosophies and debunking stubborn opinions in order to relearn something new and be on a different path. Luckily this path helped us come across each other’s, like the best of friends with a passionate twist, everything was in great alignment, and soon after, before it was even confirmed – we had a hunch that we are pregnant. Both agreed, we couldn’t think of a better person to go through this with, than him and me, together. From hobbies to lifestyle, and now, to raising a child, we both knew what we wanted and it was mutual. And we are very thankful that we were chosen by this beautiful soul to be his guardian/parents in this lifetime.
As soon-to-be-parents, we all strive to do what we think is best for our children as we know it. But lately, there have been numerous articles on pregnancy and mom wars as to how it should be done. Well, THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. In every conversation, there should be two-way communication, at least listen as much as voicing out an opinion. Always keep and open mind and an open heart. It is true that in our society, today, every type of birth is criticized, may it be home, hospital, cesarian, water birth or Vbac. And I personally had this experience upon sharing an article on my Facebook wall about the topic of breastfeeding. We all have had choices and hopefully you gave yourself some time to know what these choices are. THIS IS YOUR BIRTH! YOUR CHILD. THEIR FUTURE. And in no way should be criticized by anyone.
My birth is my own, and my choices should not bother yours. This is my story, and you have your story. At the same time, this is what we “planned” for, but it doesn’t exactly mean that this is what will happen. There are emergencies and circumstances that we can all just prepare for as much as we can. Having said all these things, I would like you to know that a birth is a birth, I respect your efforts on doing what you feel and think is best for you and your family, and that is a wonderful gift. We are supporting gentle birth, and we are very happy with this choice. If there’s one thing I ask of you, parent to parent, it’s not to follow my decisions, or anyone else’ for that matter, but to do your own research and be informed of your choices. Consider your life circumstances, situation, hopes and dreams; what will make you a happy including that of their baby.
*** To Craig… I am so blessed to have you in my life. It is not easy to come across someone like you who listens to his heart, follows his dreams, continuously nourishes his knowledge, and living life to the fullest as you go through it with an open mind. It’s been such a positive and easy pregnancy with you beside me all along. I’ve said it many times and I will say it again; you are an amazing person with a big heart. You are an awesome partner, and there’s no doubt you will be the best father one can have. I will forever cherish the lifetimes that we spent together, past, present, and future. ❤ I love you so much. ***
*** And to our soon-to-be-born baby… we love you, see you soon! ❤ Mom and Dad ***
Here’s our list of reasons as to WHY we wanted a homebirth: What we found out during the process of unlearning/relearning, and never-ending research regarding pregnancy and birthing.
We are trying to look at the BIG Picture. Taking into account of what’s going to affect us in the long-term starting from conception – Having believed that it all starts from within (inside the womb, your thoughts, your feelings, intentions and actions) and not just after birth. We prioritise feelings and instincts to protect our emotional well-being including that of our baby. And we considered possible impact on our other plans such as full lotus birth, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, finding alternatives to vaccines, reusable cloth diapers, baby wearing, and homeschooling. It just blends so well altogether.
We are striving to do our best, just like any other parent who would do everything to raise a child into reaching his full potential. Starting from the womb, to his birth, to when he becomes his own, we will try not to expect but be mindful, to gently welcome him and support him all the way through. We just simply want him to be happy and given the best of what we can offer as a gesture of gratitude for choosing us to be his parents.
We LOVE the idea of a loving supportive environment. Dim lights, soothing smell of your favorite essential oil, privacy (only a few chosen people whom you trust, supports you and love you), your favorite playlist, candles, your nice warm robe, your favorite healthy snacks and drinks, a warm pool, a space to move around to in order to ease the pressure of labor, massages from your partner or midwife, pushing instinctively with contractions…I can go on and on and on. Does that sound great or what?! In case you’re wondering, I am aware of the presence of labor pains and maybe an emergency, but who wants to dwell on that? We can only prepare for so much, and then, we dwell on something positive instead. I trust my body and it’s capability to give birth. It is a normal biological function and for plus points, there is the fact that we have forgotten about – the birthing hormones that can take us into ecstasy. It is so compassionate, and as we see it, the best way to welcome our baby.
Having been blessed with friends and family who’s been through different kinds of birth gave us an idea on how we can make it better for us. We heard great stories of gentle births, vaginal birth after cesarian (Vbac), and hospital “emergencies” of which they openly told us how it felt for them personally. There were lots of advice and support on top of our incessant research/reading. We have come to a conclusion that hospitals for us can be intense, overwhelming, abrupt, and very impersonal. First the forms to fill up, then here comes your birth plan getting tossed aside due to “possible emergency situation”, bright lights, cold bed, straps and stirrups, beeping monitors, masked nurses and doctors you have not met, your loved ones asked to stay out, unnecessary medications to make the labor process faster, lying down on your back for a long period of time, the helpless feeling you get when they start telling you medical terms you don’t understand and they have no time to explain, then the expensive bill when you check out … I don’t know which part here seems appealing to anyone, and it seems as if this is what’s normal nowadays. Again, birth is a normal biological function and not a medical emergency!
We hope to have an undisturbed labor and birth before an actual emergency intervention is needed, if needed. We have come across multiple personal birth stories wherein the laboring mother felt robbed of their birth plans and/or left without enough mental, emotional, and physical support. They didn’t feel safe and secure within the hospital premises; instead, they felt like they had no choice but to just say “yes” to whatever they were told. Instead of waiting for natural birth to occur, you get convinced to have a cesarian operation, pushed into the operating room, then comes the augmentation (to speed up labor) – administration of unnecessary pain killers and epidural. Pitocin for example, stimulates uterine contractions, but this has a minimal effect on the dilation of a laboring woman’s cervix hence the possibility of failed induction. Then cesarian becomes necessary. It also increases risk of post-partum hemorrhage. There are pros and cons to both kinds of birth but personally, for us; we find it comforting to follow our instinct before any medication. So much has changed over the years and maybe it is time to consider changing our mindset about birth as well.
I don’t want to go through that; I don’t want to feel disoriented and cheated like some did. If they would have needed me transferred to a hospital due to a complication that requires extra resources, then by all means, let’s do it. But as parents who did their assignment, I want to at least try and make it on my own, NATURALLY, as long as everyone is safe and that I tried doing my best.
We were convinced by many studies that show the midwifery model of care is as safe as hospital birth, often with fewer interventions and post-birth complications. Of which includes the recent research that our body is a host to hundred trillions microbes and its founding seed comes from natural birth: vaginal delivery, breastfeeding, and skin-to-skin contact. While babies born via C-section, on the other hand, bi-pass the process where the baby’s gut would be seeded by the microbes from the mothers’ gut that should be established at birth through vaginal delivery, and in addition, that mother most likely been administered with drugs or anti-biotic of which will affect both microbes, then lastly, they are instead colonized mostly by bacteria found in the hospital. Our generation being at the golden age of technology and governed by pharmaceutical companies, yet we have never been sicker: From asthma, to diabetes, cancers, and obesity, to allergic diseases. We have been so clean with all the soaps, chemicals, and anti-biotic within reach we neglected the simple fact that we are actually 90% microbial and only 10% mammalian, the microbial part is said to be our micro-biome, these are the organisms that live in our human body (bacteria, fungi, viruses…), the organisms that make us whole. They play an important role setting up our immune system. Depriving the newborn of the beneficial microorganisms and substances on his skin and the mothers’ must be taken into consideration as this can influence their life span.
Both Craig and I were born via C-section too, so to be clear, we have nothing against nor blame any parents (including ours) who will have or had a caesarean birth. Again, birth is a birth. And that is great. While we value medical science and its obstetrical ways that has made birth safer for women of high-risk pregnancies, we should also explore the choices for low-risk pregnancies like mine and maximize its benefits. For those who chose a Gentle C-section, or might have an emergency C-section here is a link on what you can add on your birth plan and how you can seed your baby with good bacteria.
To welcome our little one in a very gentle, warm and loving environment. This way we can take our time to gaze into each others eyes, warm him up in our loving arms, breathe with him until he is full of love, and nurture him until he is ready to greet the world back. A healthy newborn doesn’t need medical intervention especially in the first few hours of life. Bathing for one, interferes with bonding between the mother and child, plus the possibility to chill an infant whose ability to regulate body temperature is still immature. In case you didn’t know, that white creamy substance on an infants skin is called Vernix Caseosa. It contains powerful proteins that have antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also contributes to an infant’s healthy immune system by protecting the fetus and the newborn against infection. So don’t wash them off (to think they do, with soap!).
Hospital protocols done right after birth just doesn’t seem right for us. Only a few minutes of skin-to-skin (if lucky) until baby will be whisked away by the hospital staff because they have to be examined, weighed, have a PKU heel prick, clamp the umbilical chord just seconds after birth (FULL LOTUS BIRTH is our choice for his gentle separation with his placenta), asking you to push harder to deliver the placenta, while they give your newborn a dose of anti-biotic and vaccine shots. There was even one mother who was given back her newborn already circumcised and formula fed (bottle) after the protocol routine, even though she strictly said she didn’t want any of those. We also want to take advantage of the benefits of early-uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact, it has been shown to reduce crying, improve bonding, keep the baby warm, and facilitate breastfeeding. So, sure maybe we can find an open-minded paediatrician and doctors who will let you have your dream birth and carry on with your birth plan, but personally speaking, I tried it too and it wasn’t easy. Lots of hesitation on gestures and words, they are just so scared of birth themselves. The words I constantly heard were “it’s dangerous” or “it’s risky”.
We would like to support women (and their supportive partners) to reclaim their power to birth naturally. As a couple journeying on a different path, guided by wonderful people we’ve met along the way, we sure feel the need to give back to those who need support and encouragement and come out of what we call fear-based theories that has been ingrained on us about birth. Since I was a child, may it be a story or a show on the television, when someone is giving birth, they portray it as horrifying medical emergency: Woman screaming and cursing, pushed on a wheel chair or strapped onto a bed rushed to the operating room, then strapped onto a bed, lying on their backs with the legs up…and the rest goes on! You know the story. We’ve all seen it. If it is an emergency and you have a medical case it will look like that, but not all births should be, most of the time we should just wait for the body to do its natural process. But since there are medical interventions once inside the hospital such as IV, Pitocin or Epidurals, then our natural biological function has been compromised. Labor may take days for some, and since time is of the essence, these methods are done.
After years of this practice, it has been embedded on our heads that CS is normal, that you shout, curse, and maybe freak out on the hospital bed, so they give you fake hormones and you become relaxed and they do the rest for you while you sleep, I get it, it’s convenient, like fast food. Over all and in the long run, it is not good for you and the baby. It’s time we trust our body and see how life was before any interventions. How beautiful the process of birth is.
Because we like it! Simple as that! 🙂
It’s a different path, one step at a time. And this is the first step we take together, as a family. Our decisions’ not just about my birth, it’s about our baby too.
“If you really want a HUMANIZED BIRTH, the best thing to do is to get out of the hospital!” – The Business of being born
~~~SOME NOTES I TOOK ALONG THE WAY (a sneak peak of what we’ve read and learned that might help you understand even more)~~~
Oxytocin is also called the love hormone; it is present during making love, orgasm, and birth. It is a very powerful uterotonic, which means contraction causing. During labor, pulses occur every 3-5minutes then becomes more frequent. After birth, ongoing high-levels of oxytocin, augmented by more pulses release as the baby touches, licks, and nuzzles the mothers breast, helps her keep her uterus contracted and protect her against post-partum haemorrhage.
Beta-endorphin is a naturally occurring opiate with properties similar to opium/opiate-like drugs and shown to work on the same receptors of the brain. In hours of birth, elevated beta-endorphin levels reward and reinforce mother-baby interactions, including physical contact, breastfeeding, as well as contributing to intensely pleasurable, even ecstatic feelings for both. It also facilitates release of prolactin during labor, which prepares the mothers breast for lactation, and aids in lung maturation for the baby.
Pro-Lactin is the nesting hormone. Released from the pituitary gland, crucial influence in the development and function of the immune system.
On Augmentation (Pain Killers and Epidural)
Pitocin is a synthetic version of Oxytocin. It stimulates uterine contractions with minimal effects on the dilation of labouring woman’s cervix, creating a possibility of failed “induction” in which despite the regular and very painful contractions, labor does not progress and women’s cervix fail to dilate and caesarean becomes necessary.
Epidural analgesia is one of the most striking examples of medicalisation of normal birth, transforming a physiological event into a medical event. Epidural lowers the mothers’ production of oxytocin or stops the normal rise during labor that causes woman’s labor contractions. It obliterates maternal oxytocin peak that occurs at birth and catalyses the powerful last push of labor for the baby to come out. It also
Reduces stress hormones that builds up in natural labor to help women transcend pain, slow down labor, and paralyzes not only woman’s lower body but also her pelvic floor.
Epidural and Spinal Drugs has major effects on all hormones of labor, it inhibits beta-endorphin production, reduce oxytocin production, including length of labor.
It is a snowball effect: from labor they put you on IV, if you are not dilating, then they will administer Pitocin, then an epidural because contractions are so painful, then if the Pitocin doesn’t work for some time again, then they might dose you for another Pitocin, due to the strong contractions this brings, then the baby becomes distressed, then finally they tell you, you need a caesarean to save your baby.
A labor may sometimes last for days, and this is not ideal for hospitals. From waiting 26hours, it became 24hours, then to12hours. Hospital is a business and they want these beds filled and them emptied. (As for my sister, she was induced after 12hours then sent to the emergency room 4hours after that.)
Side Effects on Mother and Child:
- Effects hormonal orchestration
- Blood pressure
- Temperature Regulation
- Direct toxic effects to the fetus and newborn (drug levels)
- Changes in fetal heart rate
- Low APGAR score (The Apgar score is a simple assessment of how a baby is doing at birth, which helps determine whether your newborn is ready to meet the world without additional medical assistance. Your practitioner will do this quick evaluation one minute and five minutes after your baby is born.)
- Poor tone
- Weak immune system
- Higher rates of jaundice for epidural babies
REFERENCES: (In random order)
Books and PDF file:
- Childbirth without fear – Grantly Dick-Read
- Educate Yourself – Dr.Nat-Kringoudis
- Gentle Birth Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices – Dr. Sarah Buckley
- Natural-Induction – Red Tent Mums
- Placenta: The forgotten Chakra – Ibu Robin Lim
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
- Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation By Pam England, Rob Horowitz
- Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Birth Experience By Elizabeth Davis, Debra Pascali-Bonaro
- Birth Story – Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives
- Childbirth: All or Nothing BBC Documentary
- MicroBirth (article related: Seeding CS babies)
- Orgasmic Birth
- The Business of being born
- What Babies Want
Other Books I would love to read but didn’t get to due to unavailability:
- Hypnobabies Home Study Course for Expectant Mothers Plus 2 Bonus Cds From Hypnobabies Self-Study Products
- HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing (3rd Edition) By Marie F. Mongan
- She Births: A Modern Woman’s Guidebook for an Ancient Rite of Passage By Marcie Macari
- Silent Knife: Caesarean Prevention and Vaginal Birth after Caesarean (VBAC) By Lois J Estner, Nancy Wainer Cohen
- Birth and Breastfeeding: Rediscovering the Needs of Women During Pregnancy and Childbirth By Michel Odent
Workshops: (Pregnancy, Doula, Midwife, Birthing, Post-Partum, Yoga, Raw food)
***To my Grandmother Lola Sonya, you are a very brave woman. All these years I imagined birth like everyone else did, it’s not the same anymore and yet I was so surprised during our visit when you told me “don’t fear birth, it’s natural!”…it gave me an assurance I can never get from any book or videos. Thank you! We love you and we hope to see you soon.***