Hola gorgeous Goddesses,
I just finished watching “The Business of Being Born” documentary with my darling man, my little belly bump, and our two sweet puppies curled up in our arms.
It’s a movie I’ve heard other women recommend, share about & talk about as being a changeling experience during their pregnancy – including the lovely Penelope & surprisingly, Dooce – so I knew it would be a good one.
It’s a movie that explores what happens in the US for a woman giving birth in a hospital. And to be honest, I’m really not sure just how much better Australia does in its hospital mindset either. It talks about why there is a high rate of caesareans and uber-high rate of the use of chemicals during the birthing process. It also documents the process of home birthing with a trained midwife – and why the statistics of mother and child mortality can be just as good than in a hospital.
Why oh why do we not know that we’ve got CHOICES in birthing?
I didn’t. But I do now. And while I haven’t given birth yet, I do want to share about the choices I know about… so you know too that you can make choices that are right and beautiful and work for you, and your sweet family.
Some caveats first…
Because mamahood is a sensitive subject.
This is not a post to judge any goddess on her birth choices. Every choice is sacred, perfect and her own… and I totally trust that we make the right ones for us.
I wrote this post with the intention to help any goddesses who didn’t know there were any choices available that there was, so they can choose from a smorgasboard of care possibilities.
If your choice is a hospital birth that is totally beautiful too!
And that of course we can all have our birth plans, but our babies have our own journey to make into the world… that just as in life, we can make our plans, but the journey will take us in whatever direction it needs to.
And that any birth is a good birth… it’s all just a miracle and a blessing.
So those are my caveats…
from the Goddess in me, to the Goddess in you – I honour you.
Choices are a wonderful, wonderful thing.
I grew up in thinking that all births happened in hospitals with doctors too, and that, plainly – that was the only way to go about it. My mum had five children, all in hospital, with no birth partner support (Dad being in the waiting room). I think at least three were induced (before they worked out she has a 42 week gestation period instead of 40). My eldest brother was brain damaged during birth in a way that was probably preventable if doctors had been more attentive. (Correct me if I’m wrong on any of this, mama!)
And I didn’t hear many birth stories growing up – just the usual housewife jokes about it being the Worst Thing In The World and Oh-you-don’t-know-pain-until-you’ve-had-childbirth.
The change of heart.
When I was 23, I read the book Spiritual Midwifery. I have no idea why I chose that book – at the time, I was doing “forward reading” for childbirth, figuring once I eventually did decide to have children, I’d only have nine months to get reading in. I’m so grateful that I did. That book changed my life, my mindset and my mama-heart on what was true and right for me… so I already knew what line of care I wanted once I became pregnant.
And I didn’t realise then that forward-reading and forward-knowing is really, really useful – by the time you are actually pregnant, you already need to pretty much know how you’d like to experience the birthing process. You usually need to decide on your choice of pregnancy care and birth within your first trimester. I really don’t want to freak you out if you are pregnant already and still don’t know what you want – because there’s still choices available… but if you are a maiden-not-yet-a-mama, forward reading is really, really, really good.
Examples in point: I already knew I wanted to book into the Birth Centre here in Canberra (a midwife run centre that is set up to mimic home birthing as much as possible). When I found out at five weeks that I was pregnant, I called them immediately, but they were already booked out. I was placed on a waiting list, we went to an information session to up our chances of getting in, waited… and were so lucky to get offered an early placement a couple of weeks ago.
I also already knew that I wanted a doula, and had already picked out someone I thought would resonate beautifully with us. I emailed her a few years ago just to say “Hey! I love your website, I’m definitely wanting you as a doula when we eventually have kidlings!” As soon as we found out I was pregnant, I emailed her to book her in… discovering she was already booked out for the month before us. But we got in! We got the doula we wanted! Hurrah! Forward planning of birth care = awesome 🙂
The Scary Thing Is…
As they said in the movie (and something I’ve definitely seen) – People will spend more time thinking, investigating, researching and deciding on what camera or car they are going to buy than what birthing choices they are going to make.
Because women don’t always know there ARE choices.
And that just because everyone else is doing one thing, it doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you or your baby. Maybe it is.
But the point is… you get to be the one to explore all those choices, and make that choice for you.
Some of the options available…
I’m totally not an expert at all… but here’s some of the birth options I know about.
As my doula says:
When you go skydiving for the first time, would you prefer to do it on your own, or strap up to someone who’s done it before you, and has made it their life’s work to get it right?
And if you would prefer a skydiving strap-on… why wouldn’t you want a doula?
Whenever I say I have a doula, people usually say “A what? What IS that word?”
A doula is a pregnancy, birthing and breastfeeding coach and guide. She’s someone you hire to give you specialised one-on-one support, guidance and attention through the whole process… to make it easier, kinder and more gentle for you.
How I use my doula: I email her or call her whenever I have stupid (or not so stupid) questions about any part of pregnancy. She knows some wonderful tricks and tools to make it a more wonderful experience for us. She comes to our home, talks to me and my sweetie about the pregnancy, how we are feeling, and our birthing choices and plan. She answers questions. She gives us all the time in the world that we need (unlike doctors and antenatal check-ups). She’s got a bundle of books and dvds and resources that she lends to us.
As we get closer to the birth, we’ll meet up more often to talk about birthing, some ways we can approach it, what we are hoping for, and ways we can get there.
Then once I’m in labour, I’ll call her, and she will come to our home until we’re ready to move to the birthing centre. Once we’re at the centre, she’ll stay with us through the whole labour, supporting me, supporting Chris, guiding us, helping us make the process as wonderful as possible, speaking with the midwifes and helping hold the space for us.
After birth, she’ll help us settle in, help with breastfeeding, and also do antenatal visits to help us transition at home.
All in all, it’s love and support and guidance from someone who has made it her life’s work to make this process more wonderful for new parents.
And dude, this is the scariest, most transformative time of my life. Childbirth is up there on the Big Things Of Your Life.
If I can get more support and guidance to make it a better process, why wouldn’t I jump all over it like it was Zac Efron and I was a hormonal tween?
Oh, and have I mentioned that trials show that women who received continuous support from a privately employed doula were less likely to:
- give birth by caesarean
- give birth with forceps or vacuum extraction
- use pain relief
- be dissatisfied with their birth experience
- experience breastfeeding problems
- experience postnatal depression
Some more resources about doulas:
A short movie on what doulas do:
Difference between midwives and doulas:
Also, if you’re a Canberra Goddess, you can check out these Canberra Doula websites:
My doula is Birth in Harmony. I also checked out Confident Birth and Empowered for Birth which looked pretty lovely.
I would really, highly recommend watching The Business of Being Born to find out more about homebirthing, and why it is so important. The statistics for child & mother health are just as good (and in some cases better) than hospital births.
This is a beautiful YouTube series on Home Birth… to see the whole series, go here:
And also check out the book Spiritual Midwifery – the ground-breaking book on homebirthing & ecstatic birthing. This book’s incredible, beautiful birthing stories will change your life.
There are more and more midwife-run birth centres sprouting up across Australia & the world. These are centres run totally by midwives, and are usually set up to make birthing environments as homely and natural as possible.
The Canberra Birth Centre is so wildly popular, you need to book in as soon as possible – or cross your fingers and hope you get in on the waiting list.
We’ve been to our first session at the Birth Centre, and after having been in maternity wards, this place is like a haven of comfort and kindness. You get a midwife assigned to you to care for you throughout your pregnancy and labour. You get a ginormous wood-framed double bed, birthing room and waterbirthing pool. You get constant support and guidance on having the most powerful, lovely birth experience possible.
And as the Birth Centre manager said to us “If you’re looking to come in here, and get an epidural straight away, please don’t bother booking in with us. Go to the hospital. We’re here to support and empower women to have the most natural, healthy birth possible.”
We have chosen the Birth Centre as our best choice right now.
Giving birth at home or a birthing centre:
The point of all this is…
As women, we deserve birth choices that are healthy, wonderful and empowering for us. We deserve to know just how amazing our bodies are. We deserve to find out what shining options that are there for us, and for our babies. We deserve to know what’s going to work beautifully for us, and be totally supported and joyful in those choices – whether that’s a hospital, at home or at a birthing centre.
Just want to give all the women of the world a giant bear hug today,