I first heard about home birth when I was about 6 years old. I didn't know much about birth at all at that age, but I did know that babies came out of (dare I use the v word?) yes I do dare, I dare all the time, everyday usually, so lets say it here too, vaginas.
Yes, babies come out of vaginas.
I also knew that babies were born in hospitals.
So to hear that someone had had a baby at home, well that was quite exciting! Especially considering the woman who had had the home birth was my idol. She was my teacher - as in my primary school teacher - and to top it all off she was a belly dancer. Sigh.
I kept thinking about home birth after that - and even as a 6 year old - I knew I wanted to have a homebirth too. It just seemed like the right thing to do for me.
So naturally when I was pregnant with my first baby I considered the option. But to be honest with you it wasn't really an option. I was living in France at the time, and coming home to NZ to have the baby was out of the question, not to mention I didn't even know the french word for midwife. So I followed the team doctor's advice and was referred to an OB. My baby was born in a hospital setting, and a lot of things didn't go my way. It was pretty shocking to me that 1. My body didn't seem to know what to do, and I didn't go into labor naturally. 2. I couldn't cope with the pain and ended up having an epidural, and 3. I was in hospital, doing exactly what the doctors told me to do, even though I thought their advice was questionable, and didn't really line up with what I wanted to do - I was hardly the version of myself that I thought I was.
My second baby was also born in France, and I gotta tell ya, when I found out I was pregnant, I was scared. All I could think was, "what if I have another birth like the first one?" I wanted to come home to NZ, so I could find a nice midwife who would support me, and talk me through HOW to give birth - I really wanted someone to just tell me how to do it. Luckily I spilled my heart out to a coaching friend - and she helped me see through the idea that I was holding on to; that me and my body didn't know what to do..........I know right? It seems like that might have been a fair assumption, considering I hadn't known what to do the first time around - despite having read a ton of books and blogs on natural birth. But as it turns out - what I was thinking was a total lie - I did know what to do and how to give birth, and letting go of that thought was huge - if I had kept thinking that way, I doubt I would have been able to give birth naturally.
That was the beginning of birth coaching.
I suddenly saw all the pot-holes in my thinking and I got myself coached on anything and everything I thought might be holding me back from giving birth naturally - and when the time came to have my second baby, I had her in a hospital, completely naturally, with a lovely midwife who supported me beautifully, both of us trusting me to make my own decisions.
Having Vivienne (my second baby) was a game changer for me. She reminded me, in a very powerful way, exactly who I am - and how I always know what to do. She taught me how to listen to myself and trust myself.
Soooooo when I got the chance to have my 3rd baby in New Zealand with a midwife of my choice, AND there was possibility of a home birth - well that was more than exciting. It was fricken terrifiying. First of all, my husband wasn't exactly swept away with the idea, my first midwife, who is also a dear friend of mine doesn't practice home births, and no-one else was particularly wrapt with the plan either - they kept reminding me of all that could go wrong . When we moved during my pregnancy, I had to find a new midwife, and to be honest I was scared I'd end up with a midwife who was more intent on the idea of a home birth, than she would be on listening to me - my big fear was that her need to give me a home birth could put me and my baby in jeopardy ..........
These are the kinds of crazy things we pregnant women get stuck on.
Luckily I found a very balanced, kind and professional midwife, who listened to my worries and concerns and set me straight about how she would react and deal with different situations.
She wasn't fringy at all.
She was my dream midwife - all for home birth, but very happy to go to a hospital too.
Next I had to make the very real decision about where I wanted to give birth - at home - at a birthing centre (brand new, 5 star accommodation and meals, FREE, and only 10 minutes away) - or at the hospital. In my heart I knew what I wanted to do. But Rich (my husband) really liked the birthing center. I could understand, it was so beautiful, easy, and no clean up afterwards!
Then I caught myself falling into an old habit - the "I don't know what to do" habit. How this plays out is, I act helpless, I think too much, get stuck worrying about everything, and I totally forget to trust myself. I ask everyone around me what they think I should do?? And then I feel bad if what I want to do is different from what they think I should do.
I've been down this path before, I knew I had catch myself. So I listened to my midwife's opinion - did she think home birth was a safe option for me considering all the factors? Yes, yes she did. Then I tuned into myself - and asked myself what felt like the best decision for me - could I do this?
Turns out Rich is kind of amazing (that's why I married him), when I got clear in myself and told him I was serious about wanting a home birth - he was right there with me. Supporting me every step of the way.
So that's what we did.
We had Sascha at home. It was amazing, and beyond anything I could have hoped for.
I could go on and on, but I won't today.
Today I wanted to share with you a little gem called Shackles On, Shackels Off. (Martha Beck is the genius behind this one.) I wanted to share it with you, because I know there are so many people out there (especially you pregnant gals) who are trying to make the best decisions you can, and sometimes it can feel really daunting, sometimes you feel like you just don't know what to do, with doctors, and partners, and friends, and family, all weighing in with their thoughts, and even sharing their own scary experiences or worries. It can be a bit of a mine field, and sometimes we can end up making decisions because we're scared. They're fear based decisions. I made a lot of these with my first baby.
My decision to have our baby at home wasn't something I went into lightly, (and neither should you) I listened deeply to everything my midwife said, and did my research - but choosing to have a home birth was what felt right to me. I knew how to make a good decision for myself, because I'd been practicing for a long time on smaller things (and bigger things too), using my Shackles On, Shackles Off feelings - which is really just listening to my intuition.
The buddha used to say (apparently) that wherever you find water, you can tell if it's the ocean because the ocean always tastes of salt........Well, you can tell if you're doing the right thing, because even if it's scary, it always tastes like freedom. It feels right in your soul. It resonates with you. It feels liberating. It makes you feel alive.
Thats how I felt when I decided to have Sascha at home.
So to get started with Shackles on Shackles off - think of a decision you're trying to make, then imagine yourself taking each different option. One of them will feel more right than the other(s). If you really can't sense any difference, then choose one, and take a very tiny step in that direction. For example, I went on my own to visit the 5 star clinic and asked that they show me around the facility, I asked questions, spoke with the management, and just imagined myself being there - that was enough to let me know, that though lovely, it wouldn't be the right choice for me.
If you don't have a decision to make, you can play with this in your everyday life, notice what food feels like shackles off? You can play with anything, what clothes to wear, what friends to spend more or less time with, what conversations light you up or turn you off.........
You'll have a feeling in your body, and just a sense of something - what does that feel like? Pay attention, that's the quiet whisper of intuition.
It's a daily practice, and I'm still practicing.
If you're thinking about homebirth - listen to the advice you're getting from those around you - but most importantly, listen to your own inner guidance system, your Shackles On, Shackles Off feeling.
If you've got questions, or comments, please be in touch with me.