Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Birthing Choices







Just as a lawyer can be excused for believing that most people sort out their problems with litigation, and a police person could be excused for believing that most people have criminal motivations, a hospital midwife or medical body can be excused for believing that most women and babies are safer if birthed in a hospital. As the British Obstetrician and father of the 'natural childbirth' movement, Dr Grantly Dick-Read eloquently argued, it's often our fear in general and fear of pain that causes the most constrictions in childbirth, and fear is often present in hospital births. People within this system often come across the worst case scenarios on a regular basis. But what they often don't come into contact with is the silent but usually incredibly happy and empowered body of women and families that have birthed safely and without fear at home, with trusted fellow travellers. Just as police folk don't often come into contact with the peacefull and law abiding community members, and lawyers don't often come across the peacemakers who work with hard situations in compromise and compassion, taking personal responsibility.

How do we avoid fear in childbirth? As Dr Sarah J. Buckley M.D from Queensland has extensively researched, the best way to avoid fear and pain is to let go into our mammalian instincts, (there's a lot of mammals on the planet, and we all birth very successfully, and usually outdoors...) and allow the natural rollercoaster of internal oxytocins, adrenalins, and other hormones take us on an age old journey. A large part of creating a successful mammalian birth is to ensure the birthing mother is talked to little, and in a gentle manner, left unobserved as much as possible, and given dim lighting. And Dr Grantly Dick-Read's conclusions on joyous birthing was to understand the way the body and the womb in particular works, and relax into contractions, rather than tense against them. Keeping your mouth open and muscles relaxed is a proven technique to transcend a potentially painfull experience. Not to mention ancient practices and cultural diversities presently and in the past, of a variety of different ways to treat the pregnant woman, the birthing woman, the umbilical cord and placenta, the post natal period, healing afterwards, breastfeeding, and early childhood techniques. Sometimes us western colonialists forget to honour the wisdom of the ages and different cultures. But even now, there are many advocates of gentle home and water births, from Deepak Chopra and Ina May Gaskin to Michel Odent and birthing practices in Holland.

As a mother of five children, I've experienced a beautifully diverse range of births, all of which have taught me more about myself and my body, and my place in the world. For my 4th birth I had the penultimate homebirth, water birth, and lotus birth in a remote northern town, where my homebirthing midwife travelled 250 kilometers to be with our family and the birth of my daughter, providing all the safety and expertise of a registered midwife of over 30 years, in the candlelit, sweetly smelling birthing room in our own house, with photo's of all my other births, children and extended family on the walls around me. In transition, I was reclined in the birthing pool, holding onto my partners arms , staring into his eyes and telling him I loved him. I sung, hummed, and toned her out of my body, with my awestruck family welcoming her in the dawns gentle light. We performed a lotus birth, had a 'baby moon' of 4 weeks where we didn't leave the house, had a real 'birth' day party for her within a couple of days of being born, where we all ate pink cake representing the placenta, and the other kids got presents from their new baby sister, to honour the fact that they were moving over to give her the room to be at my breast. We also got post natal visits from my long distance midwife, and advice and support with all and any of our needs.

And for my 5th birth I had the penultimate ceasarean. I must admit that transferring to hospital, dry birthing, having a spinal and a ceasarean were my personal worst birthing fears before the experience, but having faced my fears, I can highly recommend the journey to anyone, especially if your baby is 10 pound 7, with a cord around his neck, and sure to die by any other birthing method.

After preparing for a potential breech birth or birth of twins at home, ( I'd chosen to be surprised after past experiences and ensuing trust in my body), my treasured midwife from the previous birth brought another valued and registered homebirthing midwife along just in case it was twins, to provide back up, and for added safety. After labouring long and sweetly during the night in the birthing pool, getting to a point and realizing I couldn't go any further, getting out of the pool and walking the labyrinth out the back, I realised that the birth wasn't going to happen at home, and we had to transfer to hospital. Both midwifes checked me and the baby regularly to ensure we were both healthy at all times,and I'm greatful to them both that they let me make up my own mind, in my own time, within safe boundaries. Transferring from home to hospital was the worst bit, as I was travelling into my fears and the unknown. At no point were I or my baby in any danger whatsoever.

And from the moment I got there, everyone smiled at me. The medical staff were gentle and efficient, streamlining me through the hospital process to ease my pain as quickly as possible. They informed me fully of all my options and respected my choices. They also honoured and respected my homebirthing midwife and partner as they attended me, and she provided a valued continuum of midwifery care. The head obstetrician headed straight to the computer in the room where he googled lotus birth and placenta, so he could respect my wish for a lotus birth. The pediatrician introduced himself and his colleague, and said if everything went well, he wouldn't be touching me or my baby at all, respecting my desire for as much of a hands off approach as possible in the eventuality of a hospital birth, as I'd stated in my orange book on the suggestion of my midwife. They'd all read my birthing plan in the very short time between me getting there, and having my pain and fear relieved by their professional, gentle, and respectful conduct. I thanked them all to the point that I think they might have been a bit surprised, that this earth mother homebirthing type was so effusively greatfull...

After this major surgery, my partner and I stayed in hospital for 2 nights, holding our new baby constantly in a 'Continuum Concept' inspired approach to early childhood. We also performed a lotus birth, and many of the hospital midwives commented on how peacefull and quiet he was. This period was also the first time our other children had ever been away from us, so bonding didn't happen as beautifully as with my previous birth. But because I had a registered midwife as my carer, I got to rejoin the rest of my family a lot quicker than usual, and was enabled to convalesce at home, attended by daily visits from our midwife, to help with healing my scar and body. All illusions that caesareans were an 'easy option' were completely dispelled. It took over 6 weeks before I felt physically able again, compared to the relatively quick bounce back from my previous vaginal births.

But even the best care in the world can't prevent post natal depression when it comes, and a couple of months down the track I started to feel it's tendrils. And during my time of dealing with this hormonally and spiritually bleak process, I've discovered some interesting things. For example the caesarean scar directly cuts a major energy meridian in your body (no blame intended, it's the only place to cut) and a registered accupuncturist can attend you in hospital to mend the meridian and help with scar tissue now that they are accepted by the board of health. An ayuvedic masseuse can also help mend the meridian that's been severed, and Body Talk also assists beautifully in healing. As well, my visits with a psychologist have shown me the triggers within me and helpful areas on which to focus, when it comes to the depression side of PND.

And through this whole process I'm joined by family and two beautiful midwives, who might soon be made to face serious litigation if they continue their ancient craft, and provide other women with the invaluable assistance of the bodies of information and knowledge they hold around birthing, and specifically birthing at home. It seems surreal and ridiculous that if the current issues around homebirthing don't resolve positively, that I could have access to an accupuncturist in hospital, but not a homebirthing midwife!!

As my eldest daughter rapidly approaches her birthing years, my deepest hope and wish for her and all our future daughters, is that she too has access to all the birthing choices that I have had. And like the example set by Holland whereby the first option is homebirthing with hospitals as a valued backup, we can all experience the transformation available from all sorts of births, with a wholistic and wide range of options whithin which to perform them, and health proffessionals with which to work.

Regardless of law, a previous caesarean and the current debate around homebirthing, my family and I will have a homebirth if we get pregnant again. I have full and complete faith in my intuition, body, and the health proffessionals I've collected around me to take that journey if it happens in good faith and with joy. Knowing that I'm fortunate to live in a country where so many birthing options are possible and supported.

4 comments:

  1. Ah, what can I say? You are such a prolific writer, or estute? Don't know why these words come to mind.
    Thank you for another clear, wise, down to earth, and intelligent sharing of your story and consequent insights.
    I recommend you send this to the Holotropic Breathwork community. A lot of people will be interested to read it. So many people's lives have been determined by painful births and practices and beliefs. Personally I can say that my own birth experience has haunted me until today, a fear beyond description, for birth and anything that comes close to it. As an old and favoured friend Hellena, you are also my biggest confrontation, you keep on birthing babe! And it has helped me.
    In my HB sessions unconsciously I have journeyed back to my birth and the mysteries and fears are unfolding.
    Reading your birthing stories has also made me realise how a culture can be changed or should I say reclaimed. How every womyn has the inner knowledge how to do this, and how to do it well.

    So share it, and share it wide!

    Unfortunately, here in Holland, many mothers are turning to medical births with short stays in hospitals. After a few hours of rest they are encouraged to go home again, not enough after care in my opinion, and all too quick, like passengers in and out of airplanes, the urgency of people moving in masses. The times are a changing again. But I also enjoy walking along houses with decorations outside where a baby has been born. They let the whole neighbourhood know about it with streamers and balloons and funnily enough, still the symbol of the old Stork bird with it long orange beak, that always brings the babies.... I grew up believing babies grew in cabages on the land...don't know where that came from.

    But here's to a wonderful piece of word smithing and getting your ideas and experiences across. Thank you Sister!

    Wishing you a smooth and exhilarating journey ahead. Love and peace to Currawong, your Mum, Jess, Griffin, Lilith, Spiral Moon, Balthazar and.....??? two new souls...what and who ever they are...welcome them for me!

    Safe journey darls, I'll be with you in spirit.

    Kus en Knuffel

    Kiss and a Cuddle, Margo

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  2. Love your comments Margo, and I'm glad that you brought up the whole Holotropic Breath workshops you do, cause I've been curious about that for a while. I really think that people who deal with the end result of birth as well as the instant of birth could get together more to work out how we can all do it better!! Who would I send a message to in the Holotropic community?? I would love to start a dialogue. There is just so much to say about birth and the impact it has on our entire lives!!! From beginning to end, it has an overwhelming input into our beliefs and patterns and how our whole lives play out. I'd really like to be part of a group of people who provide booklets with information about gentle and conscious birthing to pregnant women....if we can have the orange book in australia, why not the alternative one!! I love your description about birthing decorations outside the houses in Holland:) Maybe we should start a new trend here?

    And thank you old friend for your honesty, introspection and reflection:)

    Peace and love to you, and I'll let you know what happens as the journey progresses:)

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  3. Dreamwoven, it's always nice to see you here. And grand to feel noticed by one as inspirational as you:)

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I love your comments, and your feedback......it makes this whole blogging thing worthwhile. Peace and blessings to you!