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
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.