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.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Trust birth? Well mostly..........

A little while ago on Facebook, when I was talking about the search for a home, a midwife, and a doula, a woman asked me why I wasn’t considering freebirthing.  As she pointed out, I’ve got more experience in birthing than a lot of other folks around, and have thought very deeply about it all, so why do I feel the need to have a midwife?  The question really sat with me, and I wondered why myself.  I’ve always had a tremendous respect for women and families that freebirth, and for the last 4 births Currawong and I have tossed around the possibility of freebirthing……..but it never really materialised into a realistic proposition for me.  But I’m really glad the question was asked, as ever since it’s been sitting at the back of my brain pan, tumbling around with all my other thoughts, and it’s been an interesting journey following all the threads that come from it. 

In my toolkit of experiences, I’ve had a few run in’s with homebirthing midwives that were less than empowering, and a few with doctors and hospitals as well.  I’ve read books from the Christian fundamentalist right wing about unassisted birth, and how midwives, doctors and all other birth workers just get in the way of what should naturally be a magical experience shared by the mum and dad alone.  And I really related to what was written.  When the books drew attention to the observation that many women focused their oxytocic love, thanks and bonding on the midwife, rather than their mate, I could really see what they were talking about.  There’s so many birth stories I’ve read, where women talk in loving and glowing terms about their midwives, and all their other family members kinda take a back seat to the show.  And there’s a lot of intervention that some midwives get into that is totally unnecessary and just gets in the way, like giving internals, and cutting cords quickly, and catching the baby and ‘giving’ it to the mamma.  And after having a less than positive experience with homebirthing midwives, I really got into this way of looking at midwife led births for a while…….only to get pregnant again, cleanse a lot of my negative juju about midwives by meeting one who listened to me rant and agreed with me, and then was present at our birth in the most unobtrusive way possible, and gave me the gift of ‘catching’ my own baby.  I then went on to become a bit of a homebirthing and midwife advocate, till Balthazar came a long and introduced me to the blessings of western medicine.  And of course in my most recent and publicised birth of twins, Lisa was an integral, necessary, and much loved part of the process, and I definitely had a lot to say about her in my writings.

And while I know the statistics of caesareans in hospitals is incredibly alarming, and I get the whole interventionist dance that often leads to caesareans, as well as the scare mongering that happens from doctor folks when homebirth or natural birth is suggested…..I’ve had some really empowering, respectful, and peaceful births in hospitals too.  My main beef with hospitals has been their overwhelming attitude that birth is fraught with danger, and that birth belongs in the same corridors as deathly illnesses, physical trauma, great sickness and slow death.  I’ve got a bit of a problem too, with how the trend in hospitals at the moment is to separate mamma’s and babies, and that whole invasive separation they do with cleaning, testing, jabbing needles etc.  Kinda doesn’t really aid in a gentle welcome, compassion for a little being who’s been living in a controlled, peaceful and watery womb, and bonding.  Also, how it’s really hard to feel safe and cave like, and tap into a woman’s mammalian brain, in the sterile and bright environment of a hospital ward.   But then again, if a woman is really afraid of birth and what might happen, maybe for her a hospital is the safe place that she needs to be able to fully relax into the birthing process?  Afterall, even though much ado is made of interventionist practices in hospital, there are still a huge amount of women who birth naturally and without drugs in them.

To be brutally honest, I don’t think either camp has all the answers, or even all the questions, and I think that both homebirthing midwives and their supporters, and hospital birth workers and their supporters are two halves of the same whole.  Very antagonistic and despising of each other halves, but halves nonetheless.  And while they’re stuck in this anti each other and polarising dance for the soul of birth, a lot of women, children, families and individuals on both sides of the track are being overlooked, seriously neglected, and damaged in the process.  On the one side we have the birth trusting, all women have been beautifully designed to birth naturally, and by the way we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, so hospitals and doctors should just get back in their boxes, and take their hands off birth, and leave us all to do it peacefully at home approach, that also makes a fair deal about the scaremongering of doctors and obstetricians, and how a lot of their ‘facts’ are lies.  And then on the other side we have the medical approach that points to the harm that can come to unprepared women and families facing an emergency situation at home, and perhaps a long way from a hospital, as well as some of the dangers that can be faced when there’s an un-regulated body of birth workers attending births at home.  There’s also the body of information they hold about the dangers of birth, and how fraught birth HAS been in our history.  Yes many women pushed out babes on the fields and kept going, but a lot of them experienced babies getting stuck, and dying, and cords around necks stopping them from being born, and a hundred other possibilities that can and do happen even in these days of improved diet and hygiene and birth trusting.  But unfortunately, it’s the mainstream medical model that has the weight of the government and legal practitioners behind them, willing to send the horses of the apocalypse after homebirthers, and resulting in an unfairly balanced war effort on behalf of the hospital birthing scene.    

And the result of this antagonistic polarising dance in my opinion anyway, is causing many a casualty in the self esteem and bonding of families and birthing women across the board.  Unsuprisingly, with the amount of kids bounding around us every time we’re in public, a lot of my conversations with people we come across revolve around birth and kids.  And I’m really saddened that a lot of women respond to my stories with half ashamed accounts of how they weren’t brave enough to try birthing at home, or they tried and just couldn’t cut it, or they used every drug they possibly could because they were so afraid, or they didn’t have any option because their pelvis was too small, or they had health complications, or they had a natural birth and it traumatised them, or they suffered post natal depression, or a million other reasons why they didn’t give birth in either the wholistic, alternative accepted manner, or the hospital, mainstream accepted manner.  And these women all take it onto themselves, as their own fault, as their own body failing them in birth, as their inability to birth ‘properly’ being all their own doing, as an experience that happened to them that was less than they hoped, the result of which, can put some serious bricks in the wall of their lack of self esteem and body confidence, which then leeches from their parenting confidence, and sense of connection with their families, and becomes part of the general body of stories around birth that go unacknowledged from either side of the polarised fence, as it doesn’t fit appropriately into their accepted picture of what birth is.

I see so many women and families in pain around their birthing experiences, that I’ve taken to saying something like this to them….. 

“Ya know what darlin?  There is no ‘perfect’ birth, birth just is what it is.  Every one is different, and every birth is perfect if you let it be, no matter whether it was at home or in the hospital.  And we haven’t been designed perfectly to give birth, cause we CHANGED OUR DESIGN!!  When we decided to grow our frontal lobes and walk upright we changed our design from the less problematic mammalian birth canals that were straight, and we turned them into this twisty birth canal that can really cause problems.    And babies had to be born a year premature, which meant they couldn’t walk like all the other mammal babies, so mother nature had to create a tricksy system of oxytocic rewards if we held them to us and fed them when they were hungry, so they weren’t eaten by dogs or stolen by other tribes.  You just need to be true to yourself and do what feels good for you, cause that’s all that counts really.  Trying to birth or parent in any kind of way because that’s what you’ve been told is ‘right’ is never gonna work, cause it doesn’t carry the weight of your belief and life experience.  Don’t let anyone tell you what to do, and listen to yourself and your new baby whose instincts haven’t been convinced otherwise yet, and all will be fine…”

Or something like that anyway. 

Cause the biggest casualty in the war over birth is birth itself.  And it is a war, and quite a vicious one at times.  Nastiness and personal attacks are hurled by both sides, personalities especially associated with either camp singled out for horrific attention, and it seems that no-one’s getting the law of attraction proven by quantum physics, that you get more of what you focus on!  And my own personal experience that you become what you hate is also coming into this equation.  No one is winning anything, except for long drawn out battle plans being enacted, and a lot of energy being spent on the fight.  And a whole lot of people are losing, their integrity, their passions, their experiences being validated, and their sense of self worth.  Sometimes it seems to me that the fight just takes up too much space.

In an ideal world, both halves of birth would come together and hold hands instead.  Doctors and obstetricians would study their own sciences, especially that of Ethnopaediatrics and the beautiful works of Dr Sarah Buckley, Leboyer, Michel Odent, and all the others who’ve championed gentle and welcoming births, and provide birthing centres all over the world that allowed lesser and greater influences of homebirth and hospital birth depending on the blend required by the families that use them.  And homebirthing midwives who feel drawn to the trade, will work co-operatively with them in partnership and backup, so that all the potentialities of birth can be dealt with effectively and cohesively.  And the women and families entering the mysterious world of birth will have equal access to all the different perspectives and possibilities available, and have free access to whatever option works for them, based on their life experience and deeply held beliefs.  And imagine what we could do with all the energy focused on this war if the war dissolved!!  If the polarity that exists melted into a whole, there would be no ‘taboo’ subjects left anymore, so women walking into birth for the first time could explore the possibilities of natural caesareans for example, and alternative forms of pain relief, and maybe, just maybe, we could also focus our attention on what happens AFTER birth, a largely ignored realm in many birthing circles.  We focus on the conception, the pregnancy, the hormones, the birth and all it’s possibilities, but what happens after?  What about the importance of bonding?  The exhaustion many women feel after entertaining family hours after birthing? How to fold cloth nappies?  How to deal with sibling rivalry?  How to deal with the issues of step parenting?  How to address problems that occurred during the birth and set up patterns that aren’t life enhancing?  How to ‘unlearn’ survival skills that we’ve been taught by our parents that don’t help us survive, and in fact may be really stuffing us up?  I can think of worlds that we could be spending our collective energy on that would be far more rewarding than the argy bargy between hospital and home birthing.

So to get back to the original question, I guess that on deep contemplation, I’d have to say that I trust birth implicitly metaphysically, but not completely physically.  I’m aware of the things that can go wrong, and that HAVE gone sideways for me in my experiences, and when I’m in that intensely vulnerable and ‘elsewhere’ state of engaging in the age old dance of birth, I really like someone around to hold my hand, and who I know will cover my back.  Someone who isn’t Currawong and my family, who are caught up with their own experience, but who is there to just focus on me and the baby inside me coming out safely.  Someone who knows enough about the intricacies of birth to be able to fix any solvable problems at home, and also to get us the hell out of there and to a hospital on time if that’s what is needed.  And I’m so greatful for the folk that spend years in university learning how to help me and others when we really need them in hospitals, as well as the midwives who dig into the past to find old ways of birthing, as well as making alternative information available as well.  I’m greatful for all birthworkers really, and see the value in all their work and ideas.  I just wish it was something that they and others could see mutually and in themselves as well.

But that’s just my perception of birth, and the best way to do it, and when it comes down to it, I’d argue for anyone else’s perceptions till I’m blue in the face, cause that’s what it’s all about to me.  The combination of all our experiences and perceptions are equally valid and enhancing if taken that way, to the whole.  And if we put em all together and respect them all, we have a really healthy blueprint for the evolution of us all and our consciousness so we can USE those frontal lobes we traded easier births for, to help our planet and ourselves move beyond this warring and fighting over who’s right and wrong that happens in every sector, and move into an evolution of love, respect, peace and freedom for every single thing in the universe.  I’ll keep dreaming it up………

8 comments:

  1. Beautiful openminded soul you are.i love reading your words.sending you and your family great blessings of love peace joy and dreams being your reality

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  2. Beatiful post! thank you <3 (from a freebirthing mama)

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  3. helena, its so wonderful to read this. as a woman who has had a traumatic disempowered hospital birth as a young woman, an emerg section that saved my life but not the life of my son, a homebirth that ended in the stillbirth of my daughter and two miscarriages...i came to feel that there was no safe place for me to birth. Not because I did not trust birth ( this of course has been a long journey and had its dark places) but because I came to want the best of both worlds and could not work out how I could make that happen within the context of the war that you describe so beautifully. I want the control, trust, respect for the birthing process, peace and comfort of home in a hospital setting. I know I now need the reassurance that the resus team is 30 seconds away, but thinking about trying to set up a sacred private space in hospital cant help but feel like a battle from the outset when I know how hospitals can work....and all the labelling and pathologizing that can be put on women who take a powerful position around these needs and desires. I have had incredible, life enhancing, profound experiences with both hospital staff and homebirthmidwives which I am profoundly grateful for...its a terrible irony that so much damage is done to birthing women and families by the state of maternity care in aust...on both sides of the fence. I think I got to the point where negotiating care felt too hard...and looking for a way out of that now. as the years pass and the grief wears its way though me I feel more and more detached from it all. I think maybe that is the key, just know what feels good for me and make that happen in the most simple undramatic way possible. I guess I had soooo much emotion around all my birthing experiences I couldn't conceive of the possibility that it wasn't my war (I was pretty pissed off about a lot of things that happened during and after my birthing experiences too its gotta be said!)...yeah...i'm going for buy out I reckon. ha! 'be the change you want to see in the world' i kinda get that now. not easy in the context of a war zone and so much loss but if anything will get me there it will be the incredible privilege and magic of pregnancy and birthing.
    thanks for your post. i loved it. xx

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  4. Aw thanks turtle09, and Lia Joy – I had a bit of a read of your blog, and you’ve had a pretty intense experience lately!! My fourth baby was one of twins, and her twin left early in the pregnancy...not quite as traumatic as for you, but it made the due date very different to what I thought it was. But she’s never forgotten. I was laying there with her pregnant with my twins now, and saying that I’d never had two babies in my belly before, and she reminded me that I had……she really misses her twin sometimes, and has needed a bit of extra mothering. And Krystie……..good lawd, but you’ve gone through the wringer of birth, sex and death more than a few times!!! You must have some incredible deep places as a result. I can’t even fathom what your experiences must have been like, and wouldn’t do you the disservice of pretending that I can, but I’m so very very glad that what I wrote about spoke to you. From what you’ve written, if anyone deserves a compassionate, gentle, and supportive hand from both of the worlds of birthing it’s you……. I’ve got a big wish for you to find that perfect blend, and have a birthing experience that will make it all seem worthwhile. Thank you all so much for resonating with what I wrote for a start, and giving me such amazing feedback. Peace.....

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  5. Breathing in the Love that you are!! All your realizations are so freeing...so beautiful to be able to READ your peace Dear One!! I so appreciate who you are!! Thank you for your strength!

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  6. thanks hellena, yeah, after everything I too hope there is at least one more baby for my belly who can find her way gently into our world. beautiful blossoming wishes for the rest of your pregnancy and journey into that sublime and luminous space xx

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  7. Earthdrummer, your perception and enthusiasm are luminous....thank you:) Krystie, I think you're incredible to have taken such an intense ride through birthing, and still be so full of love and hope...I wish for you the same healing balm that I've recieved through the birth of my newest baby!! And majikfaerie.....love you too:)

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