We Had A Home Water Birth.
The experience of delivering our first and second child could not have been any more different.
We rang in this new year with the birth of our second child. We’ve been preparing for quite some time, and when the moment arrived we had been caught somewhat off-guard. Although this was our second child, it was our first home-birth.
Whenever I told my colleagues that we were having a home-birth, they would look at me with a combination of shock & confusion and almost invariably question how viable it was for my wife to deliver without anesthesia. But before we dive into this experience, maybe we should discuss the experience with our first-born.
The most potent way to discourage someone from embarking on the mainstream medical paradigm of prenatal care and delivery is to have them undergo this process themselves. Naturally, the woman will feel the discouragement more than the man. For most men, they are just happy that their wife and child come out of this experience alive.
Men don’t undergo the transformations associated with pregnancy, labor and the post-partum period. Not that men don’t change as a result of these periods in their lives, but most certainly not to the extent that women do.
Long before I was married, I had experiences in the obstetrics wards as a medical student. I had assisted in several natural and cesarean deliveries. In addition to the exciting moment of helping a life come into this world, as students we also took part in morning rounds. Sort of a roll-call to review the condition of all the pregnant women on the ward.
It was here that my skepticism of modern obstetrics began to flourish. For starters, the expectant mothers were not even referred to by their names.
“How frequent are 12B’s contractions?”
Since most obstetricians would come and go depending on their shifts, they didn’t have a consistent list of patients that they would be caring for. This applied to my wife when we had our first child. She must have seen every obstetrician at the clinic for her prenatal care. But when the time came, we didn’t recognize a single person on the ward.
I was very young as a medical student, so many of my criticisms didn’t reach full form until we became expectant parents ourselves.
The prenatal care was just a slog of unnecessary appointments, tests and ultrasounds.
One of the doctors was trying to convince my wife and I to get advanced DNA testing for hundreds of different genetic disorders. This was well into the second trimester.
So, I asked the doctor:
Let’s say you identify a rare mutation associated with some disease that has no treatment.
What are you going to do about it?
She looked at me with a smirk and just reiterated the usual marketing BS.
Just as I thought.
As the months had passed, my wife had been thoroughly researching breathing exercises, stretching, massages, coaching, and much of the work doula’s do to assist expectant mothers.
So, early in labor she was able to employ many of these strategies to minimize the discomfort of the incoming contractions. She did it to great success. Approximately 4-5 hours of labor was endured at home.
Once we got to the hospital however, things took a turn. From the moment we stepped foot, my wife was separated from myself, her mother and my mother. Covid precautions, of course.
Then, despite the fact that we had already pre-registered with the hospital days in advance…they had her spend another 1-2 hours in triage, on her own, trying to recall all of the relevant demographic and insurance information while in active labor.
Mercifully, they eventually found her a room. As is the case with all hospital rooms, it was frigid, sterile, artificially lit and entirely unwelcoming. All the elements foreshadowed what was to come, and what most patients experience in hospitals. Treatment akin to a lab animal.
In the hospital, the birthing mother is regularly poked with needles, prodded with fingers, placed into unnatural positions, visited by strangers, and pressured into spinal anesthesia.
“Once your cervix is past a certain diameter, we can’t guarantee you can get the epidural.”
After delivery, it doesn’t get much better. Your child is regularly taken from you for testing and injections. Or, they must be placed under an artificial light/heat source. Then, there’s the hospital food. Oh, and you must stay for at least another 24 hours no matter your condition. It goes on.
Listening to my wife recollect the experience really put me over the edge. What had begun as skepticism for the modern obstetrical approach had evolved into outright contempt that “caring” doctors would treat woman and child with such disregard for the sanctity and purity of life.
Why can a dog, horse, or cow deliver their child in peace under the warmth of the Sun, but my wife must be treated like a lab-rat?
Is my son, who is the more healthy and robust than I will ever be, really in need of dozens of injections to make him “better”? Because a group of callous, profit-driven sycophants says so?
We weren’t going down this route again.
Before we conceived our second child, my wife did a lot of research. This time around, we decided on a home-birth. But, the reality of the situation didn’t really hit us until we found a midwife.
We had first consulted this midwife with the expectation that we would need to also consider getting a doula, a hynotherapist, and all manner of coaches to help my wife develop strategies to deal with the pain of labor.
Thankfully, our midwife was experienced. As it turned out, what we needed more than anything else was reassurance & a new mindset.
We needn’t anticipate natural birth as some devastating experience that requires preparation for any and all eventualities. Not even close.
Instead, the midwife recommended my wife read a few books. Most of which contained stories of other women talking about their experiences with natural births and what they learned along the way.
What followed was a shift in mental state. Birth wasn’t an attack on the body that needed to be assuaged at all stages. Birth is a demanding process of knowing and moving with your body. And like all things, preparation is key. Not minute-by-minute intervention along the way.
Sometime along the way, my wife asked me to be her partner in this birth. Be there, hold her, and provide words of love and encouragement.
Easy, I thought. I’ve been doing that for years.
Still, I was reassured that we had a midwife who would be there to help my wife with the delivery. Or, so I thought.
As the day neared, we prepared the room and tub.
Similar to our first child, my wife started having contractions overnight. By morning, they had gotten rather intense…so we knew something was going to happen that day.
We put the final touches on the rooms. Notified the midwife.
By the afternoon, contractions got very close - so the midwife was dispatched and on the way.
Within minutes of notifying the midwife, my wife experienced a rupture of her membrane (aka water broke)…and suddenly, we were off to the races.
I insisted she get into the bath, as the contractions started getting really intense.
Midwife was nowhere to be seen. It was now or never.
The whole time my wife was employing all of the laboring techniques she had practiced beforehand - breathing, mindful attention to her body, positive thoughts, etc. Even the wrong word uttered by me or her mother would throw her off.
We were distracting her.
As the contractions came to a climax, she had a moment of doubt:
I can do this right?
Of course you can. You are going to do this.
A few words of encouragement, and with the next contraction…a head!
Midwife still nowhere to be seen.
By now, she understood how this works. She calmly waited for the next contraction and, suddenly…we had welcomed a new child into the world of the living.
We could hardly believe it.
That’s it? No needles, no scalpels, no stitches, no strangers, no…nothing.
Just my wife, my son, and I.
She just sat there with our new son, in all their beauty. Sunlight beaming through the bathroom glass. Peaceful.
Within seconds, he cried. Then, he opened his eyes.
Minutes later the midwife arrived. Snipped the cord, and did her thing.
Everything was in order. No concerns. No complications.
I’m sure my wife would tell a different story, with a different set of lessons.
But for me, one thing is clear.
This was a lesson in mindset.
Modern western society and the mainstream medical establishment have done a number on psyche of both expectant mothers and their partners.
We are led to fear labor and delivery.
We need to be armed for this process with inventions of the medical establishment.
Someone must monitor every step of the way, and intervene as they deem fit.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Faith has awakened a belief in the miraculous capacity of the body and human spirit.
A belief that had been systematically dismantled and denigrated by Academia and Modern Medicine.
Once this faith is restored, a new mindset can flourish.
With this new belief in the capacity of the human spirit and the miraculous nature of being, anything is possible.
After all was said and done, I recalled what the midwife had told us on the first day we met her:
Once you have your first natural birth, you will want to have more children.
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