– Posted by Leah
First, go read +Jo’s blog post about the birth she photographed last week. And grab some tissues. Then come back here!
Back? Ok. How awesome was that? I am a birth story junkie… and Jo is a great writer and photographer. Woohoo!
Now I’m going to talk more about my own birth. I’ve had 6 weeks to reflect on it, to fall in love again and again with my beautiful son, to adjust to my role as a mother… and in that time it has dawned on me that giving birth at home has impacted me in a few ways that I didn’t realize initially.
The biggest and most noticeable impact is the trust I have in my own body. I don’t doubt my body’s ability to do anything anymore. I’ve even agreed to let my crazy running friend take me out running…heck, maybe I’ll even run a marathon one of these days. Who knows. Laboring at home allowed me to go much deeper within myself than I think I could have in a hospital setting. I entered this strange plane of feeling both completely primal and transcendentally spiritual at the same time. I was more inside of my body and more all-encompassing than I even thought it was possible to be. It was quite the amazing experience. And because I was in my own home, without anyone trying to hurry things along or stop me from doing what came most naturally, I was able to stay in this state for hours and let my body do what it needed to in order to bring Jonah safely into the world.
In addition to trusting my body – and being immensely thankful for it – birthing at home also allowed me to relinquish any fear I had surrounding birth. I was taking a shower yesterday and thought, “Oh, hey, a few weeks ago I was in labor in the shower!” It makes labor seem like a very normal and do-able thing. Which it totally was. Just because something is intense and even painful, it doesn’t mean it’s not manageable or doable. And giving birth in my home normalized labor to such a great extent for me that I truly no longer fear labor or childbirth. Just the act of going to the hospital is, for me (again, I’m only speaking for myself and not anyone else!), an abnormal act… if I have to go to the hospital, it means something is wrong. And once I’m at the hospital, I don’t know how my body will react to that stress. I don’t know the nurses or doctors. I’m not in a familiar, comfortable place. And for me, that would have put a lot more fear into the process.
Of course there are people with the exact opposite perspective – people who feel safer in a hospital, people who would be super stressed and scared to birth at home…and that’s why it’s SO important to have options. To be able to choose where and how to give birth. And that’s the third biggest impact my homebirth has had on me – my choice was not a common one, and because of that I’ve had to overcome some hurdles – paying out-of-pocket, getting a bunch of forms notarized in order to file for the birth certificate, etc. But I still had an option. I still had access to a skilled midwife, to a supportive doula. I was able to make the choice that was best for me. And it’s not like that everywhere, not by a long shot. So I’m even more committed than before to advocating on behalf of reproductive rights – and I include birthing options in the umbrella of reproductive rights. Every woman should be able to choose safe, comfortable options for prenatal care, labor and birth. We need more midwives, we need more birth centers, we need ongoing education for OBs and L&D nurses, we need easy transfers between homes/birth centers and hospitals….we need a lot of things to change. And I plan to be a part of that change.
But first I need to go change a diaper!