How to Have an Independent Birth
Independent birth is a new term overtaking the unassisted birth world. Many actually imagine the choice of indie birth to be one where a mother is alone during birth or without a care provider or at home or any specific set of "guidelines" that indicate you can use the trendy term. However, independent birth is simply another way of describing a knowledgeable approach to the responsibility of birth decisions.
Take back your birth.
You already know how to birth. You already know how to make decisions.
How do you have an independent birth?
- Trust your knowledge and ability to make decisions
- Trust your body
- Birth where you want
- Birth how you want
- Birth with whomever you want
Yup... that's about it. Whether that leads you to fully assisted, totally unassisted, or any level in between it is the PERSONAL CHOICE that leads you to making decisions for yourself from TTC to pregnancy routines to birth and postpartum practices that puts you in the indie birth category. Post done.... Okay, okay, I know, you want some substance - some feel-good to give you the confidence you need to make all these decisions.
Independent Birth - Informed Birth, and Parenting Confidence
Ultimately, our birthing experience is a teetering transformation between now and life with a baby - even if you already have children, another baby brings you back to this level again of nurturing a soul for their life journey. Birth is made to empower us with maturity and wisdom, but many cultures are taking this life phase and surrounding it with so much fear and "you have to be saved" mentalities that women and families are blindsided with even how to handle a runny nose during pregnancy or with a newborn.
Independent birth may be better described as Confident Birth, or better yet, Informed Birth. When a family is informed, they can choose no provider, a team of providers, or anything in between.
Only you know how you feel. You are the expert on you - and you are the expert on your baby. Truly. The more you listen to your body, care for yourself, and make intentional decisions - the more in tune you become and the better you can communicate to your birth team (should you choose one at any point in your journey) on your needs and desires. With knowledge comes great responsibility because then you are able to make informed decisions and be the leading role in the perinatal phase rather than someone just along for the ride doing whatever the care provider says.
Take back your birth.
You are here. You get up, you eat, you drink, you pee, you rest, you move, you live. You know how to be a human and birthing is just another part of being a human.
Want a test? Go get it. With an independent birth, you can learn the pros and cons and then make an informed decision for your personal situation. It doesn't matter what I do, what your provider would do, what your friend did. It doesn't matter if the studies for this year say a test will result in x, y, or z - what do YOU want? What do YOU? feel? What will YOUR family do with the information, the possible outcomes? The information you receive from Esali Birth, or anywhere else, should provide you with thought provoking action. Let the information swirl around in your mind. Get mad at it for a moment if you want. Then, research. Get passionate.
Research with Dad, your birth team, anyone together. Talk about it. Ask questions and give thoughts. Listen to every side. Take that knowledge and be still while you listen to your soul speak. Then make YOUR decision.
Don't want tests? Don't do it. With an independent birth, you can learn the pros and cons and then make an informed decision for your personal situation. Not every mother has to have the routine option. Not every (not many) mother benefits from cookie cutter care. The cookie cutter western approach isn't exactly showing us better statistics anyway, and in fact we see more perinatal depression and higher maternal risks than many other countries - including developed - in the world. Western medicine is great for some. Eastern medicine is great for some. A blend is great for some. A different approach with each baby is great, too. Your babies won't be the same and they will continue to require individualized nurturing their whole life - this is just a start.
Want to provide yourself with your own clinical care? Have at it. Journal your food, movement, emotions, schedule, and sleep patterns. Take your blood pressure. Check heart tones. Pee on a stick. Check your blood sugar. Order your own labs (through online sources) or collaborate with a care provider willing to provide you with these services. Pick one or all of these options. Belly map, palpate, or just have a cup of tea with your birth team once a month and create a relationship to build oxytocin (remember that your birth team is providing a lot of their energy for this, too, though, even if it doesn't look like typical prenatal care).
Want all the prenatal care? Go ahead. Get all the titles and 30 years of experience. Choose no titles and no clinical experience. Choose yourself and your family and love. Start with nothing, end with it all. Start with high tech and then get back to basics. Plan a cesarean. Plan a home birth. Transfer to the hospital in the middle of your birth. Decide to stay at home. It is YOUR choice. Nothing is set in stone. Love your pregnancy by knowing you can make a new decision at a moments notice.
Take back your birth. Take back your pregnancy. Take back parenting. Take back your LIFE!
Learn. Make decisions. Stop letting anyone make you feel like you don't know how to birth or take care of a baby. This is biology! Your were MADE for this!
You were also made to seek support, guidance, love. It's OK to want solitude. It's OK to want a group of people laying their hands on you. It's OK to want both at different times. Just as a doula should provide individualized support for their clients, so should a care provider and it is encouraged for you to desire that individualized care. Don't hesitate to ask for it if you don't feel like you're receiving it. Others are only human, too, and their lives are happening all around them just like they are in your pregnancy.
Speak up. Tell people what you expect, what you want, and don't apologize for it. If people make you feel hesitant to speak up, find a new birth team or support group.
Supporting Indie Birth
It's one thing to choose independent birth, but to support others in their decisions is the real key. As a mother, a father, an obstetrician, a midwife (home and hospital), and a community we need to support others in their ability to make their own decisions. Most of the fear surrounding life choices comes from personal discomfort in someone making a decisions that goes against a decision we've made or the way we currently practice. Are you a midwife that can't stand the thought of someone supporting birth without clinical experience? How is this different than an obstetrician not supporting home birth? Share your knowledge AND your love. Are you a mother that had an independent birth at home with a midwife (or unassisted) and are frustrated because your friend is choosing an obstetrician or a cesarean? Let's all take a breath and remember how we learn best.
LOVE. We have to come to a place that not everyone wants our opinions or thoughts. We have to come to a place where we ALLOW others to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own lives. When you speak truth in a kind and empathetic way, others hear. They may not react the same way as you - but they hear you. It may be days or years before they change their lifestyle, or they may not change it at all. It doesn't matter. This is our journey. That is their journey. Let's not, as independent or natural or whatever birth advocates, make the same mistakes that have been made for decades. Build up your community with knowledge sharing and encourage others to keep researching and keep discussing. Surround your interactions with dialogue that doesn't put words in someone's mouth - but that encourages interest through your respectful words so others are encouraged in an intriguing way to learn more.
The more aware you are of the birth industry, the more information you have about biological birth, and the more you surround yourself with a community that knows how choices influence our experiences with a loving heart - the better your independent birth will be and ultimately you increase your experience of a happy healthy birth. Happy increases oxytocin and oxytocin improves birth.
Information provides us with opportunity. Opportunity allows us to make decisions and feel confident about the role we're playing and encourages us to learn all we can when we do take a leading role in the decision making process.
What are you doing to take back your birth?