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Birth isn't amazing.

Birth is normal.

Birth is a biological function that in some ways we've glorified beyond necessity.  Or maybe it is necessary right now, but what will it do to future generations?  What is it already doing right now?  Being positive and believing in your body is important - and our culture has taken that away due to the fear we've instilled in children for oh so many reasons.  Humans simply grow up in fear.  However, in some ways, we have tried to make women so unafraid of biology that we've told them to trick their mind into believing birth has made them superhuman.  But, that's not true.

Birth doesn't make you superhuman.  Birth is normal.

Do we tell our best friends, "WOW, that is amazing!  I could not have a bowel movement at home! You're so brave!"?

Do we say, "You did so well feeding yourself today!"?  Not to most adults, no.

Do we pride ourselves for the deep full breath we take in the afternoon as the sun warms our face?  Do we applaud our heart for every beat it makes?  We can feel blessed for these things.  We can give thanks for these things.  We can be amazed by these things - but these thing are our design.

Biology works when it is nourished with physical, emotional, and spiritual means.  Birth is normal biology.

The ability to hike Mt. Everest is through determination and preparation and is a feat above what we were intended for - accomplishing this is great for those that desire it, but for those that don't or can't, no big deal.  Birth is normal - it is something that happens with normal healthy living; no practice necessary.  Healthy choices and healthy lifestyles, yes - but not anything above normal biologically living (you know, before screens and grocery stores ruled our lives).

The ability to slam dunk a basketball might be encouraged by physical stature, but is created by practice, interest, and learning techniques to do so.  Birth is normal; no techniques need to be learned.

Digesting your food well is determined by your nutrient balance, hydration, and movement.  Digestion is normal - environment changes the function.  Though we may realize our body's abilities when we nourish it well, each function is a normal part of its intended biology.  Birth is normal - the environment changes the function.

Sometimes, when we glorify the biological function of the body, instead of the nature of what truly is amazing, women start to doubt themselves more or believe they have failed at some certain part of birth if it didn't go perfectly as planned (especially if they didn't learn healthy habits until late in the pregnancy or if their birth team wasn't conducive to a biological birth).  Of course, you can't plan birth.  You can create the conditions that allow the ability of birth to go as biologically intended - just as you can create the conditions for all parts of biology to function smoothly.  But you can't plan birth.

Conception is fascinating.  The fact that humans can create other humans is incredible and evenso, conception is normal.

The moment of birth can be empowering.  And yet, the rise in hormones that should occur after birth is designed for survival - for a mother to desire to care for this child and the child to be able to be soothed and nourished by their mother.  Birth is normal.

Birth may feel amazing.  Birth may feel empowering.  Birth may feel superhuman.  But birth isn't amazing - not in the way that it is perceived that it takes a unique woman to be able to do it in a certain way.  Birth is normal. Your body can feel amazing in birth.  That's normal.  Your body may feel empowered through birth.  That is normal.  Your body may feel superhuman.  That is normal.  Your body may also feel tired and intense and disappointed and unsure.  That is normal.

The fact that our body is designed to experience normal biology in such a profound, empowering, and spiritual way - that is amazing.

Normal is relative to the conditions, including the culture, that a person lives in.  Birth experience is not wholly something we can create, only influence - but something we are intended to experience however that experience plays out.  Biological intention is present in all humans and we must support that intention physically, emotionally, and spiritually the best way we are able to do at that time.  We are neither successes nor failures at biology - there are too many factors at play.  However, we can be amazed at that biology as a whole and its intended design and find that the journey of every birth story is amazing.

Our whole body's existence is amazing.

hydration

Hydrate.  Drink more water.  Are you drinking enough?  Drink your weight in ounces.  The list goes on and on and on about hydration drinking more water.

But, wait...  hydration actually has much less to do with the glasses of water you consume than it does how you eat and what you're eating.  Yes, drinking water is important.  A glass of lemon water (with the peel) in the morning is great for eliminating toxins.  However, the more water you drink, the more you pee.  Water is a diuretic, you see.

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Make choices that support your birth. If you want to be treated like you’re at home, then stay home. If you want medical support, go to the hospital. If you want a biological birth, don’t hire anyone to “take care of you and give you suggestions.”

Gabriel Blayne - 8lbs 15oz
Born at Home - October 3, 2011

"Deep within each woman,
lies the knowledge to give birth
without outside interventions."

My 2nd birth - the birth I've been dreaming of for so long.  Bell's birth was incredible and life changing.  This birth was as close to biological as I could have ever wished for my family.  It was the birth that I talk about so much.  It was perfect.

After a week of on and off again mild regular contractions, the night before my birth I started feeling strong cramps in my cervix.  They were irregular, then slowed, and stopped before bedtime.  I had turned off the ringers at the house for the weekend, and each night took a long warm shower, and fell asleep listening to Tibetan Bells and relaxing to the scent of Lavender aromatherapy oil.  I had been waiting.... anticipating a past "EDD" birth - but not imagining I would go 2 weeks past.  I was ready to welcome labor with open arms.

I woke up each hour to pee - just like always.  But, around 2:00, I was feeling strong cramps, and felt like these were different than the contractions I'd been feeling throughout the past week.  I called James (who was on his 3rd midnight shift of the weekend) to let him know my contractions were regular and that I was going to call Donna (Donna Spellman, CPM) to see what she thought before he came home.  Donna said to call her back in an hour and we'd see how the contractions were, so I also let James know I'd call him back in an hour.  I sent a heads up message to Allie (our birth photographer with Allie B Photography), and gave Crysta (our doula with Gentle Beginnings) a call.  I was feeling like these contractions were pretty close, and was starting to feel like I wanted someone with me.  Bell was sleeping, and if things got intense, no one was here to attend to her if she would wake.  I told Crysta I'd call her back in 1/2 hour - but I was afraid to have anyone come if things were just going to stop.

Things weren't stopping.  But I did take a moment to snap a picture of myself.

I'm a nut about documenting events.

I called James, Crysta, & Allie in 1/2 hour.  I wasn't waiting an hour to get someone here.  I was ready for companionship.  I just wanted someone nearby.  I was really needing to concentrate during contractions, and had to quickly finish my message to Allie because that one was getting too intense to talk.  Yes, these were progressing fast.... but - wow, don't I have at least 6 more hours of this... then transition... and still pushing?  These are one on top of the other, I'm moaning, and I'm getting a little nervous.  I'm not doing so well am I?  But wait, this is the exact same way I felt when I was in transition with Bell.  Am I in transition???

All the sensations and movements were running through my head.  I got the birth ball out to lean on... nope, that didn't help - I needed to walk.  All the birth scenarios were running through my head.  Thinking of someong pushing on my back was running through my head.  Every direction of the baby, every little foot movement.  I could sense all of them - I could feel the whole birth.  I knew my body was working, and the baby was doing OK because I could feel him move.

I called Donna.  I think it had been 45 minutes.  It was time.  She had over an hour drive, and this wasn't stopping.  I still felt bad.  It was the middle of the night - and everyone was going to come out, and this was just going to stop.  I don't care.  I need presence.

James gets home.  Relief!  Wow, I'm getting loud.  I really don't need to be this loud - but it just feels good, so I went with it.  But, I'm still talking and doing just fine between contractions... gosh, am I going to have to deal with this all night?  Can I handle it?  I really don't want to...  I'm kind of done - these are intense.  James is a little panicked.  I asked him to move Bell back to her bed, and get the bed ready.  He wasn't putting the sheets on right - and that annoyed me a little.  I just wanted it prepped - and fast.  He started getting glasses of water, straws, and putting all our birthy-needs in place.  "I need you to HELP me!"  Yup - that same scenario with Bell's birth was coming up.  James is a prepper... but doesn't do so well with support.  When is Crysta going to get here?  Why did I tell her to wait?  I hope Allie gets my message.

I have to pee.  It hurts to sit on the toilet.  Same feeling I've had for 2 weeks.  I have to pee - and I can't.  I constantly feel like I have to poop... I'm totally pooping when this baby comes out.  I just accept it.

I decided getting in the shower will let me stand and pee.  I try the water on my back.  It was incredibly distracting.  I'm just not a water birther.  I'm a walker.  I couldn't imagine sitting in a tub - I need to move.  I turn the water off.  Pacing - my same ritual I used with Bell.  It brings baby down, and it helps me deal with the sensations.  Oh WOW, those sensations!  I paced in our little standard 5' tub.  "James, get the camera."  I leaned on the bathroom wall with each contraction.  Really?  More hours of this?  Oh my gosh - someone just tell me I'm in transition and I'm doing OK.  "You can do it."  "I can do it."  "You're OK... You're OK."  Nope - those don't work.  Moaning... totally works.  And I was MOANING.  Bell is going to wake up, surely.  MOAN....MOAN.....OOOOOHHHHH.....I remember my deep noises this time, though.  Yup - bring that baby down, Danielle.

"You're doing good."  What was that?  I thought.... James was telling me I was doing a good job....  He was taking pictures, and then just sitting by the tub watching.  He was so nervous... but this was great.  NEVER underestimate the power of encouragement and presence!  I AM doing good.  I'm loud - but I'm doing this!  And, I don't have to get in my car and drive anywhere.  This is going to happen at my home!!!

I really need to pee.  Baby is pushing down and squishing stuff out with each contraction - but I just want to pee.  James, get me the peppermint oil on a tissue... nope, that didn't work.  Worth a try.  Oh well, I'll just stay in the tub.

Oooh... I am still doing this...  but how much longer?  I want to squat.  Wow, that kind of works.  I want to squat, and.... am I grunting?  A few squats with James supporting me (I almost knocked him in the tub with me) and my water broke.  Am I pushing???  No way.... no way am I already pushing.  I'm grunting.  Maybe there is a lip, I think.  These grunting pushes are good.  No one has even checked me - how awesome is that?!!  Oh, yea, I'm pooping.  Hey, at least I'm not going to feel like I have to poop anymore...Baby must be really moving down now...maybe if I poop it will make room for the baby.  (Seriously, you'll think of all kinds of stuff when you're in labor).  Where's my labor land?  I so am not in labor land.  I am completely here - completely feeling everything, completely conscious and aware... but I'm doing it.  There's no way I'm already in 2nd stage.  But, contractions were easier to rest through.  Still close - but I was getting a break.  Wow, this is awesome - totally intense, and I'm really ready to just be done.  James thinks about cleaning up the poop.  That's love... that's comfort.  Birth with someone who is OK cleaning up your poop!  But, I kept moving around, so he couldn't get to it.  Wow, that stinks.  A few more pushes, and there went my water.  Oh NO!!  Meconium.  Wow, this bathroom really stinks now - and everyone is going to smell it.  Oh well... "James, call Donna... there's meconium."  Donna was about 15 minutes away.  I'm still squatting and grunting.  I'm going to have this baby!  Yes, I'm in 2nd stage.

James prays.  I think I pray at some point, too.

I want to stop standing.  Squatting just feels so much better. James lays down a towel and a chux pad.  Ahhhh - this is better.  I can lean... All 4s - what a powerful position.  Rest and birth at the same time.  Oh, I'm really pushing now.  No one is telling me to do anything - no one is touching me - I AM doing this all by myself!!!  James is just sitting behind me and waiting.  He's nervous.  I'm DOING this!  I don't care that no one else is there - I have a presence with me and I am DOING this!  I reach down... no head yet.  Oh, how long is this going to take?  A few more loud pushes - yeah, yelling just feels great.  I think of that carved stone face of the woman birthing - I totally look like her.  I'm POWERFUL!

Azstec Goddess Tlazolteotl Giving Birth - although I'm not keen on the idea of the "Goddess of Filth" this was, nevertheless, how I was picturing myself.

More pushes.  I reach down again.  I want to know how far the head is... I feel something squishy - but it is small.  It is that same distinct feeling I felt when Bell was crowning, just smaller.  OK, baby IS moving down... I AM doing this!  "Crysta is here," James says.  I look out - she's just quietly leaning by the wall in the bedroom.  Wonder what she's thinking.... I'm LOUD!  Wonder if she thinks I'm nuts and not doing well... oh well... yelling just feels good!  More pushes, a little high pitched, but that's OK.  Remember to just breathe, and you'll be fine.  More pushes, and I'm feeling the head.  Oh, there's that ring of fire.  I can do it - I think... I don't want to - I think some more...  Just push - you CAN do it... you just HAVE to do it.  I only pushed for a few seconds with each contraction.  Not getting out of breath this time.  That was perfect - exactly what I could handle - no one telling me to do any more than what my body was ready to handle.  I could feel the baby moving down, then back up - wow, that's crazy - doing the baby dance.  OK, I know we've still got more to go... baby is still moving up.  Oh, then there's full on crowning.  My perineum is stretching, but I don't think it is tearing.  Baby stops dancing.  Oh, we're almost there I thought, and no one is interfering!!!

A few more pushes and the head was out.  I DID it!  I DID it... and all I have left to do are the shoulders (oh, not fun) and the body!!!  "Can someone get Bell?"  Crysta says "she's here."  OH, cool!  I was SO glad she was able to be there - that meant the world to me!  I was worried she wouldn't be able to see because of the small space - but James said she was watching.  I hear Donna, "There's the head... but I'm sure you already know that!"  That was funny... I didn't have the energy to laugh, but it was funny.  I feel her hold the baby - that was a little intense.  I knew I had to get the shoulders.  "Next contraction, I want you to reach down and hold your baby."  OH - it is almost over... it is almost over!!!  I CAN do the shoulders - and my scar is giving me no issues (shoulders are what made me tear with Bell - that and directed pushing).  This is great!!!  I try to reach down, but I need to support myself, so I stop.  Donna holds the baby with the next few pushes, and AHHHH, relief - there's that squishy body!

Crysta is taking pictures - AWESOME!  This birth was fast, and Allie wasn't quite here yet.  The video camera's battery was dead, but at least I'm going to have some pictures.  I move around, try to get into a better position, and then Donna hands me our little....  Its a boy!  A boy. I knew it!  I feel elated with this one - I didn't have that instant feeling with Bell.  But, this was perfect - this was exactly the birth I wished for.

"Let's cut the cord," Donna says.  I check to see if it has stopped pulsing "Can we wait?"  "Do you still feel a pulse?"  I wasn't sure - I was shaking - so she waited a minute or two longer.  She took the baby, and I moved to the bed.  We still had the placenta to go - but it was OVER.  2.5 hours from waking up to birth.... WOW!

We didn't have a name picked out yet.  Interestingly, I was the one in a hurry to name him.  He was 8lbs 15oz - over a whole pound bigger than Bell.  But, was only 19.5" long.

photo by allie b photography

photo by allie b photography

The cord was wrapped around his shoulder, which caused a little bit of cord compression, and likely the cause of the meconium staining.  He was fairly blue and limp at birth - alarming to me, but Donna checked him and he was doing well.  Funny - he has favored the ROA/ROP positions, flipping to LOA occassionally, but always back to the right.  I did some optimal fetal positioning, but felt like he was on the right for a reason.  I believe he was there because the cord was on his shoulder - and that the birth went fast so that he would do well throughout, and not have to deal with the compression for longer than he could handle.  God was watching over us.  He was well.  Not much bleeding from me, and he pinked up quickly.  He has a strong urge and suck to nurse - just like his sister did.  Now, just transitioning to a family of 4, and encapsulating my placenta next!

photo by allie b photography

What a magical experience.  Allie was able to make it for the placenta birth, and she got some beautiful pictures of our family - thank you so much for taking the time away from your family to document this special time in our lives you can watch the slideshow here - I've only watched it about 100 times http://gabriel.alliebphotography.com/).  Crysta was there with love and support... and she ended up cleaning up my poop.  Thank you Crysta, for being there - for being a wonderful presence - for being patient - for cleaning up my poop.   I was SO glad to have people there for 3rd stage and immediately after - just perfect!

photo by allie b photography

Thank you Donna - thank you for no dopplers, for no vaginal exams this entire pregnancy.  Thank you for such wonderful care and advice - you are an absolutely amazing midwife!  Thank you to James for sitting patiently - for those small words of encouragement - I love you and am so glad to have been able to experience this birth in this way - even though you were nervous.

photo by allie b photography

Thank you Bell - for starting my life over, and putting me on the path to experiencing this amazing birth.

photo by allie b photography

Thank you God, for watching over our family and our birth team.  I didn't need an unassisted birth... I needed THIS birth!

photo by allie b photography

 

Just a few thoughts after the fact...  I am a firm believer in learning from *every* situation.  Birth stories and photos and related can be picked apart until there is nothing left - especially in an online environment.  This is my birth.  This was an amazing birth.  You may see things in this birth story that don't jive with what you believe, and that is OK.  You may see things that empower you, and that is wonderful.  You should read this and learn something you want, or don't want, for your birth.   You should also know that this is a very very small, albeit significant, snippet of my life, and you need to plan for YOUR birth.  For me?  I would likely really focus on an unassisted birth next time.  If my husband did not feel comfortable with that, I would be very choosy on the people in my space, just as I was with this birth.  There is a hat on my newborn.  I wouldn't do that again, at all.  We didn't care about the hat, and it wasn't on long, and no issues resulted from it - but it has the potential of messing with the safety of birth, so I wouldn't do that again.  I also would keep the placenta attached until I request it to be separated.  We, of course, waited until it stopped pulsing.  It was easier in the moment for me to move and such - but it would specifically not be a "thing" in a future birth until after the placenta was birthed, at least.  Regardless how annoying those after pains are, there is no way my baby is leaving my side.  If you want to pick apart my birth, and want to know the intimate details of my choices and why and how they've affected my entire family - and for future births, please get in touch with me - I am always more than happy to share.

Biological birth is not simply “vaginal,” nor “unmedicated,” nor “natural.” It is what nature intended. It is if a mother were able to instinctively labor without being hindered in any way – from interventions, from watching eyes, or limits. Esali Birth doesn’t teach about biological birth to make mothers feel guilty about their choices – but to educate how we control the situation and the effects that our choices have. This allows us to make fully informed decisions, understand our birth experience, and be proud of how our births commence – no matter how far from biological they may become. True biological birth is rare – mostly because of the fear placed upon birth, and human’s instinct to do everything they know of to survive and allow others to survive. However, we have to understand the implications of these urges in order to understand how our birth experience affects our livelihood.

With all our approaches to natural and instinctive labor, why is it that when it comes to stage 2 – the birthing [pushing] stage – are we so medicalized? Just because providers may practice this outdated method of birth does not mean we shouldn’t make mothers knowledgeable about the way their body was designed to biologically birth their baby – through all stages.

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