What led my family to the decision to pursue self-prenatal care and planned homebirths without a midwife? Well, it’s not something we can really explain in the depth of where it started and emerged to the surface, but here is a general idea of one family’s journey. Trigger warning, I share my hospital birth experiences. ♥
The journey to freebirth began for my husband and I well before the story begins, but I’ll start from the morning we discovered we were pregnant with out first child. We were so very excited and embraced the idea of not rushing to the hospital for “what if’s” and “just in case’s”. We knew the Lord as the great Physician and trusted Him.
However, after 20 weeks we fell to the pressures of the few of those around us who were concerned (they felt we needed a plan B in case our plan to trust God was more like testing Him). Looking back, that sounds silly… but we went to see the OB. After numerous doctors’ visits, several unnecessary tests, 5 pointless ultrasounds, and needless worry about the size of our baby, we finally got to hold our 7½lb sweet little girl in our arms.
My labor with her was amazing. I didn’t even know that it was “it” when the contractions were coming. I walked around, enjoyed conversation with family, and then as they started to become what seemed to be “unbearable” we left for the hospital. They were 1 minute apart but slowed down when we got to the hospital. They told me that I was already 6 cm dilated, even still, at 7-8cm dilated my doctor felt things weren’t progressing fast enough so she wanted to break my waters. It was what I had seen to be normal in the birth stories and videos I researched beforehand and I was very excited to meet our little girl so I agreed. As time progressed, I found myself in transition, saying the famous “I can’t” like they said I would and in my head I knew she was coming soon. We had a healthy baby girl just moments later. From the moment I got to the hospital until she was born, the amount of time was a little over 3 hours.
Once the time came where we believed we were pregnant with our second, and confirmed our suspicions, we were so excited. Upon request of our OB, we started the doctors visits at 12 weeks. My pregnancy was longer than I could’ve imagined and quite impersonal. Again, numerous doctors’ visits, several unnecessary tests, doctors not believing me when I said something was wrong (and then being prescribed a dangerous treatment for the infection I had that causes miscarriages), 5 more completely pointless ultrasounds, requests for more in order to put her on antibiotics fore the next 5 years of her life (and an angry doctor when I refused both), and needless worry about her size… let’s just say, I found myself quite impatient near the end. A week before my due date I ate raw licorice, something claimed to be a “natural inducer” and tried to get things going. I believe I did just that, but before my litte girl was ready. For the next week I had strong contractions getting her engaged into my pelvis.
The morning before she came (right on her original due date), I awoke to painful and unbearable contractions. I timed them and when I could no longer take them any longer, we headed to the hospital. The contractions were the worst, most painful thing I had ever experienced. We arrived at the hospital for them to inform me that I was 7 cm dilated. “Praise God!” I thought. This was it! The contractions were right on top of each other, I was 7cm dilated, it wouldn’t be much longer! However, I was in soo much pain… I cried and I screamed in pain and begged for something to ease it… and taking that medication will be another one of the many things I regret doing during her pregnancy/delivery/postpartum care.
I threw up all over myself, fell asleep between contractions and had no control over my body. I was a slug and felt completely out of it. After several hours of long hard pushing, my 7½lb daughter (who was in posterior position) finally entered the world and was placed in my arms. Due to the stress of labor, she was born with a hole in her lung but recovered quickly, (praise God!) but unfortunately that first hour after she was born she was hooked up to machines and we had no bonding time. She was also given several x-rays while my husband was not allowed to hold her hand. I struggled with my emotional attachment to her but it wouldn’t be for several months that I’d realize I was suffering from postpartum depression from the traumatic experience of birth.
We began educating ourselves on limiting doctors’ visits and the possibility of a home birth. We concluded that we desire to have the intimacy of new beginnings to be shared with each other – without the distractions, concerns, fears, demands, probing, and constant reminder of “how LONG” pregnancy is. We wanted to enjoy every moment and embrace each as God’s perfect timing. We wanted to surround ourselves with people who would inspire us to be healthy, happy, and trusting in Jesus. We wanted to experience faith, freedom, and serenity. And we have!
When my second daughter was around 15mos old, we were blessed with another little love and were so excited! This time however, we decided to look for a midwife but couldn’t find one who didn’t have legal restrictions that limited their ability to avoid interventions. As time progressed, we learned more and became more comfortable with the idea of freebirth and decided that was what we’d pursue.
I experienced several weeks of prodromal labor and I began to dilate 2-3cm by August 2nd and to 5cm and back to 3cm by August 5th. Tired, I joked that I’d never have this baby and the Lord put Isaiah 66:9 on my heart and I laughed and continued to rest in His timing.
16wks 34wks 40wks
I labored all day on the 6th, contractions varying between 4 and 20 minutes apart, I talked with my sister all throughout it to keep myself distracted and around 5pm the contractions were getting quite uncomfortable. I went to be alone in my room and I shared with my sister that once my contractions became more regular and closer together, I’d run the bath. I then had a couple of “great” contractions that left me wondering if I should try to go to the bathroom but still 7 minutes apart. I went to sit on the toilet.
My water broke! And 30 minutes later, before I had time to move to the daybed, surely before I’d have had time to get things together to get to the hospital and certainly before a midwife would have made it, our first son was born into my husbands hands – right there, on the bathroom floor. We laughed, we cried, we ooh’d and we ahhh’d, and we had the girls come and meet their brother. It was a BEAUTIFUL experience; raw, real, personal, and fun. No poking, no suggestions, no tests, no monitors… We were immediately made comfortable and got plenty of rest that night.
After our first two experiences with pregnancy and birth we saw impatience and dread encompassing much of it, and with our third, it was very very different. We were so thankful for our joyful, healthy, safe, and exciting home birth in patience and love.
When I was pregnant with my 4th child (pursuing my second freebirth/UC), I was SO excited!!
In preparation, I began seeking out informative sites and blogs to educate myself even more about medical problems that can arise during childbirth and what needs to be done, what alternative options there were and what risks we weren’t willing to take. I was quickly reminded of how radically opposed some people are to those who choose homebirth – especially without a midwife.
Views and statements that seemed to be popular were:
“Planning a home birth? Sorry, but you’re just selfish and reckless.”
“It’s irresponsible to not have a midwife.”
“Unassisted childbirth is just plain careless.”
Selfish, reckless, irresponsible, and just plain careless….
Many of the views suggested that people who home birth are hippies, mystic, religious freaks, or what have you. It is believed that home birthing families (shall I say, “we”) are selfish and irresponsible people who only care about our comfort and are careless with the life of our children. That we refuse to see the dangers that come with pregnancy and birthing, and that doctors are our enemy! How dare we not just obey the doctors!
I want to clarify that my decision to home birth started initially with little having to do with my faith, little to do with my trust or lack thereof in doctors, and little to do with the comfort of birth. These things have their parts but I am not anti-doctor nor am I afraid of them or their demands. I am not anti-hospital and I wouldn’t avoid them in the event of an emergency. I am not selfish and thinking only of myself when I choose a homebirth. Ultimately, I sought out if it was Biblically supported, but my decision was based on it’s safety AND comfort.
Many women freebirth… including many Christian women. Christian women freebirth. My husband and I have taken careful steps in making this decision and we’ve only ever encouraged others to educate themselves and discover what they are most comfortable with based on the truth and not just what they’ve been told. That is not to say that I know better than a doctor… however, the doctors that I and others I’ve spoken with over the last 7 years, have come into contact with are arrogant and narrow minded to any other possible routes and get offended when we question their tactics, knowledge, methods, and especially when we refuse the recommendations they give.
I seek to make an informed decision, and while the majority of our culture has become dependent on the views and care provided by doctors in several areas of our lives (medication for instance, both preventative and as treatment), I refuse to join in the belief of the lie that childbirth is innately dangerous and harmful to ones health. I’ve not based my research on biased information. I’ve searched far and wide and compiled my views based on my own rational and logical thought along with evidences I’ve found.
While in labor with my fourth child I was quite tired because I had stayed up too late and ended up starting my labor just a few hours later. So come time for preparations to be made, my instincts took over. I wasn’t due for another week and yet I got the place ready and had my husband stay home from work. Again, my contractions intensified and following a handful of contractions 7-10 minutes apart, my husband helped me on my bed and I gave birth to our third daughter.
You see, pregnancy is not a disease that needs continual monitoring and probing nor is it to be frightening and stressful. Childbirth is not an inevitable death sentence without the hand of a doctor. What pregnancy is, is a natural part of life – as waste elimination, breathing, blinking, and swallowing… It’s occurred as long as humans have existed! Yet we don’t contact the doctor upon the need to have a bowel movement, even though the rare chance of it malfunctioning can take place. No we take action when there IS a problem. Childbirth is not without the potential of dangers, no matter where you are. Babies and mothers die in and outside of the hospital. While some feel tha they would rather have a doctor present for the “just in case” events that may arise, many feel just as strongly that they would rather be home to be free from the interventions that cause many of the events that people want a doctor present for. A dangerous situation arising during birth is not the norm for most. This is not idealistic or hopeful. This is the truth.
When I became pregnant with our 5th child, we were overwhelmed with the responsibility and the excitement! We excitedly prepared for another UC. When 4am came on October 5th and contractions began waking me up from my sleep, I wondered if this could be it. I became increasingly uncomfortable and headed to the bathroom. Something wasn’t right… and I knew it. My contractions were 10min apart and they were incredibly intense. I paused and knew I needed to get into the lunge position. I put lots of pressure on my bum and my perineum and I pushed hard but breathed when I felt too much pressure against my hand. My baby was posterior, so her head was pushing toward my bottom. I felt and heard a pop as my hips opened up more to enable her to come through the birth canal. As her head came through, I heard crying! But the doctors and every online source I’d ever read said (and says) that this is impossible since her chest can’t yet expand until she emerges from my body! And yet, here she was, CRYING with her body still inside of me. I knew she needed to come out, so I focused, and I pushed the rest of her out. She was beautiful, healthy, and just wonderful. Our FOURTH daughter and FIFTH child! How blessed we were!!
I am not afraid of the doctors. In fact I appreciate them when there is a need. However they have no super human powers. They are educated in their field and under certain circumstances. I too am educated. I know my limitations and I know when I need help – and I am not afraid to ask for it. I would never allow my pride to interfere with the life of my child. If a need arose and we needed a doctor to save me or my baby, we would see a doctor – without a moments hesitation!! However, in the situation of my fifth child, would I have torn if I wasn’t allowed to move around? What if I was so focused on fighting for my rights to be in a lunge position or unable to determine that is what I needed to do because of everyone else taking charge of MY birth? What if I felt too embarrassed in front of everyone to put pressure on my bum? See how there are what if’s with hospital birth too? It’s very likely that if I was in the hospital, laboring on my back, that I would have torn from my bum to my birth canal opening because of the intense pressure with the counted pushing that OB’s often practice. Or, that I would have gotten a c-section because my baby was stuck on my pelvis.
We are not careless. The decision we made to home birth, as with most home birthers, is not without its preparation, which includes preparation for what needs to be done in the event of an emergency or an area of concern. And my only desire in sharing what I have experienced and learned along the way is to keep a log of it for myself and for my kids, and to share with those who are interested in expanding their own knowledge by one woman’s experiences. It is never to judge… even despite my very contrary views.
I’ve not made the decision to freebirth at the risk of my babies lives. I’m doing it to add to the quality of their life and to the quality of our relationship, to ensure the best possible outcome for them and not just that they survive. I want the best for them… from day one.
And just for the record, if it came down to it and there was a real medical emergency, I would get the c-section. I’d just rather be educated and avoid it at all costs if it is possible without endangering my life or the life of my child… because in most cases, it is avoidable and preventable. C-sections have risks too! We all need to weigh the risks and ask ourselves what we personally want to live with. No one else can make that decision for us.
I’m excited to say, we’re expecting our sixth child!! We couldn’t be more thrilled!! And of course, we’re planning our fourth UC!! Praying and trusting for the Lord’s continual provision to do what’s best for our family. ♥ Thanks for reading!