Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Waterbirth of Rebekkah

On the morning of August 4 , 2007 I had the privilege of being present for the birth of a child.
Rebekkah was born into the loving arms of her parents, in her own home, in a warm pool of water. The midwives and I had sat vigil with this birthing couple for 24 hours. The mother's pace of labour was leisurely, but rhythmic and effective. She focused on her body's natural rhythms and accepted that this child would come on its own terms. I have supported many labours at home in my work as a doula, but only a couple that were planned home births. This was a very inspiring event. As a doula, I usually accompany couples into the hospital once the mother's labour is firmly established at home. The intimacy and security of the family's home environment is left behind as we enter the medical management model of birth at the hospital. Once there my energies are split between supporting the mother's physical and emotional needs and helping to navigate the medical model while still maintaining a sense of control and intimacy in a new and strange environment. My experience with this birth was very different. I was in the company of two of Saskatchewan's three midwives. Their presence set a different tone for the birth from the onset. These are truly beautiful and amazing women. Their complete TRUST in birth, quiet encouragement and hands off approach to a mother's care during labour were a breathe of fresh air. While the labouring mom and her husband spent time together and I supported them both verbally and physically when neccesary, these women kept watch. I think I will call them Birth Guardians. Their presence was barely known; floating in and out of the mother's space only when needed. Some women need alot of physical support in the way of massage during labour, others really just want to be left alone. This mom was most comforted in the arms of her husband, who held her tightly during contractions and was often heard exchanging whispers of love and adoration with her when she rested. The rest of us were there to support them and this process of birth that proceeded so perfectly. There were points during this home birth when I actually thought to myself, "This is so relaxing." They were so obviously in love and absorbed in the work of bringing this child into the world together. There were no interruptions, or interventions to distract them. They had the freedom to roam about, often going outside for walks, eating light snacks and bathing often. When the contractions would slow down, she took her body's cue to rest and would sleep for short periods of time. Upon waking she would comment on how good she felt and they would begin the 'dance' agian. This alone was wondeful to witness. Women are taught not to trust our bodies in so many ways. In the hospital this mom would have been told she was not progressing and interventions would have been initiated to force the labour into an "acceptable" pace. There is a focus on product instead of process in the medical world. The midwives kept careful records of her health throughout and of the baby's heart rate, but did not interfere with the way her body laboured. They made suggestions regarding positioning and nutrition as needed, and encouraged the mom the everything was proceeding well. You see, the range of normal becomes much wider when medical mangement parameters are lifted from labour. This woman was able to honour the process of birth and in doing so honoured herself. Her child was born so peacefully. I am not saying that one must have a home birth to have a satisfactory experience, but I will admit that the level of freedom and support for the couple while in the hands of well trained and capable midwives far exceeded any hospital experience that I have witnessed to date. I look forward to working with the midwives again and I am so excited for this new little family who have entered into relationship together in such a beautiful way. Believing in Birth, Lisa

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