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Natural Homebirth Tips, Spiritual Homebirth, Childbirth Education
Prefer to Listen? Find the accompanying podcast episode on the Unschooled Homebirth podcast, Episode 47, wherever you get your podcasts!
Holistically-minded homebirth parents know that birth is about more than 'healthy mom, healthy baby', but how often are you told that it's ok to expect more for your birth than having a "healthy" outcome, and what does that even mean anyway, who is defning healthy birth?
I wanted to discuss this idea we hear all the time of 'healthy mom, healthy baby' because as someone who views life through a holistic lens, I see this paradigm as something we need to move beyond as our assessment of birth outcomes, and if you're holistically-minded too, you probably have the same feeling.
The realms of birth are such an interesting place to spend your time because physiologically, nothing about birth has changed, and yet, the institution of birth has been so modified that it's hard to untangle what's normal from what's a variation from what's a true complication.
Further, for those who don't know birth at a deep level, with a background in the traditional knowledge that's been handed down from midwife to midwife, and the patterns of nature that are always showing the way, for those who don't feel connected in this way, it's almost impossible to see how outcomes are a result of interventions, because often the initial interventions are so subtle, they aren't even considered interventions by most parents. These subtle actions are a part of so many births, even so many homebirths today, and these subtle changes in birth are impacting the perspectives we have about what a healthy birth is and what a healthy outcome is.
What I see in forward thinking parents, those who are connecting into deeper levels of themselves and looking to really develop their knowledge of birth, living connected with nature, connected with each other, and connected with their pregnancy, these parents find that they don't have to compromise their vision for their birth to get a healthy mom, healthy baby outcome. In fact, compromising on that vision, or never having a clear vision in the first place, is exactly what leads to unhealthy birth outcomes in many cases.
So what is health? According to the World Health Organization: Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
So let's look at the definition of healthy birth with this definition of health in mind. Healthy birth is defined as a baby born at term, between 37-42 weeks, who weighs at least 5.5 pounds and breathes on their own immediately at birth, and is born within 8-14 hours of the onset of labor depending on if this is her first or a subsequent baby, who also hasn't had too many children, but has had at least 1 to prove she is capable, who is of a normal body weight, who experiences no or maybe just minimal tearing, but does not require stitches, and who does not lose more than 500 ml of blood. If all these parameters are met, then it is considered a clinically healthy birth and the box of healthy mom and healthy baby can be checked off.
But is anything missing from that definition? Have you ever heard a story from a friend or family member, or maybe you've heard a birth story where everything went technically well, a so called textbook-birth, but somehow the birthing mother didn't feel fulfilled in her birth? Physically, the birth was healthy, the baby was healthy, so the birth is considered a success, clinically, but somehow the mental or spiritual aspect of birth goes unfulfilled, so can we still call that healthy?
Holistically-minded parents understand that we are complex creatures, that we have many layers well beyond the physical boxes being checked by your midwife. It's these invisible levels of being that are neglected or even abused in birth today, and that means simply checking the box 'healthy mom, healthy baby' just doesn't cut it when you understand the many layer of a human being.
Reaching these levels of yourself or your partner on an everyday basis, but especially for birth becomes a critically important part of preparing for a truly healthy birth, a birth that goes well beyond healthy mom healthy baby, and takes you into the transformative realms of birth where you experience the transformation of becoming a more complete version of yourself, someone who is able to travel through all the layers of the subconscious mind that pregnancy and birth open up where the lessons of who you are meant to become in this transformation are revealed in one form or another.
Birth practices that focus on healthy mom healthy baby are focused on the physical realm, and often these practices take away from the transformative aspects of birth because when everyone is focused on your physical body in birth, if your birth team is constantly bringing you back to the physical reality, you are feeling all the physical aspects of birth, whether you want to or not.
This effect can be caused in the most well-meaning way, maybe your doula thinks counter pressure will help you because that's what she usually does, but her touch pulls you from the altered states of labor where you were riding the waves of contractions in your own way, and it brings you back into your physical body to feel the physical sensation, and you lose the path you were on, the state you were in. Even these small interventions, disguised as comfort techniques, these can disrupt the journey to a truly healthy birth.
Now I know this might be far beyond how you are preparing for your own homebirth, and thinking about the many layers of human consciousness might feel overwhelming on top of everything else you have going on with getting ready for a new baby, but I do want to caution you toward following the status quo definition of healthy mom healthy baby and get clear on what a healthy outcome really means to you.
So often, parents who view their lifestyle and healthcare choices through a holistic lens, they are labeled as hippies, or crunchy, granola, or even the new favorite term of the times, you must be an "anti-vaxxer", and these labels the world puts upon you when you have a different perspective can induce feelings of guilt for following your gut, following your intuition, following nature, doing what you know is right, just because it's different and it goes against popular thought.
If you're someone who resonates with that image, then you've probably been there before, maybe even in this pregnancy, where someone told you your choice was wrong, questioned how you could make that choice because they think it's dangerous or neglegent. These typical reactions and this kind of thinking has entrapped much of the realm of birth today into the 'healthy mom, healthy baby' is all that matters paradigm.
But what do we see all the time in that paradigm? Mothers, and fathers and all parents, their feelings about their birth experience are never considered, as if the non-physical parts of our being are secondary and insignificant in comparison to our physical body. Well-meaning people, once again are saying "at least you have a healthy baby", "at least everyone is safe". But is that true? When we allow outcomes of birth to be based on 'healthy mom, healthy baby' as the only outcome that is significant, the only outcome of merit, what does that say about us as human beings and our purpose on earth?
Think about it this way, when someone loses an important person in their life, do we try to consul them by saying, at least you have your health, at least you are safe? No, we would never say that, we might bring them food to make sure they are taking care of their physical needs, but we would offer them comfort, we would offer them prayer or song, we would send them flowers and a card to nourish their spirit and their mental wellbeing, because we know these aspects are important, as important as the physical body.
When we only view the health of birth through the physical aspects, this implies that pregnant women are prized for their wombs, for their ability to incubate a new human being, their feelings don’t matter, their experience doesn't matter, their transformation into a mother who innately knows how to care for her new baby, who innately knows how to nurture this human being, who innately knows how to advocate for this child, none of those things matter. When they don't matter, the transformation to mother or parent, it doesn't matter because the system will be here to tell her what to do, how to raise her child, when her child needs to see a doctor, what foods her child needs to eat, on what week of life her child needs to speak. Her life and her child's life will be out of her hands and she won't even know it. And it starts all the way back at the pregnancy, during prenatal visits, during conversations with family and friends, with everyone who thinks they are supporting you by telling you what to do so you have a 'healthy mom, healthy baby' outcome.
Ask yourself, if your birth is out of your control, if your newborn's care is out of your control, if your child's wellbeing is out of your control, is that really health on all levels, are you living a holistic lifestyle if someone else is telling you what healthy is for you and your baby?
I know my holistically-minded parents are saying no, no, no to all of that because living holistically means you are seeing below the surface, you know there are many layers of depth in each one of us and no one else can truly know what is right for you as an individual.
Moving beyond the current 'healthy mom, healthy baby' paradigm takes conscious awareness to recognize truths from the beliefs that plague birth and even natural birth today. It takes connecting in with your own inner knowing, learning how to awaken the intuition and instincts that are in your very cells so you find the confidence to follow what you know is right instead of just doing what a perceived authority tells you is right, or falling into the trap of guilt that society might try to lay on you, questioning your judgement just because it's a different perspective.
I've seen many parents take this journey through their own pregnancy and birth, starting as the naturally inquisitive homebirth family looking everywhere for information - books, YouTube videos, Facebook groups, just trying to feel like they really can trust their inner knowing by filling in the uncertainty with external information. The problem is, at this phase, those hopeful homebirthers are looking everywhere but inside to find the answers they want, but I have seen these parents get onto the right path for their birth, orient their own inner Natural Birth Compass, and become holistic homebirthers with the knowledge that they unlock within their own cells, in their own souls, and within each other as co-parents, as partners on this journey. When they have that level of trust in birth, in themselves, and in each other, everyone else's opinions fade away and they are no longer subject to the second guessing, to the self-questioning, to really wondering if their choices will have the outcome of healthy mom healthy baby or if they are taking risks. All those concerns are laid to rest and they enjoy their journey to birth and to the transformation into more complete versions of themselves as a result of the journey.
And these parents go on to become confident in their choices for their family, no longer subject to being told what to do to raise their children, it just comes naturally. And that is an amazing kind of freedom, where you don't feel judged by others, you don't hold onto the world's opinions of right and wrong, you just live your own life in the way you want to, being healthy by your definition, not by checking a box as defined by an agency or expert.
I trust if you are a holistically-minded parent, one who might be arranging your homebirth, you are connecting to all the layers inside of yourself and connecting to your inner knowing, so you go beyond the 'healthy mom, healthy baby' paradigm to have a transformative birth experience that sets you on the path of becoming a more complete version of yourself so you fully show up for your family.
If you would like to start to explore a new paradigm of homebirth preparation, download the free guide Three Cycles You Need to Know for a More Confident and Intuitive Homebirth, get your free copy by clicking here!
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