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Spiritual Homebirth, Childbirth Education
Prefer to Listen? Find the accompanying podcast episode on the Unschooled Homebirth podcast, Episode 50, wherever you get your podcasts!
Even though more people know about homebirth today, when your not from a family or circle of friends who have traveled that path, talking about your choice to homebirth can come with a lot of dread and frustration and leave you feeling unsupported and even judged for your choice. So what do you do when the important people in your life just don't understand why you would choose to homebirth? This article will help you learn how you can have better conversations with those in your life who just don't see eye to eye with your choices so you can help the important people in your life support your birth.
Pregnancy is such a special time in your life, there is no other time that you are as close to a human being than when you're pregnant, except for when your mom was pregnant with you. During this time, you and your baby are only apart from one another by the four cell layers that make up your baby's placenta. It's no wonder you want to do everything you can to keep your baby safe and ensure they have the best departure from your womb you can make possible. Afterall they are incredibly comfortable in there, and it's the most protection we can offer them, it gets a lot harder once they're on the outside!
With all that in mind, it's natural for those of us who live a more holistically-oriented lifestyle to know that homebirth is the easiest and most logical way to keep our precious gift safe. Even though we understand that, and it makes perfect sense to us, the majority of the Western world just doesn’t get it. They see homebirth as dangerous, they see birthing moms as a sudden risk waiting to happen, and maybe for the life of them, they can't understand why you wouldn't want access to pain medications, just in case you need them.
For many families choosing homebirth, the conversation with certain people in their lives can be difficult, sometimes to the point they just can't talk to them about their pregnancy or their birth at all. This can be a difficult adjustment, especially if it's someone close to you like your mother or sister, because you really want to share this magical time together, but every time you talk it's ruined by the anxiety and frustration that builds up around the conversation that inevitably arises.
The problems that lead to this are, first, misinformation about birth as a whole, but especially homebirth as it's presented by the media, by the medicalization of birth and the belief that birth is a medical event. Second, people's own beliefs around birth they created from their own birth stories and the experiences they had, from what they were told by their birth providers, and the outcomes of their own births, and I don't want to discount anyone's experience, of course things can require medical intervention in a small percentage of cases, but most of the things people experience in their medically managed births that caused them to honestly believe their care provider saved their life or their baby's life, were first caused by the care provider, and the lack of patience, who then had to clean up the problems they made. Though it won't look like this from the outside, and I know this causes a defense reaction in many people who have been in this place, because it will look like the mom's fault or the baby's fault to those who don't know the traditional physiology of labor and birth, so you will hear things like failure to progress, or the baby's isn't handling labor so the baby has decels in their heart tones, or your pelvis is too small and your baby is stuck. Now I won't say these things never happen, sometimes people get struck by lightening, sometimes trains jump the track, awful things do happen, that's just part of life, but not 30% of the time, we're talking small percentages here, and we should be talking small percentages in birth too.
Most people who have these really scary words said to them that lead to really scary experiences, that probably didn't need to happen in the first place, they hold onto the story they were told, and that story leads to the belief that birth is dangerous and you need a doctor, the scar is real and belief is too. I think it's important that we have compassion for families who have experienced these situations, and we understand where they come from when they pass judgement about your choices to do something different. We are human and we have to make judgements, it's important for our survival, judging the potential for a plant to be poisonous, judging whether we could spear the animal before it ran off or risk losing a spear, judging when to plant crops, judging was and is a constant part of our lives, no matter how much we think we are free of judgement.
So while your friends or family members maybe be causing you stress with their judgement of your choices, chances are it's because they care about you and your baby and they are genuinely concerned that you are doing something risky.
For you, that can feel like they don't trust you to make the right choices for your baby, it can feel like they think you are reckless or even selfish, because what they don't see is that what you are choosing is what feels safest to you for your baby, because your level of knowledge about the system of birth is much different than theirs. They believe birth itself is the thing to fear, but you might believe interventions that disrupt birth are the things to fear. This knowledge gap can be so big that not only are you on two different sides of the gap, you may not even be looking at the same gap!
Knowing that they don't know what you know, they only know what they've learned from their experiences or from the mainstream narrative that has influenced their beliefs about the safety of birth is important to keep in mind.
Once you know where they are coming from, you have a choice in how you respond and how you let their words and judgements and fears impact you. I talk about this at more depth in my online childbirth preparation course, the Natural Birth Compass Program, where we get pretty deep into the discussion about the importance of working with emotions and reactions in life and in birth. As my students immerse themselves in the pattern of nature and see how it guides birth exactly as it was meant to unfold, and as they learn the traditional knowledge that midwives used to hold when they attended birth without interventions, without disturbing the mother in birth for any reason except in extremely unusual circumstances, and as they see how perfectly the design of birth is when time is respected, when their space is respected, when they are deeply connected to their birth partner, and with their own intuition and instincts as their own inner knowing is activated and acting as a guide all the way through.
When they hit that point in their education where there is no going back to how you used to live, when life becomes so rich and exciting because they see how they are part of the great web of life and how the earth and the sun and the moon, and even the trees and birds are offering lessons all the time, birth is just part of who they are now and there is no medicalization about it. They become so aware of the beauty and power of birth that the words of others saying anything to the otherwise just don't mean anything because they're just not true, they don’t fit the natural cycle of nature, so they are an anomaly, and anomalies are rare. So they can take those words they hear and instead of frustration and anger, they can turn them into compassion and understanding, because they hold a truth that no one can take away.
Another thing to help those around you who are responding to your choice with fear or question is to share the facts. We know people love to hear facts, and I would even say my observations are that, the more disconnected someone is from their own intuition, the more they crave facts and information. I even see this a lot among homebirth families who are investigating every aspect of birth trying to memorize all the information they can about birth thinking that's what makes them prepared, when really your inner knowing is what ultimately guides you through birth, because it comes from a blend of seeing the cycle of nature that guides our life, the 24-hour sun cycles, the 28-day moon cycle, and yearly seasonal cycle, and the myriad other cycles we live everyday without even thinking about it or really understanding it. When you blend ancestral wisdom with authentic and real physiology based in the cycle of nature, not the filtered physiology of today, then you realize everything you need to know is already in your deepest inner knowing, you just have to connect with it.
When it comes to your friends and family, you might have to settle for sharing the facts. Things like, we know that prenatal care is the most important factor in determining who will have a better birth outcome, and who provides more in depth and thorough prenatal care than a homebirth midwife? A good and authentic homebirth midwife spends time with you ensuring you are getting the nurturing and nourishment you need from your relationship with her, with your partner, from your food, and all aspects of your life, and often they share more information about health and wellbeing. While many will argue that mifwives outcomes are because they usually work with low-risk women, but one could equally say that midwives are also why more women stay low risk.
If we juxtapose that with the average experience of care from an OB, I know there are some exceptional OB's out there, but on average, women spend less than 15 minutes at an appointment and it's focused on their physical status, ruling out any potential problems, rarely talking about how she's doing on any other level but physically, nothing that promotes wellbeing.
So if prenatal care is the number one determinate of a healthy birth outcome, why wouldn't midwifery care be seen as the gold star choice? Why are we continuing to follow the outdated model of medical care on something that isn't medical if we know it might be causing harm?
We also know that families who are prepared for birth have the most successful homebirths, those who are knowledgeable in their prenatal care and the normal physiology of birth so they know exactly what care they need and don't need for their entire spectrum of care, because education is really key to shifting our understanding of birth. So if you're taking a good childbirth education course, invite your friend or family member to join in for some part of it if possible, or share what you're learning so they can understand why you view birth the way you do and why your birth experience and where your baby comes into the world matters so much. Of course, this might be easier with an online course rather than an in-person course, but try the best you can to share what you learn about physiology and how the home environment makes a difference in how birth unfolds.
If that's not possible, you could always try to recommend books, podcasts, or YouTube videos that you found helpful, but I don't always find that to be the most motivating for people to do on their own, it’s much better if you go together.
If you try these things and you really can't find a place to agree to understand each others thoughts, opinions and judgements, and it's causing you a lot of distress in your pregnancy, it might be best on your overall stress to agree to not discuss your pregnancy or birth, even if that means you don't get to spend this time together. Stress is harmful on a pregnancy and a baby in many ways, so the more you can limit unnecessary stress in your life, the better your overall health will be. If this happens, make sure you find other people you do connect with that can help elevate you and share this magical time, we only have so many days to spend enjoying pregnancy and celebrating the gift of holding your little one only 4 cell layers away and you should spend it in joy and gratitude.
So to sum this up, when you are having trouble communicating about your choice to homebirth with someone who is important to you, first it's important to step back and acknowledge their story, where has their own experience in birth taken them and how has that shaped their beliefs about birth?
It's also important to really understand that you have choice in everything you do, even in how you respond to their words and their judgements. You might need to explore why their opinions are causing you this level of emotion, what's the actual trigger under the surface, do you feel they are saying they have a lack of trust in you? Are you feeling patronized? Chances are, there is something deeper than the birth itself, and when you find it, you can let them cause you frustration and anger, or you can turn those emotions into compassion and understanding, after all, most likely this person really cares about you and your baby and honestly has fears, it's just that their fears are based on their beliefs, not reality,
If at all possible, invite them into your education experience so they can learn to see birth differently and maybe even shift some of their beliefs, or at least start to question them.
If you really can't find a way to feel supported in their presence and you feel the stress of it is too much for your pregnancy, then find alternate ways to get the support and elevation to really be able to find joy in your pregnancy and in preparing for your upcoming birth.
I hope these tips are useful and I would love to hear what works for you or how you are managing these questions and conversations in your pregnancy journey. Share your stories with me @naturalbirthcompss, I would love to have a conversation with you and help elevate you and your experience!
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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