After announcing the arrival of Xan, we have been getting remarks from many that we were “brave”. While they meant well and in a positive manner, I feel it’s important for us to explain that we chose to homebirth not because we were brave, out of our mind or irresponsible. Or a risk taker or attention seeker. Or trying out kamikaze or a stint of jumping off a high-rise building. Or gambling with our baby’s life or mine.
Contrary to wide perception – derived from generations of beliefs, exaggerated Hollywood dramas and movies, medical advancements and fear of the Unknown – labour and birth are more often than not viewed as a life-threatening, dangerous event that requires medical rescue; many regularly approach pregnancy as an illness.
Most homebirthers, including us, have done our homework by reading up and referring to substantiated materials as well as talked to experienced people. We have never thought that we are wiser than doctors or the Power above. We are not trying to play God but rather, we knew our choices, have considered them, and went with what suited our needs best.
The journey to making this decision wasn’t instant or made overnight; I changed my mind on and off for several times, sought my inner wisdom and did lots of soul searching before D-day.
We chose to homebirth simply because:
► Pregnancy is not an illness, and birth – for most but very few women – need not be a medical event. When given privacy, the right environment and support, birth can be a beautiful, intimate and safe experience. Think about it: if our body can naturally conceive a life and transform those tiny cells into a breathing baby, why isn’t it capable of birthing him/her naturally?
► We aspired to achieve a non-intervened, physiological birth and to attain this, we believed that home is the most conducive and suitable environment that can fulfill our birthing wishes.
► We believe that babies remember their births and how they are as a newborn, baby, toddler and beyond correspond with this experience. To me, E had a traumatizing birth. Seconds after he was born, he was separated from us, poked, manhandled and undergone all sorts of medical procedures. He was left to cry in the NICU with no attention given. Growing up, he was a high-need baby that needed lots of assurance. Up until today, I have reasons to believe that it is related with his birth experience. Thus, we wanted to give Xan the gentlest possible experience into Earthside.
► It was not a feat to me, or jumping on the bandwagon, or an indication that if I did it, I’m more elite than other moms. It was more of a personal goal or dream that I believed would serve as a very good start for me and my baby. I would like to achieve what my body is designed to do, after going through the other path and understanding that things could have been a lot different should my baby be born without drugs in her system. Ditto for me too.
► I succumb to external pressure easily and know that I will not fare well in a hospital environment. I don’t want history to repeat and hence decided to take fate into my own hands, be in control of how I want to labour, birth and welcome my baby.
► I have complete faith and confidence in my body and baby. I had a low-risk, smooth and problem-free pregnancy.
► I remedied the what-ifs by doing advance preparations. Better to be safe than sorry. I determined my fears and worked backwards. One of my fears was having umbilical cord wrapped around baby’s neck during birth. So I took a few steps back and investigated what could be done to prevent it from happening ie. keep myself hydrated, talk to baby, try out positioning. Another of my fears was baby going into distress during labour. A stressed out body can affect the course of labour. I learned up relaxation techniques, stayed calm and kept breathing to give baby ample oxygen. I studied up and did my research to ensure a healthy and smooth pregnancy so that there would be no late term surprises.
► We believed that birth should be a private and intimate event, just like how conception took place.
► With all that being said, because we had a strong plan B drawn up in the turn of event. We kept an open mind about hospital transfer should there be a need and made plans on the best way to get there safely and calmly. We also sought the support from a supportive, pro-natural doctor who advocates physiological birth. We went for our prenatal check-ups from time to time to be updated of baby’s progress and my overall health. I also ensured that I stayed active and fit throughout my pregnancy.
I hope my explanation will give you a better insight into our decision. Not because we are gypsy-wannabe or trying to revive the caveman era. Or medical science haters. Or extremists in all-things natural.
Simply because we wanted to give the best, gentlest and safest experience to ourselves and our baby. To us, staying calm, positive and being prepared – regardless of whatever turn the birthing process may take – is key.