Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Special Delivery: A Homebirth after a Previous Stillbirth

This post is written with permission from the family involved.  My intent is to inspire others to think through their choices and have courage.  Deep thanks are given to Rachel and her family.

   Eight years ago, Rachel was twenty-two years old, in a troubled marriage, and pregnant.  Young, poor, and in a challenging life situation, Rachel did her best to take care of herself and eagerly awaited her baby.  She used hospital-based midwives for her care, and had a normal pregnancy.  Two weeks before her due date, her water broke.  She called her midwives who advised her to come over to the hospital to be checked.  She showered, got dressed, and came to the hospital.  When she arrived, the heart beat of the baby could not be found.  The baby had died.  Rachel labored heroically and gave birth naturally after many hours to her stillborn son David.  The cause of his death was never found, and the diagnosis of "unexplained stillbirth" was given to him. 

    The birth of David changed Rachel's life.  She describes the changes as positive, because she used her grief as a catalyst for transformation.  She began a profound spiritual journey,  left her unhealthy marriage, and basically started a new life, listening deeply into her heart to find what was good and true for her.  Rachel says "I believe that David and I had an agreement, made many lifetimes ago, that in this lifetime our time together would only last as long as it did.  For whatever reason, that was what was meant for us.  If it weren't for him, I would not be the person I am now."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"zee hormones of love are zee hormones of birth"

    When I was a nursing student back in the early nineties, I had the great fortune to spend a couple days with Michel Odent, .  He is the French obstetrician who revolutionized birth in his country and helped spread the ideas of undisturbed birth, waterbirth, and peri-natal psychology worldwide.   In the 1970s, he was tired of seeing so many births in his hospital ending in forceps deliveries or cesareans.  Clearly, the standard procedure of the time, the take-a laboring woman -and -strap her to a table on her back-and -drug her heavily- and pull the baby out with forceps- method was not optimizing the birth for mother or baby!  He redesigned the labor rooms to be like private, dark warm caves, with a tub of warm water and a bed on the floor in the corner.  He instructed the midwives to  just sit, rocking and knitting.  When a woman came in, in labor, she was given complete freedom to do whatever she wanted.  Most women gave birth in upright positions in the corner of the room or in the tubs.  He coined the term "fetus ejection reflex" to describe the spontaneous, powerful reflex that occurs when a women feels her own urge and pushes her baby out without a cheering squad to yell "push" and count, and tell her how to do it.  No one told these laboring women ANYTHING.  Just nods and smiles of reassurance.  The result of this experiment?