Little did I realise, 34 years ago, that giving birth to my baby at home was an exceptional event. For me giving birth at home seemed the most natural choice. After all, my ancestors had given birth for centuries with midwives in their homes. It felt right. I found a traditional midwife to assist me: a solid quiet woman who gave me confidence and did not rush me.
By the time of my first pregnancy, I was trained as a registered nurse and midwife and was horrified by the way birthing women were treated in the hospital. Lithotomy stirrups, episiotomies, immediate cutting of the umbilical cord and managed 3rd stage of labour seemed like meddling if not barbaric. Watching how birth was treated as a sterile event with women submerged under sterile green drapes seemed so unnatural. As if the vagina was a separate part of the body, a piece of machinery that needed to be co-opted into action by a doctor or midwife in a sterile gown with a pair of scissors in their hands.
I, on the other hand, desperately needed autonomy over my body, I needed the absolute freedom to move around during labour, to have the people I loved around me. I needed to be warm under my own duvet, in my own bed. I needed to be able to fetch myself a glass of water from my kitchen, have a cup of tea lovingly made by my husband. It felt good. It felt safe. And the most important thing about it was that my baby would NOT be separated from me after birth, and would be with me, his mother. My three sons were all born at home into my arms. Each time I gave birth, it was the most loving act I have ever done, it was ecstatic, fulfilling and I felt complete when my babies were in arms and suckling at my breast. When they opened their eyes, mine were the eyes they gazed into, when they reached out with their hands, mine was the finger they grasped.
I know I will continue to have these beautiful transcendent pictures of my sons being born until I die. I am lucky to carry with me these beautiful clips and warm feelings with no association to trauma or violence. What a gift.
I did not know about the benefits of the bacterial microbiome of vaginal birth versus caesarian section, I did not know then how the research would show that episiotomies were and still are long term traumatic injuries. I did not know how traumatic giving birth can be for so many women and babies, how it is perceived and experienced as if the mother and baby are at war. I did not know about the cascade of hormones, or that the hormone oxytocin that would be released to me and my babies’ benefit. I did not know just how important it would become to give birth without drugs and interference.
What I know is that I, the nurturing mother-to-be, was not violated,I was not left alone or abandoned, I was not mistreated, I was warm and happy in my own home, I was loved. It felt right. And so what I am coming to here is not something new – it is something old. It is not a new scientific discovery, but an ancient knowledge. It is not a new way of trying to get the message across. It is an ancient memory, so ancient it appears to be a secret. It is this: that we as women hold within our minds and hearts, our wombs, our breasts the power of life.
All that is going on in the world today: the institutionalised births in hospitals, the violation of human rights all over the world, the wars and terrorism, the missiles and bombs, the posturing and power games, the poverty, the wealth, is trying to deflect us, the women of the world, from the truth within ourselves.
We are the ones we have been waiting for!