on choosing homebirth…

I haven’t talked much on this blog about Pixie’s pregnancy and birth. I don’t really know why. Probably because while I experienced pregnancy and birth I felt like it was all very private, too private for such a public space. While I had a warm little soul slowly growing inside me, it was so intimate, I couldn’t bring it here, not too often, not too much.

The Pixie is almost six months old, can you believe it? So now I think it’s time. It’s time to tell you, if you hadn’t already guessed, that we had a homebirth this time. There is so much to say and to share about this. Today I will give you a glimpse, a snippet, or I fear this post will be pages long.

Some part of me still feels disbelief that we actually did it. Did I really do that? In the quiet dark of my lounge room with a select circle of hushed supporters, gentle hands placed on my shoulders, my back? Or was it just a dream?

It was a hard choice. It didn’t come easily. There was so much pulling this way and that. So many opinions. I was drowning in them, mainly – but certainly not all – of the rude and negative variety. With quiet minds and much research behind us, we followed our hearts and did what we knew was best – for us. We didn’t tell many people. We kept to ourselves and our support team (who, because I’m sure you are interested, was made up of my naturopath during early labour, then, two midwives – one of whom is my sister – a doctor, my husband and my mum). We did not have a placard to hold or a message for other women and men. Not then, not yet. We believed in our decision and did not feel we should have to justify it to people who were mainly uneducated about our choice, particularly while I was pregnant. I did not want people’s comments, fears and ill-informed ideas sticking to me, attaching themselves to my thoughts, my days and my baby. This was harder said than done. I stayed within myself and the decision we had made as a couple as much as possible.

But then we hit an obstacle. It shouldn’t be as big an obstacle as it was at the time. But there it was nonetheless: Pixie was breech from 29 weeks. (Of COURSE she was!) I have written a much more detailed version of my breech experience and Pixie’s birth here, if you care to read it. Personally we decided we would prefer to go to hospital if she was breech, however unfortunately it seemed our options here were horribly thin in this regard, disgustingly so… After much to-ing and fro-ing, we had an external version in hospital at 36 weeks, and from then on, a blessing: little Pixie stayed head down until the day of her birth, and our meeting, in the sacred space of my own home with people who had shared my entire pregnancy with me (both pregnancies actually, aside from my doctor), who knew my ins and outs, who understood me, who cared about me and my baby.

Having experienced both a hospital and a homebirth, I can see both have their merits. But what I see clearest of all is the right of all women to choose their most appropriate path, the path that after much education and discussion, suits their baby and them best – not a doctor or a midwife or a homebirth advocate or their mother or their next-door neighbour’s husband’s cousin. And not be judged for their decision.

Afterall, though I suppose they are out there, I am yet to meet another mother that did not have their baby’s best wishes in the forefront of their minds, regardless of how they chose to navigate pregnancy and birth “options.”

Where did you have your baby? Did you love or hate being pregnant and giving birth? Or somewhere in-between? Did you feel supported? Knowledgeable? In control? Safe? I’d love to hear your stories too.

*I feel funny calling this a “public space” as although it is extremely public, I continually have to remind myself that people actually read this.

my top five books to read during pregnancy

I thought I would share some of the books I enjoyed reading during my first pregnancy, and am again finding new life and perspective in the second time around. There are so many books out there about pregnancy and childbirth, it can be hard to find your way.

Before you read on, please note, I’m so not the type of person interested in ‘funny’ pregnancy books that try to make you laugh and have cartoon pictures (Gee, aren’t I oh so boring). In pregnancy I like to read books that educate me (about real birth, not birth as our culture likes to see it), books that calm me, and books that remind me about trust – my body knows what to do.

:: The natural way to a better pregnancy – Francesca Naish & Janette Roberts

This is a great book written by two naturopaths, although sometimes you do have to take their advice with a grain of salt as it can be slightly overwhelming. Remember even when things are beneficial, the stress of doing/not doing something can often counteract the benefit. Take things slowly, step by step.

:: The Complete Book of Pregnancy & ChildbirthSheila Kitzinger

The title speaks for itself, and any pregnant lassie who doesn’t know about Sheila Kitzinger, please do yourself a favour and click on the link!! Ignore the dated website. She is amazing. You can also see her on the The Face of Birth.

:: Well Adjusted Babies – Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani

This book addresses a number of different topics from health issues, fertility, pregnancy, vaccination, holistic parenting, nutrition, and chiropractics. Our chiropractor friend lent us a copy a while back and I loved it so bought our own to keep in the birth/kiddie library I have slowly collected. A goodie!

:: Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful – Gurmukh

I love this book. I borrowed it from the library last pregnancy and boy was I glad when my puppy at the time had a good old chew on it and I got to keep it! It was a blessing. Unfortunately between pregnancies I lent it to a friend who I have fallen out of touch with (circumstantial, nothing nasty!) and so last week I re-ordered a copy for myself. I was surprised to find it for sale for $15 after it being at about $45 last time I was pregnant. Nice surprise! I went to this book whenever I felt doubt, fear, anxiety, stress or anything else related to the birth in particular. I would flip it open to a random page, and read. It has plenty of kundalini meditations and other lovely warm advice.

:: Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering – Sarah J Buckley

Last but definitely not least is Sarah Buckley’s book. If I were only going to buy one book from this list, it would be this one. It’s Australian, and is written by a mother and GP who has had four home births. She knows her stuff. There is hard evidence in here as well as reassuring information.

Which books were your favourite to read during pregnancy?