One woman's journey to self-discovery through freebirth.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I came to freebirth the same way many women do, because of birth trauma. When I had my first baby I would never have considered unassisted birth, I’d have thought homebirth was crackers, freebirth just wouldn’t have registered as something normal people do.
My first birth didn’t really go to plan. It was the full cascade of interventions and it ended up in an operating theatre… where I could see a cockroach crawling across the ceiling above while I was splayed open. You might think I was somewhere deep in Botswana, but actually I was in the middle of Sydney at RPA.
I was left with a gaping hole because the staples kept popping out, I could literally see my insides, and it oozed infection. It was painful beyond description and I was too traumatised to see anyone because I was afraid they’d want to touch it. Ten months after the surgery it still hurt to sit up without bracing my middle.
I hired a midwife for my next birth but she turned out to be more of a medwife and my peaceful planned homebirth turned into a transfer to hospital and a repeat caesarean. Not much fun was had there either, but the hospital staff were actually kind to me. I particularly liked the surgeon, he did a great job and told me that there was no reason I couldn’t have a VBA2C.
My next birth was a planned freebirth until 7 months when I went into premature labour. We went to hospital where the monitors showed that my baby was fine but I was in full blown labour and about to have a baby. They tried everything to get me into theatre but I pushed a baby out before they could. Needless to say their monitors had been wrong, my son had died two days
previously (according to the autopsy) in utero, from listeria poisoning.
So for my next birth I hired a wonderful midwife. What followed was a perfectly straightforward birth …. at forty-four weeks. It would never have happened in a hospital. They wouldn’t have provided access to a birth pool, or “let” me push a baby out at that gestation without fighting tooth and nail the whole way.Could I have done that? Probably. But why would I?
A perfect HBA2C at 44w
So we thought our family was complete. We packed up everything we owned and moved state, far away from our lovely midwife but lo and behold, a baby crept past the goalkeeper. I rang every midwife in the state. The only two that would take on a woman with two caesarean scars and a previous stillbirth were unavailable when I was due. I cried.
I was left with one option, hospital birth just isn’t something I’d ever do again unless I needed to for health reasons. I had wanted a freebirth for some years at this point but I wanted it to be my first choice, not the only option that met my requirements. I searched my soul, was this the right thing to do? Shouldn’t I choose hospital by default if freebirth wasn’t my first choice and I couldn’t find a midwife? I decided that homebirth was my first choice, freebirth was second on the list, and hospital was way down the bottom, somewhere after amputation without anaesthetic.
I also realised that homebirth with a midwife was only first on the list because of my fears. The hospital would always be there, but I wouldn’t always be able to read up on everything I needed to know and get supplies in for a freebirth.
The path to me - Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I planned a freebirth and in doing so I came to know myself in ways I hadn’t before. I found fear in places I hadn’t known existed, I found strength in quantities I hadn’t known possible. I found birth, and in it I found myself. I discovered my true power. I have never felt the way I did in the hours after I gave birth that day, I doubt I ever will. Unhindered birth hormones are pretty amazing like that.
Freebirth isn’t for everyone, no. But hospital birth is a one size fits all plan that isn’t for everyone either. At the end of the day I would never tell another woman to freebirth because each individual woman needs to reach the decision on her own terms. What I would recommend is research. Learn about all the options before you cross them off your list.
I questioned and second guessed myself many times over on my road to freebirth. I believed that it should always be the first choice, not the only choice that a woman felt she could make and as such I wasn’t suited to freebirth. I now know that if I were ever to have another baby, freebirth would be my first choice.