Unassisted Birth- an old, new practice
photo courtesy of mandypics
I know I’ve mentioned this before but, for the purposes of this post, I’ll remind you. I was a labor and delivery nurse in my 20s and early(ier) 30s. I loved my profession and still have very fond memories of the time and care I put in and the fulfillment it created for me. I knew what I knew when I knew it. And I gave it my mind and my heart. During those years, we would periodically have a mom come in having attempted a homebirth or post-homebirth with an issue that required, or at least was perceived to have required, medical attention. I’ll admit, we nurses shook our heads disapprovingly at these women. Didn’t they know that a hospital or birth center was the place to birth?
Then I had both of my babies in the hospital with absolutely no intervention – no IV (or saline lock), my own labor and birthing positioning, fetal heart rate checks when I requested (rather than the serious over-monitoring to which we were prone), eating and drinking as desired, both babies immediately to my breast for feeding, etc. Everything changed. I began to question my practice as a nurse and whether I was doing more harm than good. I resigned while on maternity leave with my second child and began working at a hospital noted for their evidence-based practice model. This meant not practicing out of fear but based on the actual evidence that birth is a natural occurrence and that we serve as observers, supporters, and caregivers of the process – intervening only when absolutely necessary or requested by the mother.
My thoughts on birth have definitely evolved over time and the more I talk with mothers, fathers, doulas, and midwives. I had come to love the idea of homebirths attended by midwives and relinquished my need to play the professional savior when people chose pregnancy, labor, or birthing modalities that seemed foreign for me. I have to admit, however, that Inok Alrutz’s birth story in RE- PARENT’s Issue One floored me. This was the opposite of everything I had been trained to practice as a labor nurse. I squirmed as I read. Fear came forth and I wanted someone with objective experience in birth to intervene.
I know the primary truth of birth, though, which Inok finds in the process – the power of presence, the power of knowing, the strength and power of the birthing woman. I have seen fear change an issue-free birth into a nightmare scenario and I have seen strength, power, and fortitude of spirit – against all medical odds – create the most beautiful and transformational experience for a partnership as they bring their new baby forth. I know that this experience has made Inok who she will be as a mother – trusting of herself, powerful, present, and determined.
All three of my kids were born at home and the last was unassisted, so my thoughts on reading Inok’s story were definitely not shock but gratitude and inspiration and empathy. I was powerfully empathetic as I imagined her fear and pain, birthing for the first time and not according to her ‘master plan.’ I was deeply inspired by her inner wisdom on birth and her and her baby’s natural ability to ‘figure this out’ without intervention. I am grateful, even now, every day, for the gift she has brought into the world and her own gift to all of us of her empowerment. Yes, I absolutely believe with every cell of my being that such gifts affect and effect us all in profound ways. Thank you Inok for knowing, for listening, for paying attention to your inner voice, your inherent wisdom, your natural and sublime ability to be a connected mother.
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